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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Email Fundraising Example from American Majority: Help us train them


Dear Patriot,

I can't believe it's already May!

The year is flying by and I thought I'd take a moment to update you on the most critical and biggest initiative that American Majority has ever taken on.

It's called the New Leaders Project. You see, last November's elections were just an opening salvo in the long war that will determine who will control America's future: the American people or a ruling class of elite incumbent politicians who have driven this nation down the road to statism for too long

America needs new leadership -- right now. At all levels of government. We need leaders who have the ability to effectively communicate the ideas of free enterprise, limited government, fiscal responsibility, and individual freedom, while at the same time running sound campaigns.

That's the goal of the New Leaders Project: identify and train new leaders who will run for office by the filing deadline in 2012.

The response to our New Leaders Project has been overwhelming. Since its launch, just under 500 tea party groups across the country have stepped up to be a part of this program to help us identify leaders who are prepared to run for office. Our ultimate goal is to recruit and train 10,000 candidates -- and already, we have pledges that total over 5,000 recruitments. This is far ahead of the goal we set for this point of the year. 

Patriot, we have these leaders identified. All they need is the training -- and that's where you come in. Can you chip in just $5, $25, $50, or even $100 or more to help train this farm team of new leaders? (Your contribution is 100% tax-deductible). 

You see, when we sat down to set our budget earlier this year, we never dreamed that nearly 500 tea party groups would have already taken the pledge and begin actively recruiting new leaders. We are far ahead of the schedule we anticipated. 

It is certainly a good problem to have: Americans understand that we must break the strangle hold of incumbents who continue to vote for more spending and more government intervention in the free market -- and they're standing up and doing something about it.

Training is what American Majority does best. In 2010, we hosted 246 training sessions across the country, educating 9,165 activists and candidates. We taught them how to hardwire precincts, build coalitions, be effective online, and work for greater transparency and accountability in our government. 

No wonder Erick Erickson, editor of RedState, remarked, "American Majority is building a farm team for our movement, and so far, the results have been nothing short of remarkable." In fact, just last week, Erick posted again on the New Leaders Project, saying, "There are two authentically grassroots activist groups right now that I will go to mats for: American Majority and Heritage Action for America."

Our continued success at identifying and training a new crop of real leadership depends on your generosity.

As you can imagine, our mission doesn't excite those with deep pockets who depend on entrenched incumbents for special favors, handouts, and invitations to the cocktail party circuit. Nor does it excite the party machine designed to protect incumbents -- no matter how far they've strayed from fundamental principles. 

Our mission is advanced solely by the generosity of Americans like you. The New Leaders Project will not only impact elections in the near future, but for years to come. Our identified and trained leaders will run for anything from school board all the way up to Congress. This project is also about breaking the cycle of incumbency at all levels, local, state and federal, and devolving political power out of DC and state capitols.

Please make a generous tax-deductible donation of any size to the New Leaders Project right now

Patriot, we couldn't do it without you. Thank you for being a part of this exciting program. With your help, the Tea Party will continue to be a sustainable political force -- one that activates citizens, identifies credible leadership for America's communities, and ushers in a new era of accountability. 


Ned Ryun
American Majority 

PS: Nearly 500 tea party groups from across the country have pledged to recruit a new, fresh crop of candidates to run for office and challenge the status quo as part of our New Leaders Project. We need your immediate financial support to help get these new leaders trained -- we are overwhelmed by the response we've received. Please chip in $5, $25, $50, or even $100 or more right now to the New Leaders Project. Remember, your donation is 100% tax-deductible. With your help, this program will ensure the tea party is a sustainable force in America for generations to come.

Our mailing address is
American Majority
P.O. Box 87
Purcellville, VA 20134

Copyright (C) 2011 American Majority All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thinking about Donors, why they donate, how to appeal to them

The cardinal rule in fundraising is to always make the donor feel appreciated, involved and valued.

A common complaint among donors is that they feel like every communication from organizations is about donations.

This is a bad way to talk to donors, it's a bad way to build a movement. Growing a campaign and organizations is about getting people involved. People can volunteer, give ideas, knock on doors, spread good word of mouth, refer other people, and donate. Donations are always wonderful because money makes so many things happen.

But your desire for funds should not override the respect always afforded to donors.

Look at this example fundraising appeal via email from American Majority, a right-wing training outfit.

Look at this line:
Patriot, we have these leaders identified. All they need is the training -- and that's where you come in. Can you chip in just $5, $25, $50, or even $100 or more to help train this farm team of new leaders? (Your contribution is 100% tax-deductible). 

This is awful. This is worse than awful. Look at the language here, "...that's where you come in."

It says that donors aren't leaders. It says that donors are only cows to be milked. It says that they're the experts and donors are only supposed to write checks.

There are better ways to write this simple line. Just focusing on the excitement of having people identified who want to be trained is enough. "Patriot, we have these leaders identified. They're excited to get started. We want to recruit more but we want to train this group to succeed. As a known leader, would you help us, would you invest in us training this group? Can you invest in our success together by sending $5, $25, $50, or even $100 to help train this group of leaders?"

See how that conveys the same thing without suggesting that the group is really only trying to milk the cow.

Treat your donors like a good friend, like a relative, like you would want to be treated.

No one wants to be treated like a milk cow. Donors aren't ATM's. Many organizations and campaigns can fall victim to the trap of thinking of donors like cows, and it's counterproductive. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Finding your metrics even when they’re unstated in a political job

In the book I discuss what a good job description looks like.

Sometimes that means you have to write it yourself.  Many campaigns won't think a minor administrative detail like a job description is urgent.  But it's important because it outlines the roles, responsibilities, expectations and goals for your position.

It's always smart to write it out, and know it well.

When it's vague or unwritten, though, the challenge is to figure out what your metrics (a fancy word for measurable goals) are in that situation.

Let's start back with basics though, every campaign revolves around: votes and money. Anything that gets more votes, or brings in more money, is what everyone on a campaign should be focused on.

What, then, is your position focused on?  Usually it's votes unless it's specifically a fundraising position.

What does your position do to garner more votes?  How does your direct action result in a greater number of identified votes for the campaign, or turn those identified voters out on election days?  Your job is somehow tied to getting more voters and influencing uncommitted voters.  Figure out that connection.

At a political organization, the same analysis applies it just becomes a little more nuanced.  Instead of persuading voters to vote differently, you're persuading the general public to think differently, or you're working on specific programs within the organization to influence the minds of more people to act, think, believe differently or vote differently.

It's all connected to those primary goals.

Even if you're a personal assistant on a campaign, if you're running errands for the candidate, you're freeing up valuable time for the candidate to make more fundraising calls and meet more people.  Getting coffee in the morning, doing personal errands, frees up that critical time for the candidate.

Everything relates to the primary goals, which are universal to all campaigns and political organizations.  When you think in that way, your measurable goals become clearer.  Understanding the primary goals, then, allows you to focus more on achieving those goals and accomplishing them, and ignoring the distractions to those goals.

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saying no to being overextended, recognize and communicate your limits

It's one of the most common mistakes of young and new political operatives that they take on too many projects.  They become overloaded with work, overpromise and ultimately underdeliver.

Don't burden yourself with mountains of work and projects you can't possibly complete.  Resist the temptation to become overextended.

It's also difficult in this age of multitasking to focus on one thing and do it great.  Taking your actions and moving them from good to great is a lifelong challenge you should always be aware of and working on.

As a new employee, though, you get dumped on a lot.  Older staffers want you to do all the projects they don't have time for or can't get around to, it's not easy to say no.

You owe it to yourself and your success, though, to manage expectations and control the amount of work placed upon you.  If you're on a campaign, make sure the work you're assigned relates to your primary underlying measurable goals.  You may not be able to tell the campaign manager that you're unable to take his project, but you're certainly able, and obliged, to explain that you also have other things on your plate and that you want to make them aware of those projects.

Be careful not to outright reject work, it can make you seem like a slacker.  And if you tell your boss you're busy, don't get busted an hour later trolling around on Facebook.  Accept the work you can reasonably do, and if you're feeling overloaded be careful about accepting new work, and even to higher-ups feel empowered to explain the other things you're focused on.

Your boss needs to know how to prioritize your tasks, and they can't do that if you don't disclose the other things you're working on.  Don't complain or be a whiner, but be direct, honest and thorough about your current task list.

Recognize your limits and don't get overextended, focus on doing great things.

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Question from a reader: "What if I'm shy, can I still be successful in politics?"

Yes, anyone can be successful in politics.

Many people are very shy in politics.  The trade-off, though, is that you have to be an even better worker, even more skilled, than someone who is simply more social.

Meaning that your shyness is costing you a lot more than you know.

Being shy is a curable mental disease.  Being afraid to talk to people will hold you back not just in politics, but in life and business as well.

Start taking steps to be less shy.  Start trying to become more social.

Here are the things to keep in mind:

1) Social awkwardness isn't as bad as you think it is
2) No one is as suave as they think, we're all awkward together
3) People are interesting and almost always have an interesting story to tell
4) People love having a social connection with someone else, there are very few rude people out there

It's always useful to have a few icebreakers in mind when speaking with someone.  The classic political one is "oh, who are you, what do you do?"

Which is kind of an ugly icebreaker.  It's a way of saying you're defined solely by the organization or campaign you're with.   Which is how most people look at it in politics, but if you want to be more social, find a way to connect with what people really want to talk about: themselves and their aspirations.

One of my favorites is to ask people what they care about in politics, and what caused them to get involved.  This is a partial steal from my favorite political movies, 1993's "Dave" with Kevin Kline, where two politicians compare notes on what got them initially involved.  It's a fun question with often interesting answers.

Asking other questions, such as about the toughest thing they've had to deal with in politics, or what's been most challenging to them, offers them a chance to talk about themselves, and relive a past memory.  Keep a nice icebreaker in mind and be shameless about asking people to talk about themselves, and your shyness will cure itself quickly as you discover how interesting people are.

You owe it to yourself to cure this trait, shyness, which holds you back so greatly.

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How do I know that my talent is something useful to the campaign?

Campaigns and political organizations come down to two essentials: votes and money.

Everything revolves around votes and money.

Think about how your skill relates to those two goals.  Even odd skills can be useful in persuading other people, or can be used to make needed extra dollars.

If all you know how to do is wash cars, you can do a car wash fundraiser for your candidate.  If you know how to write well, you can push the campaign's letters and editorials into the press.  If you only know fashion, you can use that skill to host a social event or fundraising event that helps get the candidate noticed and raises a small amount of money.

Everything revolves around votes and money.

Figure out how your skill works with those goals, how it relates to those things, and you'll find your skill is valuable to the campaign.

If you still can't figure it out, the book offers many tips and ideas on how to use your unique skills for a campaign or organization, so buy it and find out.  Or you can email me and we can figure it out together: workinpolitics -at- gmail

Learn these skills and more, by buying the book "Getting a Job in Politics, and Keeping it" by Ben Wetmore, right away.