The COVID-19 pandemic has crimped usual PAC activities and dramatically restricted traditional campaigning. Fundraising for PACs has become extremely difficult, especially since it is not possible to run in-person events, and asking for money during this situation can be delicate.
“It is a challenging time,” says Lawrence H. Norton, co-chair of the Political Law Practice Group at Washington, D.C.-based Venable LLP. “The strain, the issues we are having with the economy is having an impact and there are other organizations competing for funds.” Nevertheless, he adds, “there is high interest in the November elections. Many PACs are raising money.”
Pre-Elections: There’s Still Time for Your PAC to Take Action
Norton says political action committees can induce participation from members in the campaign stretch run by offering Zoom events with a member of Congress, for example. Other ideas include providing “charitable matchups,” meaning people can contribute to the PAC and in return, it will make an equivalent donation to the charity the donor selects. Raffles, promotions, and a drive to raise money for the committee are also permissible for PACs to incentive participation.
Post-Election: Prepping Your PAC for the Future
While it may be too late to arrange for the 2020 election cycle, voluntary payroll deductions — secured with a signed agreement — should always be a priority for PAC management.
“One of the things we recommend is to set up direct deposit so that, just like you do with your health care, a small amount comes out of your checks,” Norton adds. “It’s a lot less painful than writing a big check and is self-perpetuating until a contributor notifies an employer they want the deduction ended. That is the way to go if you can do it.”
He also advises starting looking beyond 2020.
“There are quite a few important issues on the table as we move into 2021 — infrastructure, climate, tech, public health — that are going to galvanize trade associations in these areas or industries with a stake in these areas,” Norton says. He believes PACs will increase in popularity with an increased emphasis on “engaging their members in their advocacy work.”
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