Raise your campaign’s first $10,000 in 7 days

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Tremendous resources are available to activists, candidates, and campaign volunteers of the LP of California, as an affiliate of the national Libertarian Party. Many of the tools are easily accessible at the web site LPAction.org, managed by Andy Burns, the LNC’s state affiliate development specialist.

Here we feature LP communicator Michael Cloud’s advice for quickly raising funds — arguably the fuel that powers the engine of the party, as the political wing of the individual-liberty movement.

Raising your first $10,000 in 7 days

by Michael Cloud

“In politics, it’s no go without dough.” —Evry’s Law

Some Libertarians succeed by re-inventing the wheel. Most Libertarians fail by re-inventing the flat tire. Here’s the simplest, easiest, fastest way to raise the first $10,000500 for your next campaign in only seven days.

Why is the first $10,000 so important? That $10,000 is your campaign’s seed corn. Political start-up capital. Yeast to make the bread rise. The first seven days of a fitness program, the first seven days of a diet, or the first seven days of developing a new skill, set the pace for all that follows. A strong beginning fans the flames of faith. A weak start breathes life into self-doubt. “You don’t have to recover from a good start,” said John Wareham.

Can it really be done in only seven days? Some candidates raised the first $10,000 in seven hours. Others in a day. Many in three days. A few took the whole week. Nobody needed more than seven days.

Steps to success

You’ll be doing one-on-one personal fund-raising for your campaign. The steps are elegant and simple and easy:

  • Who do you ask for money?
  • How much do you ask for?
  • Where do you ask for the money?
  • When do you ask for the money?
  • How do you ask for it? Exactly what do you say?

Who do you ask for money?

Before you read this section, get some blank paper and a pen.  Ready?

First, we’ll make a preliminary list of the people you know who know you. If you’re well-known in your community, many people you don’t know may recognize you. Leave them off your list. If you stay up on what’s going on in your community, you will recognize many people who don’t know you. Leave them off your list. To qualify for your preliminary list, the person must know you and you must know the person.

Don’t consider whether they can or can’t afford to give, whether they will or won’t give, whether they should or shouldn’t give. This is just a preliminary list.

  1. Write down the names of your immediate blood relatives. One name per line, list your father and mother, your brothers and sisters. What about grandmothers and grandfathers? Aunts and uncles you stay in touch with?
  2. If you’re married, write the name of your spouse, mother-in-law, father-in-law … and any of your spouse’s immediate blood relatives.
  3. Write down the names of your personal friends.
  4. List the people you socialize with. Who do you go to dinner with? Have over for parties? Go camping with? Play bridge with? What other social activities do you engage in? Who with?
  5. What organizations (other than the LP) are you involved in? Rotary Club? Lions? Chamber of Commerce? church? charity? a support group? Mensa? the Society for Creative Anachronism? square dancing? ballroom dancing? university boosters? health club? What else? Who do you usually sit next to, talk with, and spend time with at the gatherings or meetings? Write their names down.
  6. Write the names of the coworkers that you spend time at work with. (Don’t list or ask people who report to you at work. It borders on harassment.)
  7. If you’re a member of one of the professions, own a business, are self-employed, or in sales, who are your regular, repeat, favorite clients? They could be doing business with someone else in your field, but they are loyal to you. They know you, trust you, like you and believe you. List their names.
  8. Who do you spend money with? Who do you do business with? Who is your doctor? your dentist? chiropractor? car mechanic? Who owns the used book or music store you frequent? Who owns the small boutique or men’s store you patronize? Who is your insurance agent? Who’s your pet’s veterinarian? Who styles your hair? Who owns the dry cleaner where you spend $500 a year? Who’s your real estate agent? car salesperson? printer? coffee house proprietor? health food store owner?
    Who else do you spend money with? If they know you and you know them, if you’ve done repeat business with them, especially if you’ve sent them business … list their names. (Your checkbook, credit card billing, cell-phone contact list, appointment calendar, holiday card list, and receipts are gold mines for this chunk.)
  9. Who else do you personally know who personally knows you? List their names.

Congratulations! You’ve put together your basic, preliminary list. Other names may occur later. Write them down as they occur. As the Arabs say, “The palest ink is more reliable than the strongest memory.”
Second, list the phone numbers and addresses next to the names on your list.
Third, put a check mark next to the name of everyone on your list whom you’ve personally talked with for at least 30 minutes during the last 12 months. This is your list of prospective donors.

How much money do you ask for?

These people are not motivated to give because of the Libertarian Party, the Libertarian philosophy, your unanswerable arguments for your positions, the benefits of living in a better society, or even because they despise the incumbent.
They are giving to you because of you and your personal relationship with them. Your family, from love, duty, and family ties. Your friends and co-workers, out of friendship, obligation, and personal ties. So, too, with the people you socialize with. Your clients and customers, out of goodwill and loyalty. And the people you spend money with and do business with will do it from goodwill and out of a sense of reciprocation. You scratched my back, now I’ll scratch yours. They want to return the favor. The only reason these people are motivated to give is because of you and their relationship with you. They know you and like you and trust you and believe you. The strength of your relationship and their income determines how much you can ask for.

  • Family and friends: Ask each one to give 1 percent of your estimate of the person’s annual income.
  • People you socialize with, co-workers, and clients: If you estimate they make under $35,000 a year, ask for $75. Over $35,000, ask for $150.
  • People you spend money with or do business with: If they provide a service, 10 percent of what you spent with them; If they sell goods, 10 percent of their estimated gross profit. List the appropriate amount next to each name on your list. You can always accept less than you ask for, but you’ll rarely be offered more.

Where do you ask?

The easiest thing to ignore is a letter — closely followed by fax and e-mail. So you won’t use these.

The next easiest thing to ignore is a phone call. There are answering machines, call-interrupt services, people in the home or office interrupting or waiting for the person you’re trying to talk with. Contacting anyone on your list by phone will be a last resort.

The hardest thing to lie to, ignore, put off, let down, refuse, or get rid of is a living, breathing person looking you in the eye. One on one, in person, is how you’ll be asking for almost all of your contributions.

Also remember that you can’t immediately collect a check through the mail or over the phone. You can, in person.

If you live within 60 miles of the person on your list, go to his office or home. (Telephone the others.)

When do you ask?

Pick a time when you can spend an uninterrupted seven minutes with the person. Don’t make a formal appointment. Don’t make a big deal about it. If you’re around other people, take the person aside with, “C’mere, I have some good news. You’re one of the first people I’ve told.”

How do you ask for the money?

With family, friends, co-workers and people you socialize with, here’s the basic format:

  1. For family: “Mom, I’ve got great news. I’m running for city council. Imagine…your son…the boy you raised…running for public office. Isn’t that terrific? I wanted you to be among the first to know.” “Mom, will you put $1,000 into your son’s campaign?” For friends: “David, I’ve got great news. I’m running for state legislature. Imagine…your golfing buddy, your regular golfing partner for 3 years…running for public office. Isn’t that terrific? I wanted you to be among the first to know.” “David, will you put $200 into your golfing sidekick’s campaign?”
  2. Always end by asking for the contribution.
  3. After you ask for the money, shut up. Even if the other person says nothing for what seems like an eternity, let the silence hang heavy until the other person fills it with words. Rule of thumb: Whoever talks next will be leaving money with the other person.
  4. If the person says “Yes,” ask him to get the checkbook so that the check “can be filled out as the law requires.” Tell him, “Please make the check payable to [appropriate campaign committee name].” Get the check, thank the person, and leave.
  5. Usually the person will be concerned about the amount you asked for, the campaign, or why you’re running for office. Get him talking.
  6. If they have objections to helping or helping now, say, “Ohh? Tell me about it.” Keep them talking with a noncritical “Ohh?” Or “Uhh-huh….” And “really…?” And, “tell me more.” Let them talk. Let them express their feelings and thoughts.
  7. Then say, “I see…but I am your [relationship] and I’d really like your help. If $750 is too much, how much would you be willing to put into the [your name] for [office] campaign?”
  8. If they name a reasonable amount — 50 percent or more of what you asked for — get the check filled out, get the check, thank them, and leave.
  9. If they still have objections or concerns, repeat steps 6, 7, and 8.
  10. In many cases you will need to ask for the money three times. If they do not give, or they claim they cannot give, thank them for being your [relationship], thank them for letting you share your great news, and say goodbye.
  11. That evening, send them a thank-you card letting them know you appreciate their being your [relationship], thank them for considering donating, and ask them if they wouldn’t reconsider donating. Ask them to mail you a donation, and be sure to enclose a stamped reply envelope and donation card.

Before you approach people you spend money with or do business with, review your last 12 months. Use the same format as above, through step 6. Change step 7 to incorporate reciprocation: “I see…But John, in the last 12 months, I spent $2,147 with you, and in the next 12 months I’ll probably spend another $2,147 with you. I’d like to know you appreciate me and my business…and the best way for me to know that is with your $175 donation to my campaign. Will you do it?” Other reciprocation sentences:

  • “I support your business…I’d like you to support my run for office.”
  • “I put money into your business…I’d like you to put money into my effort here.”
  • “I help your business….” Out of all the people you could do business with, you’ve remained loyal to this businessperson. How many thousands of dollars are your repeat business, customer loyalty, and ongoing support bringing his business over the lifetime of your patronage? Isn’t that worth something?

How do you schedule it?

You know your hours and commitments better than I do. Set aside two hours each weekday and four hours each weekend day, for seven days. Work it around your schedule.

Money is the fuel

Money is the fuel that runs your Libertarian campaign. It won’t make you a good driver or guarantee you reach your destination. But without it, you’re stalled and stuck.

Michael Cloud portrait, wearing black blazer with uncollared black shirt, brown backdrop (color photo)
Michael Cloud

Michael Cloud is the author of Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion; a three-time LP presidential campaign organizer; and a professional speechwriter and political strategist. He created and delivered nationwide his acclaimed “The Art of Libertarian Persuasion” seminars, and in 2000 was honored with the LP’s Thomas Paine Communication Award.