Every candidate can raise money online. I really believe this because I’ve seen it happen. It’s a common misconception that only high profile and “red meat” candidates can raise money from the grassroots online.
If you focus on building your list and converting supporters into donors, while implementing best practices, you WILL raise money online. And the bigger your list, the more you’ll raise. But it’s never easy and sometimes you will struggle.
Here are some things to keep in mind while you work on building your online fundraising program.
Your online fundraising efforts aren’t going to be giving you positive returns right out of the gate. Once a program is up and running, it can take weeks between the time someone opts into your email list and decides to become a donor. Everything you’re doing at the outset is planting seeds for the future success of your program.
You’ll experience a hockey stick increase in fundraising towards the end of your campaign when 60-70% of your online fundraising total will come in.
Remember that your sender reputation is a critical component of your overall ability to get email delivered to inboxes. Even if you’re not converting as many donors as you’d like, you still need to keep sending emails to drive engagement, especially click throughs.
If you’re struggling to raise money from your email list, try raising data, in the form of information about your supporters, when they prefer to open emails, what kinds of calls to action they respond to, etc
It’s easier to get a supporter to provide information for free than to get them to donate, so if something’s off. This can help you diagnose the issue.
Segment your List
Once you’ve begun gathering additional data on your supporters, use it to segment your list and create more targeted calls to action and messages that are relevant to them. For example, if someone is a reliable clicker, but they don’t donate, ask them to share your petitions and other list building efforts.
Work smarter, not harder by automating your email messages to supporters. Especially if you’ve had copy that’s been successful once, try it again with newer subscribers after they’ve been on your list for a while.
Remember the Big Picture
Raising money online isn’t the only goal of your campaign. It’s helpful in getting additional resources and buy-in for digital efforts and building a sustainable online fundraising program is critical for your success. But don’t forget that you’re ultimately trying to win votes.
Building an email list – an “owned” audience – will help the other activities of your campaign, including volunteer recruitment, voter contact, and GOTV. Even better, if you can get a supporter to donate any amount, that’s a vote you can take to the bank on election day.
The bottom line: don’t get discouraged if you don’t see early, immediate online fundraising success. The strategies and tactics I share here work, but since there are lots of circumstances far beyond our control, most notably the political news cycle, it’s important that you don’t give up too early.