When most people think of giving to a political campaign, they think about simply donating their money or their time. If both of those options bore you, here are 9 other ways to help your candidate succeed. All of the ideas listed below still count towards your total contribution to a candidate. The reason you may want to consult this list instead of just give cash is because these types of donations help you get closer to the candidate. Contributing just cash is pretty limiting. But these 9 creative ways of giving will help you network, advertise your business, and have more fun!
Note: An individual may give a maximum of $2,600 per election to a Federal candidate.
You can donate office supplies, computers, furniture, Sintra boards, etc. You can add a ‘donated by’ sticker to each machine to advertise your business. Mixing business and politics isn’t a good idea for some people. But if you know your customer base supports one candidate heavily, this method of campaign donation will garner positive feedback.
Fundraising Tickets and Items
This is a pretty poor way of donating to a political campaign. When you buy a $15 T-shirt, the entire $15 is deducted from your $2,600 max even though it cost the campaign $5 to make the shirt. You’ve limited your power by focusing your giving energy on things that cost the campaign money.
Any money you loan a candidate counts as a contribution – even if you charge interest on the loan. But if they repay the loan, you are free to donate again.
Donate Business Services
You can offer your services to a political campaign for free or for a reduced price. You can advertise your business here as well. Offer whatever service you can for free. If you don’t have the money to donate to a campaign, this is perfect. You can advertise that you were the person who created that candidate’s website, you designed their yard signs, etc. This is especially useful if you’re just starting out in business. Tell the candidate that since you’re new, your services are less than the competition. Say you charge $850 to do the graphics in a TV ad. Your tenured competition may charge $3,000. So even if you could cut them a check for $2,600 (your max contribution) because your services are so cheap, they are better off to accept your services since you could do 3 TV commercials with your $2,600 contribution limit (with $50 leftover for a cash donation). If you didn’t donate your services, just your money, the campaign would receive your $2,600 check but would have to spend $9,000 in advertising. The result = -$6,400. Donating your services means you get experience and bragging rights from designing their TV commercials and your candidate essentially gets $6,400 instead of just $2,600.
Donate Personal Services
You can help out a candidate all you want as long as they don’t pay you. But if you’re a poor college student, you may need paid. What can happen is perhaps your rich Uncle Bob supports the candidate as well. Tell your rich Uncle Bob that he can pay you $2,600 to solicit donations for the candidate. Uncle Bob gets to donate to the campaign, you get paid, and the candidate gets a ‘free’ solicitor.
Discounts on Food and Drink
You may only discount $1,000 worth of food and drink per election whether it be for a candidate or a party. Anything above that is a contribution which will be capped.
Invite the Candidate to a Party at Home
You may use your home for activities benefiting a candidate or political party without making a contribution as long as you keep expenses under $1,000 per election. I wonder if George Clooney kept his expenses under $1,000 when he hosted Barack Obama.
Invite the Candidate to the Office
If you’re an employee of a company, you can use the company’s services to help your candidate win – subject to the rules of said company. If you need to use the office’s board room, telephones, etc. you can do so without it going against your $2,600 donation limit. But the time spent using the facilities cannot exceed 1 hour a week or 4 hours a month.
You can fly yourself to an event and spend up to $1,000 per election getting there. So if you’re really die-hard about a candidate and you’ve spent your $2,600 already, you can still fly to another state and continue donating your time there.
These are 9 creative ways to contribute to a political campaign. Although you are capped at $2,600 per election for a Federal candidate, you can still donate far more if you’re smart enough to get creative! The rules outlined in this article were sourced from the fec.gov website (information updated April, 2014).
I’m a personal finance freelance writer and webmaster. I welcome you to visit me at www.thefrugalpreneur.com