Fundraising and campaigning (part 1)

In my last post, I asked, “how are [nonprofit] fundraising and [political] campaigning related?”

There are different types of political campaigns: some are electoral, about getting a particular candidate elected; and some are legislative or advocacy-related, about getting a particular piece of legislation passed.

Electoral campaigns have recurrence built in (candidates want to get re-elected). Advocacy campaigns may be cumulative, building on a series of legislative victories, but generally they have a specific end in mind, and they end after it’s reached.

Nonprofits are more like the electoral campaigners, in that their problems generally don’t go away, they have to keep coming back to be “re-elected” by donors to help address the problem. The House of Representatives has a different dynamic than the Senate because Congresspeople are re-elected every two years, so they’re constantly campaigning and raising money.

Nonprofits seem like the Congresspeople of the social sector, constantly campaigning for “re-election” by donors, with an even more grueling re-election cycle, an annual one.

Are foundations like the Senators of the social sector? The membership is more exclusive, you generally have to be rich to get in, they’re not tied to the retail politics of representing a specific district, they have power out of proportion to their numbers, they have arcane rules of order* that certain members pride themselves on maintaining no matter how bizarre they look to the rest of us (How is foundation payout calculated? What exactly is “cloture,” again? In this respect, a recent HuffPost headline is interesting), and while they’re meant to work together with the House, they often have opposing approaches and aims that require elaborate procedures of “reconciliation.”

What would reconciliation look like in the social sector? With health care reform, there had to be some consultation with the Senate parliamentarian to figure out what could and could not be done. Where might the precedent for more effective collaboration between nonprofits and foundations be found?

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One Response to “Fundraising and campaigning (part 1)”

  1. The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » Fundraising and campaigning (part 5) Says:

    […] been looking at the analogies between nonprofit fundraising and political campaigning, and asked previously if nonprofits are the House of Representatives of the social sector while foundations are the […]

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