February Path to Politics – The Nuts and Bolts of Fundraising

February 27, 2012

Make a list of the people you would call to donate $2500 to your campaign. Who could you count on to donate today? How long is your list? Five? Ten? Fifteen people?

Louisa Imperiale, National Finance Director at the American Conservative Union, told women doing this exercise at Running Start’s Path to Politics that unless you can make a list 100 people long, you’re not ready to run for office.

Looking down dejectedly at my list of ten names—of which I had been quite proud only minutes before—I recognized that Ms. Imperiale’s message was not not to run, but rather how to prepare yourself to do so—and to win!

So how does one grow her list of ten names into a list of 100? Networking: a dreaded task for some, networking is key not only to funding women’s campaigns, but more importantly, to helping women gain positions in which they can make a difference in their communities.

Pulling out a Rolodex the size of a small vehicle, Ms. Imperiale evidenced one of the keys to her fundraising success. Not only had she collected business cards, but she had annotated each with person messages: sticky tabs covering the cards identified everything from people’s children by name to the dress they wore to the fundraiser.

What does one ask for, business card in hand? Crucial to fundraising, Ms. Imperiale emphasized, is remembering that you are not asking for money for yourself, but rather for your cause, for your issues. You must remember that you are asking for an investment in a better world—not an addition to your vacation fund.

Networking, when done right, is more than schmoozing: it is sharing of passions, joining of forces to fight for what matters, and even, as Ms. Imperiale proved, building authentic personal connections. Ultimately, networking is about women helping other women to help everyone.

With my new Rolodex and a wallet full of business cards, I am ready to start growing my list of names. Though I will not have 100 names by next week, I might have fifteen, and that is certainly a step in the right direction. With a race in the future, for now, all I need is a Running Start.

– Sophia Boyer, Running Start Intern

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