Fundraising and membership ideas

From Matthew Gaylor:

The following are the better responses to a survey asking for ideas that generate money, members and/or votes.

  1. Talk radio appearances (mentioned by many Dallas activists as their first indication that LP is in town). LP name and phone must be repeated, of course.
  2. Op-eds. Effective mainly in wealthy north suburbs, where younger people actually read.
  3. Voter's Guides (although phone number in phone book must be right for this to work...)

Bill Walker said:

There is one strategy I've used to raise money which seems to work very well. And that is to send a fundraising letter that promotes a radio or TV ad campaign. In fact, I've been able to raise money at LP meetings simply by announcing that I'm putting an ad on the air, and I leave the meeting with upwards of $100 for the ads. It seems to me that Libertarians are tired of donating money without getting some specific satisfaction in return. I've found that a radio or TV ad is ideal. Donors know exactly what the money is going towards, they know that advertising is crucial to increasing membership and most importantly, they have something to point to (or listen to on their own radios! what a thrill!) that they can say, "I helped put that there! That's my ad!"

Two important tricks of the trade:

  1. Offer a range of recommended donations with associated "premiums." For example, everyone who donates at least $25 will get notification of when the ads will air. Those who donate at least $50 will also get their own tape copy of the ad for use in their own area. Those who donate at least $100 (the cost of one ad) will also get an autographed copy of Ed Clark's campaign book (or some other premium.)
  2. Always send thank you cards to any donor and track their donations in the membership/prospect database (total donated so far and date of last donation). And make sure you send letters to prospects as well. Sometimes they give more than members do.

I have found that information tables are the most effective method of increasing the number of voters registered Libertarian in an area. In Alachua County, Florida, we went from 70 registered LP folks in 1989 or so to 182 in 1993. We assume that this is due in large part to the tables since this is an all time high, and that was the time when we started tabling at the local fair and other libertarian events.

Tom Isenberg said:

For fundraising, putting out a newsletter regularly is good. Folks like to see where their money is going. Also, specific fundraising for things or events works well.

Jen said:

One thing we have started doing here is to get our local newsletter in gear. We send it out to every registered Libertarian in the county and every issue has a membership form. It isn't fancy (one photocopy sheet, both sides, tri-folded, bulk mailed) and it doesn't have any articles that are time consuming to write, just what the local LP is up to and what happened at the last state LP exec comm meeting. Also, every copy has a schedule of events for the next month and phone numbers of who to contact for more info.

  1. Put a method of donation and/or membership on every piece of outreach literature. This is to include a method to reach the organization by mail, phone, e-mail etc. Also, marketing studies have shown that the use of a telephone icon next to your phone number will increase your call rate by 300%.
  2. Maintain a contact database and keep a handle on who contributes and how often. Your database of members, contacts, voters etc. is the most valuable thing an organization owns.
  3. If possible obtain a toll-free number for calls outside of your area. It's important to realize that many people like to argue and use the toll-free number as an entertainment device. Therefore put an answering machine on the line with a message like the following: "Hello you have reached the Libertarian Party. We are currently out of the office. If you want some information mailed to you on the Libertarian Party leave your name, address and phone number; if you need to speak to a staff member please call (Area code and local number). Thank you." This will not only cut your phone bill and keep the toll-free line open, but it will also act as a screening device for the truly interested.