What to do When you hit a Fundraising Dead-end

Posted: Apr 08th, 2020 Updated: Dec 17, 2020

You have been diligently building your fundraising contact list for months, have reached out to as many people as you can possibly think of, and even gotten donation commitments from several people, yet the checks just don’t seem to be coming in - what are you doing wrong?!

There is no need to panic. This is a natural (albeit, frustrating) part of any campaign. You may have hit a brick wall, but with some tricks, tips, and determination, you can climb over the barrier and keep your fundraising efforts moving forward.

Prevention (Stay on top of Pledges)

We get it: running for office is hard and time-consuming work; it is understandable that you probably haven’t been doing a great job of following up with your donation pledges. But trust us when we say that the easiest way to prevent the slowdown in donations is to stay on top of your pledges.

To help with the problem, make a commitment early in your campaign to carve out a specific time of a week, month, and/or quarter specifically for following up with outstanding pledges.

When you receive a pledge, follow up with the individual no later than 72 hours after the pledge has been made but not received, then 2-3 weeks after that, and then a month after that if they still have not given.

The most common reason people say that they will give but don’t is simple forgetfulness - though someone saying that they will give to your campaign is one of the more important things to you, it is probably one of a million things that the donor had going on that day.

Stay persistent and, with a little effort, you can boost your fundraising efforts.

Donor Outreach

Recurring Donations
FundHero allows donors to set up one-time and ongoing donations through our web-based services - take advantage of this! Would you prefer one donation of $50 or 3-5 donations of $20? When receiving commitments, push hard for donors to set up ongoing requests that seem small to the individual, but can really add up for your campaign.

Previous Donors
A great source of funds to your campaign is actually staring you right in the face: existing donors. Though it may seem obvious to say, if someone has already contributed to your campaign, it means that...well...they are already invested in your work and want to see you win. They were once willing to contribute to your campaign and are probably willing to contribute again if asked.

Though the first ask can be the hardest, asking an existing donor to contribute again is much easier to do; not only do you know that they will donate, but you also know how much they are willing to give.

Be careful not to spam your previous donors with requests asking for funds. A good rule of thumb is to make general requests to your list of previous donors once a month through an email blast and a specific and personalized request once every 3 - 6 months.

As the old saying goes: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know - and on a campaign this is particularly true.

Now, many strangers probably wouldn’t appreciate you walking up to them and saying “hey, you know Steve, right? Can you give me his phone number so that I can ask him for a donation?” But, that doesn’t mean that there are not constructive ways to expand your donor pool by talking to your current donors and supporters.

If someone has already given to your campaign, they are invested in your outcome. In general, asking “do you know any other donors,” tends to not work. However, if you invest sometime on social media and/or their place of work and make a specific ask for them to connect you with someone, they often are willing.

Additionally, volunteers and donors tend to have a wide circle of friends. Ask these individuals if they would be willing to host a “meet the candidate” event in their home or business. Provide as much support as you can, but make sure to press upon the host that they should be inviting as many people as they can to the event. Similarly, see if any supporters are members of civic groups you haven’t spoken to and see if they would be willing to put in a word for you to speak at an upcoming event.

The key is to use your current connections in creative ways, and never reject an opportunity to expand your reach. You will probably get more votes, you may get more volunteers, and, if you are lucky, you might even find a donor or two.

Jog Your Memory
Open up your phone book (or FundHero account) and just start scrolling...you will soon discover that you have the names of people you haven’t talked to in a while and be reminded of the connections you had with them. Though you may want to contact these people directly, the more important thing is that you are starting to think of groups that you never would have considered reaching out to because they simply didn’t come to mind when you were first generating your contact lists.

Holiday card lists, Facebook and LinkedIn friends, church directories, and current and former work colleagues are all fantastic places to start building up an expanded donor list - either by getting names directly or by expanding your thinking towards new groups you can tap.

Campaign Finance Forms
You have probably noticed that, from time to time, you have to report your donors to an elections office, and you probably know that these records are public information.

Did we just say that these forms are public? I...I think we did! This means that you too have access to the campaign finance forms of prior campaigns. While many state ban the use of financial disclosure records for fundraising purposes, that doesn’t mean you can’t review them for ideas and see if any names jump out to you as someone you’ve met on the campaign trail, personal, or professional life. Spend some time combing through these records to see if there are some consistent donors and start reaching out. Even a one-time donor is worth a phone call if you are really stuck on who to contact next.

Campaign finance forms can be a good vein to explore when you are truly stuck. Every single name on that list has proven that they are willing to donate, and you have a good idea of how much they are willing to contribute.

Smart Groups through FundHero

A fantastic tool that campaigns can take advantage of if they sign up with FundHero is a webtool we call Smart Groups.

Smart Groups allows you to sort current, pledged, and potential donors through customizable fields that you can set.

With just a few clicks, you can discover a complete list of pledged donors that have yet to contribute to your campaign so that you can easily follow up with them; a few more clicks will show prospective donors you haven’t talked two in a few months; a few more clicks can display high dollar donors that you can reach out to in order to see if they would be willing to hold an event for your campaign.

The possibilities are endless when you have one centralized location of information. To see what FundHero can do for you, sign up for a free account or contact us here!

Climbing The Wall

In the end, your campaign can get past the hurdles that come with trying to find new donors. The key is perseverance, creativity, and keeping an eye and ear open for opportunities. Take advantage of current contacts and use tools such as those we have here at FundHero to make your campaign break through the slog.

Curtis Haring

Curtis Haring has been involved in politics his entire adult life. Having worked both in Washington D.C. and in Utah politics, Curtis has worn many hats on various political campaigns over the years including Campaign Manager, Executive Director, Policy Advisor, and Volunteer Coordinator. Currently, Curtis, along with a group of co-hosts, discuss Utah politics and policy on the Utah Political Capitol podcast and website. Curtis lives with his wife and two adorable cats in Bountiful, Utah (and yes, his wife is adorable too).