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What Nonprofit Fundraisers Can Learn From Political Fundraising And Organizing

Nonprofit Fundraising and Similarities to Political Fundraising

What Nonprofit Fundraisers Can Learn From Political Fundraising And Organizing

While you might not associate nonprofit fundraising with political fundraising, there are plenty of tools and techniques you can learn from political organizing when researching the best ways to fundraise. 

If you are wondering how to fundraise for your organization or campaign, we’re here to share some of the top techniques and tools you can take from political fundraising. 

Below are some of our favorite skills and tools from political fundraising: 

  • How to Build Community and a Sense of Belonging
  • Honesty and Transparency Around the Use of Funds
  • How to Play the Long Game
  • Change How You Think About Money
  • Slow Down
  • Believe in the Kindness of Humanity
  • Empower Your Local Community

These can all be applied to any type of nonprofit and will help to bring more attention and funding to your cause in the upcoming months and years.

So let’s dive deep into each framework or tool….

Building Community and a Sense of Belonging

fundraising research and consulting stresses building community and a sense of belonging

While you might think that political fundraising focuses on breaking the basic fundraising rules, you’ll find that for the majority of elections, there is a focus on building community. The nonprofit world needs to focus on this sense of belonging when considering the best ways to fundraise, which many people also find from their political beliefs. Many political fundraisers, such as Josie Raymond, advocate for more women to run for office and get involved with their community. As a nonprofit organization, we encourage you to focus on working with your local community and fostering these relationships. You’ll find that this makes fundraising so much easier, as you’ve already built the trust that’s needed to gain your audience’s support. The more you get to know your local community, the more time they’ll take to learn about your cause and support you in the future.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Politicians often have a reputation for dishonesty and playing games, but this is something any good political fundraiser will avoid throughout their career. When it comes to learning how to fundraise for your campaign, you need to be very transparent with your donors about how you plan to spend their hard-earned money. It takes a lot of money to run a campaign, so ensure they are willing to donate to sharing your message further. Don’t try and dodge any questions about how you spend your funds, as this will only come back to bite you in the long run.

Play the Long Game

Political campaigners are in it for the long haul, and this is something that nonprofits could draw upon when it comes to fundraising. Instead of campaigning in the heat of the moment, you need to be invested in your movement and community-building efforts that will have a long-term impact on your local area. A good fundraising campaign will say a lot about an organization’s commitment to the cause, and you’ll build trust in your community by showing your audience you are in it for the long haul.

Change How You Think About Money

There’s no denying that asking your community for money can feel awkward at times. Many nonprofit fundraisers hate bothering people, but naturally, this won’t help them to get further in their work. Put yourself in your donors’ shoes for a few moments and think about how you feel when you donate to a cause. You often feel a sense of joy and belonging, especially when supporting a cause you are passionate about. Keep this in mind when you consider the best ways to fundraise and invite people to invest in the future using the Email Best Practices for Fundraising. You’ll find that when you craft emails with this in mind, your audience is more receptive to partnering with your nonprofit. 

Slow Down

We live in a time where we expect everything to happen overnight, especially when it comes to learning how to fundraise for your campaign. Some nonprofits launch an online campaign and hope to meet their fundraising goals in just a day or two. If you’ve been fundraising for some time now, you know this is very unlikely to happen. We recommend that you learn from the best political fundraisers and focus on being more intentional with your actions and words. Instead of thinking about recent losses, focus on your future wins. With trial and error, you’ll be able to reach your goals and maintain your energy and enthusiasm for your cause for many years to come.

fundraising blogs will tell you to slow down, learn from the best political fundraisers and focus on being more intentional with your actions and words

Believe in the Kindness of Humanity

With all of the horrific news stories that grace our television screens today, it can be challenging to keep your faith in humanity top of mind. To help inspire you to find the best ways to fundraise, draw upon a key tool of political fundraising and focus on your love and empathy for the community around you. Whether your cause is related to children, women, or the elderly, remind yourself of inspirational humans in your local community and why you are fighting so hard for your cause.

Empower Your Local Community

Nobody is able to understand your community better than those who are already part of it. A good nonprofit will partner with community leaders and help support them to lead systemic change. It’s good to learn more about the power dynamics around you and how money is distributed within your local community. This will help you to have a clearer idea about where your funds could go and how to appeal to your audience. The more you can learn about the local community, the more you’ll be able to gain their support. The best political fundraisers understand the biases and discrimination some people face on a daily basis. By addressing these biases instead of ignoring them, you can help to be part of the change you’re hoping to see.

As you can see, there’s so much nonprofit fundraisers can learn from political fundraising and organizing. The more time you spend considering the best ways to fundraise and using these techniques we’ve shared today, the more likely you will be to succeed. We know how challenging it can be to figure out how to fundraise for your nonprofit or campaign, which is why we highly recommend continuing your research on this topic. We love DonorPerfect’s Nonprofit Crowdfunding Kit as another great place to start for anyone looking for new ideas to implement this year. 

We wish you the best of luck in your fundraising endeavors and hope you will find much success as we enter into the new year.

Episode 18.1 

Josie Raymond is the State Representative for Kentucky’s 31st District, the Director of Elected Leadership Fellowships at Leadership for Educational Equity, and a mom of three. In this episode, Josie shares her experience running for office with no political background. She talks about what it was like to run in her hometown of Louisville, the process of fundraising for her campaign (it’s not what you think!), and why we need more women in their twenties and thirties serving in elected positions. Josie sets an example in so many ways and there is so much nonprofits can learn about fundraising from this episode, you really don’t want to miss it!

Episode 18.2

Tanya St. Julien is a community leader, advocate for educational equity, and Chief of Staff at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). In this episode, Tanya talks about her experience in the political space and how her organization promotes and supports civic leaders in their run for office. There is a lot that the nonprofit sector can learn from the faithful long game this organization plays for each of its candidates. Tanya teaches us so much about how to be buoyed by wins and think of everyone as ‘future winners’. 

Episode 18.3

Taylor Stewart is the Vice President of Organizing Leadership at Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE). Her work centers on developing the leadership of LEE members to build powerful ecosystems in their communities filled with elected officials, policymakers, advocacy leaders, and organized constituencies. In this conversation Taylor talks about what organizing really means, finding that sweet spot between self-interest and community advocacy, and the ways we as a society can become more anti-racist from our office to our policies.

Join this conversation on the intricacies of how to utilize people power to support diverse candidates in the political arena and the strategies to find support and funding for their campaigns. 

For more of my favorite fundraising tips and tricks, check out my Resource page! Here, you can find relevant articles, webinars, quizzes, etc. about fundraising in the nonprofit sector. In addition, you can subscribe to What the Fundraising for ongoing conversations about how you can fundamentally change the way you lead and fundraise. And to learn how to raise more from the right funders using the Power Partners Formula, you are always welcome to join one of my free Masterclasses at malloryerickson.com/free.

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