Grassroots fundraising

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Grassroots fundraising is a common fundraising method used by political candidates, which has grown in popularity with the emergence of the Internet and its use by US presidential candidates like Howard Dean, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and most recently Bernie Sanders. Grassroots fundraising is a way of financing their campaigns for candidates who don't have significant media exposure of front runner status, or who are perhaps in opposition to the powerful lobby groups which influence the political party nominating process, it often involves mobilizing grassroots support to meet a specific fundraising goal or sets a specific day for grassroots supporters to donate to the campaign. Grassroots fundraising can also be a method for organizations to get as many people as possible to give and strategically get people involved; this method encompasses the efforts to reach out to the community being served and gaining connections and resources for one's campaign.[1]

Strategies of Grassroots Fundraising[edit]

There are several methods of undertaking grassroots fundraising, including:

Reaching Donors[edit]

Peer-to-peer fundraising growth has been promoted by the increased use of affiliations and donor networks. Amongst a younger peer group that views their age mates as role models who they can trust for advice. Peer networks have continued to expand in many ways, extending towards the traditional door-to-door or solicitation at the places of work. Grassroots in the modern age involves extensive use of e-mail communication, internet websites, and for monetary support.

Recurring Contributions[edit]

Non-profit donors benefit effectively from a system that contributes monthly. Accepting little amounts can reduce the absolute financial burden and anxiety that a donor experiences, yet amounting to large amounts over time.

Mixing Advocacy and Grassroots Fundraising[edit]

Most people prefer to support in different ways hence this strategy provides them with multiple calls-to-action in the campaign communications. For example, a campaign was done from the international Rescue Committee to reach out to their supporters as a response to presidents Donald Trump's refugee ban, they gave their supporters a variety to get into the campaign:

  • Advocacy: to tell the president to end the refugee ban.
  • Fundraising: Donate to help support the refugee family relocation fees.

Timely Campaigns[edit]

These aspects go hand in hand with the present events and the news cycle. Research has shown that the content are most viral if the message makes people angry.[2] normally the call-to-action and campaign should be:

  • Specific
  • Inspiring
  • Timely
  • Urgent

Easily Understood Data[edit]

Understanding what inspires the supporters is key to engaging effectively with them; such information when targeted to them causes support gained from them to improve, the opportunities they'd enjoy and the kinds of communications they prefer. Some demographics such as gender and age are easy to understand while others are not; therefore one should keep track of data as much as possible. Ultimately, this strategy allows you to understand what is best for the supporters.

Segmented Campaign Outreach[edit]

Since not all of the campaign messages should be sent to every supporter group. Therefore, the organizations data can be used to segment[3] the supporters into sensible groups.

Focusing on A Single Campaign[edit]

There are very many legislative actions taken every year (more than 1.5 million). Therefore there is the need to be picky when it comes to advocacy and grassroots campaigns.

History in the United States[edit]

In the 2000 elections, 66.1% of campaign contributions of $200 or less came from American households earning less than $100,000, who make 86.6% of the general population, but only 14.3% of the contributions over $200 come from these households.[4]

2004 Democratic presidential primaries[edit]

In 2004, presidential candidate Howard Dean built up his campaign around grassroots fundraising.[5] In an interview with Jeff Howe, Dean described a $2,000-per-plate fundraising lunch organized by Vice President Dick Cheney for George W. Bush's re-election. In response, Dean challenged his supporters to come to their computers with him "for lunch". Dean was able to match the amount raised by Cheney's fundraiser, he remarked, on his use of the Internet to raise funds for his campaign, "The Internet isn't magic, it's just a tool that can be used to do things differently."[6]

2008 presidential primaries[edit]

According to Spencer A. Overton, a professor at George Washington University, Obama's presidential campaign received the most grassroots fundraising of presidential candidates in the first Quarter 2007 based on contributions under $200 with $5.77 million, more than double the nearest candidate, John McCain, who got $2.54 million. Out of Obama's quarter fundraising total, 22% came from contributions under $200 with McCain again second at 19%. However, candidates outside the top tier received larger portions of their funds in contributions under $200 with Tancredo at 78%, Brownback 61%, Paul 39% and Kucinich at 68%.[4]

In the 2008 Republican primaries, presidential candidate Ron Paul has made significant use of the Internet to organize grassroots fundraising efforts, his campaign is unique in seeing many grassroots fundraising events begin completely independent of the campaign.[7] The most notable of these was the November 5, 2007 "moneybomb", spread virally through forums like YouTube and Myspace, it managed to earn Paul $4.2 million in one day, breaking the online fundraising record as well as raising more than any other Republican candidate in the election. Ed Rollins, the manager of Ross Perot's 1992 presidential campaign, said of Paul's grassroots support, "What he's done – what his supporters have done – is astonishing. You can't dismiss his anti-war vote. You can't dismiss the power of one man standing up with a powerful message. I'll tell you, I've been in politics for 40 years, and these days everything I've learned about politics is totally irrelevant because there's this uncontrollable thing like the Internet. Washington insiders don't know what to make of it."[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moral. "the revolution will not be funded" (PDF).
  2. ^ Shaer, Matthew. "What Emotion Goes Viral the Fastest?". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  3. ^ "Amazing Segmentation Insights from an Advocacy Campaign". REQ. 2017-03-07. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  4. ^ a b Spencer Overton (2007-04-17). "Obama Leads Grassroots Fundraising". Retrieved 2007-12-19.
  5. ^ "Howard Dean Ends His Campaign for President". PBS. 2004-02-18. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  6. ^ Jeff Howe (September 2003). "The Candidate - Howard Dean". Interview. Wired. Retrieved 2007-12-07.
  7. ^ Byron Wolf Z. (2007-11-06). "Who are Ron Paul's Donors?". ABC News. Retrieved 2007-12-09.
  8. ^ Vargas, Jose Antonio (November 6, 2007). "Paul's Money-Bomb Throwers". Washington Post "The Trail" political blog. Archived from the original on July 19, 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-30. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

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