By Angela Lyonsjustus
Let’s face it, raising money is often the biggest hurdle for first time candidates. At first, the goal of raising so much money can seem daunting. However, many first time candidates reach and exceed this fundraising goal.
The California state contribution limit in Assembly and Senate races is $4,200 per election for individuals. An individual donor can give this amount in both the primary and general election since each is considered a separate election under California law.
So how do you start? Begin by breaking up the $100,000 into several different strategies so the goal becomes more manageable.
- MAJOR DONORS Start with your most committed supporters and those most likely to give you the maximum donation. These are people you personally visit or call to ask for a contribution and be sure to ask their spouse for a contribution as well!
- EVENTS Do you have supporters who would be willing to host an event for you? Identify people in your network who would invite 20-30 guests to their home to hear you speak and who would ask these friends to contribute. Several events like this can really add to your fundraising numbers.
- ONLINE GIVING It is easy to overlook the importance of small donations. They truly do add up. It is worth an investment of staff time to develop a substantial online presence and create a targeted fundraising “ask” through social media and emails. Online contributions can account for a reliable, if modest, portion of your goal.
- ISSUE INTEREST PACS Identify your strongest base of support: environment, education, labor, social justice. All important issues and causes have advocates and organizations who promote their cause and most can aid you by donating early in the campaign.
- NEW FRIENDS Finally, political handshaking can lead to more than just endorsements. Take note of the groups you meet with and whether they can aid in your fundraising efforts. Some will donate to your campaign, while others can solicit their members. Be sure to ask them all for a donation to your campaign.
Depending on the size of your campaign, I recommend having one campaign staffer dedicated to fundraising. Between creating call sheets, communicating with event hosts and donors, monitoring donations and submitting records to state agencies, the hours add up to a full time position.
A campaign cannot run without a robust fundraising operation, however, the most important piece of a successful political fundraising plan is you, the candidate. We at close the gap CA believe each woman running for office can be a successful fundraiser if she will devote the time to learn the ropes, the focus to become a skilled solicitor and the discipline necessary to “ask” regularly.
Follow the money is a great resource to see how much money was raised in your district in past elections.