By Matt Leopold
It’s no secret that running for office requires money. Usually, it requires lots of money. Just like anything in life, it must be fought for, earned, and spent wisely. Many of the big questions surrounding politics today are how we fundraise in ways that are cost-effective and yield the best results.
I’ve been doing political fundraising for nearly a decade. In that time, I have seen trends come and go, techniques attempted and abandoned. When online fundraising became readily available to people, it looked like it would dominate our fundraising streams. However, my experience has shown that print and mail fundraising is still one of the most effective ways to raise money for political candidates in any race.
Print fundraising is the easiest way to reach and solicit contributions from your friends and family. People are more likely to open a letter than they are an email these days, helping establish a captive audience and encourage giving. The average person receives up to 88 emails per day. People are swamped with emails they don’t care about and regular old snail mail has become exciting again.
98% of Americans check their email every day and spend about 30 minutes sorting through their physical mail. Handwritten addresses and eye-catching designs further increase open rates and interest, leading to action and a commitment to memory. We’ve seen time and time again that printed fundraising is making a bigger impact than ever. I’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this way for races across the country, proving that people respond well to a personal ask.
Generally speaking, people still trust their mail carrier and are more likely to believe the things in their mailbox are true. For older donors especially, donating online seems dangerous and they don’t always trust internet opportunities. Since the majority of donors will be older, it is important to give them trusted options, such as a reply envelope that won’t release their financial information online.
Print fundraising helps enhance your donor file. When you begin a campaign, you build a house donor file via both friends and family letters and prospecting. This list underpins all aspects of your early campaign. Those who contribute early will continue to donate for the duration of the campaign. Letters leave more personable impressions on those early donors, making them receptive and generous throughout the campaign.
Fundraising mail also helps deliver a message, which enhances fundraising ability. Letters and mail pieces give you the time and space to express your positions, which leave a favorable impression on your readers. Although there is certainly space for this kind of messaging online, attention spans on social media or over email are much shorter as people expect information in digital spaces to be brief and easily consumed. The internet is a fast-paced world, but the walk from the mailbox back into the house gives enough time for people to digest a little more information.
We can see that print fundraising is still an effective way to raise money for campaigns, even in an increasingly digital world. However, you should never put all your eggs into one basket. It is best to partner print and digital efforts. Print fundraising and prospecting can help you acquire emails and social media contact lists that will help improve targeting and solicitation online. An email database is helpful for volunteer engagement and GOTV efforts as well, so they’re always worth gathering.
The heart and soul of political fundraising has not changed much over the years; we still want to emphasize our issues, share our story, and convince people our campaign is a good investment. My recommendation is to use every tool available to you, and a full-service organization like Victory Enterprises makes it easy for every campaign, no matter their size, to do just that.