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How to Raise Funds in a Charged Partisan Environment (Deep Dive 3)

October 2, 2023 @ 2:00 pm 3:00 pm

The message of “we support candidates who support our industry” no longer works in our hyper-partisan environment. But what does work? Hear from fundraising experts and learn what you can say and do to help keep the coffers full.

Ethan Easterwood, Blue Origin
Jen Fox, Finseca (moderator)
Joe Joiner, CTIA The Wireless Association
Bryan Spadaro, National Association of Manufacturers


Panelists shared horror stories from their roles 

How do we make fundraising asks in a highly partisan environment? 

  • FinsecaPAC has shifted from advocacy to education 
  • Bryan is the first person to fundraise for NAM
    • 350,000 a year 
    • The program has been built from scratch 

Internal Processing/Messaging 

  • Wireless 
    • Moved to paperless payroll and credit card processes 
    • Increase contributor donations
    • Became part of the HR onboarding process 
    • Inherited a culture of PAC giving 
    • Staff: 100 (82 people eligible) 
    • A lot of people don’t know what a PAC is 
  • Blue Origin 
    • Lead by their company values and culture 
    • $350,000 PAC increased to $700,000 in the past year and a half 
    • 10,000 employees (the company has tripled in the last year and a half) 
      • 7,000 are eligible 

How do you harness the personal passion of stakeholders on trending social issues?

  • Wireless 
    • Distract with gifts 
    • 2 people dropped since January 6
    • Maintain 50/50 party ratios
    • It’s difficult to give money when the PAC is not partisan 
  • NAM 
    • Giving sheet is available for transparency 
    • A lot of hesitation from senior staff to give after Jan 6th 
      • They see giving as a personal thing 
      • Mid-tier employees give to be a part of something bigger 

Strategies to Avoid (Hot-Button Issues) 

  • Blue Origin 
    • Build trust with your donors 
    • Schedule calls to listen to members (explain why the company is doing what they are doing) 
    • Don’t shy away from the political reality 
    • Their job is directly impacted by the progress of the PAC (government funding)
    • Explain how Congress works 

What tactics, ideas, and gimmicks are working right now?


  • PACtober Fundraiser 
  • Jen sent an email with her personal donation and ask other members to match her 
  • Show how the PAC is staking up money
  • No need to be fancy or email templates – look like they are coming from people’s inbox 


  • Cherry Blossom themes fundraising event 
  • “ Help CTIA PAC Blossom!” 
  • HR sent all the eligible employees 
  • Remove folks that donate more than 5K to the PAC donation email so they don’t lower their contribution
  • Price: $100 restaurant gift card 
  • 8% increase in participation rate (up from 70%) 

Blue Origin 

  • No secret sauce to growing a PAC 
  • Repetition, Repetition, Repetition 
  • Political trivia to recruit new hire (new hire engagement) 
  • Anniversary Emails and Congratulations on the promotion tied to a PAC donation ask 
  • More fun events PACtober Fest, Blue PAC Political Trivia 


  • Personalize the outreach to large-scale donors
  • Have the members talk to the donors and let Members know about their donors 

#1 Tip 

  • It’s a long run 
  • Build trust and listen (be a resource) 
  • No one is reinventing the wheel (hustle and bustle) 
  • Be aggressively transparent  
  • Don’t stress, don’t think about quitting 

What do you want to try? 

  • Allow donors to select the party they want to give to (it’s always smoke and mirrors) 
  • Expand on how to mature the PAC 
  • Increase board member contribution 

Post-Jan 6th 

  • Lean on the company values 
  • Survey your members to understand member values  
  • Define your PAC mission statement and cultural values 

Looking forward to the feeling of optimism for the future of the political environment 


October 2, 2023
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
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