Hi folks, I’m back from a
fasinating fascinating time in Boston, where I stood in for Nicco Mele in front of his digital politics class at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. This class session covered online fundraising, and we crammed *a lot* of information into 80 minutes, along with plenty of questions and some good back-and-forth. Want to know what we talked about? I didn’t have slides (I tend to run classes as an interaction with the students rather than a lecture), but I did have a detailed outline — check it out below.
Want to know more about any topic in the presentation? Particularly if you’re interested in talking about how I can help with YOUR online fundraising strategy and tactics, let’s talk.
Intro and Overview
Why are we talking about online fundraising?
- online fundraising powerful here because of quirks in the U.S. political funding system (individual donations, individual campaigns, money = speech, campaigns are driven by need to raise money)
- every country will be different
- also fundraising for advocacy/charity groups
Short history of online fundraising
- early days/adoption of online commerce
- Dean/Kerry demonstrate efficacy
- ActBlue spreads down-ballot
Why does someone donate money?
- because they want to
- if you’re a professional fundraiser, your job is to make them want to
- persuasion and motivation
- relationship management on a large scale
- get ’em excited, then give ’em something to do about it
Where fundraising fits into the communications world
- ladder of engagement = tiers of acts of support
- tension between advocacy & fundraising
- tension between long term and short term
How Online Fundraising Works
Where do donors come from?
- sometimes they find you
- more often you have to hunt them down
- lists and databases = key political & fundraising tools
How does online fundraising work?
- key tools: email and a website
- send someone an email with an explicit fundraising ask
- CRMs and what they track
- don’t miss a donation — optimize website, run Google Ads to catch drive-by interest
Using email to motivate donors
- every communication affects their propensity to act
- key: content feeds relationships
- narrative arc (example: typical year-end sequence)
- striking while iron is hot (Sarah Palin & the biggest day of online fundraising)
- moving them up the ladder of engagement
- targeted asks based on interests or behavior
- social media and ongoing engagement (social primes the list to act)
Other online fundraising channels
- social media
- peer to peer
- organic growth
- signing people up at real-world events
- social media transfers (ActionSprout)
- paid acquisition
What can go wrong?
- cutting through the clutter (information overload)
- list burnout!!!
- technical problems
Power of analytics to avoid problems
- unsubscribe rates
- open/action rates
- donation amounts
- testing, testing, testing — A/B and more
How does online fundraising change politics?
- democratizing effect
- counter to big money
- gets more people involved in politics (they’re invested, literally)
Rise of independent groups
- Sheldon Adelson & Newt Gingrich
Disintermediation & current Republican situation
- trad big donors freed from Establishment
- small donors and the Tea Party
- would it have been possible w/o online fundraising?
- did need to raise money drive people-powered politics?
- email decline?
That’s it! Let me know if you want to learn more about any topic we covered.