July 10, 2011

"The Art of Political Fundraising”

You can't see it, but it's there.

You can’t touch it, but it’s very real. 

You experience it everyday, yet you can’t quite understand it’s affects on you.

It’s the political process I’m speaking about and the reason why we have a home builders association (HBA) political action committee (PAC). The average member doesn’t fully grasp the reason they are asked for a PAC contribution or the importance of attending an event that is designed to raise dollars for the PAC. And yet we, as volunteers, keep looking for ideas for events that hopefully will bring members out because of the event, not because of the purpose.

The HBA’s process of PAC fundraising is very deep and detailed and if the average member understood it, they would happily invest in the PAC. Most HBAs take the easier road of having events in the hopes of raising the needed political dollars but can’t understand why it has to be so difficult to have members just give their fair share.

We are not educating our general members. We are not explaining the process, which has many facets, and how it develops our industry’s protection. We assume every member should know why we ask for PAC dollars. Assuming is the easy thing to do. It takes relatively no thought and apathy is the general explanation when a fundraiser is not successful because of low attendance.

These series of posts will focus on the only true way to ask for investments in our PACs; Peer to Peer. You will read the word “investment” over and over again. The only way some one will part with hard earned money is to show a return. Political fundraising is an art because you are “selling” something that can’t be seen, can’t be felt but only can be experienced without understanding what it is. People who learn how to ask for political investments, and be very successful at doing so, will understand that the have develop a very productive skill; the skill of persuasion. If you can persuade you can do most anything you put your mind to doing. By becoming a successful PAC fundraiser you will sharpen your sales skills. Helping the industry overall and becoming better at your job; that is a great combination.

Peer to Peer; it works for everything else we do. Associates don’t normally work with their customers without contact. Builders and remodelers can’t have contracts signed without customer contact. Your chances of “closing the deal” are GREATLY enhanced with personal contact. So why should PAC fundraising be any different?

It shouldn’t be different and that’s my point. If we are so successful the “other” way why do we have nationally only 2.5% of our members investing BUILD-PAC? Are you successful at your local or state? And by successful I mean is over 50% of your membership investing in your PAC?

Next week we will start with the old standards of fundraising and why you are wasting valuable time on only a handful of members.

NOTE: What you will be reading is based on The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair


Phil Hoffman said...

Michael I couldn't agree more with your comments.Being an active member on all levels of the HBA I know the value of PAC contributions. Conveying that message to members that aren't active on the legislative front is another story. Just let apiece of legislation get through that is harmful watch out everybody is down your throat and wondering how did you guys let that happen. I thank God for members like you and others that are out front and willing to give your time. I am willing to work to find a way to educate our members just let me know how.

Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis said...

If there is one thing we need to do, it is stop making political action something local HBA's shy away from. In almost every mission statement for state and local HBA/BIA's we hear the word advocacy, but then in everyday activity, anything that smells of politics is often left to a few members to deal with. Our Association exists to fight for the right to build homes and ensure those that build them do not incur excessive regulations and penalty. Every member needs to recognize their role in protecting those rights. If it takes peer-to-peer to do it one person at a time, then we will do it that way, but it would be nice if this was THE MESSAGE at every local and state meeting. We can not shy away from politics especially now when our friends in this business are suffering.

Matt Morrow said...

Great post Mike. I'm really looking forward to the full series.

- Matt M.