Election Day 2018 has come and gone – it was both exciting and exhausting. Congrats to the winners and thank you to all that braved the challenging path of running for office.
This morning my thoughts lingered on the massive amount of money spent over the previous months to reach this point. $50 million here, $10 million here, thousands here and there, and so on. In one Senate race alone, almost $70 million was spent! I can’t help but to think of the lengths nonprofits go to for a fraction of these sums and the changes to our communities nonprofits could affect with figures such as these. Of course running for office is not an inexpensive endeavor, whether local or statewide. But there are almost always a few candidates with monies still sitting in campaign war chests after the election. Is there more that could be done with those contributions?
There are options.
It is fully expected, and understood, that politicians need capital to fund their campaigns. While this post’s focus is on the post-election options for remaining funds, we will say that it is our hope that those generous companies and individuals that gave the hundreds of millions to campaigns also already give to charitable causes of their interests.
Depending on a politician’s next step and on the structure of their fundraising machine, their leftover contributions can be used in various ways. Nonprofits take note – they can donate these contributions to you! The caveat is the candidate cannot receive any compensation from the charity receiving the donation and the charity can not utilize the gift to benefit the candidate in any way. Nonprofits and development officers should consider an approach to obtain these leftover contributions. How can you create a connection with those running for office?
Of course, the answer lies in your development plan and the proactive and consistent relationship building activities therein. You would not be as successful by just cold calling a politician right after the election. Time and energy spent in cultivation and stewardship is a must; after all, elections only happen every two years. In concert with a communication/marketing plan to educate your community of the option, your organization can be top of mind IF a candidate chooses to make a charitable gift with any of the leftover campaign contributions. A candidate may even consider telling potential donors what they plan to do with any excess funds as a way to win more donations.
As mentioned, other options exist and there are additional rules in play. For more information, here is an article we found beneficial from Investopedia. Before undertaking any new plan, you should consult with a CPA or lawyer well versed in the topic of elections.
Dear candidates- would you consider making a charitable gift to a local nonprofit from your war chests this year? Commensurate to your interests and your remaining funds, make a difference today by investing in your community that invested in you during your election run – win or loss. Maybe Hurricane Michael recovery? Education? Human services? Mental health? Elder Care?
Yes, there are options!