How to Raise Money for Local Campaigns


When you think of political campaigns, you think of money – incomprehensible, nation-building sums of money. And in many cases that association is accurate. The financial cost of running for federal office can be mind bending. Funding a run for the presidency is comparable to launching a new pro-sports franchise.

Local elections are a different animal, because not all districts are created equally. Running a successful campaign for local office can cost anywhere from a few thousand to many millions, depending on where you live and the voting demographics in your area. It’s cheaper to win in Cheyenne than Chicago. It also helps when everyone in your zip code is a member of the same party.

But putting the extremes aside, there are many competitive local elections out there, and there are certain tactics that can help any local campaign get some coins in the coffers. Here are some tips to help your campaign reach the finish line.

1. Just Ask, Man

If you feel nervous asking people for things, it is very possible that you have chosen the wrong career. Politicians should be masters of asking and thanking. They can ask in people’s homes. They can ask on the phone. Asking for favors is a politician’s bread and butter.

But local candidates often know their constituents. Cue the guilt. A great response rate goes right out the window when you ask for too little. If you ask for a specific amount, leave room for your constituents to offer more. More about this in a moment.

2. The High Roller’s Suite

People like to feel special, and they don’t mind paying for the privilege. When you hold events such as pay-per-plate dinners or benefit concerts, always make a special place for the VIPs, and charge five times more for the tickets.

Don’t price yourself into unpopularity. Keep the basic entry fees reasonable, but always have a range of more prestigious options.

3. The Value Menu

It’s a classic problem. You want to impress the more prolific donors, but you don’t want to empty your pockets to do so. Remember, most major donors are not there to judge you on the quality of your lobster. In fact, overspending could hurt your chances by making you look like a poor investment.

Keep it simple and efficient. Don’t rant about your fiscal conservatism over gold flatware and filet mignon. Your time and your ideas are the premium product.

4. Thank you. Come again.

Local elections can involve tiny townships, metropolises and everything in between. But no matter how big or small the constituency, always keep the customer happy, and never burn any bridges if you can avoid it. It may seem obvious, but small, personal gestures of thanks can have a profound effect on the likelihood of your donors to give again. Always be appreciative.