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In we looked at how to lay the groundwork for you political campaign fundraising. In part 2 we will look at the 6 components every political and advocacy fundraising plan needs to have.

The 6 Components of a Successful Political Fundraising Plan

In my experience, these are the 6 things your political and advocacy Fundraising plan should focus on.

1. Campaign Fundraising Goal

As I have stated in part 1 your campaign fundraising goals are driven by your campaign strategy. You will need to know what it will take to win your election before you can raise enough to carry out that strategy.

Your political fundraising plan should set clearly defined overall fundraising goals that lays out how much your campaign will need to raise not just for the campaign overall, but at each major milestone - Candidate ID, Voter ID, Persuasion, and GOTV. Because each one of these steps will require some if not all new materials.

For example, if your campaign is planning to print GOTV materials you have to make sure that the campaign fundraising plan has that laid out so you don’t end up underfunding a key campaign activity. Similarly, if you have stuff you will need to make sure that you have a consistent cash flow in order to make payroll. By having a clear campaign fundraising plan you will make sure that you don’t end up underfunding any campaign activity last minute.

2. Assumptions

The first thing you will do once you lay out how much you will need is to make some assumptions when formulating the plan. Every campaign makes assumptions list them out in your fundraising plan so everyone is on the same page. Some examples of possible assumptions include:

  1. Assuming that the campaign will receive endorsements from several trade groups or associations whose support comes with major donations

  2. Assuming that your candidate will be the “establishment candidate” and receive funding your political base

  3. Assuming that certain major fundraisers will line up to support your candidate

List your assumptions up front, and know that if one of the assumptions doesn’t bear out, you may need to rewrite part of the plan to map out a strategy for dealing with the new reality.

Warning DO NOT make payroll decisions on assumptions this has happened to me early on in my career and it caused me to give leave a job I couldn’t get back. It’s better to be overworked then hire some you can’t keep on until the election.

3. Fundraising Infrastructure

What infrastructure do you currently have in place for fundraising, and what infrastructure do you anticipate needing over the length of the campaign?

Fundraising infrastructure includes things like fundraising staff, a donor database, your fundraising, marketing materials, your website’s fundraising capabilities, etc. – everything you use to fundraise. Map out what you will need in order to effectively raise money for your campaign. Be sure to include deadlines and responsibilities for implementation, as well as the cost for each item.

4. Fundraising Tactics

This is the section where you lay out, in as much detail, all of the different ways you are going to raise money for your campaign. Each tactic should get its own subsection with action steps, deadlines, and responsible persons. Common tactics include:

  1. Direct Mail
    • Events
    • Online Fundraising
    • Finance Committee
    • Major Donors
    • Telemarketing
    • PAC Fundraising
    • Personal Solicitation by the Candidate
    • Affinity Groups and Fundraising Networks

Use this section to detail exactly how you will implement each of these tactics over the weeks and months of your campaign.

5. Donor Communications Plan and Calendar

Use this section of your political fundraising plan to create a strategy for staying in touch with your donors and prospects.

Remember, in order to be successful, you want your campaign donors to feel as much as possible like part of your team. That requires communicating with them on a regular basis – and not every communication should be an ask. (For political campaigns, I recommend that you send your donors at least 1-2 non-ask communications in between every ask).

Great donor communication will lead to more and bigger gifts from your donors. There are lots of ways to stay in touch with your donors and prospects. They include:

  • Email and snail mail newsletters
  • Postcards
  • Social media
  • Telemarketing calls for low dollar donors
  • Personal calls for mid-level and high dollar donors
  • Non-ask events (cultivation or thank-you events)
  • Volunteer opportunities and committees
  • Public relations / PR

Without a doubt, the easiest and most cost-effective way to stay in touch with your donors on a regular basis is through e-mail newsletters.

6. Action Step Timeline

Finally, as I mentioned in Part 1, I like to include a list of action steps in each of the sections of the plan that lists what needs to be done by which deadline in order for the plan to succeed.

Your campaign action steps and fundraising milestones should be listed in chronological order. This will allow for anyone who reads it to get a good picture of where your campaign is at, where your campaign should, and what has to be done in both the short term and long term. Many campaigns I worked on have used weekly timelines for their fundraising staff meetings.

Remember, your fundraising plan is a living document and will change with the campaign, but it is important to write down your plan so you have a clear way to know if you are staying on the right path or need to reexamine your campaign.