The Real Reason Candidates Succeed or Fail at Fundraising

There’s one big reason behind why candidates are successful at fundraising.

reason-candidates-success-failure-fundraising

It’s also the reason why many candidates fail to raise money when running for office.

Sound odd?

It’s not.  It’s very true.

The reason why some candidates raise mountains of money and others don’t raise a dime is summed up in one sentence.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”

That wisdom was dispensed down to us by Henry Ford.

During my life on this earth and my twenty years in politics, I’ve never encountered anything that has disproven Mr. Ford’s statement.

In the political arena this sentence sums up why a candidate succeeds in raising money or is an abysmal failure at it.

First of all I will agree with you, it’s no fun raising money.  Asking people for cash can feel a bit sleazy and that makes you feel uncomfortable.

That’s good.  It means you’re a real human being with a conscience.

But you’re also a candidate for elected office which means you need to communicate with hundreds, if not thousands, and possibly millions of voters.

To reach that many people with your message, you’re going to need money to communicate with signs, mailers, and ads on radio, television, or social media.

Money is the gas that goes in the tank of every campaign.  How much you need to raise varies from race to race, but you still need to raise money if you want to win.

So while you may not find it fun raising money, that’s okay.  If it was fun or easy everyone would do it and more people would be running against you.

Now don’t beat yourself up over having to  ask potential donors for contributions.  As Paul explained in another article, you’re not raising money for yourself; you’re raising it to win an election and provide public service to your community.

The only thing that’s stopping you from being a successful fundraiser is in fact you.

You’re putting up mental barriers that stop you from making any progress before you get out of the starting gate.

This is what so often prevents good people with great ideas from winning elections.

I see it all the time with candidates.

When I come on to consult a campaign, one of the first things I do is put together a budget.

That budget will tell the candidate how much money they need to raise to be competitive in the race.  You can’t position yourself to win unless you first make yourself competitive.

I hear one of two things when I present a fundraising goal to a candidate based upon my budget projections.

A)  I don’t know how to raise that kind of money.

B)  I don’t think I can raise that kind of money.

If a candidate tells me A, or some variation of it, I know they are a bit intimidated by the amount I’m asking them to raise and are unsure how they can go about doing it.

I can work with the candidate who responds to me in that fashion.  In fact, nearly every winning candidate I’ve consulted for told me that at the beginning.

We either put together a plan to raise the money, or the campaign hired a professional fundraiser to do so, and these candidates raised the money.

Their minds were open to being able to achieve the fundraising goal and meet the budget needs of their campaigns.  They were just unsure how to do it, but went about acquiring the specialized knowledge necessary of raising the money to mount a winning campaign.

On the flip side, when a candidate tells me B, or outright says they can’t raise the money, there’s a good chance they are doomed at the ballot box.

Tragically, they defeated themselves months before they ever officially lost the Election.

Some times I can turn this around, but it’s a lot of work changing a person’s self-doubt about their fundraising ability into the faith that with the right plan and the willingness to work hard at it, they can pull it off.

As James Allen stated in his book As a Man Thinketh, “As he thinks, so he is; as he continues to think, so he remains.”

The candidates who think they can raise money though they’ve never done it, generally succeed and become great fundraisers.

The ones that can’t…well you’ll see their names on the ballot often, but seldom on a list of elected officials.

Henry Ford hit the nail on the head all those years ago.

Whether you think you can raise money for your campaign, or you think you can’t — you’re right.

So my challenge to you is to stop yourself every time you think you can’t raise money and tell yourself out loud that you can raise it.

Repeat it as many times as necessary and don’t let those pessimistic voices in your head talk you out of it.

If they say you don’t know people with money, then you follow this advice on jumpstarting your fundraising.

You’ll see there are more potential donors in your contact list than even you are aware.

If they try to tear down your confidence by telling you that you won’t be able to get money out of your targeted contributors,  take this advice from a three-term City Councilmember.

He had no idea how to raise money when he first decided to run for office.  I know, because I was there on Day One of his campaign.

He never said “can’t” — he only asked “how can I?”

That’s what you need to do.  You need to tell yourself that you can raise the money you need to be competitive in your election.

Before you know it you’ll not only be a solid fundraiser, you’ll probably also be in office working hard for your constituents and improving the quality of live in your community.