Whom to Ask
Whom should you ask for money to support your campaign? The simplest answer is everyone. You never know who will and will not donate, so cast a wide net. In the “Why People Give” section of this website, we discuss motives for giving and reasons why people do not give. It is a good idea to consider how those motives and objections might apply to each of the potential donors listed below.
There are many different ways to ask for money. You can send emails, write letters, make phone calls, or use social media. Each of these will reach a certain segment of the potential donors. The most effective way to raise money, however, is face to face. Be sure to include individual and group meetings with potential donors in your fundraising effort. These face-to-face meetings happen in homes, offices, coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. Remember that is usually easier for a donor to say yes in person!
Some potential donors include:
- Yourself – Individual community organizers are usually the first to give money to their efforts. You will probably spend some of your own money on materials and transportation costs when you start a fundraising effort. However, you should also be willing to contribute the largest amount of money you can afford to the effort. It matters to donors if you put your money where your mouth is. It is always easier to ask others to join you in supporting the campaign.
- Friends and Family – You already know your initial donors. Your friends and family who support the effort to adopt an ordinance or initiative should be the first people you ask. They trust you and want to help you succeed. Do not feel awkward about this. Just like other donors, you are offering them an opportunity to support work they cannot or will not do themselves.
- Other Supporters – You probably know other community members who share your desire to create safe and legal access in your community. Get them involved by asking for their support and participation. Look for organizations that work on medical cannabis issues to find new supporters in your area.
- Your Broader Social Network – After friends, loved ones, and other supporters, it is time to tap into your broader social network. Co-workers, friends of friends, church members, and social clubs are all good place to look for prospects. You may also have an online network of “friends” from whom you can seek support. Don’t be afraid to network and ask. Finding new support is part of fundraising.
- “Angel Donors” – An Angel Donor is someone who provides a very large contribution to support your campaign. This could be a wealthy individual, business, or organization. If you have access to a potential Angel Donor, be sure to ask for support. Remember that most Angel Donors will want to see a good campaign plan, budget, and other materials. It is great to have one donor who provides most of your support, but do not put off other fundraising while you purse and Angel Donor. Most campaigns never find one.
- Related Businesses – Medical cannabis businesses (existing and proposed) and other business that serve them have a direct financial interest in expanding local licensing. They should be natural candidates for supporting local ordinances and voter initiatives. There is no reason a campaign fundraiser cannot take money from industry. Just be transparent a clear about your goals. Remember that business donors can support your campaign. They should not control it.
- Grantors – There are organizations that make grants for local advocacy work. You will need to do some digging to find grant making organizations that support ordinances and initiatives and have appropriate donor criteria for you. It might take a long time and a lot of writing to get grant money, so plan ahead.
There are also some other strategies you can use to raise money for your campaign:
- Crowd Funding – There are numerous online platforms where you can raise money for a campaign by soliciting donations online. Crowd funding can be a useful tool for expanding your fundraising reach. As a general rule, crowd funding is best for soliciting small contributions from a large number of donors. Of course, you will have to promote your crowd funding effort to someone. Donors won’t automatically flock to your website.
- Merchandise – In some cases, you can raise money by selling merchandise. This usually works best with promotional merchandise that is related to the campaign – i.e. t-shirts, stickers, buttons, etc. Some donors like to get something tangible in exchange for their contribution. In most cases, you will have invest money up front to buy the merchandise. You will also have to collect and pay sales tax. That means that you must apply for a Seller’s Permit from the California Board of Equalization.
- Fundraising Events – You can host fundraising event to support your campaign. Concerts, athletic events, and house parties are all commonly used. Be careful about overhead costs, permitting requirements (especially if you are selling alcohol), and insurance if you are going to host fundraising events.
- Raffles and Auctions – You can always hold a raffle or auction to raise money. Ideally, the merchandise would be donated by a supporter. The key to raising money with raffles and auctions is to widely promote them. The more participants you have, the more money you will raise.
- Social Media – Many social media site now have fundraising options. You can use sites like FaceBook, Twiiter, Instrgram, SnapChat, Linkedin, and others to build your base of support and potential donors. Be careful to follow the Terms of Service and avoid “spamming” other users with unwanted or excessive solicitations.