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Summary

While there are a lot of options for a website for your political and advocacy campaign keeping it simple with a static site or a Wordpress site is the best option. We will be looking at both options and the tools that can be used

Low-Cost Website

Fundraising

There are two tools that are non-partisan that can be used by any political or issue campaign:

Raise the Money One of the advantages of this fundraising platform is that is embedded in your site, which makes it feel more professional, but it the most expensive at 4.9% + $.25 transaction fee

Transaxt The advantage to Transaxt is that it the cheapest non-partisan platform, but it will require the user to go to a Transaxt subdomain making it look less professional and moving off your website. The transition fee is less the Raise the Money with a 4.5% transition fee

There are also partisan platforms, and while I have only used Revv both APIs will work with static sites:

Partisan options

  • Revv This is a Republican and Conservative platform that allows you to embed the API on your site with 4% + $.30 transaction fee

  • ActBlue This is a Democratic and Liberal platform that has the lowest transition fee at 3.95%, but the user will leave the site to make the donation

Blog

Maintaining a blog for a static site use to be difficult, but over the last few years Static Site Generators have made maintaining a blog relatively simple. The most popular are Jekyll, but it was built to be used with a Mac so if you are on Windows make sure you take a look at the alternatives because setting up Jekyll can be difficult. If you are looking to set up a Jekyll site you can make it act like a CRM with a few simple steps, and should be placed in a subfolder ie. /blog.

The other option is to use Medium as your blog platform, which has a few advantages. The biggest benefit is that because it is built on a social media platform, so it has tools to help disseminate your content to the right people right away. The other one is that people don’t need any technical skills because it uses a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor. If you do go this route try to buy .blog of your domain because you will be unable to set-up the blog in a subfolder or subdomain, and can use the .blog domain for your Medium blog, and redirect the visitor from your main page. The biggest downside is that you don’t have control over the blog layout or features so it is less customizable, and will be harder to raise money off or collect emails from an article.

Hosting

There are many options for hosting a static Website from GitHub Pages which is free to options that can cost between $1.00 a month for a basic shared hosting to $50 a month for a Virtual Private Server (VPS).

High-Cost Website

Fundraising

WordPress can use any of the platform lists for static sites plus thousands more, but WordPress has a popular Plug-in called WooCommerce that will cost less because it can use many payment gateways. Setting up WooCommerce in WordPress has been covered in-depth, and since all the themes that are available are built with WooComerce in mind the biggest decision is the payment gateway, which unlike static website tools can vary greatly, but will cost less than the fundraising platforms above. While there are many the 2 I would recommend are:

  1. Authorize.Net

    More than 400,000 merchants worldwide use Authorize.Net payment gateway – that accepts online payments through credit cards and electronic checks. You need to pay $49 as setup fees and $29 as monthly gateway fees.

  2. PayPal

    It’s one of the most widely-used payment gateways that accept both credit card or debit card payments. It’s free to use for buyers. However, store owners will have to pay a simple transition fees of “3.4% + $0.30 USD”, when using PayPal for credit card payments. This payment gateway does not require any setup fees, gateway fees, or monthly fees.

This set-up biggest drawback is that your loss the reporting tools that come with the built for fundraising platforms, and while this might seem like a large issue there isn’t much you do with excel practice, and time can’t overcome when it comes to campaign finance reporting.

Blog

WordPress was built as a blogging platform so it comes with all the tools need to publish a blog post from a WYSIWYG editor in a way to easily add images and videos. The only thing you need to keep in mind is to make sure that your blog is in a subfolder example.com/blog not a subdomain blog.example.com

Hosting

The biggest hurdle for a WordPress site is hosting. Because it is a dynamic website, we can’t use the hosting options on the static site. While there are cheaper options out there the issues will arise right as your content goes viral this often will cause the site to become unusable so it is best to invest from the start so when you strike gold you can. This topic has been covered by most WordPress based sites below is further reading on the subject:

Tools and Services

Because of the popularity of Wordpress when you choose a tool or services for you political or advocacy campaign it will always be available. So the tools and services are targeted for those who choose to use a static site generator.

Email

MailChimp is the most common tool used by local campaign websites because it has the best free option compared to the other email delivery systems, but if you know you will be going to a pay tier early on then there are many options these two I have used:

Aweber Logo AWeber

  • Starts at $19/mo for 0-500 Subscribers, but offers unlimited emails along with premium features that are left off other low-cost tiers like segmenting which can help with retargeting outreach to supporters or donors of the political or issue campaign.

Campaign Monitor Logo Campaign Monitor

  • Starts at $9/mo for 0-500 Subscribers, but limits you to only 2,500 email a month. To have unlimited emails you have to go to the next tier at $29/mo and to get all the features of Aweber you will need their Premier at $149/mo.

Form

The other crucial service you will need if you are launching a political or advocacy campaign website is a way for supporters to reach out to you, and while a community comment section can seem like a good idea it will only lead to harassment and trolling from the opposition even if you use Disqus or Facebook Community. That is why I have always used a form on our campaign websites so we can move the conversation to email or offline.

The only one I have used is formspree.io. Formspree will allow you to place a form on your campaign website and have the responses forwarded to an email account, but your campaign can only receive 1000 submissions per email each month. If you would like to have more submissions they have a Gold Plan for $10/mo that will also give you a dashboard to help manage the submissions.

Putting It All Together

While the information laid out through the article you should be able to get you advocacy or political campaign off the ground, but it is just the start you will need to set up an organization with your state or federal government so you can legally fundraise for your campaign. But the one thing you have to understand about an organizing an advocacy campaign online is that tweets, shares, signup, and web traffic does not equal votes at the ballot or in the legislature. So you will need to create a campaign plan to move from the internet to the ballot box.