EXPLORING MODES OF PARTICIPATION:
WHAT STRATEGIES ARE MOST SUCCESSFUL IN MOTIVATING INDIVIDUALS
TO CONTRIBUTE MONEY TO A LOCAL POLITICAL PARTY COMMITTEE?
Sandy Fuentes Flynn
B.A., University of Redlands, 2000
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
This thesis for the Master of Arts
Sandy Fuentes Flynn
has been approved
Flynn, Sandy F. (Master of Arts, Political Science)
Exploring modes of participation: What strategies are most successful in motivating
individuals to contribute money to a local political party committee?
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Anna C. Sampaio
This thesis examines the different fundraising strategies employed by a local political party
committee and their effectiveness in yielding successful results. Specifically, I look at
whether in person solicitation or direct response solicitation is a more effective fundraising
strategy. I hypothesize that while in-person solicitations directed towards donors with higher
levels of income are valuable ways of raising money for a political party, direct response
approaches specifically direct mail and telemarketing intended for people of all levels, yield
higher results in a cost benefit analysis. Ultimately, this cost benefit analysis between direct
response and in person solicitations proved my hypothesis incorrect in that it showed in
person solicitation to be a more effective method in yielding higher dollars at less cost.
This abstract accurately
the content of the candidateMhesis. I recommend its
I dedicate this thesis to my husband, J.R., for his unflagging support and encouragement
during my graduate studies. I also dedicate this to my parents for their support in all my
I wish to thank my advisor, Anna C. Sampaio, for her guidance and contribution to my thesis.
I also wish to thank all of the members of my committee for their participation and support.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
History of Campaign Finance...................................3
2. LITERATURE REVIEW................................................15
Direct Mail Data.............................................44
Direct Mail Results..........................................45
Major Donor Data.............................................47
Major Donor Results..........................................48
Analysis of Results..........................................50
LIST OF TABLES
1.1 First Renewal Project for Telemarketing 2006..............................43
1.2 First Renewal-Membership Card Results for Direct Mail 2006................45
1.3 First Renewal Results for Major Donor fundraising 2006....................48
2.1 Cost Benefit Analysis of Direct Response Renewals 2006....................50
2.2 Cost Benefit Analysis of Major Donor Renewals 2006........................50
2.3 Cost Benefit Analysis of Direct Response Renewals Time Spent Only.......51
2.4 Cost Benefit Analysis of Major Donor Renewal- Time Spent Only.............51
American politics has been defined by political parties since the end of the
American Revolution. Political parties have played a pivotal role in the election of
candidates to all levels of office from President to county commissioner and in the
creation of party platforms (Burrell, 1986, p.49).
For all intents and purposes, the American political system is a two-party
system. Although there are other parties that at times surge in popularity (usually
because of a dynamic candidate that has decided to run under their banner), they still
remain at a lower tier than the Republican and Democratic parties which came into
existence in the late nineteenth century.
National political parties control and support a federation of local parties in all
American states. The duties of American political parties cannot be completed solely
by their central offices in Washington, D.C., thus this is where my research begins.
In this thesis, I examine the political participation of Republican Party members in the
State of Colorado. Specifically, I look at what methods of fundraising are more
effective at encouraging people to go beyond a basic level of participation such as
voting and proceed to a higher level such as contributing money.
Many people register to vote, yet fewer vote regularly in every election and
far fewer contribute money to a political party. The central research question of this
thesis is: what is a more successful strategy in persuading individuals to contribute
money to a political party? Is a strategy of mobilizing the party faithful through
direct mail and telemarketing more successful or simply soliciting from individuals
with higher socioeconomic status?
I hypothesize that party mobilization techniques, particularly direct mail and
telemarketing solicitation, are more cost effective and successful techniques than
targeting a list of individuals of high socioeconomic status and requesting funds. In
particular, I hypothesize that while in person solicitations directed towards donors
with higher levels of income are valuable ways of raising money for a political party,
direct response approaches, specifically direct mail and telemarketing intended for
people of all levels, will yield higher results in a cost benefit analysis. These methods
appeal to grassroots members of the party who cannot contribute at the highest levels
and although they cost more than in person solicitations, they are far less time
Local political parties serve many purposes. They recruit candidates, organize
the grassroots structure of the state, pay for political messages, and get out the vote.
The primary means of doing this is through a voter turnout strategy, a diversified
fundraising strategy aimed at different levels of the population, and a network of
volunteers and staff throughout the state (Burrell, 1986). For the purposes of this
study, I include a direct marketing fundraising strategy as a key element under the
umbrella of mobilization and also the key to monetary participation among party
A successful national party relies on the statewide local party structure to
further their own goals in a more specific fashion. In order to achieve the goals that
ensure their survival and the national partys success, local parties must be victorious
in their efforts to mobilize people and solicit the funds necessary to operate.
This research is important because campaign finance reform has changed
much of the political landscape since 2002. Parties are restricted in ways they never
were before and some of their functions have been assumed by groups that have been
created by a loophole in election law. The past research as to why people participate
through political parties is somewhat outdated as parties themselves have lost much
of their local prominence in political affairs. Furthermore, what will actually
encourage people to take a more active role in politics on a local level is a question
worth asking. Contributing is still regarded as a positive and influential action,
whether it is done through a local or national political party. Past quantitative
research has quite successfully identified factors that encourage contributing. Verba
and Nie (1972) provided an exhaustive study that showed what socioeconomic factors
identified people as political participants. Yet there is a lack of information about
why people give and my research is attempting to address that gap
History of Campaign Finance
In response to growing pressure from critics of the unlimited flow of money
being funneled into campaigns, lawmakers passed legislation to control the way
political parties and candidates raise funds from people and corporations. Although
the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was regulating political contributions,
concerned citizens saw an abuse of power through political giving and urged their
lawmakers to take action (Opensecrets.org, 2005).
In order to understand the abuse that citizens protested against prior to 2002, it
is crucial to understand the long history of campaign finance reform in politics. The
first real changes in Federal campaign finance laws were not enacted until 1971.
Between 1867 and 1971, campaign finance laws were enacted that prohibited
corporations, labor unions and national banks from contributing and making
expenditures to Federal campaigns. However, these laws were nearly impossible to
enforce because there was no structure in place to enforce them (Federal Election
The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 left the enforcement of its
regulations to the Justice Department, the United States Congress, and the General
Accounting Office. These regulations included requiring the full reporting of
campaign contributions and expenditures, the creation of political action committees
(PACs) in lieu of contributions from corporations and labor unions, and the option
for citizens to authorize the government to use tax dollars to finance Presidential
campaigns (Federal Election Commission, 2005).
The Federal Election Commission was created in 1974 through amendments
to the 1971 bill because of abuses in the 1972 Presidential election. These
amendments also limited contributions and expenditures and paved the way for a
court battle regarding the constitutionality of limiting contributions. In Buckley v.
Valeo (1976), the Supreme Court upheld contribution limits but declared expenditure
limits unconstitutional (as a violation of First Amendment free speech) unless the
candidate was able to accept or deny public financing. In response to this ruling,
Congress once again revised campaign finance law and limited PAC fundraising. In
1979, amendments were passed that encouraged party activity at the state and local
level and opened the door for soft money to be the vital currency in politics
(Federal Election Commission, 2005).
Before the passage of campaign finance reform in 2002, wealthy individuals
and powerful corporations could contribute unlimited amounts of money to political
parties via soft money. These contributions were intended for party building
activities such as voter registration drives but were often used for issue ads run by the
parties in order to influence elections. Soft money has been prohibited completely
by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) and is defined as all funds
that are not regulated by this law. National party committees are no longer allowed to
accept or spend funds of this type (Federal Election Commission, 2005, p. 97).
The chief sponsors of the campaign finance reform law of 2002 were Senators
John McCain of Arizona and Russell Feingold of Wisconsin. The bill is referred to as
either the McCain-Feingold bill or the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).
Funds that are regulated by Federal campaign law are referred to as hard money.
As defined by BCRA, a contribution includes any gift, subscription, loan, advance,
or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of
influencing any election for Federal office (Federal Election Commission, 2005,
Soft money encompasses funds that are not regulated by Federal campaign
finance law. These funds are generally used for advertising and to cover expenses
incurred by political parties. Hard money is documented carefully by political
parties and campaigns and strictly limited by Federal campaign law.
Today, individuals are restricted from contributing more than $10,000 per
calendar year to a local political party committee. Corporations are prohibited from
giving at all to local political parties, and PACs are only allowed to give $5,000 per
calendar year (Federal Election Commission, 2005, p. 71).
In addition to the types of campaign funds I described above, independent
expenditures also play a key role in campaigns and elections. Independent
expenditures are made on behalf of candidates or against candidates without the
knowledge of any campaign or political committee (Federal Election Commission,
Certainly, the political landscape has changed under these laws. Since the
passage of this bill, candidates no longer have to rely as much on parties to help
finance their efforts. Groups called 527s are still able to amass soft money
contributions and operate politically in much the same way parties did previously.
The name 527 refers to a section in the tax code that gives a group tax exempt status
with the IRS (Federal Election Commission, 2005, p.130). These groups are able to
receive and disburse funds in an effort to influence the victory or defeat of candidates
(Colorado Secretary of State, 2007).
Unlike PACs, 527 groups do not have to register as political committees and
therefore do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Election Commission.
Instead, they are ruled by the IRS and allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts
of money in elections. These groups can also run political ads and recruit candidates,
thus performing functions usually reserved for political parties. The participation of
527s in electoral politics has become a regular occurrence since 2002.
Although some state parties can still receive soft money contributions
through their non-federal accounts, Colorado is limited in this manner as well. A
ballot initiative in Colorado in 2002 effectively limited the amount of money that the
state party and state candidates could receive from individuals and barred any
contributions from corporations. The Colorado Republican Party is limited in
receiving only $2,500 per calendar year, per individual. Candidates for state
legislature can only receive $200 per individual, per election. This initiative became
an amendment to the Colorado Constitution when it was passed by voters in the 2002
general election (Colorado Secretary of State, 2007).1 These limitations on political
giving have made individuals that give to the state party more valuable than ever.
1 For more information about Campaign Finance Regulations in the State of Colorado, you can access
the Colorado Secretary of States office at http://www.govotecolorado.com.
For information about Campaign Finance Reform on the Federal level, you can access the Federal
Election Commission at http://www.fec.gov.
Neither candidates nor the state party can rely only on large contributions from a few
wealthy individuals or corporations. They must focus their efforts on many
individuals equally. It is these contributions that are crucial to the survival of the
state party and the methods used to obtain them deserve to be analyzed.
My research is centered on a qualitative case study of the solicitation methods
that are used at the Colorado Republican Party. The Colorado Republican Party uses
direct mail solicitation, telemarketing, and one-on-one donor solicitation to raise
funds. I performed a cost benefit analysis of these different methods of fundraising.
The formula I used to determine this result was gross revenue subtracted from the
dollar amount of time spent soliciting funds for each method.
The data for this analysis came from data in the contribution database at the
Colorado Republican Party. This database is called Campaign Manager 4.1 and in it
are all of the records of each person who has contributed to the Colorado Republican
Party since 2002. Records prior to 2002 are housed in an archival database. Each
individual has one record detailing their name, address, contact information and
contribution information for the last five years. The contribution information
includes date of each contribution, amount, a code for identifying a reason for the
contribution, and either a check number or code identifying the contribution as a
credit card or cash donation. This information allows me to track when and why
people contributed a certain amount of money.
I reviewed tables prepared by direct mail and telemarketing vendors that
showed the breakdown of numbers of people called, amount raised, and costs
associated with this fundraising. This information was compiled by means of data I
had given to them. Next, I measured the number of these donors called versus the
amount they pledged, the amount they gave, and the cost associated with these two
fundraising methods. These costs included time spent for each solicitation method
and the cost of fundraising materials and vendors. I calculated this time into a dollar
amount for the final formula. I did the same thing for major donor solicitation data
which I compiled myself.
The analysis of time spent only focuses on the time I spent as Finance
Director soliciting these donors because it is the only time I can quantify. The
position of Chairman is a voluntary position and therefore impossible to quantify.
Unfortunately there is no comparable cost of time for the Chairman during this time
period. In this comparison I also detailed the frequency of contributions received
through both methods. These results allowed for a comparison of each fundraising
method and their success in net dollars.
I analyzed results from the 2006 election year. I have been the finance
director and therefore responsible for fundraising for the Colorado Republican Party
since 2003. I left the state party in October of 2004 when fundraising had ended for
the cycle and returned in April of 2005 when a new chairman was elected. Because I
was the finance director for all of 2006 and solely responsible for fundraising,
depositing money, and data entry; 2006 is the best year for a complete and accurate
My role as finance director for the Colorado Republican Party for more than
three separate chairmen in three election cycles has given me a unique vantage point
in which to observe the solicitation of donors at the party. This vantage point was
one of my main methods of research for this case study as a participant observer. I
had access to all of the fundraising records and data in addition to a personal
recollection of activities and methods for the last four years. It is a unique position
for a researcher and one that will benefit the study of which solicitation method is
most effective for a local political party.
Finally I conducted two interviews. One with a fundraising professional who
specializes in direct response messaging across the country and provided an
understanding of fundraising success in other states parties as well as the difference
between direct mail solicitation and in person solicitation.
The second interview was with a former Colorado Republican Party
Chairman, candidate for Governor, and high dollar donor. He shed light on what
appeals to donors in his own words and underscored the differences in fundraising for
candidates and state parties.
I expected to find that mass mobilization strategies, particularly direct mail
and telemarketing solicitation, would be more effective methods of influencing
people to contribute to political parties. Although individuals with greater resources
can more comfortably give, I expected that the donors will generally agree that they
give because they are asked. The way these donors are asked and the efforts of the
political party are essential to receiving contributions. I expected that although the
contributions would be significantly higher from in-person solicitations, the
frequency and amount of donors giving through telemarketing and direct mail would
be much more significant. I also anticipated that the data would show that mass
mobilization techniques were more effective on a cost benefit analysis level than
major donor solicitations.
Additionally, these methods are constant and not subject to changes in party
leadership responsible for fundraising. A political party can always hire a vendor to
ask people for money on behalf of that party, whereas party leadership may refuse or
be unsuccessful at soliciting funds for the party. I maintain that the methods of
solicitation would be a key aspect to discovering why people feel they should give.
By doing research and relying on people who are knowledgeable of what political
party members will respond to, I expect to find that parties can successfully influence
individuals regardless of all of the reasons that people would find not to give.
Political parties face competition from candidates, national parties, political action
committees and now 527 groups. Political parties must be able to prove why
contributing to them is more important than contributing and participating elsewhere.
Thus it is essential for them to understand what tools they can utilize in order to
compel people to give.
There are potential problems associated with this research. My role as an
employee for the Colorado Republican Party certainly affects my role as researcher. I
am obviously not an unbiased distanced observer because much of what I am
studying is related to my own work. However, I believe that my insider access to the
Colorado Republican Party outweighs any negatives that might come from not being
a distanced researcher. Also, there are limitations in only studying the Republican
Party. I hope that more research can be done in this field from individuals on the
other side of the political spectrum for the benefit of this topic. I do believe,
nonetheless, that because I can thoroughly examine the solicitation methods and gain
access to contributors who might otherwise be unavailable, my vantage point offers
Yet another potential problem is that there may be circumstances in Colorado
that might be unique and not applicable to similar case studies in other states. Certain
changes in leadership and political activities may have an effect on overall
fundraising and participation that could skew the data. In actuality this is a problem
for any local political party committee and cannot be avoided for a study on a micro
level. Once again, the advantage of being able to study a local political party
committee so closely far outweighs any negative. Also, my interview with a national
fundraising professional can address whether or not the Colorado Republican Party
was actually that dissimilar from other states in 2006.
The objective of this chapter has been to demonstrate the importance of
studying participation among party members and the necessity of understanding why
people still participate. As I stated earlier, I hypothesize that party mobilization
techniques, particularly direct mail and telemarketing solicitation, are more cost
effective and successful techniques than targeting a list of individuals of high
socioeconomic status and requesting funds. While in person solicitations directed
towards donors with higher incomes are valuable ways of raising money for a
political party, I hypothesize that direct response approaches will yield higher results
in a cost benefit analysis.
I also stated in this chapter that I expect to find that although the contributions
will be significantly higher from in-person solicitations, the frequency and amount of
donors giving through telemarketing and direct mail will be much more significant. I
believe that the data will show that mass mobilization techniques are more effective
on a cost benefit analysis level than major donor solicitations. Lastly, I examined the
potential problems associated with this thesis.
In the next chapter I review the writings on political participation. The
research in this area focuses on either individual level factors or mobilization in
general. Much of the literature on political participation is written on a macro level
that will augment my own micro level research. Additionally, the literature examines
the various theories for examining why people contribute and determining what
encourages them to do so.
The third chapter presents the data I collected to examine my hypothesis. I
analyze my personal observations, the actual numbers from the fundraising methods,
and the insight collected from professionals in the field. I also discuss what I found
during my analysis and whether or not it proves my original assumptions about
The final chapter of this thesis summarizes and scrutinizes my entire research.
I start with reexamining my hypothesis and the data I evaluated and explore my own
research in relation to the literature that has been published on political participation
already. I further analyze my findings and discuss in detail the anecdotal evidence
that supports the numerical analysis. Finally, I consider the future of fundraising for
state parties based on their increasing problems and decreasing fundraising successes.
This chapter consists of a review of political participation literature,
particularly as it pertains to the questions addressed in my central thesis. Few authors
have studied political giving and my hope is that this research will further advance the
discussion. In the previous chapter I stated my research question; namely, which is
more successful in persuading individuals to contribute money to a political party,
direct mail and telemarketing or solicitations from fewer individuals with higher
Political participation literature is broken up into two camps; those who
believe mobilization efforts by political groups are the most important factors shaping
whether and how an individual participates and those who believe that characteristics
of the individual, such as socioeconomic status are the most telling (Grant and
Rudolph, 2002). Although the socioeconomic status model is certainly integral to any
discussion on political participation, the mobilization model is the best model for my
own research. It more adequately explains the effect of solicitation on contributions
and I found it to be the most useful in trying to place my own research in the context
of political participation research as a whole. Socioeconomic status is integral to
major donor fundraising. Political parties use whatever means necessary to target
individuals who have higher socioeconomic status in order to obtain political
donations from them; whereas mobilization models focus on outside forces which
encourage individuals to participate. In my thesis, I ask whether simply going after
these individuals with wealth is a more successful strategy than mobilizing many
individuals who contribute less through direct response campaigns.
I begin this review with research based on the social-psychological model of
political participation, established principally by Verba and Nie (1972). Verba and
Nies, Participation in America, revolves around a groundbreaking quantitative study
that for many years defined the way researchers studied participation. For the
purposes of this paper I will defer to the definition of political participation that Verba
and Nie (1972) used because so many other authors use Verba and Nies work as a
basis for their own.
That is, political participation refers to those activities by
private citizens that are more or less directly aimed at
influencing the selection of governmental personnel and/or the
actions they take (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.2).
The authors argue that political participation is integral to democratic theory
for a few reasons. First, participation makes it possible for regular citizens to talk to
their government. Verba and Nies study on participation does not involve acts that
are ceremonial in nature or merely supportive towards a preexisting body of
government. Because the needs of an individual are so varied in any population, the
authors surmise that participation is best studied by understanding what preferences
leaders actually respond to and the methods which individuals use in order to make
these preferences apparent and significant (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.7).
Verba and Nie (1972) separate types of participation into four groups: voting,
campaign activity, citizen-initiated contacts, and group activity. They explore the
amount of pressure that these activities applied to leaders and how much information
was transferred from individuals to public officials and institutions. The authors
deemed voting to be a high pressure act because it directly affects the election of a
leader. At the same time, the authors classify voting as a low information act because
the vote itself does not actually communicate the preferences of the voter very well.
Campaign activity is also described as a high pressure act in addition to being a high
information act because campaign activists can make themselves more visible to a
leader (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.48).
Another mode of participation, citizen-initiated contact, is considered low
pressure because it usually involves one person in touch with the leader; however it is
very high on the information scale because that person is able to convey their
preferences directly to the leader without having to compete with others. Finally,
group activity can vary as to how much pressure is exerted because of the nature of
the individuals in the group and the number of people involved. The classification of
this mode as high information occurs because groups form around an issue or a cause.
Thus, Verba and Nie (1972) explain the effects of specific forms of political
participation on the system of electoral politics (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.48).
Although the information presented here focuses on participation in general,
these types of participation mirror the different methods individuals use to contribute
money to political causes. Verb and Nie (1972) classify political giving as campaign
activity. This does not detail the different types of participation that are present
within political giving; these differences are at the core of my research question. The
authors deem campaign activity to be a high pressure and high information act. This
would include contributing to a party or a candidate. However, I see political giving
reflecting other types of participation because of the different methods political
parties use to motivate individuals to contribute.
For example, when individuals contribute via a direct response campaign they
often have no interaction with the Chairman or the state party whatsoever.
Realistically, this type of giving is high pressure because there are thousands of
relatively anonymous donors and low information because the only interaction the
donors have with the state party is a check or perhaps a scribbled comment. In order
to target these individuals, should state parties focus more on exciting words and eye-
catching materials in the hopes that these individuals write checks because they are
caught up in a wave of excitement? It is clear that these donors are not expecting
anything substantive from their contributions. Additionally, what equals a better
result for a political party; high pressure, low information participation or something
Verba and Nie (1972) surmise that citizen-initiated contacting stands out from
other modes of participation. This type of activity is split between contacts with
particularized referents and contacts with broad referents (Verba and Nie, 1972,
p.65). The first type of contacting is for people who approach leaders with problems
or issues that focus only on that individual and/or their family. The second type
refers to people who contact officials about a broader issue or problem that affects
more people. The authors find that about one-third of citizen-initiated contacts are of
the particularized kind. This type of activity is different from the others because the
goal is different; it is far more self-serving. This type of activity is comparable to
major donor giving in my case study and what I believe makes it stand out from other
types of giving.
During conversations or meetings with major donors, the fundraiser at the
state party often tries to find particular issues which will appeal to each donor.
Knowing that these individuals with large amounts of money have vested interest in
certain projects, issues, or businesses; a Chairman can approach them with the idea
that through their contribution to the Colorado Republican Party they will ultimately
help themselves. Thus, a relationship is formed in which the Chairman can keep
coming back to certain individuals knowing what they are interested in and what
might motivate them to contribute. These same individuals can call the Chairman or
a candidate with their interests in mind and use their financial contribution as
leverage. These interests range from certain issues on a bill, a candidate that will be
friendly to business interests, or even the hope of an ambassadorship or other lofty
position within the government. This example places the individuals involved in my
own case study in the context of Verba and Nies (1972) research. By understanding
what people expect and want to receive from their participation, fundraisers can better
understand how to craft their messages into effective solicitation strategies.
Therefore, a significant aspect of major donor fundraising is appealing to individuals
that have the same characteristics as contacts with particularized referents.
Verba and Nie (1972) also explore the concept of a rational participator. They
surmise that in order for a participatory act to be a rational one the act must involve a
testable hypothesis. The person performing the act should be able to tell whether or
not the act produced any success. The authors thus claim that voters do not meet the
standards of rationality. Voters often do not have much information about the
candidates they are voting for and are unaware of their stance on issues. Furthermore,
voters often do not know what they want to gain from voting in an election. Clearly
there are other modes of participation that could be considered rational. Verba and
Nie (1972) consider citizen initiated contacts to be a rational mode. This is because
in this mode, citizens are able to specify a problem or issue they need assistance on
and take the initiative to contact the public official (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.l 12).
This question of the rationality of participating is significant to my own
research. Fundraisers continuously try to find out what appeals to all donors so that
they can match the correct solicitation method with the donor. Contributing via a
direct response method does not appear to be rational. Donors do not know where
their contribution will ultimately go and they are not given a measure of success
because of their contribution. On the other hand, contributing through major donor
solicitation allows the donor to express their desired outcome from a political party or
a candidate and often receive a clear understanding of where their contribution will be
Verba and Nies (1972) main argument is that citizens with higher
socioeconomic status participate more in politics. These people have more skills and
resources and a greater awareness of political issues. I have found this to be partially
true in my own research. Yet, there are other factors that lead people to participate
and they must be explored (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.134).
Verba and Nie (1972) also discuss the effects that political parties have on the
participator. The authors hypothesized that party identifiers would be more
politically active than non-identifiers. They found that the participation rates of
strong party identifiers were well above the average (even corrected for
socioeconomic status). This pointed to an independent relationship between party
membership and participation (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.228).
Regarding the socioeconomic status argument, the state party does not bother
spending the time that major donor solicitation takes on individuals who are not
clearly able to contribute at the highest level. However, socioeconomic status theory
does not explain all of the individuals who contribute through direct response
methods. Out of the thousands that contribute through direct response, there is likely
a small number of people who would be considered having a high socioeconomic
status. This is why I find the socioeconomic status argument incomplete regarding
Jankowski and Strate (1995) seek to confirm and expand upon Participation
in America by Verba and Nie (1972). Specifically they study age and its effect on
political participation. Other research they review finds that young adults do not
participate at the same level of older adults because of their mobility and eagerness to
start a life, find a mate, and raise a family. Although their rate of participation
increases with age, it drops off again once adults become too old to remain active.
Age variance is a factor among types of political participation as well. Voting
versus volunteering in a campaign requires a different sort of energy and time level
(Jankowski and Strate, 1995, p.92). Voters do not have to be as active and the act
does not take as much time as other campaign activities. Older people are more likely
to engage in acts that require less activity. Thus, Jankowski and Strate (1995)
hypothesize that age would have a significant effect on voting and campaign
participation. The authors further hypothesize that Verba and Nie (1972) were
correct in their original study that political participation occurs in different modes.
However, Jankowski and Strate (1995) also seek to expand on Verba and Nies
(1972) original model and offer more detail into certain campaign activities such as
influencing someone elses vote (Jankowski and Strate, 1995, p.94).
Age is a significant factor in fundraising at a local political party committee.
The individuals that parties target for direct response are usually over the age of 55.
In my experience performing data entry for the Colorado Republican Party, I found
that a significant amount of direct response donors check the retired box on the reply
cards they send back with their checks. In fact, the messaging in direct mail and
telemarketing is often designed to appeal to older donors who do not work and have
the ability to watch cable news all day. If most of the people who contribute to
political parties are older, would not direct response solicitation prove to be the most
Grant and Rudolph (2002) use past studies of political contributions in their
research on an individuals contribution decisions. Their article contends that the
exhaustive study of contributions from political action committees in political
behavior literature points to the need for studies regarding individual contributions to
political causes as well. These studies they refer to focus more on PAC contributions
to legislative candidates. They also claim that previous literature has excluded details
on the difference between contributions to candidates and political parties. The
authors call attention to the fact that candidates can only accept hard money whereas
parties can accept soft money donations in unlimited quantities. This has changed
since the publication of this article as many parties have become restricted in their
abilities to raise soft money.
Grant and Rudolph (2002) go on to identify the central questions in how to
model an individuals contributions (Grant and Rudolph, 2002, p.33). Outsiders may
assume that the difference in giving to candidates versus parties is not significant but
I have found in my own experience that it is. There are different success rates and
motivations between giving to candidates and parties. Additionally, the question of
the effect of income on contributions as opposed to the effect of solicitation on
contributions is important in my own analysis as the income disparity between the
groups I am measuring is significant. In person solicitations are directed towards
individuals who have more resources whereas direct response solicitations are
directed towards individuals who do not give or are unable to give significant
amounts of money to the state party each year.
Finally, Grant and Rudolph (2002) propose showing the influencing factors of
money, information, political beliefs, and solicitation on individuals during the 2000
election cycle. They spend a considerable amount of time focusing on solicitation
and its role as a stimulus in contribution decisions. They point out how solicitation
reduces information costs, persuades people that benefits outweigh the costs in
giving, and motivate people to give. The authors used data in this study from the
2000 American Politics Study (Grant and Rudolph, 2002, p.38).
Grant and Rudolph (2002) found that solicitation matters, because fewer than
3% of all contributions were given on impulse. One hypothesis they presented was
that solicitation increases giving through selective targeting or rational prospecting
(Grant and Rudolph, 2002, p.49). Rational prospecting refers to the strategy of
solicitors in researching their donors and asking people to contribute who are more
likely to because of socioeconomic status or other factors. The authors also found
that screening techniques that solicitors use are far from perfect and that political
knowledge, political interest, and partisan strength still have a direct influence on
contributions. Parties received more contributions in the 2000 Presidential election
and larger ones and income appeared to be a greater factor in the results as well.
Grant and Rudolph (2002) could not fully explain this discrepancy and assumed the
reason for this was because parties could receive both hard and soft money.
Finally, the authors found that the effects of income on contributions were smaller
than the effects of information sources such as political knowledge and solicitation
(Grant and Rudolph, 2002, p.49).
Because individuals have a number of choices available to them when it
comes to political giving, the competition between political parties and candidates
becomes even more fierce. Ironically, candidates and political parties use the same
methods for solicitation and leave the choice to the donor which entity to support if
not both. The question of what successfully motivates individuals to contribute to
candidates would begin an entirely new discussion and reflects the need for a
psychological perspective on political giving as well a political one. How also should
politically parties change their solicitation strategies to compete with not only
candidates but 527 groups as well? Should a local political party expand the major
donor solicitation method to include lower level donors in an effort to change their
tactics in line with a changing political environment?
Grant and Rudolphs (2002) study relied heavily on information about
political parties and their ability to accept soft money. In the aftermath of campaign
finance reform, soft money is outlawed and therefore, this information is no longer
current. However, their information is accurate on a historical basis and reinforces
my research on campaign finance reform. Their findings regarding solicitation were
extremely significant to my own analysis because of my own assumption that
solicitation is a more important indicator of future fundraising success than simply
targeting donors with money. The method of rational prospecting they refer to is
exactly the method local political parties use to solicit funds from major donors.
These authors found this method highly successful in their research (Grant and
Rudolph, 2002, p.49).
Burrell (1986) analyzes the current state of local party committees and
whether or not the party is still relevant to political participation. Burrell (1986)
focuses her research on individuals in Connecticut and Michigan. She studies the
local partys ability to attract new people to the organization and membership with
the goal of winning elections. The study itself involves mailing questionnaires to
county and town committee members asking about campaign activities and tenure.
Burrell ascertains that the local party committees were quite active. She finds that
members made more than a small commitment to help out at party activities. Burrell
(1986) also finds that the parties were successful in recruiting candidates and new
volunteers while keeping enough experienced people around to guide the new
recruits. She finds that although the parties did not hold the same position they once
did in the cornerstone of American political life, they are still quite significant as a
force in politics (Burrell, 1986, p.64-65).
I found this article necessary to my literature review because my research
focuses on fundraising in a local party structure. I believe it necessary to obtain
background information about the position a local party is actually in before
discussing its relevance and ability to fundraise and motivate members to do things. I
discussed the effect that campaign finance reform has had on local political party
committees and my belief that the party did not hold the same significance that it used
to in politics. Burrell reinforced this assertion while also showing that local political
parties had an important role in political discourse. It is this hope that fundraisers at
local political parties cling to, a belief that they can still mobilize people enough to
participate simply for the sake of the party. Ultimately, Burrells (1986) study
supported my argument that local political parties were not as prominent in political
life as they had been. This study also supplemented my research in Colorado by
focusing on a case study in different states.
Leighley (1995) proposes research that would focus on elite and informal
mobilization activities and how they determine the nature, timing, and consequences
of individuals participation (Leighley, 1995, p. 182). She claims this research would
force scholars to come up with new creative research designs instead of the old
standbys. The SES model shows that more educated individuals are more likely to
participate as well as people with more financial resources (Leighley, 1995).
The mobilization model focuses on individuals environments and how they
encourage or discourage participation. Voter turnout research has shown the positive
effects mobilization has had on participation. Turnout is always highest when
campaign spending is high and districts are competitive (Leighley, 1995, p.192).
At the Colorado Republican Party it is common knowledge that more money
is raised during presidential election years or in years when there is a particularly
competitive race statewide. The likely reason for this is the influx of money from
national parties and organizations that pour into the state in the form of ads and
increased voter registration efforts. When the national parties choose to deploy into
states, more money is spent encouraging people to get involved and thus contribute.
Fundraisers use this opportunity to design direct response methods that praise the
popular candidate or demonize the opponent and encourage people to contribute and
be a part of the effort.
Leighley (1995) further argues that the consequences of participation receive
little notice in the discipline. Leaders hear from activists and no one else. They do
not hear from people whose financial situations might preclude them from being
active participants. If these mobilized individuals are participating because they are
highly partisan and have the resources to participate, what kind of feedback is the
party receiving? What happens to the more moderate individuals with little
Leighley (1995) ties together mobilization and SES models by stating that
individuals with higher SES status and the political organization that can mobilize
them are more likely to participate. Still the question remains unanswered as to why
people participate. Various answers can be researched and explored further; people
participate because they have been asked or people participate because they have
been offered incentives to do so (Leighley, 1995, p.198).
Clearly the SES method has its uses for voter turnout and communal activity
but might not be as useful for contributing or explaining why people might decide to
participate further. I think Leighley (1995) has it right in stating that more creative
research designs need to be developed and the question of why needs to be asked.
Although some of this research is dated, it is strong enough to stand on its own even
40 years after it has been written. However, campaign finance laws and the political
climate changes often enough that this topic should be revisited.
Leighleys arguments are important for my research because she continues to
emphasize the importance of mobilization as an alternative to the SES model
commonly accepted by political scientists. Although Verba and Nies study remains
significant to the field, more attention must be paid to different factors that were not a
part of their original research structure. This includes the different levels of political
giving that party members regularly engage in and the reasons why.
Mobilization was a significant factor in my own research when I considered
whether to measure fundraising in an election year versus an off year or even a
presidential election year. Leighleys study reflects the need for studies based on
both methods together. Mobilization and socioeconomic status are both factors that
are present in my own research although I found that mobilization was better for my
analysis. Through this review and my own research I see the need for both in future
political participation research.
Abramson and Claggett (2001) also focus their political participation research
on the mobilization model. Their main assertion is that recruitment is shaped by past
participation. In their research they refer to previous works that define recruitment as
a type of political mobilization and findings that claim party contact is positively
related to political acts beyond voting. Political elites focus much of their effort on
recruitment activities. The authors state these efforts to be generally effective in the
past as evidenced by other research. They also claim however that past research has
failed to clearly classify recruitment efforts and thus these findings were not adequate
(Abramson and Claggett, 2001).
Abramson and Claggett (2001) maintain that the most available and relevant
information for an elite is evidence of past participation. However, utilizing past
participation as a strategy for recruitment may lead elites to recruit individuals who
were already likely to participate. Abramson and Claggett (2001) found through their
research that recruitment remained a significant factor in participation even when
controlling for past participation. However, the effects of recruitment were reduced.
Recruitment only raised turnout slightly whereas it increased the amount of
contributors and campaign workers considerably.
These findings have significant meaning for my own research as the authors
were able to confirm that mobilization has an important effect on political
contributions. Past participation is a key aspect to the Colorado Republican Partys
solicitation strategy. Clearly, mobilization is significant even for soliciting
individuals who were likely to participate regardless.
Finally, Jones and Hopkins (1985) present research from the mobilization
perspective based on why individuals respond to certain solicitation methods from the
individuals point of view. They begin by focusing on the advent of mass-based
systems of campaign financing that draw fundraisers away from old versions in which
funds were raised from small groups of well known partisans. They cite previous
studies that show the success of direct response fundraising to party members both in
obtaining funds for the party and in stimulating an interest in the party. This shows
an additional benefit of direct response fundraising for a local political party. Not
only is the party successfully raising money but they are raising interest in the party
from people who can do more than contribute but possibly volunteer and recruit new
members as well.
These authors measured their results through a survey of state-level
contributors in two different states. It is clear from the responses of survey
respondents that face-to-face solicitation is most likely to generate a positive
response (Jones and Hopkins, 1985, p.436). Over 90 percent of individuals who
were solicited this way claimed they had contributed because of it. Between 65 and
70 percent of respondents claimed they contributed because of mail solicitations
while phone solicitations proved to be the least effective in this survey.
The most effective aspect of this study for my review was the response from
individuals regarding solicitation methods. In my own study, I measured results
through monetary results whereas these results were actual testimonies from the
target audiences. Clearly, in person solicitation made a difference with these
respondents and based on this literature proves to be a highly effective method.
Jones and Hopkins (1985) explore the solicitations that work on first time
givers as well. These givers reported they were less likely to contribute via direct
response techniques such as mail and phones. While these methods appear to be
successful with regular givers they do not appear successful in energizing the less
involved members of the community. Perhaps in person solicitation would be more
successful for prospective donors?
The authors surmise that in person solicitation is indeed the most successful
form of solicitation while direct mail follows closely behind. Phone solicitation
lagged behind the other two and appears to disproportionately reach older citizens of
higher income who are Republican partisans. Ultimately, the authors conclude that
although fundraising techniques may be universally applicable, successful
fundraisers will understand what strategies to employ for different groups of donors
(Jones and Hopkins, 1985, p. 448). The authors also find that enough contributors
gave without being solicited that there must be other factors that influence
The purpose of this review has been to place my own research in the context
of the immense information already published about political participation. My
research is far more micro-level than previous literature and will explore what
influences people to contribute money to a local political party. However, the themes
expressed in the literature reviewed are integral to any study I conduct on political
I reviewed Verba and Nie (1972) because I wanted a clear definition of
political participation in this thesis. Their assertion that high socioeconomic status is
a determinant of participation is certainly reflected in my own experience soliciting
funds at the Colorado Republican Party. Their in-depth explanations of different
forms of participation and what effect these forms have on elected officials help to
shed light on what individuals respond to when considering monetary participation
within a political party. Additionally, their findings reflected that party membership
was a key indicator of political participation. Because the use of membership is an
important aspect of direct response fundraising at the Colorado Republican Party,
direct mail in particular, their findings showed that this specific strategy is likely a
factor in the success of direct mail fundraising.
Jankowski and Strate (1995) highlighted the importance of age as a factor in
political participation. Across the board they found that older individuals were more
likely to participate. Grant and Rudolph (2002) emphasized the difference in
contributions to political parties and candidates. Previous literature has linked the
two when describing political participation and I have found through my own work
that these entities are very different from one another. Effective solicitation methods
for political parties must include incentives that encourage donors to give to only the
party or else give to candidates and parties. In person solicitation is likely to be more
effective in this vein because there is an opportunity to address any misgivings a
donor might have in just giving to a political party.
Burrell (1986) focuses on participation within a local political party structure.
She discusses the possible irrelevance of the political party. Direct response is an
effective method for both adding members to the party and obtaining political
contributions. By its nature, direct response encourages party membership and
loyalty and is extremely significant in 2007 when campaign finance reform has made
the party less vital to politics. This shows the additional benefits that direct response
brings to a local political party.
Leighley (1995) analyzes the importance of mobilization theory as a
determinant of political participation. The mobilizing effect that a presidential
election year has on local political parties could help to strengthen my own
hypothesis. Abramson and Claggett (2001) also studied the importance of
mobilization in political participation. They found that recruitment was a significant
factor in solicitation strategy regardless of past participation. While mobilization had
little effect on voters who had shown a propensity towards regular participation, it
had a significant effect on campaign activists and donors who were already active.
Their findings clearly show that mobilization is very important to fundraising.
Finally, Jones and Hopkins (1985) surveyed individuals on what they
responded to and found that in person solicitation was the most effective method.
This contradicts my own hypothesis. In plain terms, respondents claimed that they
contributed because of in person solicitation. Ultimately the authors found that most
people surveyed gave because they were asked and solicitation was an important
determinant of participation.
In the proceeding chapters I will explore the data made available to me at the
Colorado Republican Party and analyze the results of a cost benefit comparison of
different methods of solicitation. Through this analysis I will further explore the
question of which strategy of fundraising is most beneficial. Beyond the numerical
data presented, I will supplement the data with observations and experiences and in
depth interviews with fundraising professionals. This will provide a well rounded,
clear view of how the Colorado Republican Party motivates party members to
In the previous chapters I outlined my research question asking what is a more
successful strategy in persuading individuals to contribute money to a political party?
Is a strategy of mobilizing the party faithful through direct mail and telemarketing
more successful or simply soliciting from individuals with higher socioeconomic
status? I hypothesized that certain party mobilization methods, predominantly direct
mail and telemarketing solicitations would be more cost effective methods for raising
money. I asserted that these techniques would be more effective than simply
targeting a list of individuals that are able to contribute at the highest levels and
asking them for money via one-on-one meetings.
Furthermore, I reviewed previous literature on the topic of political
participation and discussed the methods that have been used by other political
scientists. This literature will effectively support my own argument and assist the
reader in understanding the field in more detail. My objective in this chapter is to
explore my hypothesis through an in-depth examination of the 2006 contribution data
from the Colorado Republican Party. After a thorough assessment, I expect to find
that my original hypothesis will be correct and that direct response fundraising will be
a more effective method of influencing people to participate.
Local political parties are constantly fighting to prove their usefulness to
people in their communities. The essential tool in this fight is money, mainly in the
form of contributions from individuals. This chapter details the methods I have
employed in order to investigate my hypothesis. My analysis begins with a look at
the different levels that individuals can contribute at and the methods that the state
party uses to motivate people to give. As previously stated, this data originates in
contribution records from the Colorado Republican Party which are housed in an
Aristotle database called Campaign Manager 4.1. In the previous chapters I described
the role and function of the Colorado Republican Party as well as its recent problems
with competition from other political groups. I also presented research on the topic of
political participation and the motivating factors that encourage people to be active in
The Colorado Republican Committee is regulated by both the Federal Election
Commission (FEC) and the Colorado Secretary of State.
A local political party committee is classified by the FEC (2005) as:
Any local committee of a political party which receives contributions
aggregating in excess of $5,000 during a calendar year, or makes
payments exempted from the definition of contribution or expenditure
as defined (by the FEC) aggregating in excess of $5,000 during a
calendar year, or makes contributions aggregating in excess of $1,000
during a calendar year or makes expenditures aggregating in excess of
$1,000 during a calendar year. (p. 16)
In short, this means the FEC only defines political committees based on the
amount of money it spends and receives. Because the Colorado Republican Party is
governed by the FEC and the Colorado Secretary of State, the Party is required to
have different accounts in which it can receive funds. The Colorado Republican
Party is currently limited in the amount of money it can receive from an individual in
a calendar year. This amount is $10,000 per person for each calendar year. The party
cannot receive contributions from foreign nationals and corporations into this account
(Federal Election Commission, 2005).
The Colorado Secretary of State also enforces a contribution limit based on an
amendment to the Colorado Constitution that was passed by voters in 2002. This
limit is $2,500 per person per calendar year. Under state law, contributions from
corporations and foreign nationals are also prohibited (Colorado Secretary of State,
2007). In practical terms, this means that during a general election cycle like we saw
in 2006, the most the Colorado Republican Party could receive from any one
individual was $12,500.
Before I discuss the data I gathered from the state party, it is important to
understand the structure of the Party leadership and staff. There was a chairman and
a finance director in 2006. The fundraising duties were performed by these two
positions exclusively. The fundraising methods used by the Colorado Republican
Party during these periods were direct mail, telemarketing, fundraising letters and
events, and in person solicitation. The Finance Director is paid to manage all
fundraising methods while the Chairman is elected on a voluntary basis.
Beginning with direct mail fundraising, this process entails sending
fundraising letters to low dollar contributors in an existing database at the Colorado
Republican Party as well as prospecting for new low dollar donors by purchasing or
exchanging lists with other organizations. Once an individual contributes to the
Colorado Republican Party, they are permanently on a list and classified as a
contributor. However, they are removed if they are deceased, have moved, or request
to be removed from the list. These contributors are renewal donors. On the other
hand, many political organization and candidates either purchase or trade existing
lists from other organizations to build up their own lists. These individuals are called
prospects. Low dollar donors are classified as donors who contribute between $1 and
$249 per calendar year. The Colorado Republican Party employs a direct mail
marketing firm to handle the specifics of their mailings and uses an employee to
manage the process.
As Finance Director I observed firsthand these fundraising methods.
Telemarketing solicitation is handled in a similar way. A direct response firm calls
individuals on a list of renewal or prospect donors provided by the state party and
their employees ask these individuals for funds. The Finance Director is used to
manage this process as well. The recipients of these telephone calls are individuals
who contribute between $1 and $249 per calendar year. However, in- person
solicitation is usually handled within the state party by its leadership and staff. This
form of solicitation involves an individual (principally the Chairman) calling donors
who have previously given to the state party and asking them directly for
contributions. These contributors give between $2,500 and $12,500 per year.
$12,500 is the maximum direct contribution an individual can give to the party in a
year. The Finance Director is responsible for handling all research for these donors
and choosing who the Chairman will call based on giving history and relationship
with the party. The Finance Director creates call sheets for the Chairman and it is
often the Chairmans discretion on how often each person will be called.
Finally, the state party sends letters to all donors who give between $250 and
$12,500. Because of time constraints, only individuals who give more than $2,500
receive phone calls from a state party representative. Events are held regularly each
year and all donors are invited to give a contribution for admission. Admission fees
vary depending on the main speaker or venue. The price for a large dinner per person
usually ranges from $50 to $100 dollars. A price for a presidential event can cost
anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 dollars per person.
The actual data for this analysis is from the 2006 election year. The data is
from contributions received between the dates of January 1, 2006 and December 31,
2006. I compared direct mail data and telemarketing data with major donor data and
their costs of fundraising to determine which method is most cost effective for a state
party to use. In order to obtain the most accurate measurements, I chose one
project from each solicitation method to use for my analysis. By breaking up the
methods into separate projects I was able to establish a more precise means of
calculating time spent rather than trying to account for an entire year. These
projects all occurred in the beginning of 2006.
For the most correct measurement of fundraising costs, I included not only the
actual costs of materials and vendor fees for fundraising but a dollar amount equal to
time spent. Although the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party worked as a
volunteer, as the Finance Director I was paid an annual salary and I broke my salary
down to an hourly wage. I took the original yearly salary amount2, divided by 12
(months), divided by 4 (weeks), divided by 40 (hours). I counted up fundraising work
in hour quantities and multiplied hours spent on each method with my hourly wage. I
added this amount to the other fundraising costs for each method and subtracted from
this the total amount given via each method. This total from each method is then
compared against each other with the method generating the highest dollar amount
netted proving to be the most successful.
All of the renewals being compared in this research commenced in January of
2006 and the measurement dates all end approximately in March of 2006. The
telemarketing campaign was conducted immediately after the direct mail campaign
began to subside and lasted a week and a half. The direct mail and telemarketing data
continued to generate money throughout 2006 but these amounts were insignificant.
They were counted for in the final analysis since it was completed at the end of the
year. I estimated the time for the major donor project ending in March because
although this fundraising is completed throughout the year, the January mailing is the
2 My yearly salary in 2006 was $52,000. I calculated that broken down through months, weeks, and
finally a 40 hour work week, I made approximately $27.00 per hour. This will be the rate I will
ascribe to each hour of time spent on the different fundraising methods I am comparing.
largest drive. The bulk of the follow-up and phone calls takes place directly after the
letters are sent in January and end in March.
Telemarketing is one of the methods commonly used by local political parties
to appeal to grassroots members. The following is a thorough description of how
telemarketing is executed at the Colorado Republican Party, culled from my personal
observation. In 2006 the Colorado Republican Party employed a telemarketing firm
to handle telephone solicitation. The account representative from this firm was
responsible for compiling information provided by the Finance Director for year end
analysis. Each calling project is assigned a code by the telemarketing firm and results
are reported based on this code in order to track how much each project raised.
Individuals can either contribute via credit card, over the phone, or receive a pledge
letter in the mail containing this code. The Finance Director is responsible for
inputting the data into the Campaign Manager database with the source code.
For the 2006 First Renewal results, I performed a full search from January 1,
2006 through December 31, 2006 in the Campaign Manager Database used at the
state party and exported these results into an Excel file which was then sent via email
to the account representative at the telemarketing firm. First Renewal is the name of
the project because it refers to a list of individuals who previously contributed to the
state party. Based on this data, the account representative applied Excel formulas in
order to ascertain percentages and average contributions. Using this data, I evaluated
the success of each project over the entire year.
This data was pulled to determine how many calls were completed, how many
pledges were made, the pledge rate and the average pledge. The data also showed
how many actual dollars were pledged, how many were fulfilled, the percentage
fulfilled and the gross and net revenue. This established empirical data to evaluate
the success rate of the First Renewal of telemarketing in 2006.
Table 1.1 (First Renewal project for Telemarketing 2006)
Donors Universe Calls Dollars Pledged Pledge Rate Average Gift
First Renewal (COD601) 11075 6,765 $ 50,469 26% $28.91
Number of Pledges Cost per Call Project Cost SS's Fulfilled 3/6/2007 Fulfill Rate Net Revenue
1,746 $2.40 $16,236 $33,217 66% $16,981
The total amount raised from the First Renewal telephone project to
telemarketing donors was $33,217.00. The total cost for this renewal was
$16,236.00. The following costs are comprised of all work done by the Finance
Director in preparation for the fundraising project. Firstly, vendor fees for calling,
follow-up mailings and time equaled $16,236.00. There were two hours spent by the
Finance Director approving the scripts and fundraising follow-up letters at $27.00 per
hour totaling $54.00. One hour was spent compiling a fundraising list for the vendor
at $27.00 per hour and totaling $27.00.
Finally, there was four hours of phone and email conversations with the
vendor regarding donor fulfillment for this project at $27.00 per hour and totaling
$108.00. The total hours spent working on the telemarketing fundraising project was
seven. These seven hours multiplied by $27.00 per hour totaled $ 189.00.
These results are average for a First Renewal election year project. The first
project of the year is almost always the most profitable. Additionally, projects in the
beginning of the year are relatively untouched by the shifting moods in the political
climate. There are no nominating conventions or legislative floor fights that might
affect these donors. Additionally, the letter is sent before the state legislative session
begins. For this reason, I chose to compare First Renewal projects.
Direct Mail Data
The Colorado Republican Party employed a direct mail firm to handle direct
mail solicitation in 2006. The data used for this research regarding the success of
direct mail solicitation was created by this firm. Each mail project is assigned a
source code and it is incumbent upon the Finance Director at the state party to input
the data into the Campaign Manager database with the source code for tracking
purposes. For 2006 Membership Card-First Renewal results, I performed a full
search function and ran a source code report from January 1, 2006 to December 31,
2006. This project was called 2006 Membership Card-First Renewal because it was
sent to individuals who had previously contributed to the state party and thus were
considered renewal donors, it was the first mailing of the year, and it included a
membership card for the donor.
The source code report was then sent to the account representative at the
direct mail firm where the representative matched the source codes to the amounts
raised by each project and determined exactly how much was raised through each
project and how much the projects cost. The representative sent a report that included
how many individuals responded to the data, the costs associated with each mailing,
the percentage of respondents, and the gross and net revenue.
Direct Mail Results
Table 1.2 (First Renewal-Membership Card Results for Direct Mail 2006)
Mail Qty U of %
Mailer Date Mailed Resp. Resp. Income
1st Renewal Jan 22,293 1,787 8.02% $68,996.00
Cost per Average Return on Cost of
Package Total Cost Net Contrib. Invest Fund.
0.60 $13,264.34 $55,731.67 $38.61 $5.20 19.22%
The total amount raised from the First Renewal-Membership card mailing to
direct mail donors was $68,996.00. The total cost for this renewal was $13,453.34.
The following costs are comprised of all work done by the Finance Director in
preparation for the fundraising project. Vendor fees for printing, postage and time
totaled $13,264.34. One hour was spent approving the membership card and artwork
associated with the fundraising letter at $27.00 per hour and equaling $27.00. One
hour was also spent compiling the fundraising list for the vendor at $27.00 per hour
and equaling $27.00.
One hours worth of phone and email conversations with the vendor regarding
changes or billing for project at $27.00 per hour came to $27.00. Three hours were
spent working on a fundraising letter with the Chairman and sending the same letter
to the vendor for edits at $27.00 per hour and totaling $81.00. One hour was spent
working on a source code report for follow-up with the vendor at $27.00 per hour and
equaling $27.00. Finally, the total hours spent working on the direct mail fundraising
project equaled seven hours and multiplied by $27.00 per hour totaled $189.00.
The results of this First Renewal-Membership card mailing were lower than in
2004. The net revenue was lower, the number of donors mailed was lower, and the
average contribution was lower than in 2004. This is likely the result of the 2004
presidential election year and a smaller direct mail donor base to cull from.
Campaign activity, including monetary participation is often higher during a
presidential election year. The 2006 results are still significant and this project netted
a higher revenue than any other for the year. This is the norm for a membership card
Major Donor Data
I compiled the data from major donor solicitations using data from the
Campaign Manager database. For 2006 results I counted previous contributors from
the years 2005, 2004 and some individuals who had contributed in 2002. I then
entered the number 330 into an Excel spreadsheet. The number 330 was the amount
of people who were potential contributors for 2006. I performed a full search in the
Campaign Manager database from the dates of January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006
and inputted the number of people who contributed in 2006 into an excel spreadsheet.
I exported this list into an Excel file and added three columns in this
spreadsheet- one was for the amount of contribution from each individual, the second
was the source code for that contribution, and the third was the date of that
contribution. I entered the amount of money raised, the amount of donors, the
percentages, the fundraising costs and the gross and net revenues for major donor
solicitations. I used the same three source code measurements for the major donor
analysis in 2006; they were event (gave through an event), phones, mail, or meeting
(gave through a Chairmans phone call, letter or personal meeting), and candidate
(gave through the urging of a candidate).
For this major donor first renewal, the Colorado Republican Party mailed
letters to prospects and followed up with phone calls and meetings.
Major Donor Results
Table 1.3 (First Renewal Results for Major Donor fundraising 2006)
# of Donors Contacted # of donors who gave between JAN 1 MARCH 31 % of people who gave Total Income Costs of fundraising
330 18 5% $ 156,500.00 $ 2,158.00
Net Revenue Average Contribution Return on Investment Cost of Fund
$ 154,342.00 $ 8,694.44 $ 72.52 1%
In 2006, the total net amount raised through the First Renewal for Major
Donors was $156,500. The total cost of fundraising for this renewal was $2,158.
These costs are comprised of the following: stationery at $296.00, envelopes at
$64.00, and postage costing $286.00. In regards to the time spent fundraising and the
costs associated, they are comprised of the following. The Finance Director spent
five hours writing and editing the major donor letter at $27.00 per hour and equaling
$135.00. Three hours were spent working on the fundraising list at $27.00 per hour
A total of 16 hours was spent on the actual printing, sorting, folding, stamping
and mailing of the major donor letters at $27.00 per hour, equaling $432.00. A full
24 hours was spent on creating call sheets for 97 donors. This number is based on the
amount of call sheets created and averaging 15 minutes per call sheet. The call sheets
consisted of donor information, contact information, and amount that Chairman
should ask for contribution. 24 hours multiplied by $27.00 per hour equals $648.00.
Finally, the Finance Director spent 8 hours on major donor follow-up. The same 97
donors that merited call sheets in the first place were contacted again via telephone,
email or fax, averaging five minutes per call at $27.00 per hour, equaling $216.00.
The total hours spent on the major donor first renewal totaled 56 hours multiplied by
$27.00 per hour ultimately equaling $1,512.00. These measurements do not include
hidden costs that I found difficult to measure. Specifically, these measurements do
not include a cost attributed to the Chairmans time which would make this cost
significantly higher. There was no way to measure this cost in 2006 because the
Chairman was unpaid.
The results for this type of solicitation are much harder to compare from
different election cycles. These results are highly dependent on the amount of work
the state party does in obtaining the contributions, the political climate nationally and
locally, and the effectiveness of the person asking for money. Because major donors
are limited in giving no more than $12,500 per year, there are no higher than normal
contributions to throw off an average.
I did not include telephone costs, meetings costs, or the time spent processing
checks for any of the methods described above. The telephone costs are part of the
general operating budget and therefore it would be impossible to calculate the exact
costs for fundraising. Personal meetings are carried out primarily by the Chairman so
costs associated with these do not affect the state party staff or operating budget.
Finally, check processing is carried out by the Finance Director but since the same
method is used for all checks and this action occurs after the fundraising has been
completed, I do not find this a necessary part of the calculation.
Analysis of Results
The formula I am using to determine these results is the gross revenue
subtracted from the dollar amount of time spent soliciting funds for each method.
Table 2.1 (Cost Benefit Analysis of Direct Response Renewals 2006)
Direct Response Solicitation:
Fundraising Costs for both direct mail and telemarketing= $29,689.34
Gross Revenue from Direct Mail and Telemarketing First Renewals= $102,213.00
$29,689.34- $102,213.00= $-72,523.66
Table 2.2 (Cost Benefit Analysis of Major Donor Renewals 2006)
Major Donor Solicitation:
Fundraising Costs (Includes time spent on solicitation by Finance Director) = $2,158.
Gross Revenue from Major Donor First Renewal= $156,500
$2,158- $156,500= $-154,342.00
In this cost benefit analysis with all costs included, it would appear that my
original hypothesis was wrong. The costs are still much lower for major donor
solicitation even including the amount of time the Finance Director must spend
soliciting funds for this method. One of the problems with this measurement is the
inability to quantify the amount of time the Chairman spends soliciting these funds
since the position is voluntary. A significant portion of the Chairmans time is spent
on the phone or in meetings with these donors.
Below I have presented another cost benefit analysis of these methods using
only time spent and not including printing costs or vendor fees. This analysis clearly
emphasizes the significant amount of time that is spent on major donor solicitation.
Table 2.3 (Cost Benefit Analysis of Direct Response Renewals- Time Spent Only)
Direct Response Solicitation:
Fundraising Costs for both direct mail and telemarketing= $378.00
Gross Revenue from Direct Mail and Telemarketing First Renewals= $102,213.00
$378.00- $102,213.00= $-101,835.00
Table 2.4 (Cost Benefit Analysis of Major Donor Renewal Time Spent Only)
Major Donor Solicitation:
Time Spent on soliciting by Finance Director = $1,512.00
Gross Revenue from Major Donor First Renewal= $156,500
$1,512.00- $156,500= $-154,988.00
Although the numbers in this analysis are closer to each other, the answer is
still the same and I am compelled to reject my original hypothesis. In short, it is more
effective to solicit money from major donors using the time intensive method of
calling and meeting individually with each donor than to use direct response methods.
The results clearly show that the significant amount of money that comes in
from major donor solicitations nullifies even the high cost of fundraising from these
donors. Although this type of fundraising takes up significantly more time from the
Finance Directors day, the results more than make up for it. I do not see the results
shifting too much even if more money was contributed via direct mail or
telemarketing. The costs incurred by the vendors of these types of solicitation are
high. Obviously these results would be different if this type of fundraising was
performed in-house like major donor solicitation. However, this is a rare
phenomenon and certainly not a common practice among local political parties.
Often, direct response donors are affected by the political climate of the
country. The Presidents poll numbers and the war in Iraq could have likely forced
these numbers lower than they might otherwise be. As for the major donors, local
referenda issues caused a split within the Republican Party itself and caused some
major donors to turn their back on the state party itself. All of these issues had an
effect on contribution levels for 2006 in all areas of fundraising.
There are additional benefits for a local political party in major donor
solicitation. Relationship building with individuals of such high socioeconomic
status only helps a political party. The Chairman is able to forge a bond with these
individuals and meet their friends and attend their meetings because of that bond.
These individuals can be called on for assistance with referenda issues, candidate
support, national political support, or can even be groomed for public office
themselves. This happened in Colorado in 2004 when the Republican Party
supported a local beer magnate and philanthropist to run for the United States Senate.
Direct response donors on the other hand are often faceless contributors who never
interact with the Chairman or state party staff beyond the letters exchanged between
I presented my methods of gathering this information both quantitative and
qualitative in this chapter. I described in detail the methods used by the Colorado
Republican Party to raise money. Finally, I analyzed the numerical data available to
me as Finance Director in order to ascertain whether or not direct response methods
were more cost effective ways of raising funds.
Based on the data, I was compelled to reject my original assertion that direct
response methods were more effective than major donor solicitation. I found that
major donor solicitation methods were the most cost effective. In the next chapter I
will discuss my findings more thoroughly, relate these finding to research that has
already been carried out on this topic, and discuss further opportunities for political
giving research. I will also discuss why the numbers appeared to disprove my
hypothesis and what that means for my research question which asked: what is a more
successful strategy in persuading individuals to contribute money to a political party?
Is a strategy of mobilizing the party faithful through direct mail and telemarketing
more successful or simply soliciting from individuals with higher socioeconomic
In the previous three chapters I laid out my plans for researching political
participation, specifically political giving, among Republican Party members in
Colorado. I reviewed various studies and articles that explore the topic of political
participation on many levels. These studies on political participation were essential
to my research as they outlined the main methodologies that have been successful in
analyzing participation in the past. Further studies focused on contributions or
political party membership but little of the research I found explored which
solicitation methods seemed to make a difference in donors decisions.
In the beginning of this paper I asked what was a more successful strategy in
persuading individuals to contribute money to a political party: A strategy of
mobilizing the party faithful through direct mail and telemarketing or a plan of attack
that involved simply soliciting from individuals with higher socioeconomic status?
I hypothesized that party mobilization techniques, particularly direct mail and
telemarketing solicitation, would prove to be more cost effective and successful
techniques than targeting a list of individuals of high socioeconomic status and
requesting funds. In the previous chapter I compiled data for a cost benefit analysis
comparing fundraising methods. Through this analysis I found that the costs of direct
mail and telemarketing fundraising were much higher than the costs of major donor
solicitation to compete with the returns from major donors. Although the amount of
hours spent on major donor solicitation was far greater than the hours spent on direct
response solicitation, the amount netted was still higher.
Once again, the results were from one membership renewal drive. These
results did not reflect a large fundraising event with a celebrity speaker or a candidate
for federal or statewide office asking for funds for the state party. Often, the state
party will rely on one of these events to help with the substantial task of raising
hundreds of thousands of dollars from a small group of individuals. These events
generate considerably more interest than phone calls and meeting with the Chairman.
Additionally, other major donors or candidates assist with fundraising efforts because
their names are on the invitation as host committee members. Their help in
fundraising is significant to the success of the event.
Although the state party has tools at its disposal to motivate and mobilize its
members, much of their work is dependent on the candidates they encourage their
members to support. Thus, the behavior and success of candidates in office have a
strong relationship to the mobilization efforts of the state party when asking major
donors to participate.
In addition to reviewing and compiling the numerical data on direct mail,
telemarketing, and major donor solicitation, I also reviewed the literature that was
presented to prospective donors from each of these methods. With regard to direct
mail and telemarketing, I looked for common themes that would indicate higher
levels of party mobilization such as reference to close elections, messages that
appeared in the last months and weeks of the election, and invitations to join clubs.
For major donors, I relied on the data from the original tables because much of the
solicitation for these donors was either in person or over the phone and therefore
difficult to document.
It is clearer what motivates individuals to give when reviewing the year end
results for direct mail in 2006. The first renewal was the highest grossing project
with the most responses in 2006. This is common knowledge in direct response
communities as many state parties rely on this first renewal to net the most dollars for
the year. Data from the direct mail firm that the state party uses show this to be true
each year. The likely reason this happens is because the first renewal is also literally
the first mailing of the year and donors have not received three or four requests for
money like they do later in the year. Also, an important aspect of this mailing is the
invitation to become a member of the Colorado Republican Party with a donation.
A key element to the 2006 renewal letter is a membership card:
Your Personal Membership Card
Contributions or gifts to the Colorado Republican Committee are not
deductible for federal income tax purposes. If you plan to contribute rising; your
credit card, please complete the necessary information on the back of this torn.
Direct mail donors are often older (the median age is between 65-70 years
old) and they trend male according to research by Direct Mail Systems (2003). This
type of fundraising appeals to these donors because they are usually retired and have
time on their hands to read a three page letter which is the average length of a direct
mail letter. These donors like being well-informed and have access to numerous
cable news channels that broadcast the news 24 hours a day (M. Milligan, personal
communication, March, 2007).
As for telemarketing, upon review of the scripts, I found nothing significant
that changed from one to another. The messages were very similar to the direct mail
letters with the exception of a caller asking for money three times in one phone call.
According to the direct response professional I interviewed, telemarketing donors
usually trend younger than direct mail donors at an average age of 60. A
telemarketing donor will only last on a list for 2-3 years until they stop contributing
because they are called so often in a year (M. Milligan, personal communication,
Although the data from fundraising in 2006 serves to help explain what people
respond to when solicited, I found it necessary for this research to have the opinions
of professionals in the field to offer further ideas of why people contribute. Direct
mail donors give for a number of reasons; out of habit, to be a member, guilt over
receiving things in the mail and the feeling that they should pay for them, and
single issue orientation (Direct Mail Systems, 2003). Some give because they like
their partisan leaders in office and some give because they believe in the general
platform of their party (M. Milligan, personal communication, March 2007).
This information is particularly helpful in designing a solicitation plan. Direct
response involves a considerable amount of strategy that will ensure donors are
reading things or hearing things they are interested in and will respond as well. The
message is constantly crafted dependent on current events and any new market
research the firms present.
When I began this research I thought it would be simple to compare direct
mail and telemarketing solicitations to major donor data on their own. However,
through the course of my work I came to realize that a successful state party requires
both a low dollar solicitation plan and a high dollar plan. Everyone I interviewed
agreed with this claim, they felt that a state party should have both aspects of
fundraising as a part of an overall plan. Individuals who can contribute at the highest
levels rarely respond to direct mail or telemarketing solicitation. Additionally, there
is not enough time during a busy election cycle to contact every single potential donor
to the Colorado Republican Party. Furthermore, the state party relies on both types of
contributions throughout the year to keep its operations going.
However, I did state in my hypothesis that I believed low dollar solicitations
to be a more reliable method of fundraising and I still believe that to be the case at the
conclusion of this research. The low dollar solicitation programs are consistent,
professionally-run methods of fundraising. The professionals that run these programs
spend time and money on researching the type of person they must appeal to and
what will work for that person. These programs are not as dependent on the staff of a
state party as a high dollar program and yet they still yield net dollars. Although the
Colorado Republican Party could not send as many mailings or make as many phone
calls as originally planned by their vendors in 2006, they were still able to raise a
considerable amount of money from first renewals and prospecting.
On the other hand, the high dollar program is dependent on a Chairman at the
state party who will make phone calls and take meetings with the donors. They must
be respected enough to receive an audience with major donors and have the ability to
sell the cause to high dollar donors. Since the passing of the Bipartisan Campaign
Reform Act in 2002, the Colorado Republican Party has had to rely on the same
group of donors who are limited in the amounts they can contribute per calendar year.
Prospecting for individuals who can contribute $12,500 per calendar year is not an
easy task and there are not many Republicans in one state who want to contribute that
much to a political party.
Moreover, the number of people who gave to the Colorado Republican Party
through each method is telling. While only 18 individuals gave via major donor
solicitation, 1,787 gave via direct mail. The pledge rate of donors for telemarketing
was 1,746. These numbers are significant in that a political party can continue to ask
these individuals for contributions throughout the year and cast a wider net. In the era
of campaign finance reform, the goal of obtaining a greater number of donors has
become more crucial. It has become evident that no political party or candidate for
office can rely simply on a few large donors to raise their funds.
The passage of BCRA was a tremendous disservice to all party organizations.
This law has led to the creation of 527 organizations that attempt to replicate the same
functions that the parties used to do exclusively. These functions include recruiting
candidates for office and running televisions ads. By doing these functions
themselves, these 527s take authority away from the local political parties. Most
troubling is that these groups do not have to disclose their funding sources or their
activities. Additionally, they target the same individuals that the parties target for
contributions and thus introduce more competition to an already crowded area.
There are many limitations on how to raise money and what to say when
trying to raise funds. Because of this, low dollar solicitation methods are more
important than ever before. Direct mail has a built in system for prospecting new
donors and part of their method is to do this constantly. State parties across the
country require this continuous flow of new and old donors to keep raising funds.
Major donor solicitation methods simply cannot compete with this process (M.
Milligan, personal communication, March 2007).
My other interviewee agreed with the assertion that BCRA has been
detrimental to the state party from a major donor standpoint. He claimed that the
Colorado Republican Party has lost some of its legitimacy with the passage of BCRA
but that it has not lost as much as people think. The state party can still contribute a
large amount of money to congressional and state races and run voter registration
programs and candidate training and recruitment. His answer to this problem is that
people need to sell the state party better and deflect the difficulties that BCRA has
caused party fundraising (B.B., personal communication, March 2007).
There have been limitations to this research that I believe are unavoidable
when studying the political contributions of a political party. One is that the data is
hard to find because the turnover is so great for employees of the Colorado
Republican Party and its vendors. Moreover, the different personalities that take the
lead in fundraising as Chairman can lead the fundraising numbers in different
directions, both good and bad, but rarely consistent. Finally, this research would be
better served on a bipartisan level to see if Democrats and Republicans react to the
same fundraising cues.
Political participation researchers must continue their work past the SES
model and look into both mobilization and rationality theories as measures of this
activity. While performing my own research I found relationships between political
giving and rationality that I felt should be studied further. For example the act of
particularized contacting introduced by Verba and Nie would seem one of the most
rational participatory acts in politics (Verba and Nie, 1972, p.l 12). I believe that in-
person solicitation draws parallel to this because even though the individual is not
initiating the contact like one would in particularized contacting, they are benefiting
in a similar way.
Based on an interview with a fundraising professional who has considerable
experience raising money from wealthy individuals for a number of causes, I was able
to better understand what might motivate a major donor to participate. Major donors
give because of a personal agenda or issue they care deeply about. Major donors also
contribute money so they can be around important people, network with associates,
and perhaps even gain employment or other opportunities with government officials
(B.B., personal communication, March 2007). From a rational perspective, it seems
valid to participate and contribute to a political party in order to receive some sort of
compensation from it. Contributing for the good of the country, the state party, or the
cause appears less rational as there are no clear, personal benefits.
This distinction was a key element to Verba and Nies analysis of types of
participation. The concept of citizen-initiated contact in which an individual becomes
active in order to gain something from a politician or the government is a familiar
theme in their work and certainly applies to this type of checkbook participation
(Verba and Nie, 1972, p.48). It is clear that this type of participation can be
beneficial for someone who has a large amount of money that would enable them to
get more attention for their own causes or agenda.
Furthermore, I found another motivator for major donors was the opportunity
to give to candidates because they felt they knew where it was going. When people
contribute to state parties they fear they might be giving to salaries and overhead
costs which is sometimes true for state parties and for candidates (B.B., personal
communication, March 2007).
Ultimately this research scratched at the surface of the question of why people
contribute to local political parties but could and needs to go much further. It was
extremely beneficial to study this on a micro-level at the Colorado Republican Party
but I would argue that there is enough reason to study this issue at higher levels of the
Republican Party. There should be more comparisons between candidates and parties
and studies based off of results at national party organizations. My hope is that over
time there will be data from individuals contributions to 527s and this will continue
to shed light on why people participate.
I found this question important to ask both as a professional fundraiser and a
student. In my work experience I saw wealthy individuals contribute large sums of
money annually and senior citizens send dollar bills monthly. I found myself
questioning their reasons for giving and speculating as to what convinced them to
send money to a political party. The focus of this research is simply the question of
what strategies are most successful in raising money in a state party. Unlike the
research reviewed in previous chapters, my study does not encompass thousands of
voting Americans or span many states. Instead it focuses on one political party, in
one state, and one membership renewal. I hypothesized that party mobilization
techniques, particularly direct mail and telemarketing solicitation, were more cost
effective and successful techniques than targeting a list of individuals of high
socioeconomic status and requesting funds. Specifically, I hypothesized that while
in person solicitations directed towards donors with higher levels of income are
valuable ways of raising money for a political party, direct response approaches
specifically direct mail and telemarketing intended for people of all levels, yield
higher results in a cost benefit analysis.
My next step in this process was to review the literature already present. I
knew there was a significant amount of information already published regarding the
issue of participation. Verba and Nie laid the groundwork in an immense study
published in the 1970s that first began putting political participation in perspective.
Political scientists after them continued to explore the socioeconomic status
methodology but added more factors such as gender, age, and party identification to
the equation. Further studies focused on contributions or political party membership
but little of the research I found explored which solicitation methods seemed to make
a difference in donors decisions.
Specifically, I found Verba and Nies (1972) information regarding
socioeconomic status helpful because based on my own research it is true. People
who have more resources are the ones who are contributing to political parties.
However, their research is simply not expansive enough to cover the nuances in
political contributing. Their findings that showed party membership to be important
in participation were also supportive to my own research. The idea of inviting
individuals to be members by contributing to political parties has been a strategy I
have employed for years but I never considered why this was effective.
The concept of age is big factor in political participation. Through my own
anecdotal experience, I found that most of the people who contributed to the state
party were retired and older. However I had no reliable statistical analyses to back
this up. Jankowski and Strate (1995) found through their research that older people
were far more likely to participate for a number of reasons. Research that I
considered important as a supplement to my own was Grant and Rudolphs (2002)
work on the difference in contributing to political parties and candidates. An
important factor in the strategy fundraisers of state parties employ for both direct
response and in person solicitation is what will encourage individuals to contribute to
a party over a candidate or even another group.
Burrells (1986) research centered on ways in which local political party
committees recruit members. Though she did not discuss political contributions, she
did discuss the work that state parties must do to recruit and engage members. I have
found through my own experience that this is an important side benefit to direct mail
and telemarketing solicitation. These solicitation methods encourage people to
support the party both financially but also in general. On the other hand, Leighley
(1995) analyzed the effectiveness of mobilization theory as a method for explaining
political participation. I found this to be essential to my work because in my
experience I had come to understand the difference between election years and non-
election years. The mobilization efforts are greatly increased (particularly during a
presidential election year) and so are the fundraising efforts. People are much more
engaged and more willing to contribute money during these years.
Abramson and Claggett (2001) studied mobilization and its effect on people
who had shown a propensity towards participation in the past. This research was
surprising in that it showed mobilization to be less effective in increasing turnout
among individuals who were already active voters. It did however show that
mobilization increased the number of contributors significantly. Clearly,
mobilization is a useful tool in soliciting funds among prospective donors and
Jones and Hopkins (1985) published research that was most similar to my
own. They found that individuals were most likely to give through in person
solicitations. Their data was based on survey responses from individuals themselves.
Ultimately their findings matched my own and supported my conclusion that in
person solicitation is indeed the most effective method of solicitation.
Once I reviewed the literature, I began compiling my own data from the
contributions records at the Colorado Republican Party and set out to find which
fundraising method was best. I researched a similar project from each method- a first
renewal mailing and phone campaign and analyzed the data from each. I also
scrutinized how many hours I had spent on each solicitation method and evaluated
how much money could be attributed to that amount of time. Finally I compared the
different methods revenues versus their costs. From this analysis I determined that
although I had hypothesized that a cost benefit analysis would show direct response
solicitation to be a more effective method of fundraising, major donor solicitation was
actually the more cost effective method.
Although the time spent on major donor solicitation was extensive and
considerably more than time spent on direct response fundraising, major donor
solicitation was well worth the cost as the net revenue was still significant. However,
it has become clear as a fundraiser that a political party should have both methods
available and in use during election years. A state party benefits from a well-rounded
fundraising program with several solicitation methods made available to them.
I believe this study is worth replicating in other situations such as different
state parties, both Republican and Democrat, and even on a national level. This
research would also be benefited by a comparison of fundraising methods for
candidates and parties. This would help to shed even more light on what might
motivate an individual to participate.
Abramson, Paul R. and Claggett, William, December 2001, Recruitment and Political
Participation Political Research Quarterly, 54 (905-916).
Benson, B., Personal Communication, March 2007
Burrell, Barbara, March 1986, Local Political Party Committees, Task Performance and
Organization Vitality The Western Political Quarterly, 39 (48-66).
Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman (January 2007). Colorado Campaign and
Political Finance Manual. Retrieved February 2007, from
Direct Mail Systems. (2003). Direct Mail Fundraising. Clearwater, FL: M. Milligan.
Grant, J. Tobin and Rudolph, Thomas J., March 2002, To Give or Not to Give:
Modeling Individuals Contribution Decisions Political Behavior, 24 (31-54).
Jankowski, Thomas B. and Strate, John M., March 1995, Modes of Participation over the
Adult Life Span Political Behavior, 17 (89-106).
Jones, Ruth S. and Hopkins, Anne H., June 1985, State Campaign Fund Raising: Targets
and Response The Journal of Politics, 47 (427-449).
Leighley, Jan E., March 1995, Attitudes, Opportunities, and Incentives: A Field Essay on
Political Participation Political Research Quarterly, 48 (181-209).
Milligan, M., Personal Communication, March 2007
Opensecrets.org (January 19, 2005) Campaign Finance Reformwhats the issue?
Retrieved December 12, 2006 from
The Federal Election Commission (October 2005). Federal Election Campaign Laws.
Retrieved January, 2007, from http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.pdf.
The Federal Election Commission (2005) Federal Election Campaign Laws. Retrieved April
27, 2007 from http://www.fec.gov/pages/bcra/bcra_update.shtml.
Verba, S., and Nie, N. (1972) Participation in America. New York: Harper & Row.