Raising Money and Selling Yourself

Back in 2013, I ran for New York City Council, and if you've ever run for local office yourself, you'll know it's not very glamorous (at least it wasn't for me!). In your preparation and planning, you always think...

"OMG, I am going to inspire people to make a real difference, and small donations from all over the USA are going to flood in..."

I legitimately LOLed while typing that out. Not because I think that doesn't happen. You might be a fantastic person to represent your community, but there are very very few Obama situations out there. Think about the low percentage of people that vote, now consider that donors are even infinitesimally less than that.

As a candidate for local office, you likely can't hire a fundraiser or have bundlers (at least for State-level and City-level races), so it's your sole responsibility to make money and keep the campaign ship afloat as your team spends the money you tried so hard to get. During my campaign, I'd spend probably 6+ hours every day in a small room boxed off the real world and would be calling hundreds of people to try to sell yourself for money.


Many of my best friends would ignore my calls (I'm calling you because you haven't donated yet, guys!). And I know first-hand, being told "NO" gets frustrating. I also know the difficulty of talking about yourself - there is the Imposter Syndrome and the Confidence Gap to consider.

Despite all of this, I am here to tell you that fundraising is a numbers game and if you take your pride out of the process, you can raise money for anything. You get used to the rejection. You get used to people hanging up on you. You get used to all of the negative aspects of fundraising. It's all about the time you spend fundraising that makes a difference.

I'm a stats guy, so I think about the Law of Large Numbers (LoLN). The LoLN says that the more something happens (even with the smallest probability), the more likely your average donation will regress towards the mean. So the more people you call, the more your donation average goes towards $200, the average political donation in this nation. If your donation average is $0, you better get going...

In 2015, I gave a presentation for Leadership for Educational Equity. I broke down how I structured my fundraising calls. I wanted to reproduce it below. Now, I am certainly NOT an expert - there are way better fundraisers than me - but I wanted to share what I learned.

Take a look at my fundraising deck and let me know what you think!

Fundraising Deck for Leadership for Educational Equity