|Candidates Public Proposals
This is all I could find from the candidate's public statements and media appearances:
- Mr. Green wants to set a goal of one new $35-per-year donor to the State Committee every month, in every precinct, statewide. (Are there really 26,000 people who want to give money - not to the candidates, but to the state party - before 2014? Scott Brown only raised money from than half of that number of in-state, individual contributors.)
- Mr. D'Arcangelo and Mr. Cavaretta propose a new candidate funding formula. (I am almost positive one already exists.) They also have spoken about the issue of negative equity (all that money on the big races doesn't help the party much). But they say little about how money could work better.
- Ms. Hughes has said three things: form a SuperPAC, support a party change so that the SC controls the money and can direct it to down ballot races, and also to raise $100,000 more for legislative races. (Though she has said nothing about how to accomplish such a difficult thing when the party is so weak.)
Here is what fundraising should look like:
1. A clearinghouse
There should be a statewide fundraising clearinghouse like ActBlue. (The fact that the Democrats have had this since 2004, and that it was created and is still run here in Massachusetts, and that it is nine years later and we have nothing like it makes me embarrassed to be a Republican.)
Everyone knows that ActBlue handles the big races. Did you know they also do their work for state-level stuff? Here is the search link for Massachusetts stuff.
Here is an image of just some of what you'll see:
And there are others! Young Democrats, College Democrats, and all kinds of PACs. Does it make you cry yet?
But don't forget how big an impact they were on the Brown and Tisei races. Check out these numbers:
Yes, Tierney was small - but this was $50K that he got without lifting a finger. And $50K matters in a 3,000-vote race.
Fortunately for us, the Democrats aren't using ActBlue for statehouse races in MA. But this is happening in other states. It is only a matter of time and would be effortless for them to set up.
SO...... We must have a Massachusetts-wide website, that, like ActBlue, lets you see all races and PACs and committees. You should be able to both browse and choose where you want to donate, set up recurring donations, and set up your own sub-pages to raise money for a person or committee that you would like.
Having a site like this would be a game-changer. (My advice on how to do this is later in this post.)
2. Activity-specific fundraising
Have you ever seen charities that allow you to donate money to buy specific things? There is probably no more famous example than the Oxfam Holiday catalog. (Here is a screenshot.)
This approach works pretty well and many charities do it. We should have this for the state party, RTCs, and and campaigns. (The campaigns have tried this is a loose way - doing a money bomb to get an ad on TV - but I am talking something more strict.)
Take the state party. Would I give them $25? Maybe. But what if the page let me choose something that $25 buys? What if I was told that it would buy 5 T-shirts for an event? What if it funded one month of a campaign website for someone running for office? Or that it would pay for the bandwidth to put a state committee meeting on the Internet to help transparency? That would get my attention. Like with Oxfam, there would be lots of choices for different amounts.
I also think the campaigns should do this for some of their fundraising. I would be happier to give knowing it would be spent on something I would find helpful.
3. Game dynamics
All contributions are public and available through OCPF. Yet the system is boring and it's hard to compare people over time. (It's also not real-time.) What we really need is something called "gamification". This buzzword, big on the Internet, is when you turn something into a game with points, status, and rewards that was not a game before. (Think Foursquare with points and badges and mayorships.)
We really need a series of party "leader boards" for people to compete for certain kinds of recognition. (I don't think you can actually award prizes, that's probably illegal.) But you could do a lot with this. For instance, I might be embarrassed that my contributions have been a little low. If I saw a friend beating me by $25, I might donate $26 to stay ahead and have bragging rights.
How we might get there
There is no point in me giving the technical implementation of all of this on RMG, even if I could do it. (I will try to get this done and submit it to the SC). But I do want to describe the journey ahead.
1. Activity-specific fundraising would be pretty easy to implement. Create an online "store" where there would be an item code that would be carried through to a form field on the donation form. (Most fundraising software allows all kinds of codes to be carried through the process for tracking purposes.) There would need to be some brainstorming on what would be attractive items, but that is a fun thing to do. Also, implement some easy social-sharing so someone could advertise in social media that they just bought X for the party or a campaign.
2. Gamification would not be easy, but it would be straightforward. You really just need one or two software developers to take the feeds from OCPF and make a pretty website out of them. It would be much better to get this data from the campaigns and committees themselves, as real-time competition would be much more awesome - but I don't know if they can easily provide this. So, another action item would be for all GOP committees to expose their contribution data in a way that it can be accessed in near-real-time, in order to get the leader boards to be more competitive. (Tech-wise, it is probably better to steer people into fundraising platforms that can expose this automatically, rather than try to have them roll their own way of exposing contributor data.)
3. The clearinghouse. (ActBlue for MassGOP) If the national GOP would just get their act together, (ha ha) we wouldn't have to wait for anything. But my guess is that after years of false starts, nothing is going to happen. So, we are going to have to cobble together something ourselves. The best choice is going to be to pick a platform that offers feeds, widgets, and distributed fundraising, like the way that fundraise.com does. Then you will need to create a web application that gathers all of that data and puts it into a single, branded interface for the party. You would still be using the proven platform and reporting mechanisms under the hood, but the aggregated data and searching would be in a MassGOP-specific interface. (I could go further in describing this, but no point here on RMG.) But it is possible.
If the plans of the candidates for MassGOP chairman are going to happen, they are going to need dramatically different ways of reaching people, promoting the right races, and raising money. We need a radically new approach to raising money online. Doing the things I recommend will take time, money, and software developers who know what they are doing. Fortunately, this kind of investment - in raising more money - should be easy money to spend. Also, the charities and ActBlue have proved that the approaches I have recommended will work. (As for the gamification, you're just going to have to take my word for it.)
Even better, I am almost sure that the large surplus in our MassGOP federal account could be used to fund this.
Oh - and one more thing. Do not hire the people that Mitt Romney did for his tech stuff. (Enough said.)