Politicians seeking higher office in the 2020 elections raised more than $14 billion. That’s a lot of yard signs.
Most, if not all, of that money was reported to local, state, and federal election committees, the IRS, and other regulatory mechanisms. The reason for this is simple:
The public wants to know who is contributing to a politician and whether his actions reflect those donors’ interests. But, of course, there are loopholes in the form of LLCs and political action committees.
However, learning to fundraise is pretty simple for most rank and file politicians if you follow a few basic guidelines.
In the following article, we’ll look at a few basic procedures for raising political funding and how you might structure your political campaign.
Do Your Research
The first step you need to take is to conduct some research. You need to identify the election authority in your area and decide which governmental area monitors campaign finance.
In New Hampshire, for example, this falls under the Secretary of State’s office. In South Carolina, the state Ethics Commission monitors fundraising. So you need to determine who’s in charge and where they post their fundraising guidelines.
If you are running under a partly line, your political party is an excellent resource for setting up fundraising and essential questions. While in-party friction is not unusual, most parties still devote some time and effort to ensure their members can participate effectively in primaries and elections. Thus, it benefits not only the candidate but the party itself.
Another way to get up to speed with political fundraising is to take part in coalition management. Using this method, you fundraise through a group of like-minded politicians and organizations. This can take a lot of the headache out of the process.
Rules on How to Fundraise
If you are running for federal office, not only do states have their reporting requirements, but the federal government does, too.
This starts with an authorization notice. If a campaign is soliciting donations, the wording of the solicitation must be unambiguous. That also goes for advertisements promoting a candidate. For example, you’ve probably heard the line “Paid for by John Doe for Congress” in many a TV or radio advertisement.
Another item to keep in mind is the “best efforts rules.” This means that the campaign must exhibit its best effort to report and maintain information on the donor’s address, occupation, donation, and name.
Lastly, there are the IRS requirements. One of the most important of these lies in Section 6113 of the tax code. Political committees whose gross receipts exceed $100,000 must include a special notice about how the contribution is no longer tax-deductible.
A candidate that conducts a fundraising campaign online must take even more steps to do so online. For example, there are several mandatory disclaimers that the campaign must post, and your campaign must monitor the contributions to make sure that they don’t exceed individual limits.
Most campaigns appoint a committee treasurer to handle these sometimes arcane rules so that the candidate can focus on the issues and people’s questions.
Don’t Go It Alone
How to fundraise for your campaign can seem complicated when you first start, but that’s why you may need to have a few meetings with your party officials or a political consultant to get the ball rolling.
Campaign finance is one of the more difficult of running for office, and it has tripped up a lot of budding politicians.
Do yourself a favor, and if you are not sure on a rule or if you are soliciting contributions legally, ask the help of the governing body of your state or ask a lawyer.
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