Campaigns & Elections: The Future of the Fundraising Arms Race

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Campaigns & Elections: The Future of the Fundraising Arms Race

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Campaigns & Elections Magazine | By John Simms & Stu Trevelyan | Mar 06 2012

The fundraising technology created by John Simms of the Republican firm CMDI and Stu Trevelyan of the Democratic firm NGP VAN powered the majority of all funds raised for 2012.

Fundraising played a much larger role in the 2012 election cycle than ever before. Both major party presidential candidates declined federal funds and went on to shatter fundraising and spending records. With the increasing importance of joint fundraising committees (JFCs) and Super PACs, political fundraising has become an arms race.

CMDI and NGP VAN have the honor of helping our candidates, Republican and Democrat respectively, build highly competitive $100 million-to-$1 billion plus organizations every four years. And every year we work to keep our feet on the innovation pedal by working with campaigns in competitive congressional and statewide races build $10-to-$50 million organizations…

In 2012, large-dollar donors (donors who gave more than $200) continued to be the foundation of Republican campaigns. The Romney campaign utilized CMDI’s web and mobile software to manage the entire solicitation process of high-dollar donors by volunteer and professional fundraisers (also known as bundlers). By the end of 2012, the majority of all large donors was solicited and tracked using this software, known as ComMITT. Every stage of the solicitation of donations and the recruitment of new bundlers was recorded and managed in ComMITT Finance team members had a transparent view into how each of their fundraisers and bundlers were performing. This real-time data informed a dynamic fundraising process entirely dependent on intelligent donor cultivation and highly motivated volunteers….

Breaking down the silos, information sharing, sound research and testing can optimize and further improve future fundraising production. Carefully planned and executed upgrades and multiple gifts strategies cannot be ignored…

We face an enormous challenge in the next four years to match and leapfrog the opposition. Republicans will focus on developing an analytical environment enabling us to better understand the political landscape, to detect subtle changes and identify opportunities, and to recruit and train a base of talent with the right match of intellectual capital and commitment. We need to better target our resources, messaging and activities to optimize our chance to win, not only in the fundraising race, but also at the polls.

Moving forward, campaigns must embrace technology that will centralize all relevant data, deliver better information and facilitate customized cross-channel fundraising response vehicles that are personalized on the donor level. How appeals are created, tested, analyzed, and delivered will continue to evolve. In the midst of all this change, we cannot be distracted by shiny objects or untested theories. It will never be just one thing that leads us to success. The fundraising basics of rigorous testing for the best performing message and technique will always be paramount to success…

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