Viral Fundraising

Posted in The Gnovis Blog

Lately, I’ve been very interested in the role online/e-mail rumors play in elections. I heard an "On the Media" segment last week about how hard it is for political campaigns to beat back the false assertions made in fwd email.

For the most part, all the stories about online rumor and politics focus on the incredible harm it can do. Campaigns in 2008 love the Internet, it is great for fundraising, but so far the candidates haven’t quite known how to deal with the "wild-west" aspects of the internet. However, it is starting to look like the same forces that make rumor emails popular can be used for… proactive campaign work. (I’ll leave the question of "good" for others).

A very dear friend of mine just fowarded this brilliant fundraising plan.

Hi guys,

A campaign is underway to show Sarah Palin what we think of her stance on reproductive rights: Instead of (in addition to?) people sending around emails about how abominable her positions are, they’ve been making donations to Planned Parenthood… in Sarah Palin’s name.

If you make a donation to PP in her name, they’ll send her a card telling her that the donation has been made in her honor. If you’d like to join in, here’s the link to the Planned Parenthood website:

You’ll need to fill in the address to let PP know where to send the "in Sarah Palin’s honor" card. I suggest you use the address for the McCain campaign headquarters, which is:
McCain for President
1235 S. Clark Street
1st Floor
Arlington, VA 22200

I just donated a little bit of money, and d*mn, did it feel good. 😉



PS Make sure you use that link above or choose the pulldown of Donate–Honorary or Memorial Donations, not the regular "Donate Online" option.

Apparently something like this happened back in 2001, just after George Bush was sworn in. Here, I wont go into my opinion on the politics of this– I’ve done that over at my own blog. Instead, I’d like to talk about the way that the Internet has enabled a kind protest-fundraising.

This campaign combines the two actions campaign organizers are always begging for: donate some cash and/or write a letter. Now, in just a few clicks you can do both. The McCain Palin campaign wlil hear from opponents while a popular charity/activist organization will get an influx of cold, hard cash. It also manages to talk to a sympathetic audience about a polarizing issue and organize them around a negative– generally understood as easier to do that organizing around a future good.

I am not sure exactly what all the dynamics are here… I just know that it is taking a successful form on the Internet (fwd email) and turning it into a force for easy but powerful protest.

One source says that some Planned Parenthood chapters could see an influx of over $100,000 from this campaign. Even if it is only half that amount, whatever is going on in this e-mail worked. In the future, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this kind of thing happen more and more.