Your finances could be your biggest barrier to running for office
In 2008, Hillary Clinton told us there were “18 million cracks in the highest and hardest glass ceiling, filling us with the hope and sure knowledge that the path will be easier next time.”
Six years later, it looks like her prediction is getting closer to reality. I’ve attended quite a few fundraising events in my area, and this appears to be the year of the Woman Politician.
That’s so exciting. It takes much courage, determination, and guts to offer yourself as a candidate for office. Today’s mothers, daughters, and sisters are blazing the trail for another generation of women who might be considering public service. What a marvelous thing.
As women chip away at the glass ceiling, what still remains our biggest hurdle? Money.
We know that it takes a major commitment for a woman to run. As I listened to one candidate, she shared how important it was for her daughters to support her decision. Once she received it, she felt comfortable putting her hat in the ring. Family first. I like that. But what about the money?
A recent Washington Post report states that while you might assume that work life balance and time away from family are a female politician’s greatest considerations, her greatest barriers are fundraising requirements and party support.
That’s a shame because with the number of women voters, a qualified female candidate should be able to tap into a larger pool of potential donors. Here’s a statistic that I thought was quite interesting from the organization, She Should Run, Vote Your Purse. If women voters across parties gave as little as $5 to one female candidate, it would be enough to run each female candidate in every House race with a budget of over $1 million.
The money is out there. We just have to be better at accessing it — and managing it.
Your finances are the key to your success
Your approach to your campaign expenses shouldn’t be that different from your personal finances. Start by creating a budget. Here are a few items to consider:
- Hiring a political consulting firm
- Hiring an election attorney to address any conflicts of interests
- Purchasing a database of your constituents
- Estimating travel cost for you and your staff
- Assigning a clothing allowance to cover the many events you’ll attend
- Obtaining public opinion polls
- Creating a marketing and advertising strategy — with website, and other collateral materials.
Why is this important? As a new candidate, you may have to front end your initial expenses, and determine how much of your personal finances will be used for your candidacy. This is a good reason to evaluate your options early and talk to your certified financial planner. You will need professional help reviewing your personal situation.
Add these tasks to your to-do list:
- Understand the financial reporting requirements for running. Your treasurer is a key staff position. Hire wisely.
- Develop a fundraising plan. Networking is key so you can develop relationships with major party contributors. Their support will be vital to igniting your campaign.
- Learn about political action committees. They pool fundraising contributions to campaign for or against candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation.
- There are 57 women PACs and donor networks that support women candidates. This could be a great way to align your political views with those of others to help your candidacy.
Encouraging women to run for office is extremely important especially when we represent more than 50 percent of the population but less than 20 percent of our legislature represents us. Interested in running?
Take the next step, and go to she should run in action.
Preparing to run means more than choosing the right stilettos; it means making sure your finances are in order as well.Tags: Hillary Clinton, She Should Run, The Women's Caucus, Women in Politics