4 Steps for Political Candidates to Raise Money and Get Endorsements

Raising money and gathering endorsements are crucial components of running for public office.

Your campaign needs money to buy signs, send mailers, run ads, and so forth.

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

These endorsements help voters see you have 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 an 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 write a check 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.

And there’s no reason to be shy about asking for either.

When you call up potential donor or endorsement, they already know why you’re calling.

How do they know?

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 often receive such requests from candidates such as yourself.

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.

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 works best.

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, just 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.  State 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 campaign.

Potential donors and endorsers need to know why exactly you’re running.

What you say needs to be succinct and to the point, so practice it before having these conversations.

State the problems or issues in your community you are running to fix or solve.

Outline your basic plan for doing this. Don’t get overly detailed. Hit the broad brush strokes.

Demonstrate your vision. Don’t get lost in minutiae that glazes eyes over.

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

The people you are meeting with will appreciate that you have a purpose behind your candidacy.

3.  State How You Plan to Win

Donors don’t like to give money to losing campaigns and endorsers hate to back unsuccessful candidates.

You need to be clear 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)
  • How much mail you plan on sending (and any other other voter contact mediums like Facebook, radio, TV ads)
  • Your winning message that resonating with the voters (it’s best when it lines up with why you’re running)
  • The track record of the campaign team you’ve assembled (consultant, campaign manager, fundraiser, pollster, etc.)

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”

You’ve made it this far in the conversation; now 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 people you meet with 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 your community’s leaders.