Political fundraising tricks that really work

Jeffrey Denny

If you’ve given $25 or more to a 2020 political candidate and were immediately overwhelmed by a flurry of fundraising emails and texts urgently demanding more more and more money to save America, you’re not alone.

It’s like feeding sandwich crumbs to a park pigeon and then being murderously flocked like Tippi Hendren in “The Birds.” And like the birds in the Hitchcock classic, the 2020 campaign fundraising demands have gotten more horrifyingly frenzied and clever by the day.

To illustrate, on Thanksgiving evening, around 7 p.m., I received an urgent email missive from someone named “Alex”

This Alex, I later Googled to glean, may be Alex Morgan, executive director of the mentioned Stop-Republicans.org. Alex used my first and last name and email address to ask me for money, but he didn’t tell me anything about Alex and where my money would be going.

This is not a partisan thing. Trump does this in spades, and I thank Alex and his organization for anything they have done to stop the Republicans and turn out the vote against Trump.

But I don’t appreciate the email Alex sent that startled me from my Thanksgiving torpor with the subject line:

Alex/Jeffrey Denny 1:1 @ Wed Nov 11, 2020 10am — 10:30am.

Surprised, confused and concerned, I quickly opened Alex’s email because:

  1. Maybe I know this Alex? Maybe he’s with a client company? Did I forget who Alex is?
  2. How did I miss my scheduled 1:1 with Alex? It was two weeks ago?!
  3. Are there other calendar invites I blithely accepted and then blew off so now I’m one of those bad people who do that?

Ultimately I was relieved when I opened Alex’s email to find it was just stupid political spam:

Hey Jeffrey,

With the Georgia runoffs about to the decide the Senate Majority, I’ve handpicked you to take a short digital interview to inform our runoff strategy.


You’re from Cedar Rapids, where the response rate has been low. So your response would be particularly valuable. With control of the Senate at stake, our top operatives need to gather at least [3] completed responses from Cedar Rapids before the end of the day. If we don’t gather enough data before the end of the day, our entire Georgia runoff strategy will be in jeopardy. So we’re counting on you, Jeffrey.

My response to myself was more than satisfying to myself:

  1. Phew! I didn’t miss a client 1:1!
  2. I’m flattered to be handpicked for anything, and by name, and that my response is valuable, and to be regarded as “extremely informed” which in spite of any data and algorithms, people who know me would heartily dispute.
  3. I’m not from Cedar Rapids, but I hear it’s not so bad.
  4. I feel honored but a little anxious that the fate of our Republic rests on my particular data.
  5. I hope they do find three people from Cedar Rapids to respond.

Obviously I’m stupid about today’s political consulting and fundraising business.

But as a target, may I suggest that political campaigns ramp up their email appeals with more powerful and effective subject lines? For example:

Your mother is dying.

Hi Jeffrey,

Your mother is probably dying to know if you’ll support Georgia Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff so Democrats can take back the Senate and support Joe Biden and unify America for a better future!

Your MRI results are in. We need to discuss.

Hi Jeffrey,

MRIs — Mainstream Republicans and Independents — agree that America’s future is with Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and our Democratic Platform! Your contribution will speak volumes!

Your employment termination notice.

Hi Jeffrey,

America is terminating Trump because he has done a bad job as president, so please support America’s future!

Please, honey, I promise to be better, could we work it out and get back together?

Hi Jeffrey,

We’re not begging you, but your contribution will help America be better, work it out, and get back together!

You up?

Hi Jeffrey,

I know it’s late, but would you like to get together? Are you up for that, if you know what I mean? Do you want to come together? I know it’s hard, so can you give it to America the way you know we like it? For just $25?



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Jeffrey Denny

Jeffrey Denny

A Pullet Surprise-winning writer who always appreciates free chicken.