Spice up your next commute by listening to Kara Logan Berlin’s TED Talk. Berlin dives deep into reshaping our thought process when it comes to fundraising. “If you want to change the world, you have to know how to pay for it.” It begins with galvanizing a community. All across the country, we’re seeing women running for office in droves. There is no shortage of passion, however, there is a shortage of funds.
“In 2018, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report found that women running for Congress raised an average of $500,000 less than the men, in the 67 most competitive districts. The analysis found that the 34 Democratic women challenging Republicans in those districts raised a combined $34.5 million from out-of-state donors, compared to $48.3 million raised by the Democratic men. Out-of-state money is a growing, and critical, building block in House races,” NPR reported.
With that being said, if the passion is abundant, why aren’t campaign contributions reflecting that?
It’s all about reframing the ask. It’s about funding a dream, a vision, a future and world we want to live in. Real change and impact require resources. Real people do this work and run these races, and they have to have the support to do it. Fund the future you want to see.
View fundraising as an opportunity, not a dirty word. How you feel about asking for money for your campaign should not be the same as how you feel about asking for money for yourself. As Berlin says, “You’re not asking someone to pay your mortgage. You are asking them to invest in an idea that is going to change the world for the better.”
Your platform(s) is what you’re getting people to buy into. Quality education. Improved health care. Criminal justice reform. Voting rights. Whatever it may be, that is what donors are investing in. So why feel bad about it? Build these relationships by really getting to know your constituents/potential donors because people give to people, not just ideas. Donors must believe in you and believe in what you’re doing.
When you are out knocking on doors as a candidate, ask personal questions. Get to know what your district cares about. When hosting a fundraiser, know who’s in the room. When you’re asking for donations online, know your following. Invest in digital media the same way you would have invested in television ads ten years ago. As pointed out by the Cook Political Report, out-of-state donations are critical. You get that kind of reach through a strong digital presence. Let Putting Women in Their Place help you manage your digital presence, create a fundraising video, etc. to capture those donors.
Doing your homework, and really knowing these people creates relationships, not just transactions. If you don’t understand what the person you’re asking for money cares about, how are you ever going to be able to tell them about your work? Your candidacy is important. Feel proud to ask.
Raising money is one of the largest challenges women running for office face because we are viewing fundraising in the wrong light. Fundraising, at its core, is believing that the purpose and privilege of our work is to provide people with an extraordinary way to use their wealth to change lives. By funding women’s campaigns, we are moving the needle forward and working toward achieving gender equality.
Be as committed to the art of funding your race as you are to running. It will pay off.