Opening Up Campaign Finance: Crowdfunding as Test Marketing in Politics

Test marketing has always played a role in all levels of politics. In almost all elections, from local to Presidential, candidates gauge their campaign’s viability with early fundraising campaigns. If the cash is flowing, their campaign is seemingly worth it. Often, this is done behind closed doors; candidates court a small cadre of wealthy donors before launching a full-scale fundraising effort. However, now a new option is on the table. Oakland mayoral candidate Bryan Parker is looking to the crowd to kick off his 2014 mayoral candidacy.

Bryan Parker, an attorney by trade and an executive at DaVita Healthcare Partners, was
interested in examining the viability of his bid for Oakland mayor. Still, finding a mechanism to test the viability of his campaign in an open, above the table fashion was Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 9.55.34 AMdifficult. Enter crowdfunding.

Grassroots or social fundraising has always been a key component campaign finance. In the most recent 2012 presidential election president Obama raised approximately $300 million dollars more than his counterpart, Mitt Romney, and much of that from small donors—the crowd if you will. Parker’s innovation was to introduce it a step earlier in the process, making sure that the public knew where all the dollars were flowing from every step of the way.

As he mentioned in a recent San Francisco Business Times article, “crowdfunding helps make this election about what’s best for everyday Oaklanders, not just the political insiders”.

The use of crowdfunding in the political arena has bigger significance than dollars and cents. Yes, crowdfunding can raise much-needed funds, but, as a tool consciously intended to promote democracy and openness, it can work to bring integrity to the troubled world of campaign finance. We at Launcht applaud Parker for his innovation, and hope to see more politicians follow suit.

To find out more about our crowdfunding capabilities, click here.


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