We need a better approach for online political fundraising that scales for smaller campaigns and is more sustainable for larger ones.
When it comes to online fundraising in politics, there are essentially two approaches: stocking your pond and fishing with dynamite.
The strategy of stocking your pond involves methodically growing the size of your email list and consistently sending hard fundraising asks. The bigger your list gets, the more money you raise. There’s no hidden secret.
“Fishing with dynamite” is similarly straightforward, but differs in that it is a brute force approach. Say something outrageous, get buzz on social media, hopefully crossover into mainstream media, and attract signups and donations from like-minded supporters all for free.
But each approach has its obvious challenges.
The sort of outrage you have to generate to fish with dynamite doesn’t translate well to a broad base of support, which is critical for winning elections. And there’s limited ability in scaling up since you will, at some point, hit a ceiling of people who are simultaneously attracted to the outrageous remarks and gullible enough to believe them.
But stocking your pond requires paying to promote list-building campaigns and renting email lists. It can take months from the time a supporter signs up on email to when they donate, if at all. Most of the audience you pay to acquire will never donate. Sure you’ll be ROI positive eventually, but you’ve wasted lots of hard dollars in the process.
Despite the fact this is the most sustainable approach, it doesn’t scale either, but in the opposite direction. Presidential, statewide, and, in limited instances, congressional candidates will enjoy success with this model, but campaigns down the ballot lack the manpower and resources. Similarly, the number of activists within your geographical boundaries is a smaller pond altogether.
Stay tuned for thoughts on ways we can make political online fundraising better.
If you want actionable tips, tricks, and tactics for online fundraising, click here to download my free eBook: “The Comprehensive Blueprint for Online Fundraising in 2018.”