WSJ: Political Candidates, Fund Raising, Blogs & The Web


Update: The Washington Post has an article on Widgets I missed. Thanks to Rob for pointing out. Rob points out one good example.

While this may technically not qualify as a widget, I did want to call attention to a great new tool courtesy of Justin Hart at My Man Mitt. It allows Romney fans in New Hampshire to follow on an interactive Google map “where they’ve been, endorsements, fundraisers, headquarters and more.” Very cool.

Internet Strategist Patrick Ruffini posted last night about a new widget service he discovered.

I recently discovered a great service called SpringWidgets, which is used to embed RSS feeds on blogs and MySpace pages. Using the service, I built a widget with all the latest headlines from the 2008 Wire you can embed on your blog.

Attention is growing on the powerful role the web is playing in American politics. While blogs have risen as huge players in the media world, it is expected that the 2008 election will be a wake up call to the power of the blogosphere and the web. Lee Gomez writes about this intoday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal highlighting the fund raising power of the web.

The biggest role for the Web has involved raising money. Barack Obama got 27% of his $25 million in contributions from online donors. Sen. Clinton, the only other candidate to announce the percent raised online, got about 23%. But all the candidates have learned that putting a “Give money” button on the home page of their Web sites usually is both cheaper and more effective than mass mailings or 800 numbers, the two standards for populist fund raising in the days before the Web.
Big Web operations such as Yahoo and Google have learned that the interest in a presidential election, just like the interest in “American Idol,” can, with the right sort of marketing, be translated into more “page views” and thus more advertising. The sites have begun actively recruiting presidential candidates to avail themselves of politically oriented special features, such as a presidential election “channel” on Google’s YouTube.
The effort isn’t just in the U.S. In France, Yahoo’s French home page links to “Presidentielle 2007” about that country’s current election campaign.

What I would like to see is more non-profits taking these lessons from the campaigns, and using the web to make it easier for supporters and constituents to easily donate to their favorite cause. Among the select charities I trust and support, I have donated more frequently to the one charity that provides a PayPal donate button–Lotus Buds. Why? Because they have a PayPal button on the home page. Every time I get a e-newsletter, I click through and send a donation.

But allow me to demonstrate the other viral power of the internet, and the power of “the Army of Davids” — to be evangelists for your cause! Combine that with the low-cost fundraising power, and you have an effective tool for advocacy.

Lotus Bud International’s vision is to see more Chinese families embrace adoption by educating families in China about the possibilities of adoption, preparing successful adoptive families through parent training, and providing funds for adoption and the education and medical needs of adopted children.

Lotus Buds International is working in China to promote and support adoption among Chinese families to make a difference in lives of children in need of a family.

There are millions of beautiful little girls who want a family. Join Lotus Buds in promoting and supporting adoption among Chinese families to make a difference in lives of children in need of a family.

Here is another favorite of mine:

Opportunities to Serve in 2007: Whether you’ve already taken the plunge and decided to join in a life-changing experience overseas, or you’re still wondering what Short Term Missions are all about, we can give you the information you’ll need along the way. Read more

My point: The Internet offers a tool for committed constituents to join in a charity’s efforts, spreading the message, and even supporting fund raising efforts through the use of widgets, syndication feeds, and other viral web-tools. I saw a perfect example in Rudy Giuliani’s campaign website. Here are a couple embed tools that allows bloggers to fund raise and spread the “Rudy” message on their own blogs. Note: The following does not constitute an endorsement of a candidate.

Non-profits need to start going beyond the brochure website and really harness the power of the internet. There is a lot of good to be done, and a lot of people who would love to join in. Just make it easy for them and empower those who want to support you the most. The investment is well worth the rewards in lives changed.

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