I’m not easily spooked by anything that is going on in the political world as “niceness” isn’t exactly the name of the game by any of the campaign groups, but an article that I read this morning regarding a recently-used method for fundraising made me very uneasy, at best. It seems to be a new way to garner funds that employs knowledge about others as a way to influence more giving.
Note: Although this unique fundraising effort is being used as part of a Democratic campaign, I would feel equally uneasy about this type of effort if it were being employed by conservative or libertarian campaign managers, or any other political group that might be fundraising.
Having said that, I recognize that it is the right of any campaign to try different ways to raise funds, and that people who are contacted are free to donate or not donate. There is no one-size-fits-all best way to garner campaign funds, and technology has evolved to a point where it is inevitable that different fundraising methods are going to be employed.
According to the article entitled “Obama Campaign Pressures Potential Donors by Comparing Them With Neighbors,” Obama campaign fundraisers have sent very targeted emails to those on the Obama donor list who have not yet donated in 2012. Basically, they have identified the neighbors of each of those potential donors and what those neighbors have donated, and are using summaries of that information to try to influence the “derelict” donors to donate now.
Reportedly, the Obama campaign has even put together summary information about how much has been donated by communities as a whole and included that in the emails sent to some “derelict” donors.
It is the neighbor vs. neighbor and specific statistical approach that bothers me, along with the unknown thought process behind these emails. It appears to be more of a “shame, shame on you for not donating – see how your neighbors are helping even though you aren’t” thing. However, it could imply to some people that something more intimidating is going on because of the “we have identified you within a certain neighborhood/city” tone. Either way, I personally find this fundraising strategy to be somewhat more intrusive, intimidating and disturbing than is within my comfort level at this time.
Having just learned about this, my personal feeling is that there is no place for political fundraising to take place in our republic that highlights a comparison of giving between neighbors that might in any way lead to a diminished sense of unity within communities. Also, I hope that no other political group will apply this approach. But I may be off-base on this and will be putting more thought into this fundraising approach if it is used more in the future.
Personal opinion of the writer