First time political candidates usually experience high anxiety about raising the needed money for their campaign. The current accepted practices for fundraising include hiring fundraising specialists, cold calling a party donor list, and soliciting support from politically connected organizations. Many of these practices cost money (you need money) and take up valuable time. People who tend to run for local office have full-time careers, and very little fundraising experience. There have been many future leaders who have decided against running for office because they do not want to deal with rigors of campaign fundraising.
Campaign money is second only to actual votes as a resource in winning elective office. Having the funds on hand to run a professional, and winning, campaign should be the main concern for the potential candidate. Having a Candidate Coffee can help lift the stress of fundraising, get the candidate excited about running for office, and bring in needed funds.
The first step is have the candidate think of 10 people they know who would be willing to give them money for their campaign. Have the candidate invite these ten people to a their home (or one of the friends homes) for some conversation and coffee. Make it clear to the guests that the candidate will be talking about their upcoming campaign. During the event (hopefully you are serving coffee and some snacks) have the candidate give a very informal, non-scripted, talk on why they are running for office. Do not talk about national politics, or political party platforms. Have the candidate talk about why they are running for office and what they want to do when they win. The final part of the candidates talk should be an appeal for support from the people in the room. This appeal should include a suggestion that all the guests set up similar coffees. Once the candidate has attended a handful of Candidate Coffees, there should be a healthy cash reserve built up in their campaign coffer.
The concept of the Candidate Coffee is to allow the candidate a forum to discuss why they want to run for office. The desire to serve is what is important, not the desire to raise money. The candidate sees the ease of bringing in funds, just by telling people why they wanted to run in the first place. The Candidate Coffee can also help create a winning message that can be used during the election season. Think of the gathering as an outreach workshop. The coffees can act as the launching pad for creating a local message in the candidates own voice. Many local races are lost because one of the campaigns wanted to focus on the national party's issues, do not let a candidate get lost in ideas that matter little to the local non-partisan voter.
Running for office should be an empowering journey. Do not allow the pressure of fundraising to derail a candidates enthusiasm before you even start voter outreach.
RD Kulik is the creator and Head Editor for Seed Sing. Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a candidate or issue profile. Let Seed Sing help you start building resources for your campaign.