Raising Cash with Exec Committees

from Campaigns & Elections, February 1998
by Ken Christensen

Candidates are always searching for new ways to raise money, but in reality there are only a few solid ways of raising money for campaigns. Campaigns must focus on realistic, manageable and efficient fundraising programs.

One such program is the establishment of an Executive Finance Committee -- a group of individuals who will raise money for the campaign through their contacts and associations. Usually the first committee members are personal friends of the candidate and business colleagues.

The more people who get involved in raising money for your campaign, the better. The committee should include all of the candidates contacts who are willing to help with fundraising.

The following are the key steps in developing an Executive Finance Committee:

Identifying members: Make a list and do an analysis of potential fundraising committee members.

The campaign literally needs to sit down with all the individuals who will be involved in the fundraising process including the candidate and brainstorm. Although it is a repetitive process, brainstorming and making lists must be done at the beginning and throughout the entire campaign.

Analysis of committee members: First, identify the background and the issues of concern to the individual. Second, determine if only a phone call and a meeting is needed to bring them on board. Third, identify how much money you think the individual can raise.

Solicitation of the potential committee member: Once the candidate understands the background of each committee prospect and issues of concern, he or she should call or meet with each one.

Usually the candidate's pitch combines the campaign's message with reasons to why the candidate can win. That may include mention of other key supporters.

The last thing the candidate must do -- and it should be done after the prospect has agreed to be on the Executive Fundraising Committee -- is to ask them to raise a specific amount of money. If the new committee member is not comfortable with the specific amount the candidate has asked for, then the candidate should simply negotiate a new goal to be raised.

Follow-up: The candidate must call each member of the Executive Committee periodically to encourage them to meeting the goals. The finance director will also be heavily involved in this process. Ideally, meetings of the committee should be held at least once each month to report progress.

Members can also participate in major fundraising events as hosts or hold house parties. Events give Executive Finance Committee members a deadline to meet their monetary goal.

One of the best ways to keep in touch with all the members of the committee is through faxes. The campaign can either hire a broadcast fax company or enter the names of all the committee members into an in-house computer faxing program. Then, regularly fax them with "talking points" and good news about the campaign. 

Regardless of a committee structure, the candidates must always be the chief fundraiser. This is crucial to the ultimate success of the fundraising effort.