With the start of the new year, we are officially in the “on-year” of the 2022 campaign cycle! Campaigns are starting to ramp up their efforts to head into Election Day strong, and our fundraising team is doing the same. Fundraising is a key component to any campaign or political group, and how you respond to critical events throughout the cycle is essential to running a successful grassroots fundraising program. At my time at the DCCC, grassroots online fundraising in the 2020 on-year doubled that of the 2019 off-year. This spike is huge for any group and shows just how valuable on-year dollars can be.
Fortunately, the on-year presents plenty of events for campaigns to capitalize on to boost their fundraising. Read below to learn how our team uses the on-year to the best of our advantage for our fundraising clients.
YOUR RACE IS SOLIDIFYING, USE THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
This election cycle is different than usual – it’s a redistricting year. And for many states who are deeply affected by census results, redistricting has caused a lot of uncertainty to races this past off-year. Fortunately, races are starting to solidify – new lines have been drawn, candidates are announcing, and even current incumbents are making their intentions for re-election clearer.
The more solidified your race is, the easier it becomes to talk about in your fundraising. Having a defined opponent, for example, allows you to be less vague in your attacks, where you can point to their record or their views instead of “Republicans” in general. Defined candidates on each side also means polling has narrowed and becomes more usable as a hook – you can show exactly where things stand in the race and whether you need your list to help you catch up or stay ahead. For those running in a newly drawn district, your targeted areas are becoming clearer and so are the issues you should be focusing on based on those you are running to represent. The more informed your list can be on your race, the easier it will be to convince them to chip in.
USE EVERY DEADLINE YOU CAN IN YOUR EMAILS
For campaigns, the on-year contains several hard deadlines for candidates that don’t necessarily have anything to do with fundraising. It’s when most states have filing deadlines for candidates to join a race, primary election dates to determine who moves forward, and eventually Election Day itself. Each of these deadlines can be used as a hook in fundraising. You can ask your list to help fund last minute efforts before the deadline, or to help make sure your candidate comes out on top.
Though these are used often in the off-year as well, End of Month and End of Quarter Deadlines are still very important in the on-year. For example, September in the on-year is the last End of Quarter Deadline before Election Day, while October is the last End of Month Deadline until Election Day – each of these points are helpful to show your list that these are the final times they can chip in to help, thus creating stronger urgency in your asks. Each of these deadlines also make it seem to your list that their last-minute help is the deciding factor in how things play out. Giving any list a hard deadline to contribute will help you get in money until the very end.
RAMP UP THE URGENCY
Showing urgency whenever possible is always helpful when asking for money. In the on-year, Election Day becomes closer and closer with each day that goes by. In the off-year, it’s hard to sell to your fundraising list that they need to give when the election is over a year away. But now, donors are beginning to run out of time to get their donations in at all. It’s important to make sure your list knows how quickly time is running out with each email being sent.
Another great way to show urgency is to connect the money you are raising to actual work the campaign is doing. This helps show that what you are raising is going immediately to fund campaign efforts, and not just sitting with the campaign. For example, when you start running ads, hint toward that in your email and explain you are raising money to keep your ads up – donors will see the immediate impact their dollars will have. This technique can be used with voter outreach efforts, funding ground game efforts, and more.
THE BEST GIFTS ARE RECURRING GIFTS
Recurring gifts are extremely helpful for any campaign. These gifts can help a campaign plan for future budgeting and spending. And with the general election growing closer, many donors are more inclined to commit to a recurring gift for just a couple of months. Instead of asking for $25, you can ask your list to chip in $5 for 5 months – something that’s more attainable yet also helps you achieve exactly what you need. Testing asks like this really pays off in the on-year.
Another huge highlight for recurring gifts in the on-year is that ActBlue usually opens up the option for weekly recurring gifts. It’s important to turn on these options when they are available to maximize your recurring options. ActBlue also allows for customizable options on your donation pages to highlight the recurring option and even add in a blurb to entice your donors to give recurring – called a “recurring pitch.” Every campaign should highlight the recurring gift option whenever possible in the on-year.
WE CAN HELP
Have we gotten you excited about the on year fundraising boost and want to chat about how COMPETE can help? Feel free to email me, or put something on my calendar, and we can walk through your campaign’s potential together.