2012 is turning into the year of “Volunteer Fundraising” for the Republican Party.
So far this election cycle, Republican candidates and the Republican party have raised almost $100 million through the use of volunteer fundraising (“bundling”) networks.
- Mitt Romney,
- Rick Santorum,
- Newt Gingrich,
- Rick Perry,
- Tim Pawlenty, and
- The Republican National Committee
Utilizing volunteers for fundraising has always existed in some form or another, but now that fundraisers are online all the time, they have access to data and tools that are changing the fundraising game.
We are seeing some very interesting trends in the world of volunteer fundraising:
- Friends asking friends are 10 times more likely to successfully solicit a gift than if the campaign asks a prospect directly.
- When friends ask friends, the donation size is 52% higher than a gift solicited by the campaign.
- Pledge-to-donation conversion rates are running between 85% and 90% verses the traditional 50%.
- Volunteer fundraisers follow the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of fundraisers raise 80% of the funds.
The three big innovations that have taken volunteer fundraising to the next level are 1) the portable devices, always on internet, 2) the ability to take a credit card gift any where at any time, and 3) volunteer fundraising management software & apps such as our CrimsonRPM.
Always On Internet
Between smart phone growth and the proliferation of high speed wifi networks, it is very uncommon for you to find yourself without access to the internet. Since the 2008 presidential elections, more than 900 million smartphones have been sold and this year 300 million more will be in consumers’ hands. Anyone with a internet enabled smartphone is a potential volunteer fundraiser.
Take Donations From Anywhere
From the comfort of…. ummmmm, anywhere, you can process a credit card donation. The technology in the mobile transaction world is changing fast right now. We see mobile swipers, mobile check scanning, and simply completing a web based credit card form (like WidgetMakr) everywhere. Gone are the days of volunteers bringing “bundles” (hence the name) of checks back to campaign HQ.
In the ancient days of Bush 2000 and 2004, the “Bush Pioneer” fundraisers and bundlers activities were tracked by spreadsheet. Unfortunately when you are dealing with hundreds of fundraisers and thousands of transactions, maintaining accurate spreadsheets is next to impossible. Creating a truely real-time colabrative fundraising team was totally impossible.
In 2008, the Romney for President finance team decided to create a custom software application that applied multi-level marketing business practices to volunteer fundraising. Working with CMDI and eNilsson, the Romney finance team created ComMITT & QuickComMITT. These software tools allowed fundraisers to:
- accept pledges and donations from anywhere,
- track their own personal outbound phone calls and emails,
- track unfulfilled pledges in real-time (you might solicit a pledge but the donor might give on the campaign’s website), and most importantly,
- recruit and manage your own fundraising team.
The McCain for President Victory Fund finance team quickly followed suit and used CMDI’s DexTeam to manage their own cadre of volunteer fundraisers.
The ability for volunteers to easily create and manage their own fundraising teams changed the fundraising game. Now you had individuals with up to 9 levels of fundraisers working for the cause. These social networks of fundraisers were raising millions of dollars.
Roll the clock forward to 2012 and volunteer fundraising software has made great leaps forward. CrimsonRPM, which has become the volunteer fundraising platform and is the national campaign standard. CrimsonRPM allows campaigns of any size to leverage the power of volunteers and their social networks.
The numbers show that the proof is in the pudding — tens of thousands of fundraisers raising a hundred million dollars. Give a volunteer the right set of tool and they can change the world.