One Democratic digital firm is pairing free, best practices advice with grant money for digital ad buys. DSPolitical said Monday it will begin accepting applications from down-ballot candidates for a new $50,000 grant program.
It’s intended for candidates with few or no staff, running down ballot in areas where they can make the most difference, according to DSPolitical’s Mark Jablonowski.
“We’re going to really make sure that where we’re giving a grant, we can actually have an impact,” he said. “This is all about impact and innovation.”
In addition to the publicity, DSPolitical will also get the chance to see how the grant recipients go about using the resources, which could in turn help it improve its own services. For instance, the application asks, “what audience segments are you hoping to target?”
Still, Jablonowski said he’s aware of the decrease in donations going to down-ballot campaigns this cycle — a drop that some fundraisers have told C&E is as much as 30 percent from comparable periods.
“We know that there’s a record level of donations and spending at the top of the ticket. Unfortunately, given the economic crisis that the country is in right now, that is really drying up attention and dollars for down-ballot races,” he said. “This is a values-based investment. We’re going to be looking at how we can support under-served communities.”
The deadline to apply is midnight on Aug. 24. Recipients will be announced Sept. 9.
Those selected will receive a grant ranging from $500 – $10,000. While the goal is for the awards to be spread out nationally, Jablonowski said the firm will make determinations on eligibility based on the locality’s laws surrounding in-kind contributions.
“We’ll vet everyone to make sure it complies with local laws,” said Jablonowski.