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March 1, 2018

3 Unconventional Tips to Build Social Capital by Hosting a Political Fundraiser

With elections coming up, I know some of you are planning to host fundraisers for political candidates.

…In order to get someone elected who represents your values.

Candidates will ask you to open your home or office to host a small, intimate group of people. Their goal is to talk and share their ideas and visions for the future while answering questions.

What you might not realize is that this is also a great opportunity for you, not only for the candidate.

If you do this strategically, you’ll be able to build your social capital, which allows you to carry more influence in this election and in future ones.

Here are my tips on how to build social capital all while hosting a political fundraiser.

1. Realize the Power of the Invite for Social Proof

One of the lessons we learned from the Obama campaign is that the simple act of inviting people carries a great deal of influence. When you’re making your invite list, don’t limit it to the people who you want to come. Recognize that this is a marketing opportunity for you to show that:

      1. You’re willing to stick your neck out for someone
      2. By doing so, you’re a person of influence

What we learned from the Obama campaign was that the single greatest act anyone can perform to create awareness of a candidate was to extend an invitation to an event you host for your friends. Doing this creates top-of-mind awareness. If a person gets invited over and over to attend an event, from multiple people about a specific candidate, then whether or not they attend becomes irrelevant. What they hear is social proof about that candidate.

Social proof is a term used to describe our assumption that when other people do something, it must be good. We think other people must know more than we do about a situation.

What an invitation does for you is that it shows you are a leader, that you have done the vetting, and that you are someone to pay attention to because you carry influence.

Therefore, do not limit your invite list to a couple handfuls of people. Reach as far into your network as you can. Then make it a first-come, first-serve event where you only have a certain number of spots to fill. If you have 40 spots, don’t reach out to 80 people—reach out to 500. Let the 40 spots fill (and that’s good), but recognize the power in the 500 invites that went out, for yourself and the candidate.

[RELATED ARTICLE: How to Straight Crush a Fundraiser]

2. Select Co-Hosts

My second tip is to bring together a select group of people to co-host the event you are hosting. First, this means that they donate a higher amount of money. You, as the host, will have donated the max (in Colorado, it’s $1,150 for primary and general elections). Then you can bring together three more co-hosts at $500 each, for example, or you can ask them to max out.

Candidates love “maxers.”

Moreover, not only do the co-hosts make a higher dollar contribution than average, but you also utilize their name in the invitation. When you put the invitation out, you’re creating extended social proof to say, “I’m hosting this event and here are some of the people that are co-hosting it with me.”

Again, that shows you have influence with other people who are also influential, and it creates a stronger desire with invitees. It’s more persuasive for people to attend when they see not just one name of someone they respect, but two or more names they respect hosting this event. Whether or not they attend, the invitation tells them, “Well, if they are there, maybe I should be, too.”

Don’t be a stranger.

Get to know Mike Johnston 

3. Create a Digital Invitation with a Hook

The hierarchy of information on the PDF invitation is important. Your name at the top as the host, along with the co-hosts, and then right in the center it should show the candidate’s name or logo that this event is benefiting. And then of course all the event details: where to purchase tickets, time, date, location, etc.

Just like a good article, a good invitation must have a great headline and a great hook. It must answer this question: why should you attend? A really bad reason you should attend is so that you have the opportunity to donate. Bullshit. That is an “ask,” not a “give.” No one will respond to that.

What is in it for them to attend? There is a difference between someone receiving the invite and going to vote for that candidate. You can persuade simply through the power of your invitation and your hosts and co-hosts, and then by them actually attending. Why should they attend?

A good hook is created by coming up with a theme for the night, such as “a conversation on the future of education” or “the future of technology and innovation.” Why is this important? Because it allows attendees to ask themselves, “Is that a piece of knowledge valuable to me both intellectually and as social proof when I talk to others?” Said another way, if an attendee can use that knowledge in future conversations to say, “When I was having lunch with Jane Murphy who’s running for Senate, she was talking about how the future of education…”

This is great for your candidate and also for your guestan actual win-win.

Share the Invite with Your Co-Hosts

Then hand your well-designed invite to your co-hosts to send out to their networks. By approaching events this way, what you’ve done is multiplied the exposure and awareness that people have to your name. Instead of your 500, now it’s gone to 500 times three people, for example. While there might be overlaps, you’ve now been exposed to a whole new set of people, a whole new audience.

Ultimately, you’re hosting this event because you care about a candidate and about supporting him or her to win. You’re not hosting this event simply to throw a party for 40 people. You can create more social change when you recognize the power of persuasion in the act of extending the invitation to a large group of people, in being a host at the top of that invite list with other popular co-hosts, and in creating a powerful invite with a hook.

Good luck to you and your candidate!

[RELATED ARTICLE: The Way We Think about Donating Is Dead Wrong]

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