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More on fundraising

This discussion was written for the Libertarian Party, but works equally well for any other third party.

Spending A Dollar’s Worth of Nickels to Make A Dime

It’s important that we use our fundraising dollars as efficiently and profitably as possible. Taking a lukewarm profit as “the best we can do” is almost as bad as taking a loss.

A rather simplistic example is a bake sale where each cake is sold for $5. That’s fine if the donated cakes cost the bakers less than $5 apiece to make. But what if the bakers are spending $15 apiece? Technically, since the cakes were donated, you still make $5 apiece, but you’d have made three times as much if you’d have had the bakers donate the $15 directly and skipped the bake sale. Or, given the quality of the cakes, raise the prices to $20 and make four times as much.

It’s not enough only to look at the bottom line. We need to look for hidden opportunities, as well, which means we need timely, clear and complete bookkeeping on events, including the cost of generating donations so we can be sure we’re using donated items well.

What’s It All For?

Last but perhaps most important, we need to remember why people donate to the Libertarian Party. Sometimes they donate because they want to support an initiative or because they want to see ballot access. Sometimes they see a candidate they really like. But always, they donate because they care about Libertarian politics. It’s rather disheartening for them to discover that they’re mostly donating to cover overhead. Is it any wonder that our supporters are donating less and less?

A final word on how to improve our fundraising and outreach: We need to put our donors’ money to work in very visible ways, which again ties back to fundraising events and outreach events. When donors can see their money working, building ballot access, supporting candidates, creating connections with affinity groups, supporting initiatives and bringing in new members, they’ll be more inclined to give. Now the process will build on itself.