Is crowdfunding your ticket to the green benches in the Houses of Parliament?
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Election fever commences. This time it is not just heated, it’s on fire. Never has there been a greater moment to cut through the noise and deliver a manifesto to fulfil your values and beliefs. In election 2019, the playing field is open to all.
So, you’ve got the ideas and the passion to drive you or your candidate to parliament but you need some financial assistance to get you there, as well as a loyal crew to help you along the way.
Online fundraising is the simplest way to raise funds quickly. Crowdfunding in particular not only raises that much needed cash but provides you with a crowd of like-minded people who will help build your following and bring your manifesto to life.
Crowdfunding isn’t new. Back in 1885 the Statue of Liberty ran out of funds to complete the project and a local newspaper initiated the first crowdfunding campaign with 160,000 donors. Impressive for a time when the power of digital wasn’t in existence.
Now that we have a multitude of platforms to market a fundraising campaign, crowdfunding is the easiest and most powerful way to engage a crowd. (And a lot more fun.)
Over £1.2m has been raised for political projects on Crowdfunder.co.uk. During the snap election in 2017 alone the platform saw over £690k raised by candidates and parties.
With an average of £870 raised by successful candidates, fundraising targets can vary. The key is a balance between whatever sum you feel you need and what you think your supporters will contribute to make your campaign successful.
Whether that’s funds to raise awareness of you or your candidates campaign, or simply the £500 deposit for the electoral commission to get the campaigning ball rolling, crowdfunding is a simple, human process to get you up and running and on your way to parliament.
However, in our experience at Crowdfunder there are ways to get you there faster, better and stronger, avoiding any potential pitfalls specific to political campaigns. Here’s the top tips from campaigns past and present.
Whilst there is no limit to the amount you can raise, setting a realistic target is key to success.
The average pledge made on a general Crowdfunder project (on All Or Nothing, the route we find gets most engagement) is £50. However, for political campaigns this figure can be a lot lower, often around the £10-20 mark. Make sure your reach capacity, check your social media, e-mail marketing etc is wide enough to engage enough people for your target. Do the maths.
This might sound obvious but sometimes egos get in the way! The Green Party’s General Election Fighting Fund campaign on Crowdfunder in 2017 was hitting a wider audience than for a specific candidate constituency, so their target of £150,000 could afford to be bigger. They successfully raised £236,426 with 5192 supporters in 51 days.
Be very clear what the money will be used for.
People need to understand where the money will be spent. Especially in government where people’s trust has been broken in the past through the failures of the system. SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon Crowdfunder successfully raised £5,850 with 1010 followers in 56 days. The campaign was very clear about how and why the funds raised will be spent – offices, campaign literature, letters to voters, posters and banners.
Make it personal.
Engaging with people emotionally is key in any marketing, B2C or B2B. Crowdfunding is no exception and the consumer friendly platform gives you plenty of opportunity to promote you and your cause through video, imagery and compelling content. Kenny Young’s 2017 Crowdfunder for Midlothian’s seat took a low- fi, very personal and emotionally engaging angle and successfully raised £2025 with 35 supporters in 28 days.
Ensure you have covered the Electoral Commission’s guidelines for fundraising online, are clear about the source of your donations on your crowdfunding page and record how you spend the funds you have raised.
A spokesperson from the Electoral Commission explained to us “Ensure you have covered the Electoral Commission’s guidelines for fundraising online, are clear about the source of your donations on your crowdfunding page and record how you spend the funds you have raised.
Candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners, must only accept donations from a permissible source.
A donation is money, goods, property, or services over a certain value. This value is £50 for candidates and £500 for political parties and non-party campaigners.
There are also guidelines for candidate spending and whilst any breaches are a matter for the police, we have a duty under s.145 of the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) to monitor compliance with the candidate spending controls.
If you have any questions about crowdfunding or would like further advice on political finance or financial reporting at elections, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.” There is a useful Electoral Commission factsheet for Crowdfunding here.
Don’t forget, a good boost at the starting line helps. Nobody wants to be the first to sign up. Have your immediate tribe ready to make those first donations, get the ball rolling and en route to Whitehall. https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/general-election