Getting Your PAC On Track

Getting Your PAC On Track

Recently, 720’s Robin Sexton, Lawrence Young and I presented an eye-opening webinar that demonstrated the importance of PAC compliance, beyond the obvious requirements of FEC reporting. PAC compliance tools and data provide the building blocks for strategic decision-making and your fundraising plan. They provide the key data points needed to effectively target your PAC eligibles. By taking proactive steps to leverage your compliance tools and data, you can put your PAC on track for stronger growth.

There are three primary tactics that support our approach:

  • Uncovering trends in your PAC members’ giving history to strengthen targeting
  • Engaging your stakeholders
  • Making strategic campaign contributions

Tracking your members for better targeting

Most PACs track the giving history of individual donors and the percentage of their eligibles who are non-donors. But, there’s a lot more you can learn from analyzing your PAC data. In working with a number of PACs to assess their campaigns, a common theme is that organizations aren’t taking advantage of the data in front of them. When you track how each level of your eligible class is performing, by years of giving, business unit, leadership level, or geography, it is possible to identify important trends and opportunities than can inform your strategy. Are you seeing a falloff in participation after the first year of participation? Do senior executives give at the same level they did when they were junior managers? Are certain departments or business units more responsive to PAC appeals than others?

Better tracking also extends to your communications — and the extent to which you are using data to understand the impact of emails, meetings, phone calls and other appeals in converting “asks” to income. If you’re using your PAC management technology to send your email appeals (ours is PACMaster), then you should know your email open rates, click through rates and conversion rates. Is your message breaking through? Are you testing subject lines or personalizing your message by business unit? If you’re not tracking how each campaign or message is performing at a more granular level, it’s difficult to gauge success or understand where to focus efforts to make improvements. PAC management tools should allow you to perform some level of tracking. The trick is knowing how and what to track and establishing the metrics you want to measure on an ongoing basis.

How much of an impact can enhanced tracking have on giving? For one pharmaceutical client this year, a 17% increase in revenue. For another client, a 50% membership increase in a single business unit.

Engaging your stakeholders

In order to set yourself up for success, it’s important to create a team of allies around you. Your PAC compliance data can help you identify the key stakeholders you most need to cultivate, beyond the usual HR and legal colleagues. All too often, PACs are treated as a ”step child” of the organization, and key departments lack understanding of your role and theirs in ensuring your organization has a voice in Washington and state capitals.

Your PAC compliance data can tell you where you need to build bridges and reveal weaknesses in your outreach and engagement. Is one department a fundraising machine, while others languish? Does R&D, for example, lack an understanding of how Washington impacts their work, while your Sales division seems to drive all the revenue in your PAC?

The PAC touches many different departments. By proactively engaging with key stakeholders who can help you reach your goals, plan more effectively and identify the important messengers they need to hear from, you will boost the PAC’s receipts and strengthen the PAC’s credibility within the organization. For example, would a PAC video featuring the head of R&D help inspire R&D eligibles to give?

Making strategic PAC investments

Before you can help your PAC to invest strategically, you have to know the rules. Period. If compliance is outside of your wheelhouse and there’s room in your budget, find a trusted vendor like 720 to take on this aspect of compliance, leaving you time to devote to fundraising and demonstrating value to your organization. Federal compliance is one thing. States are much more intricate. For example, some states require a PAC to have a bank account in that state. Some states require a PAC contribution to be made up of donations from people in that state.

Once you’re confident you know the ground rules, you can build a giving strategy that takes into account both whom you want to give to and when giving will have the greatest impact. Candidates will almost always take your money, but well-timed money can move your PAC up the list to hero status. Ever receive a great gift the day after it would have come in particularly handy? How about the offer of a free baseball ticket the day after you made plans? Knowing your campaign fundraisers will help you coordinate your giving when candidates most need the resources. They can also give you details of their key events. The majority of fundraisers have planned most of their events by the beginning of the quarter or year. Talk with them and use your money more effectively.

When giving to candidates, understand that the date the contribution leaves the PAC’s hands is the date the FEC considers the contribution made. Since software programs use the issue date for compliance reports, the handshake between strong compliance and effective strategy will ensure that the check entered into your PAC management technology is issued and mailed (or hand delivered) as soon as possible thereafter. Keep in mind that candidates must deposit contributions within 10 days (the 10-day rule), and the FEC requires them to report the date they receive the contribution (not deposit date). Also, be sure to designate your contribution to the appropriate election and know the dates of primaries when designating your contribution. Software can only track limits if the contributions are designated properly.

PAC compliance, strategy and fundraising are the foundations of all great PACs. Shortcomings in one area tend to lead to issues in others. The good news is that tools and data can teach you a lot, if you look, listen and respond effectively. If we can be of assistance in helping you create compliance, strategy and fundraising success, call us at 720. Together, we’ll get your PAC on a growth track.