Getting started

You want to raise a huge amount of money in no time? Then you should play in a lottery – this article is going to disappoint you. 




Fundraising and sponsoring are well-planned efforts which require financial as well as personal resources.

There are legal and cultural barriers for fundraising. You should always check the legal situation before you start fundraising.

In some places people are more used to donating in cash, in others they want to pay by cheque, transfer money from their bank account via SMS, or use an online donation tool. Have a look at the methods used successfully by others and ask which may be good ways for your target groups. Of course you can leave the choice of the channel up to your donors.

The main challenge to start fundraising may be your own attitude towards it. Your party needs money, but you feel uncomfortable begging for it? That’s why you haven’t even started? Perhaps you want to hire a fundraiser and let him or her do the dirty job?

If these are your feelings it is time to change your attitude. You are not a beggar! You are fighting for a better world with your party and you offer others the opportunity to support your cause – even if they cannot or do not want to spend time on it. They want a better world for themselves and for their children – and you provide them with the opportunity to improve the situation by simply giving some money. Isn’t this a generous offer? Or as John D. Rockefeller, Jr put it: "Never think you need to apologize for asking someone to give to a worthy object, any more than as though you were giving him an opportunity to participate in a high-grade investment.”

Fundraising is not just about money, it’s much more about persons and relationships. Building up a good relationship between the party and the donor is crucial. The most promising donors are the members of your party. They already have an intense relationship with your party and will understand when your party needs money to finance a campaign. But most of them will want to donate for a vision, for a better future or for a specific issue, not just for ‘the campaign’.

Fundraising – who and how
Successful fundraising will always start with the members. When you send out a mailing to your members you should always ask for money and support for a specified purpose not just “for the party”. You could e.g. tell your members that you need a certain amount of money in order to finance a campaign event or a campaign newspaper. You can also offer the opportunity to donate for a specific political cause (e.g. “for the campaign against the new waste disposal site”).

Some parties give certain incentives to donors: If you spend $50  you get a T-shirt or a cap, if you spend $100 you get a bathing towel, if you spend $1000  you’ll be invited to a dinner with the top candidate. Until they’ve actually tried it, some party officials fear this will not work with their members. Think about incentives that are really attractive for your members. Perhaps you’ll promise an iPod Shuffle for giving $500 or an invitation to an eco leisure centre?

To build up and nourish a good relationship with donors, you should think about fundraising dinners and other fundraising events. Don’t expect too much from just one event! It is necessary to build up ties that last. A fundraising dinner should always include a speech by a prominent and popular representative of the party like the top candidate, a minister, the party leader or at least the campaign manager. The location shouldn’t be too big – it should always look well attended. At each table there should be interesting hosts from the party not just potential donors. Never forget during a fundraising event to ask people for a donation. This does not have to be made in cash of course – but don’t forget to ask!

The most effective fundraisers usually are the top candidates. They have to call people and enterprises they know and ask for support. A fundraising assistant should sit down with the top candidate and should check her or his address book in order to identify potential donors. In a list you should put down when and how this person should be reached. The fundraising assistant has the task to ask: “Did you manage to call your aunt Esther last week and ask her for support?” This continuous monitoring of the top candidates’ fundraising activities is very important because she or he will have plenty of other duties.

Some people may be easier to convince if you offer them to pay just half of the intended amount now and the rest later. Others will be impressed by a Campaign Finance Committee full of honourable and trustworthy citizens who really try hard to raise money for your party.

Start early! Those who give once will often give several times. But don’t just ask for money for your candidate or your party – you should always try to sell hope, green solutions and ideas.

By Albert Eckert, Facilitator, Trainer, Coach, Political Consultant and Mediator.

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