3 Ways Your Fundraising Should Be Different This Fall

Originally published on Campaigns and Elections

By Cheryl Hori and Jacob Shlomo

With less than 60 days until the presidential election, campaigns are rewriting the playbook to adjust their final persuasion, education, and GOTV efforts to reflect the constantly changing landscape.

Between shifting voter deadlines, dates, accessibility options, and new or updated vote-by-mail (VBM) options, campaigns have never seen an end-of-cycle push like this before. And online fundraising efforts to power these revised GOTV strategies will be no different. 

Here’s how to finish fundraising strong this cycle:

Give your online donors some credit — and respect. 

As people grapple with how challenging and complicated voting is this year with moving deadlines, and expanded VBM opportunities, campaigners have significantly more work to do to educate and mobilize voters.

Make no mistake: Your donors understand that this challenge — and the stakes if we fail — are steep. Don’t discount your online donors. They’re keenly attuned to the unprecedented nuances of this election, now even more than in past cycles. 

So when you’re talking to donors, keep in mind that they are more than aware of how important this election is. Leave the doom and fear tactics at the door, and talk up — not down — to them.  Present the facts: that GOTV this cycle will need to be longer and more detailed than ever before. And that means the need for grassroots funding is significantly more pressing. Talk to donors as smart, engaged voters who understand the complexities of this time and make the pitch for help.

Meet them where they are (and then serve them direct-donate ads).

We can’t overstate this one enough: Meet your online donors where they are already spending their time online. If you know your online donors tend to be older, white, and higher income (as many political online donors are), think about the platforms and targeting that will best meet them where they’re spending their time online. 

Overwhelmingly, people are still at home and still feeling helpless about the state of the world. This is your opportunity to give them something meaningful to do: Donate to your campaign. 

Think beyond 2020. 

As you send to your list over the next two months, think about what’s next for your list. Is this a campaign that has the potential to end at the end of the cycle? Keep in mind, we could go beyond November. Will your campaign live on beyond 2020? 

Your strategy for this final stretch should reflect what comes next for the curated list of donors and supporters you’ve cultivated over the past year.

If you know that your candidate will run again regardless of the outcome, or if you’re an organization that will live on beyond 2020, it’ll probably be in your best interest to be careful not to burn your list to the ground. Keep talking to your list. Keep it fresh after the cycle. If you’re looking for ideas on how to do that, channel Mayor Pete. 

If this is the final run for your candidate, there might not be any immediate consequences to burning out your supporters. But even if your candidate isn’t planning to run again, retaining a powerful list is a valuable asset, and there are always opportunities to turn it into a PAC list or swap/loan it for political clout/leverage. 

With less than 60 days until the election, keep in mind that your donors are getting bombarded with political messaging and fundraising appeals. Make sure to retain your supporters by recognizing their contribution during this volatile economic period and maybe even give them a break from the next day’s fundraising appeal. Gasp! 

Cheryl Hori and Jacob Shlomo are partners at Pacific Campaign House, a full-service progressive digital agency.