As the fallout of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic continues, the situation is creating a rough environment for political campaigns to raise money. Regardless, money is the lifeblood of any campaign.
Unfortunately, the old fundraising playbook just won’t work in a time of social distancing, health concerns and a deteriorating economy. It’s hard to convince someone who may have just lost their job to donate money.
So what is a local political campaign to do when trying to fundraise?
Acknowledge that these are not normal times
This is difficult time for everyone. People are scared about their own health, the health of their family, their jobs and community. No one knows what the future holds.
You should acknowledge this reality in your fundraising letters and emails.
“We are all affected, and we are all worried about what comes next…”
“I know these are difficult times for all of us. Daily routines have become a challenge. Even sending these fundraising messages right now feels strange…”
“I wanted to let you know how our campaign is responding to these challenging times. Every decision we make is guided by our desire to protect our campaign staff, volunteers and supporters…”
You may want to mention how things have affected your campaign and even you, personally. Explain what is being done on a campaign level to move forward – and that you still need support. Those efforts might include more social media engagement, virtual fundraising, increased online advertising and virtual GOTV.
Make the ask, but differently
Whatever you do, don’t act for money as if these are normal times. Simply asking for money ‘to beat so-and-so’ will sound tone-deaf. You may want to ease up the ‘us vs them’ rhetoric right now. In other words, don’t make the general appeals that you might have made in different times.
- “With all of our public events and door-to-door outreach, our campaign has become virtual. Will you contribute to help spread our message?”
- “We want to reach all our supporters and friends with virtual ‘get out the vote’ reminders. Can you help us do that?”
- “Despite the situation, we are moving forward to ramp up our online efforts. You can help play a part of this by…”
- “We are adapting and moving forward. Your investment in our campaign will help make real changes to improve our community…”
Don’t assume what your donors can or cannot do at this time. Many supporters will be able to help, even during times of financial uncertainty. Make a case for support. Explain your long-term vision, how this will eventually benefit the donor, and why your campaign needs support now.
Solicit feedback for what voters are experiencing and what they have to say. There are many stories to share; your campaign may provide a platform in which to share them. There are families, businesses and organizations that need help. Now is the time to show leadership. Ask questions and engage in conversation.
Your supporters will likely be spending more time online. Besides local news and information, other creative ways to get attention include polls and surveys, providing status updates about the campaign and community and other interesting content. Provide information about the election, how they can vote and encourage voter turnout.
One final way to engage is through gratitude. Make sure your donors get the thank-yous they deserve. Don’t even take your supporters for granted – especially these days!
A campaign website is the HUB of your online campaign. Online Candidate campaign website and services will help get your digital campaign in gear. For more online campaigning tips and ideas, read Running for Office as an Online Candidate, available in digital and print.
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