The Donald Trump campaign sent its first “emergency” fundraising email to supporters Saturday, seeking to raise at least $100,000 by the end of the day.
That request follows a multimillion-dollar ad blitz launched by likely general election rival Hillary Clinton this week.
“Right now we’re facing an emergency goal of $100,000 to help get our ads on the air,” the email said. “We need your contribution by 11:59 P.M. Tonight.”
“Crooked Hillary is about to invade your TV with ads attacking Mr. Trump. But we’re preparing to fight back,” it reads, adding the campaign plans to attack Clinton over her role in Benghazi and the FBI probe into her use of a private email server while secretary of State.
For any other candidate, the simple act of asking for money via email would not in itself constitute “news”. But for Trump? Damn straight — he’s barely asked at all before now. Early on he indicated that he might pay for his run for the presidency himself, but lately he seems to have rejected the idea of building a conventional campaign at all (meanwhile, we’ve found out that many of his past promises to cough up cash for various causes have proven to be…just a little bit empty).
And while $100,000 would make a yuuuuge difference in your average state legislative race, it’s a pittance at the presidential level. Remember that Barack Obama raised more than half a BILLION dollars online in both 2008 and 2012, and neither Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders has exactly been a slouch in that category this time around.
Trump’s campaign HAS raised grassroots money since it launched: his website features a Donate button, and at least some percentage of his supporters have used it, whether he asked them to or not. What we got this weekend was our first hint that it might be joined by an actual, intentional EFFORT to raise money from small-dollar donors and join the modern campaign-funding world.
But let’s not miss the campaign’s real digital focus. When I signed up for his list today, the thank-you page asked me to follow him on social media rather than to give him money. Not exactly a sign of a relentless push to maximize the benefit of each encounter with a voter: a social-media signup ask is something you can easily deliver later via email, but someone who just signed up to follow your campaign may be primed to donate right then. Repeat after me: a Twitter feed is not a digital strategy.