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The Obama Campaign: Success in Online Fundraising

In the article “How Candidates Can Use The Internet To Win In 2010” by Colin Delaney is like a “how to” guide for online campaign developers. He discusses first how the Obama campaign utilized their online presence to reap the rewards of online donations and what worked well for them, outreach. He then goes into tools, the timing of asking for donations and resources one can use, online reach, fundraising/mobilization and concludes by putting all these pieces together. Delaney is clearly an expert on a number of topics related to political campaigns, specifically online. He also wrote an piece, which was the onset of a series of articles, titled, “Learning From Obama: Lessons for Online Communicators in 2009 & Beyond,” which discusses similar points as to how the Obama campaign used the internet and social media to rally voters and obtain donations.

“On MyBarackObama.com, or MyBO, Obama’s own socnet, 2 million profiles were created. In addition, 200,000 offline events were planned, about 400,000 blog posts were written and more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created — at least 1,000 of them on Feb. 10, 2007, the day Obama announced his candidacy. Some 3 million calls were made in the final four days of the campaign using MyBO’s virtual phone-banking platform. On their own MyBO fundraising pages, 70,000 people raised $30 million,” this quote clearly from Delaney Learning From Obama article shows the magnitude of what Obama was able to do online, and he was the first of the presidential candidates to take advantage of this open space to reach voters.

In Lessons From Obama, Delaney points out how we can learn from Obama’s success and touches on a few main points, these points are elaborated also in his article Winning in 2010:

  • Start early
  • Build to scale
  • Innovate where necessary; do everything else incrementally better
  • Make it easy to find, forward and act
  • Pick where you want to play
  • Channel online enthusiasm into specific, targeted activities that further the campaign’s goals
  • Integrate online advocacy into every element of the campaign

In the upcoming election year, we will definitely see these social media tips incorporated as well as elements incorporated that may not have been anticipated in 2010, such as the heavy use of smartphones and cellular donations.

One of the key elements discussed in Lessons From Obama, that I personally feel stuck out was Delaney’s view on Constituent Relations Management and the importance of this within the online presence. Too easily, I believe web managers are driven to think of getting the donations and being done with the customer with a simple “thank you, come again”. What worked, as Delaney pointed out, is that with CRM the user is able to break down the list of followers by gender, demographic, location and target specific user. This in turn, makes the user appear as though the candidate knows who they are would reach out to them personally in this targeted outreach. Staying in touch with supporters is also helpful as Delaney states, “Staying in touch with supporters via cell phone text messaging, it’s been the “next big thing” in online politics for several years now – and it still is”.

To further emphasize the importance of Obama’s fundraising success, check out this info graphic from Xplane.com (click to enlarge):

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