Tag Archives: Tips

10 Tips for Successfully Raising Money in a Political Campaign

10 Tips for Successfully Raising Money in a Political Campaign

Since President Barack Obama’s election victory, many people have been inspired to run for public office. One reason for this new found interest in politics is that candidate Obama overcame what is arguably the most difficult aspect of campaigning – fund-raising. Prior to Barack Obama’s campaign, it was a widely accepted conclusion in political circles that a candidate could not raise enough money to be competitive from small donors. In addition, the prevailing wisdom was that in order to raise the big money needed to win elections, the candidate needed name recognition in order to reach large donors. Post Obama, the paradigm has shifted. We now know that with the right plan and message, anyone can run and win an election.

In this article, I will provide you with a basic foundation for raising money in a political campaign. These tips will help you get your campaign started and avoid the mistakes that most first time candidates make when they begin fund-raising.

Have a plan. You must design a fund-raising plan which includes identifiable goals and incremental benchmarks. Your fund-raising goals should be aligned with the overall dollar amount needed to fund your campaign. You can find an example of a fund-raising plan at my blog, www.spatterblog.com.

Raise money from your friends and family FIRST. The money you receive from your friends and family will be your seed money. You’ll use it to cover essential campaign start up costs during the infancy stage of your campaign.

Create a call-list. If you’re running for office, you should have a mental list of people inside and outside your circle who you will be soliciting for campaign donations. Put that mental list on paper and have someone on your campaign staff add names to the list daily. A sample call list can be found at my blog, www.spatterblog.com

Always use a call sheet when calling potential donors. A call sheet is a template which allows you to input the donor’s contribution history, talking points, and hopefully, contribution commitments. When calling a potential donor, you’ll need to connect with the donor on an issue he or she cares about. The talking points section allows you to hit those points during the conversation. For example, if the donor cares deeply about animal rights, you will want to discuss your support for animal rights legislation during the call.

Follow-Up. If you recall from tip #4, the call sheet contains a space allocation for contribution commitments. If the donor makes a financial commitment over the phone, ask the donor whether he or she will be mailing a check or making an online payment. You should encourage the donor to make an online payment because it is quicker to process and you will have access to the money almost immediately. Whereas with a check, you will be forced to allow time for the check to clear your account. However, both payment options require that you make a follow-up call to the donor if you do not receive the promised contribution. I would allow two weeks for checks mailed from out of state, one week for checks mailed in state, and 3 days for online payments. You should set aside an hour each week to make reminder calls to your contributors if you chave not received the campaign contribution within the allotted time frame.

Be first. Early bird gets the worm where political fund raising is concerned. You must be the one to make the first initial contact with your donors, not your opponent. Compile your contact list before you even announce your campaign and hit the ground running.

Don’t be shy. Many candidates are too proud to ask for campaign contributions over, and over, and over. However, there is really no way around it.

Tell People what their money is being used to buy. For example, if your campaign needs 1000 yard signs, ask a donor to commit to purchasing 25 yard signs for a 0 contribution. If donors know where their money is going, they’re more likely to give.

Get the big endorsements early. Everyone loves a winner and everyone loves to help a winner. The more big endorsements you have, the more you look like the winner and the easier it is for you to raise money. So make sure you go after editorial, organization, and individual endorsements early in your campaign so as not to allow your competition to gain momentum.

Make the calls yourself. No matter how old or rich you are, it still makes you feel important to hear from the candidate directly as opposed to a member of his or her staff. So set aside time each week to make fund-raising calls in person. Don’t just pawn it off to your staff.

Yvette Carnell is a political consultant and editor of www.spatterblog.com. She is a former Hill Staffer and member of The American Association of Political Scientists and The American Association of Political Consultants.

Leadership Tips — Office Politics

Leadership Tips — Office Politics

Political Expert


For many years that’s what people called me.  It was not a title I wore proudly. 


I worked my way from entry level programmer to senior management in a large telecom company.  I knew a lot of people, and I had a great sense for how to work within the “system”.  I understood how it could overwhelm you, and I got good at knowing when to ignore it and when to play along.


In the jobs I had, the most important contribution I could make over the long haul was to develop the skills of the middle managers reporting to me.  The more effective I could make them, the easier and more successful my life would be.  It was frustrating to me when I would coach people and they would respond with comments like “I could pull this off if I had your political skills”.


I was insulted.  I didn’t play politics!


Of course I did.  I just didn’t want to admit it.  When you’re running for office, political skills are an important attribute.  When you are the guy running a business office, politician is a label that diminishes your true leadership abilities.


If anyone accused me of being an expert at office politics, I denied it forcefully.  I worked hard to get where I was, and no one was going to take that away from me.


Then I Changed Jobs


Same industry, bigger title, more people, new city.  I was not well connected, of course.  But I recognized the challenges of the job and I was ready to go to work on them.  Costs were out of control and results were inconsistent.  I had to fix both.  It was made clear to me that I was being brought in from outside because the inside culture needed a shakeup.  I couldn’t wait to jump in.


Was I successful?  Without a doubt, I accomplished more in two years in this new job than in any five year period of my career.  We downsized, actually improved morale while we were doing it, and got our operational metrics up where they needed to be.  My clients were internal, and they were effusive in their praise.  Personally, I was rewarded with a good raise and a really good bonus.


Six months later I experienced a career first — I was fired.  Well, alright, I was let go with a very respectable severance package.  But I didn’t see it coming, and it didn’t feel very good.  What happened?


When I took the new job, lots of people whispered in my ear about the politics in my new company.  It wasn’t very complicated either.  There were old guard insiders and when outside executives were brought in the old guard eventually rejected them the way the body rejects tissue in a transplant operation.


I wouldn’t get caught up in that.  I had a job to do and I was going to do it.  No political posturing for me.  I was in full denial.


So I worked very hard and got some of the greatest results of my career.  While I was doing that, there was a change at the top. The new CEO was a former executive of the company who had left and now was coming back.  He was a hero of the old guard. 


I wasn’t thrilled with the board’s choice, but I wasn’t worried.  My hard work and accomplishments would stand up to scrutiny, no matter who was in charge, right?  Wrong.


Learn the Right Lesson Here!


The obvious lesson might be that politics are real and you’d better play the game well if you’re going to succeed, no matter where you go.  But that’s not it.


Yes, office politics are real, no denying that.  As a leader, it’s important that you gain an understanding of the political landscape in which you are working.  Not so you can play the game — so you can avoid getting caught up in it.


Think about the successful leaders you know, the ones who rise to the top.  The vast majority of those I know didn’t get to where they are today by crushing their in house competition in the game of office politics.  They got there by crushing their external competitors and serving their clients better than anyone else.


Along the way, they were politically aware, but not politically active.  They built relationships with everyone they could.  While others around them came and went, they thrived because of those relationships and because of their relentless focus on the end game.


Live in denial and the smarter politicians in your office will be deciding your fate for you.  You won’t even know it.


Get good at office politics and you’ll score some wins; a promotion or two, a few awards here and there.  For most, though, the game eventually catches up with them and their political nature becomes career limiting.


Understand office politics well enough to avoid getting caught up in the wrong debates.  Focus on clients, growth and other key goals.  Build relationships with everyone you meet.  Know the game, and then refuse to play.  That’s how the best rise to the top.

The organization that isn’t changing is dying. For more leadership ideas, along with strategies for managing change, visit www.thomasjodea.com.

Tom O’Dea has over 30 years of IT experience, with 20 years of senior leadership in IT and Professional Services with multibillion dollar corporations.