Campaign Targets and Messages in Direct Mail Fundraising
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- Hassell, H.J.G. & Monson, J.Q. Polit Behav (2014) 36: 359. doi:10.1007/s11109-013-9230-8
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Political campaigns raise millions of dollars each election cycle. While past research provides valuable insight into who these donors are and why they are motivated to give, little research takes into account the actions of political campaigns. This paper examines why and how campaigns target habitual donors for political donations. Using the 2004 Campaign Communication Survey, a national survey of registered voters who were asked to collect and send in all campaign mail they received during the last 3 weeks of a campaign, we show that campaigns send donation solicitations predominantly to individuals who have previously donated to a campaign. We also show that campaigns match targeting fundraising appeals to the potential motivations for giving: campaigns target the type of fundraising appeal they use, whether ideological, solidary, or material, to match the socioeconomic and partisan characteristics of the potential donor. The implication of effective targeting is that the “unequal” voice of participation in campaign contributions is not one-sided and simply resource based, but rather that campaigns also contribute to the situation with targeted messages to potential donors.