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Political fundraising: does it still work, and is it worth it?

Fundraising is an art form among political parties, but is it thin ice over murky waters for your advocacy work?

''Politics has become so expensive it takes a lot of money even to be defeated' '“ Will Rogers.

Like it or not, campaign finance is an integral part of our political system. One of the key roles of any party secretary or director is to shake the tree and hope enough coins fill the coffers to fight the next election campaign.

In the world of advocacy, the need for parties to fundraise presents another good opportunity to build relationships with key targets including Ministers, Shadows and backbenchers.

Some organisations have recoiled from assisting with political fundraising following recent state and federal donation scandals. However, when practiced correctly, developing a fundraising program can still be an integral part of a relationship building strategy.

Donations: Following some fairly high profile scandals and the subsequent tightening of rules surrounding political donations, many groups simply choose not to donate to political parties. While somewhat understandable, 'donation' is not a dirty word. As long as you understand who can donate, how much can be donated, spread donations across all relevant parties and fully disclose your contribution, the advantages of one off donations often outweigh the potential problems.

Attending Party Events: Taking a single place or a group booking at an event organised by a political party is the most transparent and hassle-free way to show you're serious about developing a good working relationship. As with donations, it's important to spread the love and attend events from a range of political players.

Hosting a fundraiser: A relatively cost effective way to help with fundraising is to host a fundraiser. Offering to provide a venue, say a boardroom, along with catering for a sit down lunch takes care of perhaps the hardest work for party organisers. It allows them time to focus on organising a VIP and paying guests. It's a no-fuss way of assisting with fundraising without making an actual donation.

Buying an auction prize: This might seem trivial, however it can be a relatively cheap and easy way to show you're serious about building good relationships.  Larger party functions, particularly dinners, often have an auction component.  Being 'called out' by the auctioneer in front of party officials and Members of Parliament is an easy way to snatch quick recognition. If you're strategic about it, you may be able to pick up prize that can be utilized in your future advocacy work.

As with all things in politics, check the rules at a state and federal level, remain transparent and of course, spread the love.

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