This is the complete guide to political fundraising. Table of Contents Introduction What is the cost of running for political office, and when do I need to raise the money? Potential candidates often find themselves wondering how to run for...
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Political campaigns need to raise money, and fundraising can seem like an overwhelming task, especially with COVID-19 changing the landscape of how we interact with each other.
Even with all the safety precautions in place, there are still plenty of creative solutions to help you raise money for your campaign. From virtual events to grassroots fundraising, effective ways to encourage political contributions from your donors are limited only by your imagination. Here are 10 creative and effective virtual fundraising ideas to get your started:
Host a virtual concert.This type of virtual event works as both an in-person and a remote option. The band can serve as an endorsement for your campaign and as a way to encourage contributions from potential donors who are also fans of the band.
Host Live Stream Events.
A fun virtual fundraising idea includes using apps like Twitch, Instagram, or Tik Tok to reach new audiences by hosting live stream fundraising events. Members of Congress, including Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, have successfully generated a lot of buzz by live streaming and playing video games like Among Us in public. Senator Elizabeth Warren has also found success with this method by simply having a beer during her live stream. With this method, you can either raise money directly through the platform you’re streaming on or use dedicated political fundraising software specifically built for this kind of fundraising.
Plan a Virtual Pancake Breakfast.Bring the community together by inviting families in your community to join you in serving up delicious hotcakes and sausage, separately in your own homes, but joining together virtually. Fundraising events like these are great to involve your whole family and allow you, as a candidate, to strengthen your bond with the community. It’s even possible to do a socially distanced pancake breakfast for the community.
Host a Virtual Movie Night.Pick a movie that aligns with an issue related to your campaign and hold a discussion after the movie.
Create a Spotify playlist.Spend a little time putting together a list of songs that not only represents your policies and beliefs, but also sets a mood for your campaign. Cultivating and sharing a playlist can increase the rate at which potential donors follow through with their pledges.
Host a virtual open mic night.Encourage local and up-and-coming artists while entertaining potential donors by having an open mic night. Themed story nights, poetry slams, comedians, or singer-songwriters are all great acts to include, and the event can easily be held virtually.
Run Game nights.Trivia nights, board games, and poker tournaments are all great ways to engage potential donors.
Host a class.This is a great fundraising idea for early in your campaign whether you’re running for local office or Congress. You could organize a painting class using a local artist as the instructor. Attendees can donate to gain access to the class. You can learn a new skill and build a stronger connection with donors who have the potential to expand your donor networks.
Clean-a-thon.Volunteers can gather pledges for the weight of garbage they pick up from local beaches or roadsides. The pledges can serve as political contributions for your campaign, and you’ll be instrumental in improving the community before you ever even take office.
Offer Merch.Selling branded items like t-shirts, facemasks, etc., can generate a significant number of individual contributions. Political candidates like Senator Bernie Sanders raised tens of millions of dollars in the 2020 presidential race by selling political merchandise such as t-shirts and tote bags. This approach is a fantastic way to fuel grassroots fundraising that can create a steady source of funding for your campaign.
Host a design contest.
Encourage supporters to submit designs for your merch, and sell the winning designs. Feature notable applicants on your social media. These in-kind contributions allow your campaign to continue fundraising through merchandising, creating a more consistent inflow of funds.
Need help putting one of the above events together? Download this template for a run of show (tick tock) for a virtual fundraising event
Ultimately, however you approach it, raising the political campaign contributions you need is a challenging process. But a little creativity can make fundraising infinitely more fun and likely more fruitful, too.
Building a successful campaign means you’ll need to be creative and look for the fundraising ideas that will best get your message out to the voters—especially in the era of COVID-19 safety precautions and social distancing.
- Are political campaign contributions tax-deductible?
Contributions to political campaigns are not tax-deductible. This non-deductible status includes all cash or in-kind donations made directly to campaigns or a political party, or those made to political action committees (PACs).
- How are political campaigns funded?
Political campaigns are funded through their own fundraising efforts. When first starting, many candidates wonder how to run for office with no money—or if they even can run without cash. And the truth is, they can’t. Campaigns are expensive, and having the right budget is instrumental in successfully running for office. Campaigns sometimes start seeking contributions up to two years ahead of the actual election cycle. Political contributions include both cash and in-kind donations of services or goods.