Home > WC Article Archive > Campaigning, The Internet, and Technology > Using the Internet to Raise Campaign Contributions Send this web page to a friend.
Newsletter Signup
Learn From The Experts Articles

Using the Internet to Raise Campaign Contributions

By Winning Campaigns Staff Writer

We’ve all heard the success stories of fundraising as candidates turn to the traditional methods of raising money from their supporters via house parties, fundraising events, bundling of payments from individuals to a single donor source, bringing in the “big bucks” that kick off the campaigns and hopefully sustain it through the election cycle.

And when we think of Howard Dean in the 2004 election cycle, or Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and more recently John McCain in our current cycle, we think of the millions of  dollars raised through online efforts.  These examples of Internet fundraising success have virtually changed the face of campaign fundraising forever.

However, we must not forget the many horror stories of campaigns that have foolishly staked the success of their entire fundraising effort on the strength of their online operation and ended up raising only a few hundred dollars.

What then is the most successful model to fashion your fundraising efforts after?  Has the Internet completely revolutionized the way that campaigns raise money or is the net simply a side-story, a small drop in the bucket next to the time-tested tactics of fundraising events, direct mail, and major donor solicitation? 

The answer can be found somewhere in between. In some ways, the Internet has totally revolutionized the way campaigns fundraise, but the net will never replace fundraising calls, events, and direct mail as the way in which the majority of campaigns raise most of their money.  Used properly, however, the Internet can and should be a major component of your fundraising plan. 

Here are five important steps to making your Internet fundraising campaign make the most of the power of the fundraising opportunity over the net:

1.  Build an Informative Website
Your campaign website should not be one big pitch to raise funds.  People come to your site for information on your candidate or group, your stance on the issues, recent press releases, information on where to go to vote, and this list is limited only by your imagination.  Your website must be inviting and informative, making your visitors pleased about taking the time to stop by.  Be sure that your website offers your visitors the opportunity to sign up and tell you who your visitors are.

2.  Capture E-Mail Addresses
On every page, offer your visitors the chance to sign-up for campaign updates and action alerts.  Ask them to enter their e-mail address, and in doing so, give you permission to e-mail them with information about the campaign as the campaign progresses.  Be sure to prominently post your privacy policy, telling your visitors that you won’t sell or rent their e-mail address to anyone for any reason.

3.  Add to Your Prospect List
This list of e-mail addresses captured on your site becomes your online political fundraising prospect list.  You need to keep growing this list to make it more and more valuable.  You can do this by getting people to sign-up for your e-mail updates every chance you get.  Have sign-up forms available at every event and rally; ask callers if they would like to receive the updates and include your website address on all of your literature. Make sure that people who are interested in the campaign go to the website and always encourage their sign-up.

4.  Use Your List
Now that you’ve started to create your prospect list, be sure to use it!  Send out useful information to your supporters that they will really be interested in, i.e. positive poll numbers, political scoops, campaign information, invitations to rallies, etc.

5.  Fundraise!
You’ve got an informative website.  You’ve built a list of supporters who are interested in your campaign.  You’ve given them useful information.  Now, you’re ready to fundraise.  Now, you can send out some e-mail fundraising letters to your list. They will recognize your contact and be attentive to your solicitation.  Why?  Because they have a relationship with your campaign!  They’re part of the team.  They’ve signed-up to receive updates, you’ve sent those updates, they know how the campaign is going, and they’re invested in your effort. 

Be careful not to “over send” your emails.  Remember how much email is being generated to each user every day.  Yours must say “open me first” every time. Send your online fundraising solicitations via e-mail on a regular basis, but make certain that they are mixed proportionately with your information updates and action alerts.

Be sure to include a prominently displayed Donate Now button or link on your website so that anyone who gets one of your updates, or sees your URL on a piece of direct mail is aware that  you take contributions by credit card on line.

Remember, online fundraising can and should be a vital part of your campaign’s fundraising plan, but it is only that… one part of an overall strategy.  When combined with the traditional fundraising methods such as events, direct mail, etc., Internet and e-mail fundraising can prove to add a significant boost to your campaign’s bottom line.
Jim Burrows
Winning Campaigns Staff Writer
Click here to contact this Author

Learn From The Experts Articles
   Campaigning, The Internet, and Technology

        The Need For Political Technology
        By Peter B. Kelly
In today’s campaign environment, many candidates find themselves faced with a dizzying array of new and updated technologies ...

        Connecting The Sticks... Getting Your Message To Rural Communities
        By Sarah Burris
If there is one thing that my friends take for granted, it’s the Internet. We’re grateful for our computers, iPods, cell phones, iPhones, and Blackberries, but ...

        Raising Campaign Contributions Online
        By Kami Razvan
In this age of Internet politics, the challenges of “innovation” and “technology” keep perking up in discussions about raising campaign money online ...

        Things to Consider Before Campaigning in Cyberspace
        By Christopher Massicotte
Whether you are running for President of the United States or for auditor of your municipality, the short answer to the question, Do I really need a web site ...

        Olí Dogs of Politics Versus New Technology
        By Art Murray
In today's world, technology has soared so that those who are technologically current have a decisive advantage over those who are not ...

        Making Online Campaign Technology Affordable
        By Jim Barney
When a friend turned would-be state politician, it didn't take long before he realized the role of technology and its importance to a small and under-funded campaign ...

        Does Your Campaign Website Need a Blog?
        By Chris Massicotte
The first two questions I am asked by “down-ballot” campaigns building their websites is, “What is a blog? Do I really need one?” ...

        Kicking Off a Successful Online Political Campaign
        by Phil Tajitsu Nash and Emilienne Ireland
Today, every campaign has a website, and some are even using blogs, RSS feeds, Facebook, and other tools to reach out to a wide audience ... 

        Using the Internet to Raise Campaign Contributions
        By Winning Campaigns Staff Writer
We’ve all heard the success stories of fundraising as candidates turn to the traditional methods of raising money from their supporters via house parties, fundraising events ...