Fundraising As A Grassroots Candidate: Getting Through The Challenges You Might Not Have Expected

“Grassroots candidates have a remarkable vision to propel our country forward. Most new candidates don’t fail because of their lack of motivation and effort. They fail because they simply underestimate the numerous hurdles they must jump over to get on the ballot and are unable to connect with enough voters to win their election. It takes more than motivation and effort to win.”

Breaking into the political arena as a new candidate is equally exciting and challenging. Still, the process is extremely complex. Many candidates downplay (or simply outright ignore) the impact that call time can have on the outcome of their election.


The overwhelming majority of new candidates are entering an unlevel playing field. Party nominees and incumbents benefit from the establishment’s support. They have the advantage of entering elections having done a significant amount of groundwork in their communities and benefit from name recognition. However, candidates who prioritize call time can easily overcome these disadvantages.


But you have to be ready to work. And work hard…


As a grassroots candidate you have to work three times as hard:

1) to get enough signatures on the ballot,

2) to get people to donate to your movement and,

3) to get people to vote for you on election day!


Beyond raising enough money to topple your opponent, you’ll need to launch an extensive petitioning campaign to get on the ballot, build a team that you trust, and establish a positive public image from the ground up (all while maintaining your personal wellbeing).


All of these efforts require money!

So, let’s be realistic about what we’re doing…


Taking on public service is a long-term commitment to your constituents. You cannot decide to run this week and expect to receive hundreds of thousands of donations after a few conversations with voters who have never heard of you. The process of securing campaign contributions requires stewarding new relationships and cultivating your existing personal network.


(Note: many candidates don’t consider the depth of their personal network until it’s too late.) To do this, you must implement a strong call time program to reach several thousand voters. Call time should be your first and most important canvassing tool. It is the least expensive and most efficient way to connect with donors.


Then, you must be ready to “chase your pledges”


Fundraising is not purely the act of receiving enough donations after speaking with potential donors once or twice. You don’t want to end up in a position where you are self-funding to make it through the quarter. Without creating a realistic budgeting strategy, spending time to build relationships within the community, establishing a robust campaign operation, and staying on call time, you can almost assure your election is a total loss!


Grassroots candidates have a remarkable vision to propel our country forward.


Most new candidates don’t fail because of their lack of motivation and effort. They fail because they simply underestimate the numerous hurdles they must jump over to get on the ballot, let alone connect with enough voters to win their election.


It takes more than motivation and effort to win.

Don’t set yourself up for failure…


That’s why Sole Strategies has developed a program that works! And we get in the trenches with you. Our team of political organizers has unmatched expertise in building relationships, developing and supporting systems to help with follow up, and providing you the support needed to help you WIN your election!


Learn more about our Kickstart Fundraising Program here.

The 6-week cohort goes through an intensive curriculum covering these fundamentals:

  • Digital Fundraising

  • Fundraising Methods

  • Fundraising Strategy

  • Donors 101: The Fundraising Cycle

  • Building Relationships in Your Network


In addition to the curriculum you will receive one-one one support from a dedicated Call Time Manager, 2500 contacts for registered voters in your district, and numerous resources to help you effectively engage voters and implement a winning call time program.


 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I am Terrell, the Fundraising Director here at Sole Strategies. I love the work that I do and am committed to pushing necessary change to build a more equitable and progressive nation.


Much like many first-time candidates for public office, I never imagined building a career in politics. However, our current political climate, exacerbated by the pandemic, never-ending cycle of unfolding current events propelled me to use my training and skills to impart a positive influence in the political arena. As a progressive political organizer, I have had the privilege to support the fundraising and call time programs for numerous progressives running for office in local, state, and national elections.


I was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and left home at 17 to attend Penn State to become a first-generation college graduate when I earned my B.S. in Health Policy and Administration. My degree focus was in public policy and public health and I always envisioned myself impacting change through healthcare. Widening socioeconomic opened my eyes to the extreme importance of average citizens taking their service in the public arena a step further. I am motivated by my personal experiences as a non-profit administrator, former candidate for public office, and advocacy for marginalized and underrepresented people.


This blog is designed to provide insightful resources and proven solutions for current (and future) candidates for office who might be faced with challenges regarding raising money for their campaign.


Fundraising doesn't have to be a guessing game. Chasing pledges, soliciting donors, and tracking your progress can be quite the challenge and time consuming. Sole Strategies has your back – we support you every step of the way. Fundraising the SOLE way is the most effective way to reach voters and win your campaign!


 

ABOUT SOLE STRATEGIES:

Sole strategies is a woman and minority–owned organization built by a team of political experts who specialize in strengthening grassroots campaigns at the community level. Running a race is tough on a shoestring budget– but we’re here to make that possible. You shouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for consultants who tell you how to do the work they themselves have never done. Here at sole strategies, we know that words of guidance are empty if they’re not backed by real support and tangible results.