Tired of churn-and-burn political fundraising? There’s a (much) better way.

Tired of churn-and-burn political fundraising? There’s a (much) better way.

by Cheryl Contee • Election •

Betsy Hoover, Do Big Things’ board member and co-founder of Higher Ground Labs, was quoted in the Washington Post today about the destructive tactics Mothership Strategies uses for otherwise good candidates and causes.

In the article, Betsy says: “The people we’re talking to right now are the same people we’re going to be talking to for two years, four years. If every day is, ‘The sky is falling, and the world is about to end,’ then eventually that message stops working.” She served as director of digital organizing for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign and helped found 270 Strategies, another Democratic consulting firm.

We’d like to take a beat to expand on Betsy’s thoughtful comments. The reality is the alarmist, predatory tactics that Mothership and others have built their business around are short-sighted for Democrats and ultimately threaten the growth of the progressive movement. We don’t believe in torching clients’ images to enrich ourselves (and their fee structure makes plain that this is their business model), not just because it’s ethically wrong, but because it’s actually bad digital strategy.

Telling people the sky is always falling is at best misleading. But worse, it dilutes moments of real urgency. And we have plenty of those these days that need the attention of the progressive community. Short-sighted messaging tactics betray these firms’ belief that these audiences aren’t people we should aim to inspire—but credit cards waiting to be charged. And let’s be clear: part of that is due to who’s coming up with these strategies. Our diverse team—50% people of color and women-led—reflects the people we most need to engage in order to win in the years ahead. And our strategies are built with them in mind.

Look, we know why many organizations stand for tactics like this. It’s about the bottom line. They believe: If this is what we have to do to raise the money needed to achieve the impact we are trying to create in the world, fine. But this isn’t the only way.

Our message is clear: There’s a better way to raise money. And if you’re good at it, you can actually raise (a lot) more money over time. We shattered fundraising goals for amazing candidates like Lauren Underwood, Jessica Morse and Amy McGrath over and over again in the 2018 cycle. We saw up close how the churn-and-burn route leaves money on the table and reputations in the gutter, especially for candidates who have something important to say.

We know it takes a human-centered approach to grow your community. It takes honesty, smart targeting, creativity and treating people like they’re actually…people. Trust us: It’s possible to change the face of progressive political messaging in a way that gets results AND reflects our values. 

We want to work with folks who reject the churn-and-burn path. If you want to do this work the right way (and a whole lot more successfully), come talk to us. We’re already on the job and waiting for you.

By Cheryl Contee and Toby Fallsgraff. Cheryl is CEO and Toby is Managing Director of Campaigns at Do Big Things, LLC.

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