Fundraising by phone is in a social grey zone; it is less intimate than an in-person fundraising ask, but far more personal than sending a letter to 10,000 of your closest friends asking them for a donation. Because of this, candidates often find any excuse to avoid the dreaded “phone time.”
But like most things in life, practice makes things a whole lot easier.
Once you start to get the hang of asking for funds over the phone, you will discover that you have unlocked an effective source of raising funds and an efficient use of your time.
Building a Quality Call List
Asking for donations over the phone, if done right, can lead to hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in donations in a relatively short amount of time - but you have to be smart about it. Building a quality list of potential donors to call can be the difference between a successful night of calls and a flop.
The Friends and Family Plan
The easiest way to get your feet wet is to start by contacting people who will be the most friendly to you when you give them a call - your friends and family. There are many reasons for this: first, friends and family are more likely to donate to your campaign; second, it is easier to ask for feedback from them after the call is over to find ways you can improve your calls in the future; third (and this one might be the most important), your friends and family are far more likely to give you a soft “no” to your request, saying things such as “you know what, let me see what I can do.” or “I don’t know if we can do it today, but call me back in a while.” When you receive the soft no, you can practice how to pivot the conversation and try to turn it into a yes.
The Social Network
After you have exhausted your list of family and friends, it is time to start making true cold calls - calls to people who you don’t know and who probably don’t know you. Because these people aren’t in your phonebook, you have to do a bit more work getting these contacts.
Start by contacting your political party. Any party worth a grain of salt will have a list of volunteers in your district that have expressed interest in the political process. These people are eager to help and could be a good source of both funds and volunteers.
Your next stop should be the government office that is in charge of reporting campaign contributions in your state. Search for people who have donated to other campaigns within your political party or, if your race is non-partisan, a list of people who have supported candidates similar to you in the past. This is an excellent resource because every single person on that list has shown that they are willing to donate to a campaign.
Similar to this is asking for the donor lists of other candidates and high profile individuals who have endorsed you. This can be sensitive, so play this one by ear, but it is always worth an ask to see if your endorsers are willing to give a few names of potential donors.
It’s Business Time
Some candidates may choose not to accept corporate/union/PAC (Political Action Committee) donations, and though FundHero respects this decision, we can’t forget that campaigns cost money and companies are often willing to show financial support to candidates that support policies they believe in.
If you do decide to accept corporate donations, you will want to reach out to the organization’s political affairs director (or someone with a similar title). They may not be the final decision maker, but they will be able to point you in the right direction.
As opposed to individual donors, the purpose of contacting organizations is often to set up in-person meetings. You should still be prepared when making your first call to state your case, but just know that your main goal during these calls isn’t inherently to secure a donation at that time.
Your list is now ready! It is time to make that first call! Check out step two for a call time script and tips on making the call.
Step 1 - Building the List