Politics and Business

Fundraising and Politics: Donations Are Restricted

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Your passion for your candidate is so great you’ve agreed to be her campaign manager. Your first assignment is bringing in much-needed funding. You dive in headfirst to organize an event; it’ll be huge, featuring the best food and entertainment in the city. Your guest list will solicit the wealthiest in the hopes they will open their pocketbooks after a few glasses of champagne. The sky is your limit, or is it?

Political Campaigns Have Restrictions

The Federal Election Commission has enforced the Federal Election Campaign Act since 1975. Enacted on Feb. 7, 1972, the Federal Election Campaign Act regulates fundraising and spending of all federal political campaigns. It brought forth the requirement that candidates disclose officially all contributions they receive for their political aspirations. Congress further restricted campaign activity in 1974 by placing legal limits on how much a donor may contribute to a particular candidate.

What this means for your fundraiser is simple: You cannot allow donors to write checks for whatever amount they want. Prior to every presidential election, donor contribution limits are adjusted to allow for additional fundraising in concurrence with the Consumer Price Index; regardless, there are still limits. Alongside how much a donor can contribute, his or her classification is also considered in the maximum donation amount.

For example, a PAC or National Party Committee may donate more money than an individual may, so you must take into consideration who your donors are before you can tell them how much they can give. Should you organize your event in between the current and new campaign contribution limits, you must work with the old chart, and, as you will see as you read this article further, amounts aren’t the only thing about which you should worry.

Illegal Campaign Donations

In recent elections, there has been much controversy over the source of campaign contributions, and if you are considering inviting the oil magnate from Saudi Arabia in the hopes he will write a check for billions, you’d better think again. Anyone classified as a foreign national in the United States are barred from donating to federal political campaigns. If the oil magnate holds a residential green card, he can write the check, but if he doesn’t, you’ve just accepted an illegal campaign contribution.

More Complicated than it Seems

Political fundraising falls under different purviews than other nonprofit fundraising does. This is why many campaign managers are involved in politics or, at the very least, have majored in politics in their higher education. You must understand U.S. politics at its core to be able to run a successful and legal campaign. The Graduate School of Political Management offers an online option for busy adults. Get more info about their online political science degree here.

If you have a solid understanding of the U.S. political structure and how the checks and balances work, and if you understand what is and is not allowed in campaign activity, you have a much better chance of managing a successful campaign. You’ll be happy you earned your degree in political science once your candidate accepts the oath of office. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be running your campaign next.

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