Business, Community & Government

Budgeting and Fundraising

Karl Rove and David Axelrod

Lesson time 17:54 min

Karl breaks down what you need to include in a comprehensive campaign budget, how to figure out how much money you can raise, and the different ways you can go about raising it effectively.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Make a Comprehensive Budget • Manage Resources Wisely • Figure Out What You Can Raise • Ways to Raise Money • How to Ask for Money • Don’t Forget to Say Thank You


There's a play between the budget and the fundraising. You need to have people figure out what the budget is, and then figure out if you can raise the money. And if not, you need to adjust the budget. And you need to-- whatever you agree upon as the figure that can be raised, it has to be spread over time so that you know what you think you can raise by a certain frame. And if you can't, then you're going to have to adjust the budget. When you think about budgeting and when you think about fundraising-- let's admit it-- these are guesses. These are targets. These are aspirations, which is why it's really important to put this all in a spreadsheet so you can follow the pattern. Are you falling way behind? Are you falling a little behind? Are you running a little bit ahead? Because all of that will give you some guidance as to how realistic that your spending and the budget are going to be in the months ahead. And don't lie to yourself. If you start to fall behind in fundraising, better to realize that you need to try and make that up sooner rather than later, and if you can't, then you're going to have to adjust your patterns at the end, than to come to the end and find out that you cannot do some of these activities. Better to cut expenditures in the short run in order to maintain your reserves for the end when people are making up their minds and making the decision to go vote. But look, budgeting is an exercise in estimating as best as you can what the campaign is going to cost. And your fundraising starts with estimating as best as you can what it is that you think you can raise. And hopefully, you can execute the plan to raise what you need and get what you want. Just remember as you're preparing your budget that it needs to be comprehensive. This has to incorporate every activity in the campaign plus the overhead necessary to carry out that campaign. So for example, if you're talking about the ground game, you have to figure in what's the cost of, say, the absentee ballot mailer, and what's the cost of the phone. If you're going to mount a phone bank effort for Get Out The Vote, how many phones do you need to have? Does there need to be a place for that phone bank to be? Do you need to rent an office space for it? What kind of staff is needed to support each of these activities? And what kind of costs are there associated with a staff? Salary, taxes, benefits. So as you think about it, don't hesitate to bring in somebody who may not have much in the way of political skills, but it's good at budgeting for a company, because they'll be able to tell you about the things. You're running a small business. That small business is going to last for maybe less than two years, but you're going to have to be involved in running that small business with some costs that may not be readily apparent to a-- you're going to have to have a copier. You're going to have to pay for internet service. You're going to hav...

About the Instructor

David Axelrod and Karl Rove reach across the aisle to offer an inside look at winning campaign strategies. The respective architects of Barack Obama’s and George W. Bush’s historic election victories teach how to develop a campaign platform and reach an audience with consistent messaging. Find the inspiration and tools to get involved at any level, or simply become a more informed, engaged citizen.

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Karl Rove and David Axelrod

Renowned presidential campaign strategists David Axelrod and Karl Rove reveal what goes into effective political strategy and messaging.

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