Political Fundraising During the Coronavirus Pandemic
During a crisis it can feel crass or small to think about how to do something like fundraise. But even as much of day-to-day life is altered by the current pandemic, the march towards elections continues. In fact, the challenging circumstances put the importance of leadership front-and-center, and the forthcoming elections take on an even greater significance.
Nevertheless, nothing- including fundraising- can proceed exactly as usual. And fundraising is a particularly delicate issue when tensions are high. Here are some things to consider:
Be a resource and a comfort
At times like these, people can be having extremely varied experiences. Many are feeling disrupted, devastated, outraged, anxious, and a lot else. Being thoughtful about how you’re engaging with each individual is critically important — it will rightly be perceived as a test of your leadership, and will impact your ability to continue building the necessary resources for your campaign during this time. It is why we highly recommend focusing on modes of outreach that can be personalized (see below).
But no matter the means of communication:
- Add value, don’t just ask for something. Whether you are providing helpful information, amplifying local advisories, or sharing useful tips, make sure you are serving as a resource and a comfort to those you are connecting with during these tough times.
- Don’t underestimate the power of just checking in. As we’ve written about previously, building a strong relationship with your donors requires that you stay in touch even when you’re not making a hard ask. This is a great time to see how people are doing.
- Consider and share the genuine implications of your election on moments like these. It’s hard to imagine a single elected officeholder in this country whose leadership won’t be implicated by the current crisis. What you are doing now to meet this moment, and what you would do in future crises is highly relevant to donors and voters alike. Remarking on your positions on relevant public policy issues, and/or how your background prepares you to tackle these sorts of challenges will resonate.
Focus on call time
Call time is already one of the most heavily relied upon methods of fundraising, but it will likely need to make an even larger share of most campaign budgets in the coming weeks and months.
Some benefits of leaning into call time now are:
- It complies with recommendations for social distancing. Public health guidelines are becoming increasingly strict about public gatherings, and the last thing you want is to put anyone at risk by needlessly bringing groups of people together.
- It allows you to have deeper engagements with individuals. During times of elevated anxiety, having messaging that is nuanced and personalized is especially important (see above). Mass forms of communication (email, social media, paid advertising, etc.) may have their place, but can feel like they lack sufficient depth and risk coming off as tone deaf to some, depending on each individual recipient’s situation at the moment. A personal touch allows you to better navigate this.
- It reaches people where they are. More people than ever are now at home throughout the day, so you are more likely to reach them there with a call.
Manage fundraising remotely
The imperative to work from home can make team work more challenging. But campaigns don’t need to chose between adopting a work from home policy and continuing to meet their fundraising objectives. Call time software can be leveraged to do both at the same time. Specifically, it can:
- Allow for remote power dialing (i.e., the call time manager can be on the line with the candidate, and control the phone remotely)
- Support collaborative logging and follow up from a single platform, updating in real time
- Allow the candidate and other team members to move through digital call lists together, from various locations, and jump around to one another’s screens quickly
Consider your own well being
The well-being of the people who make up a political campaign usually take a backseat to the campaign itself — they are often all-in, breakneck-paced endeavors. But for yourself, your team, and for everyone else in your community: remember to take care of yourself.