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Political Fundraising Worrisome During COVID-19

Fundraising is the bread and butter for a political campaign, but how do organizations that support candidates do what they do best in this time of COVID-19? How do they handle political fundraising during a time of so much uncertainty but yet promote a change?

Being Tech-Savvy

EMILY’s List is the largest resource for women in politics in the nation.

Deputy Director of Campaign Communications Kristen Hernandez said Thursday on a phone call that having a handle pre-COVID-19 on virtually connecting has been very helpful. 

“EMILY’s List has been pretty fortunate and been fully operational remotely,” said Hernandez. “My staff and myself have been on the road anyways, and we were able to switch to remote work pretty seamlessly. We hit the ground running.” 

EMILY’s List has been hosting virtual training sessions and providing tech training and Facebook Live tips for women who are considering running for office. 

Also, the organization has held virtual town hall events throughout the pandemic.

“Virtual training was already a thing, and we already had that infrastructure in place,”  Hernandez said.

During the crisis, EMILY’s List has amped up virtual fundraising, and candidates have been hosting cocktail hours and fundraising online from their kitchens. 

“It’s a lot more personal when candidates are doing a virtual town hall from their kitchen. Pets have even shown up,” Hernandez said. 

Virtually connecting has humanized candidates. When candidates are doing a virtual town hall from their kitchen, they come off more relatable, she said. 

Hernandez shared a broader lesson. The pandemic has taught her team to be flexible and adaptable. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we continue virtually … it’s been a helpful resource and tool for new candidates.”

What is keeping EMILY’s List hopeful is the urgency for change.

“The Democratic women who we are helping run are really passionate about getting these incumbents out of office. The sense of urgency. The call to action. We have great candidates to expand House majority and flood the Senate.”

MJ Hegar, Texas mother of two and veteran who is running for U.S. Senate, said the pandemic hasn’t slowed down her mission.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Texans across the state have seen firsthand the importance of electing a senator who will fight for all Texans to have access to affordable health care and economic opportunity, she said Wednesday in a statement. “That motivation and determination to fight for our shared values has spurred our strong grassroots team to grow to over 42,000 individual donors and enabled us to have our strongest fundraising period to date, raising over $1.6 million.”

“From digital organizing boot camps for volunteers to virtual road trips across the state to talk with Texas voters, our campaign continues to stay focused on the mission.”

LGBTQ Victory Fund

Being able to adapt digitally has been a key component to keeping fundraising goals attainable.

“We were built to be a nimble organization that can effectively pivot quickly and adapt to changing political realities, and this certainly has benefited us as the pandemic transformed nearly every aspect of our work,” said Elliot Imse, senior director of communications at LGBTQ Victory Fund, which has a mission to further equality at all levels of government.

Imse explained that the LGBTQ Victory Fund is heavily invested in digital content and virtual events to bring their candidates and elected officials the visibility that is increasingly difficult to come by.

“We greatly expanded our campaign consulting hours to assist our candidates in retooling their strategies when their original field strategies were upended,” he said. 

“We moved our signature Candidate & Campaign Trainings to an online platform for the first time – holding the three-day intensive training virtually, but using the same high-touch methods that make these trainings so impactful,” Imse said. “There are challenges, no doubt, but also opportunities in the way we carry out our work while the pandemic continues, but also after it subsides as well.”

Imse said that although the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s largest fundraising events of the year have been postponed or canceled, the group has restructured its budget to make up for the projected loss in revenue. 

“We have always been a lean and mean operation and can accomplish a lot for our candidates and future candidates under tight budgets, but there is no doubt the situation is perilous,” Imse said.

“We are doing everything we can to keep our full team in place because there is so much important work to do. Despite the pandemic, we have more LGBTQ candidates running this year than at any other time in our 29-year history, so it is busy.” 

Imse said the Victory Fund wants to make this a historic election year. 

“We have a loyal donor base, and those that can are stepping up and coming through. But without events, we will need more supporters to join us to avoid having to cut back our work. That is the reality for us.”

Annie’s List

Annie’s List, an organization in Texas on a mission to get more women elected, has digital engagement in mind.

It created a playlist with music from the library of Annie’s List Executive Director Royce Brooks. It’s called “Elect Texas Women,” and you can listen here.  

On Friday, during a kick-off of Annie List’s virtual conversations, Brooks spoke with Valerie Jarrett, the chair on the board of When We All Vote and former senior advisor to President Barack Obama. During the interview, Jarrett said, “Nothing is more powerful than a group of women who are angry and tired.”

Written by RA News staff.


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