Asking for Money
by Natasha Smith, User Experience and Communications Manager, National Democratic Training Committee, @traindems
In a horrible take of the famous Gretzky quote: “You don’t get 100% of the checks you never ask for.” (OK, I know — bad grammar and it can read a few different ways, but you get my point.)
People do not just send in checks to every political campaign they come across or like. Even big, multi-million-dollar national campaigns actively ask supporters for donations. Why would you be any different?
Unfortunately, when you run for office, you have no choice. To win an election, you need to talk to voters. To talk to voters, you need money for communications. To get money, you have to ask donors.
Asking for money is never easy. Most people are not comfortable with it, even if it is the only way to win their campaign. They feel bad. Get nervous. They would literally rather do anything else.
But, how you approach your fundraising matters. A bad or negative attitude can’t be hidden and is likely to turn off potential donors. If you are apologizing and backing into your asks for support, you are going to be less effective than clearly and confidently asking for what you need.
Campaigns need money
Remember, raising money for your campaign is not wrong. It is not illegal. It is not immoral. It is simply what you need to do to have the resources to win. While raining money doesn’t guarantee victory, a vast majority of the time the most well funded candidate wins the election.
Your fundraising attitude matters so much so that we’ve included a special class on it in our lesson: Making the Ask. We break down every aspect of asking a donor for a contribution. By the end, you will be ready to ask anyone for exactly what you need to meet your campaign goals.
You need to approach your fundraising with an open and positive mind. You don’t want the negativity you may be feeling to rub off on the supporters you are asking. After all, if you cannot convince them that giving to your campaign is right thing to do, why would they give at all?
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t necessarily have to enjoy fundraising, but it is one of the few times as a candidate you get to ask others to do something for you, instead of the other way around.
I know one successful Congressman who told me he liked call time. It gave him a chance to talk in-depth and build relationships with people one on one. He had very limited time to do this otherwise. That’s a bit rosy, but then again, he is also very good at raising money.
How important do you think attitude is to fundraise? What’s the best way for a candidate, especially new ones, to approach the process?
The NDTC offers free, interactive online training for Democratic candidates running for office. To sign up for training, please visit www.traindemocrats.org. The NDTC has also partnered with the IDCCA to provide a monthly training article.