If your email inbox looks anything like mine, you might not be surprised to find a new candidate fundraising appeal every time you hit refresh. While supporting the candidates and causes we feel passionate about can be fulfilling, the number and frequency of these requests may leave you wondering if your small dollar contributions still matter. They do.
According to EveryDistrict, Republican State Legislative candidates had a $2.2 million fundraising advantage nationwide as of July. Historically, taking down entrenched incumbents and flipping state legislatures requires Democrats to mount fresh, sophisticated, and well-funded campaigns. Digital and email fundraising is a key strategy for candidates in many of the districts we must win in November.
The emergence of platforms like The Daily Kos and MoveOn.Org democratized political fundraising, allowing anyone with a computer and a credit card to learn about and support worthwhile candidates locally and across the country. The title of “political donor” is no longer reserved for lobbyists who can afford to write checks using other people’s money and the candidate’s personal inner circle. By the 2014 electoral cycle, a strong digital fundraising program was synonymous with a winning campaign strategy for many large campaigns.
But until recently, digital grassroots fundraising operations were limited to top-of-the-ticket candidates like those running for President, Congress and statewide offices. Grassroots fundraising, where the average contribution ranges from $5-$100, levels the playing field for Democratic challengers who are competing against traditionally-funded Republican incumbents.
Today, almost every candidate for office — from President to School Board — will have some sort of digital fundraising operation. What was once a novel approach has turned into common practice. Unfortunately, it can sometimes feel irritating for those of us who have inboxes dominated by well-meaning pleas for financial support from hundreds of candidates.