If you have received or sent a fundraising email, chances are you've been offered a chance to have your donation multiplied. I have tried to research how long this practice has been in place for political fundraising but results are inconclusive. From my own memory, the donation multiplier really started to gain traction in the late 2000's.
Whatever the case, it is a common mechanic today. The multiplier is supported on all major political fundraising platforms, namely WinRed, Anedot and Actblue. And for good reason; Donors respond to multipliers. Whether it be the interactivity, or the prospect of turning a mere $10 donation into $50 or more, it is a winning tactic.
For a non-trivial portion of the donating public, a multiplier conjures images of mystery fat cat donors stepping up and party organizations opening up their war chests. I myself used to assume the money was sourced from my own states "celebrity" politicians. The guys whose organizations have money.
At this point, I apologize for ruining anyones dreams... but it should be clear that the donation multiplier mechanic is not real. I have never heard of there being actual money behind a multiplier. Certainly on the political donation platforms there is no systematic solution that would provide matching.
And all of this is fine... so long as the good people who make a donations are able to participate in a narrative where a donation multiplier seems like a reasonable thing that could exist.
Enter my man Donald J. Trump. The Trump Victory Committee is a fundraising machine. They innovate daily. And they have pushed the multiplier mechanic to the brink of destruction.
Allow me to deconstruct what happens when you give a fundraising multiplier widget to maniacs.
The 2X Multiplier
So things actually started out innocently enough with the 2X multiplier being rolled out for a few test emails by the Trump Victory Committee in the summer months. They did not spend much time at all pushing a multiplier at 2X. With so many larger options, perhaps it was irresistable not to increment.
We can deduce the 2X multiplier has not been successful for the Trump org compared to other options due to the low frequency of use. I tend to like the 2X multiplier as it is plausible... but let's see where team Trump ends up.
The 4X Multiplier
Just kidding. They didn't even bother. Because if you are going to go to a 4X multiplier, you may as well just go for broke.
The 9X Multiplier
Not content to let an 8.5X multiplier set the top end, the Trump Victory Committee beings to run 9X and never looks back.
At this point you may be thinking that we are clearly out of runway for this thing and that the ceiling has in fact been reached. Probably though, you know better.
When it comes to Trump fundraising, I have a prediction that 10X will be the top. It's an easy prediction here WinRed limits the multiplier to 10.0. We have to note that WinRed would readily change this range at the request of the Trump Org.
Let's Just Be Glad That Trump Isn't On Anedot
Things might get out of hand.
What does it matter?
The donation multipliers currently being pushed by mainstream candidates to mainstream audiences are ridiculous. I think there is a real risk that this particular tactic will lose its effectiveness quite quickly. Never in my life have I seen multipliers larger than 3 deployed with such regularity.
- Trump Victory Committee appears to have found something at the 8X multiplier.
- The 2X multiplier appears to remain effective.
- Is this because 2X is the "Default" multiplier?
- Increments of .5 or .25 have not been meaningfully used or tested.
One strategy I have employed successfully in the past is to frame a smaller multiplier like a 2X as the best the org can do. It acknowledges the large multipliers out there and to a potential donor, it makes total sense that a local party committee would not be able to do as much as say a Presidential or Senatorial fundraising campaign. Try something like "We're sorry we aren't rich like <The Local Bad Guys/George Soros/The Koch Brothers> so a 2X is the best we can do!"
It does remain to be seen how long the memory of the average donor will be when it comes to the absolute top end of donation multipliers. They have been massively deployed in this the last month leading up to the United States presidential election. Will the memory of donors fade after the election passes? I don't expect we will see too many multipliers larger than 3 until we get back to congressional elections.
What do you think?