Today, I’m tackling a reader-submitted question: How can I be as strategic as possible with my political donations?
But before I answer the question, I should let you know why I’m feeling exceptionally qualified to answer this question. I’ve worked as a fundraiser for over 20 years — not in politics, but with nonprofits and in higher education — and for most of that time, it’s been my job to get to know my donors as well as I could, understand their passions and the impact they want to make, so I can bring giving opportunities to them that will resonate with them.
A question I’ve used throughout my career is the one I ask you now: What kind of impact would you like to have?
With that in mind, here are three ways you could consider approaching your political donations.
1) Deep impact
First, you need to figure out how much you want to donate during this campaign season. Once you do, a deep impact approach would be to determine the top 1-2 races that are the most important to you and give all of your allotted money just to them. The advantage of this approach is that your funding will carry your selected candidates a lot farther. My guess is you’ll also be SUPER invested in their races and will find other ways to help them.
2) Spread the love
This approach requires you to figure out all of the different races and candidates you are interested in helping. Maybe you want to help all of the candidates running to flip the Senate. Or all the freshmen candidates who won in 2018 that you want to make sure win their re-elections. Plus your local candidates. However you draw up your list, once you know how many candidates you want to support, you can simply divide the amount you want to spend by the number of candidates and give everyone an equal amount. The advantage of spreading the love is boosting the number of “small dollar donors” all of the candidates can claim. It’s become an important number for candidates to show that they have widespread support.
3) State impact
This approach is less about the candidates themselves, and more about impacting a state. There are several swing states where there are a lot of things on the line all at the same time: their Electoral College votes, the governor, a U.S. Senate seat, all of the U.S. Representative seats, and who is in the majority for their state legislature. By donating to a slate of offices all in one state, you could help turn out more voters in that state that would then have a cascading impact across that state.
It all comes down to asking yourself the key question: What impact do I want to have with my donations? Another way to ask it is, what problem do you most want to solve? The answer to that question should guide your decisions. These three strategies all have their advantages, but at the end of the day, I want you to feel good about making your donations.
And as always, I want to be helpful to you. If you have a specific impact that you want to have in mind, and are not sure one of these three strategies works, leave me a message or send me an email. I’d be happy to think it through with you.
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