Getting involved in politics can be more than a little intimidating, and figuring out how to raise money is difficult in any business. When you’re younger, you’re at more of a disadvantage simply due to the lack of relationships and connections you have within the political world. Still, that doesn’t mean you should get discouraged or abandon your dreams, it just means you’ll need to put in some extra effort and innovate in order to be successful. Luckily, due to the rise of the internet and virtual communication, the playing field has become more level for young candidates who are tech-savvy and know how to take advantage of the online space. If you’re not sure where to get started, read on four three basic fundraising tips for young politicians.
1. Be available, and work within the community.
Your campaign should always be tailored to the place you’re running for office. Find unique ways to share your message, especially ones that are specific to the community you’re hoping to work in or represent. If you aren’t already, become familiar with local businesses, and engage with owners to find out more about their needs and things you can do to bring more attention to issues that are important to them. Direct engagement is what will motivate people to do more than just support you, but actually take the next step to donate. Make sure you put yourself out there. Are there any local events or holidays that your campaign can participate in or have a fundraising booth at? Connecting with your community and being available and accessible is essential for running a good campaign.
2. Engage directly with voters.
Connecting with people is one of the biggest challenges that any campaign will face, particularly when soliciting donations. Many younger candidates are having success using methods like peer-to-peer fundraising, which allows you to create a fundraising page and solicit donations on your own. You can also create fundraising events to raise money and advertise them on your page. Once you’ve set yourself up with a peer fundraising platform, you can incorporate information about your events and your donation system into your other campaign communications, like emails and social media pages, where you should be providing regular updates.
It’s necessary that you communicate frequently and personally with the people who you’re asking to support you; people want to feel heard. If you’re asking for someone to make an investment in you, you need to be able to explain what return you’ll provide on it. Younger candidates often have an advantage when it comes to understanding how technology can drive donations, so take advantage of your expertise.
3. Your image matters.
Sometimes the best way to communicate that you’re prepared for a job is to look the part, especially when you’re asking for them to give you money. It might seem silly that some fabric or shoes can make such a big difference, but the way you look does matter in any business that has to do with your image. Even if it isn’t your personal style, sometimes looking professional involves putting on a blazer and a pencil skirt for an important meeting or campaign event. Donors will notice. As we’ve seen throughout the decades, politicians often tailor their style to reflect where they are. When at an event at a farm, for example, denim might be a better option than a skirt. When you’re on the job or at a meeting, it’s usually best to try to dress in a similar style as your coworkers.
While there’s no replacement for speaking to people’s needs in an authentic way, there are a lot of factors that influence why people donate to some politicians and not others. Improving your ability to communicate effectively with voters, donors, and colleagues is an incredibly valuable skill for those who plan to make a career in politics. It might seem simplistic to dress the part but think of your image as less of a reflection of your personal style and more of a tool that you can use to communicate to people that you’re a serious person who is prepared for the job they’re asking for. Combine a powerful message with careful attention to detail when it comes to fundraising and communication, and you’re likely to put up a strong showing in your next race.