Day 319 – I don’t typically post these type blog here, but with the little time I have right now I need to be killing two birds with one stone. I hope you find this insightful:
Donating to your favorite political candidate just got easier—but I’m not jumping on the bandwagon just yet. Thanks to a unanimous decision by the Federal Election Commission, political campaigns can now receive donations via text message. The FEC’s bipartisan agreement enables the most accessible means of donating to political campaigns in United States history. In what is already set to be the most expensive presidential campaign season of all time, mobile fundraising could have a bigger impact than we think.
After being processed by a fundraising platform, text donations will be collected through candidates’ political action committees. Showing monetary support for your favorite politician is now only a few button pushes away. As it stands, contributions from one donor to one campaign will be capped at $50 per month and $10 per text. This legislative milestone could mean big bucks for any fundraising platforms looking to capitalize on the emerging trend.
Often associated with grassroots movements, text-to-donate campaigns have raised millions of dollars. In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the world saw the power of mobile donating. According to a Harvard University study, text donations contributed $43 million dollars toward relief and reconstruction efforts in the nation.
(See more about this study here: http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/MobileGiving/Key-Findings.aspx)
Going into the general election season, here are three fundamental pillars on which to build your mobile strategy:
The Message Counts: If people don’t “buy” your message, they’re not going to spend money contributing to your cause. Focus first on the clear articulation of your cause across targeted media channels. Answer, for supporters and critics alike, the why question. Without answering the question directly, give reasons why listeners should support your agenda and contribute your cause. Explain why you deserve their support. Provide your both loyal and potential followers with a compelling reason to give. A tailored message will generate attention and attract a community around your cause. No why, no buy.
Capitalize on Impulsivity: When it comes to mobile donating contributors make the spur-of-the-moment decisions to give. According to a case study on the “Text to Haiti” effort, television promotions accounts for 50 percent of instant donations. But remember, you’re not fundraising for a humanitarian crisis. Your cause is your campaign. Make the impact of your delivery one that elicits immediate voter response. The sooner people are pressing send, the better.
Word of Mouth: Never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing. Sinking millions into your campaign won’t change the fact that, sometimes, a pitch from your neighbor is just easier to hear. That familiar face behind your campaign could be the reason an undecided voter chooses you.
Donors contributing to political campaigns will likely encourage their friends and family members to do the same. And word of mouth is more than mouth. It’s mobile. Through text messages, social networks and e-mails, inspired brand activists will spark others to join your cause.
Focus on how you will execute your strategy, when, and across what channels. You only get one chance to make an impression and in politics, first impressions are everything. Be innovative in your approach. Why? Innovations equal results.
More on the matter:
The passing of text to donate has brought about a new ease to fundraising for political campaigns and issue groups. Although this phenomenon may sound flawless in theory, there remains one outstanding problem—fees.
As political consultants, we battle budgets everyday. How you spend your money defines how your campaign will run. Fundraising platforms, responsible for transmitting and billing the message are the invaluable middlemen.
Clients often pay fundraising platforms just 5 percent of their fundraising revenue, and they do so kicking and screaming. A five percent share for these companies is diminutive compared to recent predictions. Many are saying that future texting services could take between 30 and 50 percent of each donation.
Campaigns won’t have that. Sure, texting is a useful tool to build donor files and generate campaign awareness, but no one is looking toward it as a primary driving force. Hype alone shouldn’t have anyone putting their mobile eggs in one basket. Not yet at least.
The upcoming presidential elections will serve as a case study for the entire text-to-donate phenomena. Rewind four years: Campaign managers argued in circles over the impact Twitter and Facebook would have on the election’s final outcome.
It’s up to campaigns to align themselves with political consultants who are big picture strategists. Those bearing text to donate blinders will find themselves lost at the end of the race.
My colleague Vincent Harris, seasoned digital campaigner, predicts texting, in terms of its ability to generate small dollar donations, will replace email come November.
“If e-mail is king in terms of small dollar fundraising in politics, then after Monday’s decision, it is a king whose best days are probably behind him,“ said Harris.
Probably, maybe, could be—the words on everyone’s mouths. While Harris’ monarchial metaphor showcases his creative expressionism, he proves one thing: A guess is a guess.
If fundraising platforms hope to fan themselves with any revenue at all, they will be forced to lower fees or face obsolescence. Vendors willing to negotiate a fair agreement/deal with campaign managers are spending time and money wisely.
Failure to compromise could be an immobilizing bullet in the foot of a fundraising platform’s earning potential.
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