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Hosting a Fundraiser for a Candidate

Why should you host a fundraiser? Fundraisers are a fundamental part of the electoral process and are essential for a candidate if he or she wants to win elected office. Hosting fundraisers allows you, your friends and colleagues to develop and enhance personal relationships with your state and federal representatives and senators. A fundraiser is also a unique opportunity to give support to a candidate for office in a casual and friendly setting. It is inevitable that candidates need the help of supporters in their local community to win an election. Elected officials recognize supporters of their campaigns, and fundraisers help to ensure that physician-supported candidates are the ones making the decisions.

How do you choose for whom to host a fundraiser?

Usually, a physician would host a fundraiser for a candidate running for office in his or her district. We recommend that you contact us to find out whether the candidate is inclined to support physician issues, and is supported by the Illinois State Medical Society Political Action Committee (IMPAC).

How do you invite a candidate to a political fundraiser?

Step one should be to contact the candidate’s campaign office and express your interest in conducting a fundraiser. This can be done via a telephone call or letter to the campaign. During the initial correspondence with the campaign, you should first check on the candidate’s availability and, second, inquire how much money needs to be raised for the candidate to attend the event. Remember, the nearer to an election you want to hold a fundraiser, the more difficult it will be to get the candidate to attend. Early and strong support is always the best. Two to three months before an election is usually the best time to hold an event in honor of a candidate.

How do you plan the actual event?

It is highly recommended that you have several of your colleagues join a small event committee to develop a potential donor list and help with the logistical and planning issues involved in the event. IMPAC will also be more than happy to lead you in the right direction and give you advice in these aspects as well. Most, if not all, of your event committee meetings can be held by conference call. You should also remember to keep open the communication lines with the campaign during all aspects of the planning.

Who should you invite to the fundraiser?

Invite your colleagues, other medical doctors who share your views, your neighbors, friends and business associates who support your views on medical issues. The candidate will appreciate a well-informed, respectable turnout (40 to 50 guests is a good size for a fundraiser).

Where should you host the fundraiser?

The best place to hold a fundraiser is at someone’s private home. Federal and state election laws are very strict on spending money to rent places such as banquet halls. However, the location largely depends on the size of the event and the environment you want to create.

Should you have formal invitations printed?

Even though you could probably just use the telephone and e-mail to persuade friends and colleagues to attend the event, formal invitations add prestige. Be sure to include the names of all members of the host committee. Be sure to also follow up your invitations with a phone call to prospective donors. This follow-up is very effective in terms of fundraising.

What is a typical timetable for planning an event?

You should probably allow four to six weeks to plan the event.

What actually happens at a fundraiser?

A fundraiser is a simple reception in honor of a candidate. You should allow ample time for guests to arrive before the candidate appears. Once the candidate arrives, introduce him or her to your guests and encourage everyone to mix and mingle. Provide time for the candidate to address the group as a whole and possibly take questions. Typically, the event should last no more than 90 minutes.

What should you do after the fundraiser?

Write a thank you letter to each donor and to the candidate for attending. Follow up on any outstanding commitments and prepare an accounting of the event. Deliver the outstanding commitments that you collected to the candidate’s campaign.