The digital age has come to stay when it comes to funding campaigns. By making it as easy as a few clicks, candidates and groups have increased their online donations by leaps and bounds. But committees – such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – have had a tougher time of it. Until lately. The last election cycle reveals a shifting paradigm for fund-raising.
Roll Call reports that in 2010, the DCCC raise about $14 and a half million online. Last year, it more than tripled that number, bringing in almost $50 million in online donations. Most importantly, that was $28 million more than the Republican National Congressional Committee raised in the same election cycle.
The DCCC saw the potential back in 2006 when they created a digital department. Brandon English, the director of that office, was thrilled with the figures, saying
“As a program that used to have a $50,000 day and [we’d] do high-fives in the hallway, doing million dollar days was just amazing.”
Last cycle brought a few of those days, including $1.3 million the day after the Republican National Convention closed.
Most of the online donations come from small donors. English says that the average gift to the DCCC was $31 during the last election. Personally, I made a few gifts in that range – it seems to be a comfortable figure for most small donors. With the advent of Pay Pal and online banking, making such a donation has been simplified, encouraging numerous small gifts rather than one big one.
Still, most people prefer to give to a candidate or cause. That’s just the way our system works: you choose a candidate and support him or her exclusively. Online donations were difficult for campaign committees to snag. But thanks to Howard Dean and then President Obama, the online largesse has grown to encompass these groups as well. Many donors like being able to trust a committee to apply their contribution where it is needed most.
Senatorial committees, with their higher profile candidates, have traditionally done better than those that help elect Representatives to the House. Most Senate candidates can also afford to have their own online fund-raising machines. But unless the House Rep is a big name – like Nancy Pelosi or John Boehner – they rely on their congressional committees for help.
The Republicans have some catching up to do and, according to RNCC Digital Director Gerrit Lansing, they plan on doing just that. They intend on tripling their digital department to 10 (hey, that’s a lot for them!) and have prioritized the department. They vow they will not be behind in online donations ever again. We shall see…
This next cycle, the DCCC plans to increase the size of its digital department and, with the president’s help, hope to build on their big 2012 numbers. And to put Pelosi back in the Speaker’s seat with a pick-up of 17 seats. As one digital strategist noted:
“It is easier certainly to fundraise when you are the underdog. It’s harder for Republicans to build a fortress, than for Democrats to built (sic) the canons to shoot at the fortress.”
With the DCCC’s help, that fortress looks a bit more vulnerable than it used to.
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…