Thursday, November 27, 2003

Money, money, money. No it's not just an ABBA song, it's what makes the world go around, but more importantly it is what makes the political world go around. Fundraising is probably the most important aspect of campaigning. Even though you would think the candidate and the platform would be, the truth is in this day and age, it is all about the mula. So the focus of today's post is to see how fundraising has changed due to the web and blogs.

Online donations are not new, in the 2000 elections Bradley and McCain made use of the web with online fundraising and with the use of online credit card donations, online fundraising has taken off for politics and non-profits. "The leading figure in all this is former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who, through a network of websites and blogs, has cultivated a devoted Internet following that helped him beat out other Democratic contenders in last quarter's fundraising totals." Dean is the man of the hour when it comes to all things political and online campaigning. However others are catching on to this cheap and easy way of fundraising. While Cheney was hosting a fundraising dinner spending time to get there and chipping in a bit of his own money for the base production, Dean dare his contributors to beat the $2000 plates and raise more. And beat him they did, in fact they doubled him. But not with $2000 plates but with an average contribution of just over $50. Big time totals don't need big time donations, just a lot of little ones.

But the appeal of online fundraising is not only that it is cheap and easy, but diverse. "It allows you to reach a large audience with a lot less expense.... And you're reaching a broad category of people who may not have been connected before to the campaign." With online fundraising you reach more than la-de-dah contributors with their black ties and fancy dresses. You reach everyone and anyone and they can give without even leaving their house. Also, with blogs not only can they donate their money but their opinions as well. With this lending of opinions, "it gives people a heightened sense of connection to campaigns and even a degree of empowerment. Dean's website is notably interactive, with supporters encouraged to offer up ideas and tips, some of which the campaign has used (the slogan "people-powered Howard" came from an online fan). " That is just one of the reasons why people think online campaigning is going to take off, because it is not just take your money and run, there is a connection, a link.

Money is coming in, ideas are coming in, and a new string of voters is believed to be coming in as well. Online campaigning and fundraising are very possibly the wave of the future. But the key to getting the money to keep rolling in is to provide a connection for the donors. The Internet has already created somewhat of a barrier between people who are more used to a traditional campaign. For many the idea of just donating through the Internet seems disconnected and a bit scary ti just send money off into the ether. But with people coming around due to things like eBay and Amazon, sending money to online sources is not quite so scary. Also, the link that blogs can inspire has helped to give more definition and sensibility to the fundraising. If you allow people to post comments on an official site and to be apart of the process, then they feel empowered and the idea of donating to a campaign that you feel apart of just makes more sense to people. Blogs and fundraising give the public a sense of ownership and as the quote above stated, empowerment. Two things that are very important for the world of politics and the answers to making online fundraising work.

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