The most effective way for sheriff candidates to raise money for a local election is still the ‘old-fashioned’ way – by making calls and holding campaign events. Personal contacts and solicitation are still an integral part of the fundraising process and absolutely necessary for raising money.
Online fundraising can be a good way to bring in funds for your sheriff election, particularly if you want to target a wider audience and a greater quantity of small donations. Technical barriers have dropped, and more and more local campaigns are successfully raising money online.
Under no circumstances will the internet magically bring in money. If you have a sheriff campaign website, then that site exists as a conduit through which to raise money, not as a means unto itself.
If your website is not promoted or no one has an interest in your campaign, then slapping an online donation button onto a web page will not do a thing for you.
Of course, all fundraising carries certain costs. Services that allow you to accept online credit card contributions charge transaction fees (typically between 3 – 8%) that are deducted off the top of any payment. Some services also charge setup and recurring fees.
Your campaign is responsible for complying with the law. For example, you may need to collect certain information about your donors or you may have a legal limit on contributions. You may also have a timetable as to when you can begin campaigning. Check your local laws and, if necessary, seek legal advice.
Here is a summary of the online payment process:
After clicking a ‘Donate Now’ button on a website or link in a campaign email, visitors enter their billing and other requested information on a donation or contribution form. Then they submit their information to start the payment process.
After submission, a payment gateway takes over. A payment gateway is a service process that verifies and electronically moves funds. The donor’s credit card is electronically verified and charged. Then the funds are deposited into a Merchant Account. This account may be in your organization’s name or in the name of the payment gateway vendor.
When the transaction is complete, the donor is shown a confirmation page and sent an e-mail confirmation. At this point, a record of the transaction becomes available for your reporting purposes – and the donation process is complete!
You will be able access the funds within a day or so, depending on the transaction vendor.
If you decide to pursue online donations, you will need a campaign bank account in place.
Every candidate for sheriff needs a fundraising plan that lays out how much money needs to be raised, when it is needed, what that money will be spent on – and how it will be raised.