Unless you’re self-funding your campaign, you need to fundraise. And if you didn’t start raising money over a year before your race, then you need to raise money fast or you won’t be able to connect with voters. That’s the case for most candidates, including most of my clients. For them I’ve often provided the solution of how to raise $10,000 in 90 minutes.
The Man Who Taught Me This
The method for raising a large amount of campaign funds fast is one that is tried and true. I learned it from one of my political mentors, Steve Kinney. Steve had a great career in politics, working with the likes of California Governors George Deukmajian, Pete Wilson, and State Treasurer Matt Fong. Before he made the emphasis of his political work polling, Steve was a prominent fundraiser.
It was Steve who taught me this incredible fundraising method I’m going to share with you.
As Paul wrote last week, too many candidates waste money by having fundraising events that cost them more money than they are worth after all the expenses have been paid. In many cases I’ve seen candidates lose money from fundraising events.
You don’t want that to happen to your campaign. You can’t afford it to happen if you really want to win your race.
The Fastest Way to Raise Campaign Funds
Instead of having a fundraising event, you need to schedule a fundraising meeting – either at breakfast or lunch. It should be in a restaurant with a private and/or a banquet room. You will want the privacy. You will want a table that seats 10 to 15 people, but no more than 15 people. For your first one, I suggest only having 10 people attend.
The breakfast or lunch should take place during the work week. Why? Because it’s easier to get people to these meetings than if you were to schedule it at night or on the weekend.
If it’s a breakfast, don’t schedule it on a Monday. If it’s a lunch, don’t schedule it on a Friday. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are always your best bet for getting people to a fundraiser.
You are only going to invite 10 to 15 people to this event. You are not going to send out formal invitations. You’re not even going to be doing that inviting. That will be done by a prominent person who is supporting your campaign. They will technically be hosting the breakfast or lunch, but you’re campaign will be covering the associated costs, which in this case is limited to the food the invitees order.
Who is this prominent person? It’s someone you know or who you’ve been connected with as a candidate. If you’ve done the Back of the Envelope Fundraising to jumpstart your campaign, that person probably came off that list.
This prominent person supporting you and serving as the host needs to be a person who can and will write at least a $1,000 check for your campaign. They also need to know people who can and will give you a donation of at least $1,000 as well. The host is typically a local business owner, labor leader, or political figure of some stature.
Your grandmother who might give you $1,000 out of your pending inheritance is probably not a good person to have serve as a host. Unless she can get 10 other people there who will also give $1,000 to your campaign, don’t ask her to host such a meeting.
What you need to keep in mind is that only people who can give you $1,000 are invited to your breakfast or lunch meeting. Not only is that crucial, so is the fact that whoever the host invites is someone that will give you $1,000 by the time the meeting is over. Your host should already have the pump primed for you when the invitation is made.
At the breakfast or lunch, you and the host sit next to each other. Once the orders are taken, the host introduces you to the rest of the attendees. There should be 10 there including the host. You make a quick presentation about who you are and why you are running. You then go around the table allowing each attendee to say who they are, what they do, and then ask a question of you.
You start with the host to get things rolling, then move on to the person beside your host. Most people don’t mind talking about themselves and their accomplishments, so this will get them talking. They will then ask you a question and you field it, then move on to the next person.
By the time everyone has spoken and asked you a question, the food should have been served and eaten, and you’ve gotten to know a room full of prominent residents you didn’t know before. More importantly, they’ve gotten to know you and what you plan to do once you’re elected to office.
When the questioning has made it’s way around the room and back to you, this is the host’s time to shine. He or she will address the invited attendees, say they loved what they heard from you, and are writing a $1,000 check for your campaign right there. They will also encourage everyone else to do the same right then and there.
If all ten attendees give $1,000, your campaign just raised $10,000 at a breakfast or lunch meeting that shouldn’t last more than an hour and a half. At the same time, your only expenses were the costs of the food that was eaten. If that comes up to $200, your campaign just cleared $9,800! That’s not a bad way to spend a morning or afternoon.
Since the host personally knows and invited all of the attendees, it should have been made clear when the invitation was made that checks would be collected by the conclusion of the meeting. If someone wants to support you, but needs to send you the money, thank them for the commitment and their support. Should the money not arrive within a week, have your host follow up to collect directly.
Variations on This Method
Now you don’t need to ask for $1,000. You may need to ask for less if there are extremely tight contribution limits where you are running. Or you may need to ask for more if you’re running in a big race. If there are contribution limits, it’s best to have the host ask everyone to “max out” to you by making the largest donation legally allowable.
If you’re running in a small race, you can consider dropping the amount you’re asking from each person to $500, or even $250. I wouldn’t go below that. In fact, I wouldn’t want you to ask for less than $500 from each, but you know your community better than I do, which means you’ll also know what’s reasonable amount to request. So will your host. Just don’t low ball yourself because you’re afraid to make the ask. That’s a sure fire way to leave money on the table that could have gone to your campaign.
The goal here is to raise a large amount of campaign money fast. 10 people giving you $1,000 raises you $10,000 fast. If you pulled off five such fundraising meetings, your campaign could quickly raise $50,000 – which is plenty of money to complete in almost any local jurisdiction in America.
Don’t believe this method will work for you? Try it out and follow this blueprint exactly as I’ve laid out. You’ll probably be surprised by the amazing fundraising results you see. In fact, Matt Fong who ran for the United States Senate in California against Barbara Boxer funded his campaign almost entirely with these types of meetings.
Steve Kinney knew what he was doing. He passed this knowledge on to me, and now I’m giving it to you. I hope you’ll apply this method to your fundraising in your campaign for elected office.
Now go get that $10,000 that’s out there waiting for your campaign.