Political strategist Mark Hanna, campaign manager for U.S. President William McKinley, once said: "There are two things that are important in politics. The first is money and I can't remember what the second one is." Political fundraising is all but a necessity for both candidates and for campaigns designed to bring about a political decision, such as the enactment of a law. While there are a number of different ways of raising money for political campaigns, most follow a similar formula.
Develop arguments. The first step to raise money is to formulate reasons why people should donate to the cause. In a campaign for a candidate for elected office, the candidate may wish to persuade donors why he will perform the duties of office better than the other candidate or, if speaking to a group with a particular cause, how he will meet their needs better than his opponent will.
Spread the arguments to potential donors. A political campaign's message can be spread in a number of different ways. Traditionally, political campaigns have relied on mass media outlets such as billboards, fliers and radio and TV spots. However, in the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama used the Internet to raise millions of dollars for his campaign through thousands of small donations.
Hold a fundraiser. Many political campaigns hold formal fundraisers in which supporters can participate. Fundraisers can take many forms, such as car washes, costume balls and sit-down dinners featuring a speech from either the candidate or a representative from the campaign. In all cases the goals should be the same: collect money and spread information.
Solicit money. Many political campaigns directly ask potential donors to give. Candidates may contact wealthy supporters for donations, or ask friends and family members to chip in funds. Many political campaigns hold phone-a-thons in which volunteers or campaign workers call members of the public, explain the merits of the campaign, and ask for contributions.
- "Political Campaign Craftsmanship"; Edward Schwartzman; 1988
- "Fundraising For Dummies"; Katherine Murray and John Mutz; 2010
- National Gay and Lesbian Task Force: Raise Funds for Your Campaign
Michael Wolfe has been writing and editing since 2005, with a background including both business and creative writing. He has worked as a reporter for a community newspaper in New York City and a federal policy newsletter in Washington, D.C. Wolfe holds a B.A. in art history and is a resident of Brooklyn, N.Y.