How to Bring in the Big Bucks for Your Political Campaign

Hint: It's time to get personal.

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Research shows that women don't like to ask for money. Even Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) hates it: “It’s my least favorite part of the job by about 10 miles,” she told MC. “I’d rather have Donald Trump give me a root canal.” But fundraising is something no candidate can avoid, so we asked Emerge America, which has trained 2,500 women to run, for tips to help you swallow your fear.

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1) Make a list. Check it twice.

Create a digital contacts list with work, home, and cell numbers. Include key information—spouse and children’s names, how you know them, conversation starters—and note how much to ask for from each.

2) Get personal.

Tell voters how your priorities will affect them. Make it clear that supporting you is a simple way for them to take action on issues they care about.

3) Start with your squad.

The easiest asks are people closest to you, so hit up your inner circle and work outward.

4) Know when to strike.

Try calling people at work between 10 a.m. and noon, or from 2 to 4 p.m. Phone people at home between 6 and 8 p.m.

2117: the year women will achieve political parity if progress continues at the same rate it has since 1960.

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5) Be a broken record.

Part of President Barack Obama’s success was in getting donors to give small amounts many times. So don’t be afraid to ask repeatedly. You’ll get the most money in person, then over the phone, then by e-mail—so ask multiple times in different ways.

6) Practice makes perfect.

Make practice phone calls to friends and staffers. Try your script on people of different ages and backgrounds—not everyone speaks or reacts the same.


Sample Script: Money Talk Meets Mad Libs

Ring, ring. [Ask for a specific person.] If no one picks up, say in your voicemail that you have a campaign update to share. Don’t ask for money—you’ll never get a call back!

If you know the person: Start with pleasantries: Hi, this is [name]. [Insert small talk about family, work, something you have in common, or, when all else fails, the weather.]

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If the person is a stranger: Say your name, what office you’re running for, and when the election is, and ask a question to which you know the answer will be yes to get them agreeing with you early on.

Get to the point. I’m calling because I’m running for [position]. I’m thrilled to be taking this step because it will give me the chance to fight for [list an issue you want to take on].

Segue to the ask. I’m glad you’re excited about my candidacy, and I’m hoping you’ll support me by investing in my campaign. Would you be able to contribute [list a specific dollar amount; ask for double what you think they can afford] today? Pause for response. (Doodle, drink a few sips of water, squeeze a stress ball—whatever it takes to get through 20 seconds of silence!)

If they say yes: Thank them and ask how to follow up with a pledge letter or e-mail.

If they say maybe: Cut your ask in half.

If they say no: Thank them, and ask for their vote or for them to volunteer or put up a yard sign.


This article is part of our "Women Running for Office" series, which originally appeared in Marie Claire's November 2017 issue, on newsstands October 17. To view the full package, click here.

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