Last fall, Barack Obama had an all star as his finance chair. Penny Pritzker, founder and chair of Classic Residence by Hyatt, is one of the world’s richest people. So how did he get the hook-up?
Through personal relationships: Pritzker’s children attended a basketball clinic run by Michelle Obama’s brother. And that kind of personal connection is even more important now, thanks to the recession.
Nancy Bocskor, a fundraiser and the founder of the Nancy Bocskor Company, told that story at today’s “Fundraising During a Recession” panel at the Art of Political Campaigning conference, sponsored by Campaigns & Elections’ Politics magazine.
“Personalization is more important than ever,” Bocskor told attendees. “All fundraising is personal.”
That means you can’t just ask for money; whether you’re raising funds for a candidate or an issue campaign, you have to tell people how much money you’ll need and what you’ll be spending it on.
Personalization also requires specifically tailoring the message to donors’ interests. With money tight, candidates have to compete against every other cause, from cancer research to environmental crises. “You need to figure out a compelling message,” said Bryan Rudnick, CEO of Alliance Strategies Group. “Why someone should give you money instead of another cause.”
Personalization means sending a thank you note, too—no matter how much a donor gives. That simple message could turn a five-dollar donor into someone who gives thousands.
Stephen Meyers, the president of Republican fundraising firm SCM Associates, gave attendees a list of seven rules that should shape their fundraising strategy in these tough times:
Don’t ask for less money, ask for more.
Don’t spend less money.
Don’t apologize for fundraising—be positive.
Be clear about your needs.
Strengthen your relationships.
Go back to your best donors for more money.
Use the new media avenues that are available.