Is crowdfunding a good option for starting your political campaign? This technique for raising money has been used for years for projects and products. Recently the technique has grown in popularity for political purposes.
Crowdfunding sites set conditions for financial support for candidates exploring a run for office. It can help determine the viability of a candidate while securing a level of backing before they declare their candidacy.
For local campaigns, crowdfunding can provide a jump-start to the initial fundraising process. It can help candidates who cannot afford to self-fund their own election campaign.Crowdfunding can help candidates who cannot afford to self-fund their own election campaign. Click To Tweet
If you are considering a run for office, you are probably wondering where to start raising money. The good news is that you can find backers, but your job is to get their attention and provide them with a reason to support your cause.
What is political crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a process where individuals pool money and other resources online to fund projects initiated by other people or organizations. This may involve raising funds to support personal or social causes.
Using crowdfunding for state-level and local candidates has several advantages. Crowdfunding is great way to test if you are viable as a candidate in the political arena. It offers a way to test the level of support and secure initial pledges before establishing a formal campaign. It’s like a ‘conditional’ fundraising campaign.
This can be particularly useful for first-time candidates. It can serve as an initial test of how much financial support a candidate can raise. Early success sends a signal to later donors that the campaign is viable.
There are several services that operate as crowdfunding sites, including Crowdpac, Raise the Money and GoFundMe. The services are somewhat different. For example, on Crowdpac, donors aren’t charged unless the candidate actually enters the race. GoFundMe has fewer restrictions on how donations are accessed.
What you need to get started
Before you start any financial actions, you may find that crowdfunding activity falls under local campaign finance rules. Consult with an attorney to make avoid any potential legal issues.
When you are ready to start, you will need to sign up with a crowdfunding service and set up your financial goals. You should be realistic with your goal. If you are running for town council, you won’t need to raise 1 million dollars to get your campaign off the ground. Figure out how much do you need to kick off your campaign and later raise your fundraising efforts to the next level.
There are two types of crowdfunding campaigns:
- Conditional campaigns collect pledges before hitting a goal, or before a candidate enters a race. Charges to the donor are made only if the conditions of the campaign are met.
- Direct donation campaigns act more like traditional peer-to-peer fundraising, where you directly receive the donor’s contribution.
Once you have chosen a type of fundraising campaign, you will also need:
- A website – You should have a campaign website in place to send supporters.
- Email marketing tool – Such as MailChimp or Aweber. More extensive options contain a CRM to track donors and supporters.
- Social media accounts – Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular services.
- A Google account – For setting up your campaign Gmail and website analytics.
- An initial press release describing your goal.
- An interesting video describing your campaign, along with a call to action.
The best way to start marketing your crowdfunding initiative is by launching a web page. You don’t need a very large website; a simple web site is enough to take sign-ups. However, you should launch this site before you start your fundraising efforts.
Your political campaign will not be confined to the time of your initial crowdfunding drive. Your financial needs will continue on as you seek office. Eventually the shift of your online efforts will involve your official campaign site and social media accounts.
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Once you have your initial elements in place, you can begin putting the pieces together.
Create your campaign crowdfunding page
Build your campaign around a story. For example, in 2008 the Obama campaign put his story around “Hope and Change”. In 2012, the message was “Moving Forward.” In 2016, Bernie Sanders raised 1.3 million small donations for his presidential campaign.
For you own campaign, you will want to tell a story. It should have some sort of hook that compels people to act. It might involve your background or the reasons why you seek elected office.
A good video clip introduction will help explain your campaign. Good video takes time and resources to put together properly. Proper lighting and audio are important. An amateur-looking video is not going to help your cause. Don’t forget to add your call to action at the end of the clip. Upload your video introduction to YouTube and post it to your website and social media pages.
Fill out all the information on your fundraising page. Link your crowdfunding page to your website and social media accounts.
Many crowdfunding campaigns offer prizes to donors, depending their donation levels. Typical political swag includes pins, hats, bumper stickers and even T shirts. However, those items cost money and must be delivered to donors. Because of this, you may want to avoid promising prizes at this stage. You can always send something to your initial donors once your campaign officially launches.
Launching your crowdfunding campaign
Preparation is important. You want to lay the foundation for your crowdfunding effort early.
When you are ready, reach out let your family, friends, and likely supporters know that you are running for office and you need their help. Don’t just announce it all at once. Let them know it’s coming.
Your donors should know well in advance of the day of your launch. Use platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer for social media updates a few times every week. Plan to increase your updates to about 10-15 times every day once your campaign goes live. Increase the frequency of your emails as the time nears. Build excitement with a countdown and keep the reminders coming.
On launch day, make the big announcement. Share your crowdfunding page on social media, and encourage others to do the same. Word-of-mouth promotion is very important.
Have your press release ready and submit it to local reporters. Try to get the media to cover your launch. Any initial publicity you can get is a good thing.
Encourage supporters and initial donors to share pictures and updates about your campaign with their own friends.
You want to have a large number of initial donations that first day. That creates initial momentum that will carry you along and attract other donors.
Continue to build interest before you wrap up. The goal is to build as large of a donor base as fast as possible. Those first people who pledge will likely be your biggest supporters once your election campaign officially starts.
Keep supporters updated on your progress. Do this through your website, social media and email list.
Promote important events such as hitting certain financial goals, the number of donors, and the amount of time left. Build urgency and momentum.
Keep track of your donor data. Do this for reporting purposes, of course, but also for the purposes of asking them to donate again later.
Financing a campaign with a large number of small donors has many advantages. With crowdfunding, you can raise financial pledges that will give you access to money as soon as you declare your candidacy. This puts you ahead of the game because you will not have to spend precious time trying to raise those initial dollars. You can hit the ground running, having proven your ability to raise funds.
Remember that your supporters are giving you money fully expecting a return on their investment. They want something back. In this case, they want you to start a political campaign and make a run for office.
Whether your crowdfunding effort succeeds or fails, don’t forget to thank your donors and supporters. They deserve it.
Starting a crowdfunding page for your political campaign? Online Candidate provides affordable long and short-term campaign website packages to help your fundraising efforts.« Running for Office In 2019? Better Start Preparing Now
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