How much money does it take to run for office?

As you start to plan your campaign it's one of the first questions that comes to mind, how much is this campaign going to cost?

The answer of course is, it depends. But to keep it simple let's look at four main factors that will help you outline your campaign budget.

Keep in mind, outlining your budget is more than just brainstorming a list of wishlist items, the more realistic you can be about your budget the better.

Tip: to create the most realistic budget you need to have a rough idea of what these items will cost based on where you will purchase and the quantity you will purchase.

Let's get started with budget factor #1.

1. What type of race are you running?

This is more involved than just jotting down the title of your race -but that's a good place to start, write that down.
Next, look at a map of your race area. Write down how many districts your race will cover and how many precincts you'll cover, then denote the type of neighborhood it is. Are the houses close together or further apart in a more rural area? This matters because of the method you will target these voters. For example, door-to-door is cheaper but perhaps impractical in a rural area, you may need to target with radio or direct mail. Or maybe TV ads don't make sense because you have to make three separate ad buys so billboards or radio makes more sense.

2. What are your numbers?

You should have a good idea of the number of votes you will need to win your race, this will help you determine the quantity needed for various supplies.

3. What have previous candidates spent?

Campaign spending is public record. Obtain the records at either your local Clerk's office or the Secretary of State's office to see what candidates have spent in the past running for the same race. Don't just consider the winning candidate but other opponents too. Look over several election cycles to see if there is a trend. Keep in mind you may not have to spend as much if your campaign is more strategic and knows your numbers well enough you can cut out a lot of waste.

4. What's your level of name recognition?

If you've never run for public office before or are not really well known in the community, you've got an uphill battle. Low name recognition = more money (and sweat equity...you'll need both). Generally, if you're not the incumbent assume you have low to no name recognition.

These four tips are all things to keep in mind and guide you as you develop your campaign budget.

A few additional tips when developing your campaign budget. Create multiple options in case your fundraising efforts end up being different than originally anticipated. Think high, medium and low, but all generally realistic.

Also, keep in mind a majority, a minimum of 70% of your budget, should go to direct voter contact.

A campaign budget is more than just an outline of expenses, if well thought out, your budget outline will determine your campaign strategy. Assign budgeted amounts with a timeline to pull together a full campaign strategy.

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