Winning the Internet

Making it Rain: Donor Research and Baller Asks

After a great run, the Winning the Internet blog has been retired. However, you can still keep in touch with New Media Mentors here.

Sarah Badawi

Sarah Badawi

Lacey Connelly

Lacey Connelly

As we get ready for Netroots Nation 2015, we’re taking a closer look at some of the convention’s most exciting training sessions. We’re interviewing the trainers and taking you inside some of online activism’s most popular and elusive topics.

Today we’re interviewing Lacey Connelly and Sarah Badawi of Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who’ll be leading Making it Rain: Donor Research and Baller Asks.

NN15 Training Session

Making it Rain: Donor Research and Baller Asks
Improving your fundraising is critical, whether you’re running a small grassroots campaign or running for office. Our exercise-based curriculum will help you learn hands-on how to research donors and ask for money more effectively. And when progressives can raise more grassroots dollars, we win more. It’s that simple.


Q: Tell us about yourselves and your experience with fundraising.

Sarah: In 2014, I was a member of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee’s electoral team, working with endorsed candidates on building strong fundraising programs in a competitive cycle. Before that, I was a member of the fundraising team that worked with Elizabeth Warren on her 2012 Senate race. I’ve also worked closely with Lacey over the last two years to train hundreds of activists, campaign staffers, and candidates in fundraising best-practices.

Lacey: I worked on campaigns for ten years, from campaign management to fieldwork to finance reports, before joining the Progressive Change Campaign Committee as their Training Director in 2013. I have always been a “training junkie,” and now I’m excited every day to be able to strengthen the progressive movement by making sure progressives have the skills they need to win.


Q: In your opinion, what is the most common mistake that people make when fundraising for progressive causes?

Sarah: When it comes to organizational fundraising, groups often fail to connect the action of donating to the result they’re hoping to achieve. Before making an appeal, organizations should have a clear theory of change that lays out what they plan to do with the donation they’re asking for. Then the next key part is the report back to your supporters, letting them know what their donation achieved. Organizations often say thanks, but pictures, links to news articles, or a message from someone helped by the donation are great ways to tell the story of how a donor’s money was spent.


Q: What are the two most important principles to keep in mind when doing this kind of fundraising?

Sarah: In all kinds of fundraising, whether it’s organizational or candidate-driven, a succinct, hard ask is the key. Know your audience or prospective donor — be able to answer the question “what motivates this person to action?” — and then frame your ask from there.

Lacey: You also want to keep your donor database organized. Know when you last spoke to a donor, what their response was, and when you sent a thank you note for their last donation before you call them again.


Q: Why should folks attend your session at Netroots Nation, and how can they connect with you?

Lacey: Our P100 Training Program trained over 600 people last cycle in field, finance, issue advocacy, and press. We teach through guided exercises that take you through the fundamentals, step-by-step, making sure that people not only learn, but can do. Sign up for updates at, follow us on Twitter @BoldProgressive, and follow me personally @ChasingOm. You can also reach me at LaceyC(at)BoldProgressives(dot)org.

Sarah: Fundraising can be intimidating. But once you’re familiar with some of the essential parts of making an ask, you can navigate those waters confidently. You are your organization’s best asset when it comes to raising dollars, so let’s take the guess work out and put some ‘fun’ into fundraising. You can connect with me on Twitter @Sarah_Badawi or shoot me an email at Sarah(at)BoldProgressives(dot)org.


To attend this training, or one of the 39 others at Netroots Nation 2015 in Phoenix, register now.

About Melissa Foley

Melissa is the Director of Training and Mentoring for Netroots Foundation and New Media Mentors. She aims to use her MBA + nonprofit background to teach organizations to use new media tools strategically.


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