4 Simple Steps to Raise Money and Get Endorsements for a Political Campaign

Raising money and gathering endorsements are crucial components of running a successful political campaign for elected office.

Your campaign needs money to buy signs, send mail, broadcast commercials, blast out text messages, and so forth.

Your campaign also needs endorsements from elected officials and community leaders.

These endorsements demonstrate you have the qualifications for the office you’re seeking because you’re supported by respected members of your community.

While it’s understandably easier to ask a person for their endorsement than for their money, a winning candidate cannot be shy about asking for contributions.

You can’t be afraid to ask a potential donor to donate to your campaign or you won’t raise the money needed to be competitive.

Nor can you be shy about asking elected officials and community leaders in your area to endorse your candidacy.

Let me share a little secret with you….

When you call a potential donor or endorser, there is no reason to be nervous.

Why?  Because they already know why you’re calling.

How do they know this? Simple. You’re a candidate for office.

If the people you’re reaching out to have a history of donating to political campaigns or are leaders in the community, they’re used to such requests from candidates.

Because they already know why you’re calling, you need to make the ask for a contribution, an endorsement, or possibly both.

Here’s how successful candidates I’ve worked for have done it.

1.  Call or Meet With Your Potential Donor or Endorser

You can have this conversation either on the phone or in person.  It’s up to you and how comfortable you are with the person you are asking for their money or endorsement.

Do not under any circumstances ask for a campaign contribution or an endorsement in a text message.

While you can text to set up a time to talk or meet, but don’t ask for the contribution in the text.

It is impersonal, lazy, and rude.

If you deem a person worthy of taking their money to fund your campaign or their name strong enough to bolster your credibility, then they are worthy of your undivided personal attention on the phone or in a one-on-one meeting.

Many first time candidates find a hybrid phone call-meeting system to work best, especially with people they don’t yet know.

They call someone up, make a polite introduction, and set up a meeting for coffee.  This tends to work best when a candidate is unknown to the person they are calling.

Meeting for coffee allows the two of you to get to know each other and limits the time of the meeting so you can tend to other campaign duties.

Lunch meetings are bad as they will literally eat up an hour or more of your precious campaign time.

However you feel comfortable having this conversation, be sure to do it on the telephone or in person.

Again, they already know why you are calling, so don’t be nervous about the call or the meeting.

2.  Say Why You Are Running

Once the basic get-to-know-you or how-have-you-been chit chat is over, you need to direct the conversation to your political campaign.

Potential donors and endorsers need to know why you’re running for the office you are seeking.  And you need to tell them.

Your answer to “why are you running” needs to be succinct and to the point, so practice it before having the conversation.

State the problem or issue in your community you are running to fix or solve.

Outline your basic plan for doing this. Don’t get overly detailed. Hit only the broad brush strokes, unless they want to dig deeper into it.

The people you are meeting with will appreciate there is a purpose behind your candidacy.

It also shows them you are running for a bigger reason than you simply wish to be elected to something.

3.  Say How You Plan to Win

Donors don’t like to give to losing campaigns and endorsers hate to back an unsuccessful candidate.

Again, you need to be as clear and succinct with them that you have a realistic plan for getting elected.

Without getting submerged into great detail, provide an outline of your campaign plan.

Such information to state would include:

  • How much money you plan on raising (and how much you’ve raised)
  • How many doors you plan on knocking on (and how many you’ve already hit)
  • The message you have that resonates with the voters (it’s best when it lines up with why you’re running)
  • How you plan to successfully communicate with the voters (in addition to door knocking, you want to talk about mail, texting, social media ads, maybe even radio or television commercials)
  • The track record of the campaign team you’ve assembled (like your consultant, campaign manager, fundraiser, finance committee, and kitchen cabinet)

Telling potential donors why you’re running and how you’re going to win puts them at ease and increases they likelihood that they will give you what you want.

Only at that point can you move on the real reason you’re talking to them.

4.  Make “The Ask”

Now that you’ve gotten through the chit chat, told them why you’re running, and how you plan on winning, it’s time to make “the ask.”

If you want a contribution, you must ask for a specific amount money from the potential donor.

If you want an endorsement, you must ask if you can publicly use the persons name as supporting your campaign.

If you don’t ask, they have no reason to give you what you’re after.

Ask them then and there because asking later typically does not work.

If you can’t muster the courage to ask them for what you’re seeking, they will become concerned that you won’t have the courage to do the things you say you want to do if elected.

Or even worse, they will fear you don’t have the courage to do what you need to do to win your election, especially if the race gets tough or nasty.

Remember that donors, elected officials, and community leaders don’t like backing campaigns they don’t deem viable.  They like to back winners and only winners.

Show them you are a winner and that you know it.

Tell them why you are running.

Tell them how you are going to win.

Then ask them for a campaign contribution or an endorsement.  Ask them for both if that’s what you want.

The worst thing they can say is “no.”

Some might say “let me think about it.” That’s fine.  Follow up with them later and make “the ask” again.

However, if you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll have a lot more saying “yes” to you than you think.

Before you know it your campaign coffers will be full and your endorsement list will be a who’s who of community’s leaders.