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Friday, December 09, 2005

Better Fundraising Through A Recurring Monthly Donor Program

Anyone who has worked inside the Democratic Party knows that fundraising and finance are immensely critical issues.

And lets be honest, they should be. Without money to pay the bills, and eventually staff and operations, most DECs lay dead in the water.

Most DECs rely on dinner fundraisers to get the funds they need to pay the bills or other expenses. In Marion County, we raise a few thousand dollars everytime we have a fundraiser, and they're great for paying the bills for our headquarters. Unfortunately, they do little more than that - pay bills.

If DECs are to be successful, they must begin to look at alternative forms of fundraising. Before I go any further, let me say that dinner fundraisers should continue to provide basic funding for DECs, and they shouldn't be stopped. These dinners not only raise money, but also allow fellow Democrats to socialize, coalesce, and make important contacts.

The best way to constantly raise large amounts of money over a period of years is through the creation and maintenance of a recurring monthly donor program. For those who are familiar with the "Democracy Bonds" program started by Howard Dean and the DNC know what I'm talking about. A recurring monthly donor program basically allows donors to contribute a certain amount of money per month to party coffers. The difference between a "recurring" monthly donor program and your ordinary donor program is that with a recurring donor program money is automatically deducted from the donor's bank account and into the party's account. This way, donors don't have to be called up and annoyed when they forget to send their monthly pledges.

To show how effective this could be. Look at Marion County. In 2004, arguably a very hot election year, the party raised a grand total of $17,919.07. In 2005, Marion County Democrats have so-far raised $10,472.98, because of a revamped fundraising operation (a group of dedicated people have finally organized a committee and have dedicated themselves to putting on regular fundraisers.) However, consider this. If Marion Democrats could put 100 people on a recurring donor program (the minimum amount being $10 a month), the party would raise $1,000 a month, that being $12,000 a year. Put that on top of recent well-attended fundraisers and you have a real fundraising operation with serious capabilities.

Also, its good to note that there are 75,000+ registered Democrats in the Marion County. Obviously, not all are going to participate in such a program. But just a fraction of folks giving just the minimum of $10 a month, is enough to build a superparty.

Recurring monthly donor programs can be set up through Paypal.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Dire Need for Good Training

First of all, sorry for the lack of posts over the past 2 months. I've been pretty busy up here at UF.

One glaring inefficiency of most DECs is the lack of capable leaders and innovators. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of willing and extremely energetic people who are members of DECs. However, as I mentioned in a previous post we have a severe lack of leadership.

I've already talked about our "defecit of leadership." In this post I'd like to discuss the need for training.

Those who move the party's arms and legs MUST have some form of training. I will post at another time what I believe to be the best structure for a DEC. These are the kinds of people who need training which the FDP should provide:

- Precinct Captains: This is first and foremost. Precinct captains must know their responsibilities and duties to the DEC and the Democratic Party as a whole. They need to learn about identifying loyal Democratic voters and recruiting them; using and retaining volunteers properly; holding house parties; conducting successful community outreach efforts; and conducting successful GOTV planning and implementation. They must also know the hopefully many tools and support that their DEC offers.
- Communications people: those who work with the media and press need to learn how to work with these folks properly; how to make relationships with reporters and editors; what to say and not to say, etc...
- Researchers: Those who do research and policy work for the party. They need to know where to access information and who to talk to to get information.
- Fundraisers and Event Planners: These folks need to be trained in planning and organizing successful fundraisers, marches, rallies, etc...

The FDP needs to make it a top priority to rebuild their DECs. One major way is to hire folks in their staff which can train willing DEC members to do these and many other needed tasks within DECs. Field organizers come to mind.

In the next post or in one down the road, I will discuss my idea for the ideal organization of a DEC. This post on training will have added meaning once you read that post. An ideal DEC cannot function without adequately trained members.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

By now, most of you know of the extreme grief, frustration, and overwhelming destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina on our fellow brothers and sisters in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Even though this blog is dedicated to reforming Florida's DECs, I think that this is currently more important. I'll get back to blogging soon.

For now, however, lets show the world that we as Americans help our brothers and sisters in need, and that we solve our problems together as an American community.

If you can, give now to the American Red Cross:

American Red Cross

Red Cross of Southwest Louisiana

Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross

Also, if you know someone from the area who is need of housing,, has launched a new section of their website dedicated to finding homes for Katrina victims:


Saturday, August 27, 2005

Welcome DEC Leaders!

I just sent out an e-mail to all of the DEC leaders throughout Florida using the e-mail addresses at the FDP website.

Even though I've only posted two entries, let me invite you to comment on them.

If you would like to post entries on this website, e-mail me at and tell me that you want to be a member. I'll be happy to send you an invite.

Also, I received many "Mail Not Delivered" messages. Obviously FDP hasn't been updating their contact info. too well. If you have any DEC contacts in the following counties, please drop me a note in the comment section:


Your help and support are greatly appreciated.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Main Ingredient for Success: Leadership

What many DECs lack today is good, strong, and consistent leadership. Too often but certainly not always, officers are elected and are "just passing through", not willing or unsure of how to change the system.

Unfortunately, there is no "process" on how to grow leaders in a place where there consistently has been no leadership. You need some outside help initially. It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to invest in some form of leadership/campaign training for its members.

Over time, as the party's precinct organization and community outreach efforts grow (more on these subjects in other posts), and with the party consistently training it precinct captains and interested party activists, leaders will undoubtedly emerge to not only be officers, but committee chairs, staffers, and leaders of specific efforts and initiatives.

In my limited experience, here's what I've found to be traits in good leaders, especially within DECs:
- Takes initiative, if they have a good idea, they run with it and don't stop until it is implemented or until they are absolutely convinced that the idea won't work.
- Has a lot of drive, they dig their heels in and they get to work.
- Is an innovator, they are always thinking of new ways to change the party for the better or alter current procedures or processes to keep the DEC moving along efficiently.
- Is willing to listen to others, rather than just espouse their view and disregard others' opinions.
- Is always kind to others, yet is tough when needed.

Yes, I know that it is practically impossible for one person to embody all of these traits. However, this is why our DECs must depend on groups of leaders, rather than just a single lone power. This, I believe is a common mistake in current DECs. They rely on a single person to lead everything, and then when that person leaves, things just fall apart. With groups of leaders, however, if one has to leave, there are still a group of people there who can continue to carry the party forward.

One thing is certain: a DEC cannot do very much and certainly can't even come close to being a factor in elections, if the DEC does not have a group of leaders leading.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Purpose of This Blog

Hello, my name is Ray Seaman. I'm currently 18 years old, a political science student at the University of Florida, and have been a Democratic supporter for as long as I can remember. Since I was 16, I have been involved in the party at the DEC (Democratic Executive Committee) level. This summer, I worked heavily with the Marion County, Florida DEC, and learned a ton about political organization.

I started this blog in order to create a forum of ideas on how to reform Florida's many DECs so that they become an effective arm for the the Florida Democratic Party, and more importantly, an effective force of progress within Florida's many diverse communities.

Currently, many of Florida's DECs are ineffective bickering sessions in which little is accomplished and unhelpful individuals are more concerned about defending their turf rather than organizing their communities and defeating Republicans.

I hope this blog becomes a place in which current, former, and just disgruntled DEC members can come, not just to vent, but to share new ideas on how DECs can become effective.