Political Fundraising in the Social Media Era

Fascinating infographic courtesy of MDG Advertising. Will your fundraising be social in 2012?

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Political Fundraising in the Social Media Era

Fascinating infographic courtesy of MDG Advertising. Will your fundraising be social in 2012?

Image

 

Candidate Quick Start Guide

Welcome to Voters Act! We’re positive our platform can help you mobilize your base and reach undecided voters in your area. But online outreach is intimidating, and it’s hard to know where to start. So we’ve got a checklist to get you on your way. Follow the ten recommendations below and you’ll start to see results.

  1. Complete Your Profile: Make sure to include your biography, campaign information, issue positions, and a thank you note to donors. But mostly, be sure to add a picture or video to make your profile more personable.
  2. Email your profile to your supporters: You already have friends and family that support your campaign. Send them your new candidate page and ask them to email it to their friends. This helps increase your name id and gets more people familiar with your positions.
  3. Embed donate link on your other online profiles: Make sure your other online accounts ask people to donate. Add a link to your candidate page to Facebook, Twitter, your campaign website, and as a signature on all campaign emails.
  4. Pick ten people to become fundraisers:  Ask your ten biggest supporters to take their involvement a step further. Tell them to create fundraising pages on Voters Act telling their peers why they support you. Think, if your Aunt Martha emails 100 people on your behalf. They’re more likely to listen because she asked and not you, they’re more likely to donate, and they’re more likely to vote. Best of all, Aunt Martha can see who she influences.
  5. Follow up: Now go back and check in with everyone you know. Email your friends again, contact Facebook contacts, plan an event or a speech.
  6. Solicit Endorsements: Local groups matter. See who can endorse you and ask them to push their members to your Candidate Page so they can support you publicly.
  7. Remember the big picture: Be sure to keep reminding voters what motivated you to run for office. If someone donates just $1 they’re much more likely to vote on election day.
  8. Work on conversion: There are a lot of steps between when someone first meets you and when they decide to vote for you. Work on moving them incrementally closer. Meet people who have never heard of your campaign. Convince supporters to donate. Convince donors to fundraiser.
  9. Be Patient: It’s a long election, but you don’t have to carry the whole burden. Spread out responsibility and ask people to help, they’ll be glad to take ownership of your campaign and advocate on your behalf.
  10. Ask us! We’re here for you. Email us (info@votersact.com) or call (512-508-8683) anytime and we’ll answer any questions we can.
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Every Party Has An Influencer

I recently read an article on the poor reviews the new slate of Kindles received from tech bloggers. They didn’t see a market for the product. For them, the iPad won in nearly every category. And, truth be told, the iPad is better. But it is also more expensive, harder to use, and designed to meet a variety of home and business needs. The Kindle was designed to read books, and it does that beautifully. Tech writers thought about the product they wanted, not the product the market would use.

I’ve wondered if Voters Act is in the iPad category. Is “political participation” a niche market for the 2% of Americans who actually research candidates? Are we, along with groups like Ruck.us, Ballotbook, and Votifi making a bet on a growth market that won’t grow more than Romney’s poll numbers? I think not. Here’s why.

Our bet isn’t on every American getting involved in politics. We don’t even need half of Americans to be politically active. What we do need is one person. One person in each group of friends, each civic organization, each team and each church. We need that individual who does care about politics, who does care about their vote, and we need their friends to trust their opinion.

If that person get’s excited about one campaign – from president to their local school board – then Voters Act has the chance to help them support their favorite candidate in a way previously impossible.

That’s what we want to do.

We don’t want to provide a bevy of services, we want to be excellent at one thing: creating new mechanisms for engaging with the political process.

 

From the Voters Act team, Happy Thanksgiving.

-Hudson

We Are The 4%

There’s the 1%, then there’s the 4%.

That’s right, going forward, any candidate who signs up with Voters Act will only be charged a 4% transaction fee for the duration of their campaign. There are no other charges, fees, or expenses associated with our use.

With some online donation platforms as high as 9%, we’re proud to offer you one of the lowest rates in the industry. Here’s what all that includes.

1. Peer-to-peer advocacy and fundraising platform.
2. Secure online donation processing.
3. All necessary ethics information.
4. Follow up and training with the campaign’s key supporters.
5. Weekly checks to the candidate’s campaign (more frequently closer to reporting deadlines and media buys).
6. More involved supporters.

Hope you swing by Voters Act today and give us a try.

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Making Politics Participatory: 8 Websites That We Like

Voters Act forms just a small part of a growing movement to take campaign finance and publicity online. This revolution in fundraising not only makes politics easier, but more participatory as well. Here’s a collection of online services that have already taken substantial steps in transforming the landscape of campaign fundraising and publicity.

Each of these websites allows you to quickly create fundraising pages of your own in just a few easy steps. They also boast social media tools that allow to not only raise money, but to spread the word about a campaign to friends on Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t use us, use one of these guys. Get your supporters more involved in your campaign.

Fundly

  • To date, $985 million (and counting) raised on Fundly
  • Harnesses the power of a “social donation” to use social networks to for fundraising.
  • Use Fundly for not just political campaigns, but also charities, events, individuals.. just about anything.

Election Mall

  • Very similar to Fundly. Use social networking to promote an easily created fundraising page.
  • Also  helps with selling tickets to fundraising events, email blasts, and managing phone-a-thons.
  • Heavy involvement in campaigns in the U.S. and all over the world. Powered by Microsoft

eDonation

  • $100 thousand a day since 1998
  • “more online money has been raised through eDonation for candidates, non-profits, and public affairs campaigns than any other system”
  • Partnership with IBM
  • Includes automatic “thank you emails” and option to survey donors
  • Caveat: upon looking at their client list, funds have been raised exclusively for the GOP.

Webconnex

  • This site’s strengths come in its extremely simple yet flexible interface, as explained in this clip
  • The website offers a blog with some interesting themes, although it hasn’t been updated in a while
  • Easy-to-use follow tools for thanking and keeping track of donors
  • Try for free for the first 30 days.
  • Click here to find a cool video about fundraising with Webconnex

Piryx

  • Website on this list that most closely resembles Voters Act
  • From the website:
    • “Create multiple online fundraising campaigns
    • Share your cause with free web and social marketing tools
    • Raise money online via your website, facebook, twitter, and more
    • Manage multiple fundraisers, donations, and donors”
  • This website also charges zero fees beyond a transaction payment to cover processing.

Barnstorm

  • Emphasis on ability to make multiple websites for a single candidate or cause.
  • Easy experience for donors: provides simple recurring donation plan for donors as well as tax-deduct forms.
  • Substantial assistance with major web development changes to website for little to zero extra charge.

Campaign Partner

  • Depending on the plan, Campaign Partner costs $29, $49, or $69 per month.
  • Offers basic help with web design; appears to have solid support crew
  • Interface allows user to incorporate just about any materials of their own, such as using one’s domain name or importing one’s contacts.
  • Month-to-month service, no contract necessary
  • They provide you with email at your own domain name for no extra charge.

Big Canvass

  • Service operates almost entirely through facebook.
  • Free set-up and perhaps the simplest operation on this list
  • A much more basic alternative, perhaps more fitting for smaller scale elections without too many flashy features
  • Donations processed through PayPal.
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Our Biggest Assumption

Voters Act is predicated on a significant assumption.

We believe voters are willing to participate in Democracy if given the opportunity, and the reason many haven’t is because campaigns never thought to ask.

Now, that asks for clarification on two points.

What does participation look like?

Participate means get involved, and it can involve researching two candidates, putting a bumper sticker on your car, or fundraising on a campaign’s behalf. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that politics has been a hassle. But if we knew more about a race, if we trusted a candidate, then we’d tell our friends, vote, and even contribute $25 to a campaign.

Why haven’t voters been asked to get involved?

Many campaign managers would argue they ask for help all the time, but it’s not true. Grassroots engagement has been limited to neighborhood canvasing and attending local rallies. That’s been the norm because it hasn’t made sense to ask anything more, and the people who helped rarely came back to help again. It became easier to buy a television ad to reach a neighborhood than to organize a half dozen volunteers to knock on doors.

But that’s not the case any longer. Campaigns don’t have to be dull, and they don’t have to be expensive.

The recent incorporation of social media into our personal interactions allows friends to network around a candidate. This means one member of a community can instantly influence who everyone else supports. It also means the ROI of engaging grassroots supporters online has never been higher.

That’s what we’re trying to do here at Voters Act.

We want to give voters new tools to support the candidates they trust. We want to give candidates a way to get their supporters more involved.

-Hudson Baird

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We Are The Middle Class

One of the things that’s important to us here at Voters Act is building consensus. We differ in our political views and persuasions, but we’re all passionate about getting people to participate in the political process and finding candidates that honorably represent their constituents. We’re long on the middle class, bipartisanship, and the effects the internet can have on restoring cohesion to the political process. We’re skeptical of the status quo.

To that end, we’ve invited a series of contributors to write posts for the Voters Act blog. This blog isn’t a venue to describe product updates and quarterly performance – we want to be a catalyst for meaningful political discussion. Here’s the first post in a long series, we hope you enjoy and share with your friends. –Hudson

The world as we know is facing many crises. Daily headlines trumpet the unfolding and ever twisting aspects of these threats to our daily lives. It seems only Nobel laureates and those with seven figure incomes are qualified to diagnose the disease and prescribe the medicine.  While business and political leaders declare they are keeping us safe from imminent disaster, all I see is an increasingly uncertain future in which there appears to be no place for what allowed this country to rise to prominence – a prosperous middle class.

So what’s the big deal with the middle class? First, it’s the only group that can pay for the largess granted to rich and poor alike. The poor cannot pay and the rich will not pay. The truly wealthy will pay a certain amount in taxes, but raise their rate too high and their money will find places throughout the world with a more favorable economic clime. Second, the middle class doesn’t need government. This group sustains itself. It pays its own bills, saves for its future and does not look for unfair advantage. Third, the middle class believes in playing fair. They just want a level playing field.  Fourth, the middle class both cares about and can afford to be moral. Fifth, the middle class cares deeply about their community and its well being. Not to gain advantage, but because they live and work there.

Who is the middle class? The middle class isn’t described by annual income, but by mentality. The middle class comprises those who don’t look to the government for their daily bread or sustained advantage. The middle classes looks to themselves and believes hard work brings benefit. The middle class ranges from the youth who understand that work leads to prosperity to the elderly business owner who uses debt with common sense. The middle class is responsive to faith and reason. Members of the middle class are givers and not takers, builders and not users. The middle class is rapidly disappearing from our economic and political landscape and its loss will mark the end of a prosperous and strong America that can lead the world both by example and authority.

What will we do to bring it back?

-Lisa Macintosh

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A Declaration

We believe in opening up the political process to everybody.

We believe in providing a platform for informing, investing and influencing the political process.

We’re Voters Act, and now it’s simple for your voice to be heard.

Political fundraising is changing and technology hasn’t kept up. Telethons, bundlers, and $1,000-per-plate dinners are on their way out; crowdsourcing, social networks, and the $25 donation are in. It’s no longer enough to have the richest guys in town support you.

Look at Obama. In 2008, he received $500 million online. How? From 6.5 million folks like you and me – most donating less than $100. This wasn’t a fluke; it’s a telling sign of things to come. In this election cycle, Obama has already received 680,000 donations that total $47 million. The average gift size was $69.

This change isn’t just for Democrats, everyone’s getting involved. In Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown raised $12 million online from 157,000 donors, all in the last ten days of the race. The Tea Party movement has harnessed that same momentum. Now you can too.

Voters Act is a tool to promote good candidates and maximize their support. Our competitors only offer donation processing, we provide much more. We give voters a place to see all the information and make their own decision. Once they do, they can tell their own networks. After all, who do you trust more, a slick ad campaign or a recommendation from your friend?

If a local mom wanted to run for the school board, she now has a place to start. She can create a profile, email her friends, and let them get involved on her behalf. Some may donate, some may just share the link with their social networks, and others may fundraise on her behalf. That’s what politics is supposed to be: good people spreading the word to their friends.

Voters Act is a new way to think about fundraising, and this is only the beginning. Voters used to have to go to politicians, either their events or to their website to contribute. Now, candidates and their activists are coming to us.

We saw the power of passionate individuals in 2008 with President Obama. They changed the face of American politics. We’re here to make those same tools accessible to everyone. So give us a try.

Be proactive. Support your favorite candidates. Tell your friends. Impact the political process.

We’ll help you get involved.

-Hudson Baird

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