The Hard Realities of Fundraising, Part 5: Tips (Building A List)

This is part 5 in a five part series on fundraising. Topics covered include "fundraising is your job," "fundraising is a skill you learn," "your ability to fundraise determines your viability as a candidate," "you need to be willing to fundraise," and "tips on building a list."

I'm returning to this series after a short break to wrap up the final two posts. I often talk to candidates who are absolutely opposed to fundraising, and those four posts were aimed at convincing prospective candidates that if you want to run for office, you need to fundraise. And if you won't do it, you shouldn't be running. 

Now, a more positive note. If you're still with me, I've got a few tips for how to fundraise effectively. 

To start fundraising, you need to begin by building a list of prospective donors. This is a often challenge for candidates who decide to run and think their donations are going to come from big money PAC's and regular donors. When you're starting out, that's not the case. Those groups tend to bet on proven winners.

So you start your fundraising list with the same folks you start your campaign with - your close friends and family.

Sit down and put an organized list together. If you need a template in excel, feel free to contact me and I'll send one. But you might also consider using software that will help you organize you donors - there are a number of businesses out there that provide donor management software, and again you can contact me and I'd be happy to share some of my favorites with you. 

Take a morning and plan to spend a few hours working on the list. Get your spouse and a friend or co-worker who has a lot of connections in the community to help you with it. Add your contacts from you phone and email, or any other place you store contacts. Look through you Facebook and LinkedIn contact lists to add more names. You should have well over 100 names at this point - and if you don't, you're not trying hard enough.

Once you get that list together start asking other groups if you can borrow or rent lists. Where do you find those? 

  • County or state parties
  • Former candidates who have run in your area
  • Business associates who know a lot of people

Those are the easiest places to start. One trick to getting more names is to also ask each person you talk to if he can recommend a half dozen people who might be willing to donate.

Once you have your initial list compiled and organized, it's time to start calling. We'll get more into that in the next post this week. 

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