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In this series, we will walk through how to write a successful fundraising plan for your next campaign. In Part 1, we’ll take a look at why you need a plan, where you start with fundraising and cover the two most important parts. In we will be going through the 6 components that are needed for a strong and achievable fundraising plan.

Why Your Campaign Needs a Fundraising Plan

A fundraising plan is vital to the success of any modern campaign, even the most local, but too often candidates assume once they get their campaign off the ground the money will start rolling and take care of itself. They could not be farther from the truth.

Campaigns run on money and even in the best Public Financing system you will need to get contributions to fund the campaign’s activities, this is by far the hardest part of any campaign. A successful fundraising effort will require the campaign in general, and the candidate, in particular, to spend quality time planning and execution a fundraising plan. The Candidate should spend a minimum 50% of their time fundraising no matter level you’re running for - local, state, or federal - from my fundraising experience will be the deciding factor because if you don’t have the funds you can’t run a competitive campaign. That is why I always suggest writing out your fundraising plan before you launch your campaign, and remember that your plan is a living document and can change during the campaign.

What Comes First - Fundraising Plan or Campaign Strategy

While having a well-developed fundraising plan is a key to a successful campaign I often am asked by candidates and campaign managers what comes first the campaign strategy or the fundraising plan. Another way of putting it does a campaign figure out how much it can raise them to build a plan around it, or do they figure a winning campaign strategy and then figure out how to fund it.

In my experience it is the latter, your campaign should figure out what it will take to win because if you need to raise $500,000 to win and you aren’t able to create a reasonable fundraising plan to match then I would suggest sitting out this cycle or looking at a different race. Also in past races I have been involved with large donors like to know how their money will be spent, and a campaign strategy is the only way to show that.

First Step for Political Fundraising - Finance committee

The name “Finance Committee” can be deceiving because the committee isn’t really responsible for executing the fundraising. That task is for the candidate, campaign manager, campaign staff, and in larger races Finance Director. The role of the Finance Committee is to provide contacts who can be solicited for donations and provides a starting point for the campaign’s political fundraising network.

The key elements that each member of the Finance Committee are that they have a wide range of contacts they can solicit to support the candidate, which should go without saying the members should be some of your strongest supporters and have already donated to the campaign. To keep the members accountable you should get commitments or pledges about how much they will raise. The committee can be built from a large spectrum of people from local businessmen, professionals, socialites, and political contact among other. The only requirement is that they have supported the candidate financially and have a gold Rolodex with multiple people who can also donate.

Political Fundraising Network

When it comes to fundraising local candidates are unlikely to national money and PAC contributions and for the handful of candidate that do they are few and far between. For a candidate to then be successful the candidate, staff, and finance committee must be ruthless when it comes to using their contacts. This means when the campaign goes through their contacts they have to be will go beyond close friends and family and reach out to everyone in their social circles from school alumni to PTA and acquaintances from church.

Once you have your list the candidate has to make the call. This is because every donor likes personal contact, which means that the candidate will get more “Yes” than a campaign staffer. That being said spouses and family members are a close second because the key is using personal contact to make “potential contributors” into “regular contributors”, and the best way is to make them feel like they have access and a connection to the candidate.

The keys to a Successful Political Fundraising Plan

The two most important things that political campaigns fail to put into their fundraising plans are deadlines and responsibilities. Every fundraising plan needs to have a list of deadlines for the event followed by action that needs to be taken on certain days, which they are assigned a person who will be responsible for carrying out the action so the political campaign can meet its deadlines.

For example, you might create a schedule that looks like this:

  • Campaign Kick-Off Fundraising Event - 7/2

    • Form host committee - 5/15 - John
    • Secure venue - 5/20 - Jane
    • Send out invitations - 6/1 - John
    • Make follow up calls - 6/10 - Jane, John, and Committee
    • Finalize event details - 6/20 - Jane
    • Final follow-up calls - 6/28 - Jane and John

Remember that you can fill in staffing areas with campaign staff or volunteers the key is to make sure that you have a concrete action plan that will guide the person or persons that are in charge of the task.