Fundraising Online

Fundraising Online
by Jim Barney, Click and Pledge

It’s Effective, It’s Easy and It’s Affordable

Political fundraising online is hot!! The online success of the 2004 presidential races has spurred a revolution in Internet political fundraising. In 2004 alone, over $100 million was raised mostly through small donations on the Internet for presidential candidates in less than six months. By the end of June, 2004, the Kerry campaign was up to $3 million per day via the Internet.

Statistics show that online constituents are 4 times more likely to vote than the general public and contribute online 3 times higher: $111 versus $35. Online contributors to political campaigns are predominately male, highly educated and earn a high income.

Online political fundraising is enjoying success and rapid growth. That’s why you need to be sure that your campaign takes advantage of this great tool. But, be sure that you do it right. Here’s what you should look for.

A Comprehensive, Easy to Use Package At A Low Cost. There is no shortage of vendors that provide electronic payment transaction services. Most charge set-up fees to initiate your account, monthly banking charges, a fee for each transaction, merchant account charges and even security fees. Plus, most all vendors supply only a payment transaction service.

There are better services available, like Click and Pledge.com, and they are customized for political campaigns and nonprofit organizations. The campaign should look for a service that eliminates the set-up fees, security fees or merchant account fees. A basic check list for a campaign should include: simple application, ease in receiving merchant account number and the ability to accept all major credit cards purchases. The campaign should find out the transaction fee applied to all donations.

Bells and Whistles Customized For Political Campaigns.

There are many additional features that a campaign should check out. Does the package enable you to provide real-time receipts to donors; provide you with the ability to inventory and sell items at various price points; and most importantly, enable you to set campaign donor limits in accordance with local and state election laws? Plus, the campaign should check if they have access to complete donor records that can be downloadable.

Look for a vendor that offers event registration. This will allow you to sell tickets to dinners, dances and other important events and fundraising activities. You can even manage various price points, inventory premium items like bumper stickers or caps, and manage messaging to contributors.

Most importantly, political campaigns, in most cases, are not permanent organizations, so the easy-to-use, usage-based transaction services are the most suitable.

Don’t Overlook Security – Online donations and online financial transactions are becoming commonplace around the world. Consumer confidence in doing business online is rapidly growing. However, don’t take security lightly. There are still identity thefts and other serious considerations to protect against. Click and Pledge offers the highest level of security: full system redundancy, 128-bit encryption, advanced virus protection and controlled access to credit card information. The Company is also in compliance with strict security standards enforced by VISA and MasterCard.

Remember, small staffs and limited resources that typically reflect political campaign organizations, limit you from affording and implementing the necessary online security standards. Don’t run into trouble. Use an on-demand.

Online Fundraising vs Offline Fundraising – Develop and manage your email lists carefully. It’s a great source of inexpensive fundraising. Direct mail typically cost between 40-60 cents a letter. Higher volumes of mail decrease the per-unit cost. E-mail lists require a small investment of time and money to develop but the cost to send email in almost nonexistent, and the return is far greater. According to the Political Consultant’s Online Fundraising Primer, “online contributions on average are about three times as large as the average direct mail contributions. The typical direct mail contribution is about $35”…versus the “average email donation, which is over $100.”

In conclusion, as the population of Internet users continues to swell, it’s imperative that you have an online presence with the ability to accept campaign donations and manage events. Internet users tend to be more interested in news and politics than Americans in general. They enjoy taking a much deeper dive into a candidate’s policies, beliefs and plans; the type of depth than can be provided on your website…and they enjoy doing it in the privacy of their own home or office. This group of involved citizens uses the Internet to donate money, donate time, forward e-mail and contribute to online discussion groups and Web logs.

Be sure to get them involved and contributing online to your campaign.