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Dialing For Dollars - Successful Fundraising

By Holly Robichaud

 

Do you know the number one reason people give to a campaign?  They were asked to donate!

 

No matter what office you are running for, it is a fact of life, the candidate needs to ask people for money.  Candidates who refuse to dial for dollars will either have to self fund or drop out of the race due to lack of funding. 

 

Overall success in raising money depends upon the ability to build an orderly program that asks the right people for specific dollar amounts.  One of the most productive ways to solicit large donations is through personal contact by the candidate.  Generally speaking, people don't usually send in four and five figure checks in response to a piece of direct mail.  You have to ask them.

 

When writing your finance strategy, plan on a minimum of 25 to 35% your contributions being derived from personal solicitation by the candidate.  Events, finance committees, PACs, direct mail, and the internet will compromise the rest of your campaign income.

 

In all successful campaigns, candidates spend a considerable amount of time calling high-dollar donors.  During the early stages of a campaign at least 50% of the candidate's time should be devoted to fundraising calls.

 

These calls only work when the candidate has an attitude for success.  If they believe in their candidacy, then others will also believe in it. 

 

The overwhelming majority of candidates try to avoid dialing for dollars.  They don't like the rejection, so here are some helpful tips to make fundraising calls a success:

  • Be enthusiastic;
  • The more personal attention, the greater the commitment and larger the gift;
  • rejection is a reality.  Never stop asking;
  • If turned down, attempt a compromise;
  • Ask for realistic commitments.  By doing research on donors before calling you will know how much to ask for;
  • You will never get more than you ask for.  Don't sell yourself short; 
  • When soliciting help make the donor feel comfortable.  Tell them what their colleagues are contributing.

Once you have a specific dollar request stay quiet until your prospect speaks.  The first one to open their mouth loses the negotiation.  The silence may seem awkward, but it will be worth it.

 

Listen and listen more.  The prospect will most likely tell you their hot button issue.

Let the donor know you need their help and that he or she is playing a vital role in the campaign.

 

Remember that your need is urgent.

 

Always send out a follow up letter immediately after the call ends.  If you have the volunteer help, send someone over to pick up the check.

 

How to Start a Call

 

“I want to take a few moments to share with you why I have decided to run for ____ and what I hope to accomplish once elected.  I also want to hear your concerns and find out what you think we can do make government better.”

 

How to Ask

 

“I appreciate your time and thank you for allowing me to share my vision for ___.  The only way I will be elected is if I can get my message to the voters, which of course is very expensive.  I know that you get numerous requests for contribution and I appreciate your generosity to the Republican Party and its candidate.  I would appreciate it if you would consider contribution $??? to my campaign.  Can I count on you?”  (And remember once you have asked stop speaking.)

 

Rejection happens!!!  But no does not have to mean no.

 

How to Handle Objections:

 

Anticipate potential objections, so that you are prepared to answer them.

 

If the objection is weak, ignore it.

 

Never argue!  Explain and redefine.

 

Handle objections as they may come up.  React positively. –“I am glad that you brought up this matter . . .”

 

Don't let the objection upset the entire presentation.  Answer it and return to the main issue.

 

Convert the objection into a reason for giving.

 

Diminish the objection by listening.

 

Often potential donors say they need their spouse's permission.  Here's what to say: “Okay, when will you be able to speak to your spouse and how much are you going to recommends.”

 

If they want to wait to later in the campaign explain how important early money is. If they still want to wait, make sure to follow up later in a campaign.  One campaign I remember an extremely wealthy prospect wanted to wait to see if we could raise the money.  He offered to donate $1000 when we reached $499,000.  I called him at $400,000 and got rejected.  I called again at $490,000 and still got no where.  Finally at $499,000 we got the check, but also a commitment to raise more money for us.  This contributor became a valuable member of our finance committee and conducted an event in which he raised $72,000 in one night for us.  It was well worth the wait.

 

Once you get your financial commitments, please make sure to create a tracking system for doing follow up.  There are many people who will want to forget they ever received the call.  It is the job of the campaign to get that check once the candidate gets the pledge. 

 

Holly Robichaud has over 20 years experience in helping
Republicans get elected to office.  She specializes in strategy,
direct mail, voter contact programs, and campaign fundraising.
She can be reached at
Click here to contact this Author

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