Your idea of a campaign fundraiser may entail visions of fancy parties in hotel ballrooms, with big name donors - something that might seem out of reach for your campaign. Harvey Dent may have had a big name donor in Bruce Wayne, but you have your very own event in the form of the house party.
What is a House Party and Why Should You Have One?
House parties are a way for campaigns to raise money and make friends by enlisting supporters to throw a party for you. The idea behind the house party is that the campaign shows up, the host provides the location, guests, food, and beverages. It gives you the chance to interact on a personal level with voters you might not interact with otherwise. You also have the opportunity to make a compelling ask for donations to your campaign.
The idea of hosting a house party might seem intimidating to supporters, but even the most inexperienced host can pull off a successful fundraiser with a little guidance.
You want to aim for fifteen to twenty attendees, enough to make a room look full, but not so many that you are not able to spend quality time talking to the guests.
Food can be purchased easily at Costco or the grocery store, appetizers and snacks are perfect. Specialty cocktails are not needed, guests are always happy with beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages.
Who Does What
Communication between hosts and the campaign is key to hosting a successful house party. After the host and the campaign select a date and time that works for both, clearly outline what responsibilities fall with the host and what responsibilities fall with the campaign.
- Creates guest list;
- Sends out invitations;
- Provides a location, food, and beverages;
- Encourages network to attend.
- Provides support for invitations;
- Helps collect RSVPs (this also adds accountability, so the campaign knows the status of event);
- Answers any questions hosts might have about the event.
Arrive about 30 minutes before the event starts to place yard signs, and help the host with any last minute set up. You should have a sign-in sheet, donation envelopes, and campaign literature. It is also helpful to bring a campaign staff member or volunteer to greet guests at the door and have them sign-in.
Allow guests about 45 minutes to arrive and mingle before having the host introduce you. Speak for ten to fifteen minutes with time for questions from the guests. Before you stop talking, and the guests start leaving, either you or the host should make a financial ask. A specific ask is always a good idea. Do you need to raise money for mailers or yard signs? How does their donation help your campaign?
Should you or your host include a suggested donation on the invitation? It depends. If the party is in a location such as an art gallery or restaurant and most of the guests are high level donors, it makes sense to include a suggested donation. However, in most cases, it is best to leave a suggested donation off the invite. Most house parties are at a home, and guests are neighbors and friends. Since the goal of a house party is two-fold, to allow voters to interact with you and to raise money for your campaign, suggested donations can seem intimidating to people who don’t frequent political events. Chances are, getting a potential supporter in the door and giving them the opportunity to interact with you will likely lead to a vote and a donation.
The Next Day
Remember that sign-in sheet where you had all of the guests provide their email address? It is a great idea to follow-up with a quick email thanking them for coming and providing them with a link to your website. If they didn’t happen to give at the house party, now is a good time to make another ask.
You’re all done. You’ve had a campaign event, you’ve earned some votes and some money, and you can easily do it again because you have some superhero supporters behind you.