DSCC: This has got to be one of your worst fundraising emails ever

I’m a big defender of Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and its close cousin, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DSCC).  As much as individual candidates can capture our attention and imagination, giving us reason to support their personal message, I think there’s something to be said about making sure the Democratic Party works as a team, and keeps it eye on the big picture strategy–every single vote in the Senate can make a difference in creating (or destroying) a just and prosperous country.

The most recent email from the DSCC is a pretty easy summary though, of just about everything Democrats really can’t stand about the DSCC (hence, why the little green label reads “Non-profit or Political Spam”–where Google sends all the  mass-mailer email I probably will never check).

Things that are really, really wrong with this email:

(1) The super casual title that implies you’re trying to trick me into opening it.  “checking in” (no caps) implies that you’re some friend whose misbegotten communique I’ve forgotten to reply to,  or my boss looking for a status update on a project.  If you have to trick me into checking your email, that is probably not a good sign.

(2) On the note of bosses looking for status updates on projects–excel?  Really?  Excel is many things–a powerful but user-friendly interface for dealing with data, the zippiest way to make readable graphs–but it is not inspiring, not heart-wrenching, and it really does nothing to make me want to give to the Democratic party.

The “$14,382.00” in red listed in the “to go” column is pictured in this screenshot much like a budgeting error.  When you want to show how much left you have to raise, people are used to seeing perky fundraising thermometers, or some other graphical vessel waiting to be filled to the brim.  If there’s one thing that Democrats don’t want to be associated with in the next few years, its being responsible for budget shortfalls.

In bold and underlined the email reads “If everyone kicks in $25 we’ll hit the goal, can you help out?”  Just like all the commit-to-vote forms in 2010, whatever this goal is, its your goal, not mine.  The phrase “kicks in” implies that I have some vague obligation to help out–like we’re helping a neighbor rebuild their burnt down home–but I have only the fuzziest of ideas what neighborhood we both belong to, and what exactly we’re trying to build here.

(3) The date–here, all that’s given to explain why Jason Rosenbaum is emailing me at 4:19 on May 31st is some vague “FEC deadline” in about 6 hours.  But why does it matter whether the money comes in before or after the deadline?  It’s difficult to sustain suspense and intrigue constantly, which is why everyone feels fatigued by the constant tack-on “This is an incredibly important election” that is a part of every political message.

Some closing thoughts–DSCC and DCCC: If you sending emails every day causes people to relegate you to spam folders, or delete your messages offhand, it might behoove you to send fewer, with the thought that more of your emails will be read.  I know you’re probably going to ask me for money at the end, but if you empower me with a message, then we can both benefit from your professional panhandling.

Update 1: A good friend of the Devil Dems blog, Jay Morgan, pointed out perhaps the snarkiest part about this email is the line, “And believe me, our plan is to put every single one of them [Republicans] out of work.”  Why does the fundraising email mention Republicans, but not once use the word “Democrats?”  The invocation of creating unemployment has a somewhat nasty taste to it when so many Americans are indeed out of work.

Update 2: Check out Angryblacklady for incisive commentary on DSCC’s poorly messaged  bumper stickers

Published by Elena Botella

Elena Botella is a Duke Undergraduate in the Class of 2013, majoring in Economics and Math.

2 thoughts on “DSCC: This has got to be one of your worst fundraising emails ever

  1. I’m gonna have to disagree with you on this email. I think this email’s goal is to make you think that the reader is an integral part of the DSCC and I think it is effective to some degree.

    The title, despite being slightly misleading, gets the recipient to read the email. Even if they open it and are disappointed by the content, they will just delete it and forget who sent it within a matter of minutes. The more people that open the email the better.

    The excel spreadsheet screenshot is actually my favorite part. By looking at it closely, it’s pretty obvious they created it solely for the purpose of this email. Fortunately, not many people are going to read this email closely so the screenshot works. It makes the reader feel as if the sender is inviting the reader into the inner workings of the fundraising efforts by giving them this important screenshot.

    While I agree with you that the red ink choice is questionable, I think it works because the number in red is so much smaller than the other two numbers which makes it seem very manageable.

    Also, the deadline is obviously to create a sense of urgency to donating. This is used because if someone looks at a political email that is trying to raise money but doesn’t have a deadline, they are way more likely that they will put it aside and tell themselves that they will donate later. More often than not, these people who tell themselves they will pay later never end up paying, they forget. By making it urgent, the reader will be inclined to donate right at the time they read it and therefore making it more likely that they will donate at all.

    I understand why the email is offensive to you but I would argue that it is probably not aimed for you and other liberal bloggers. I would argue that it is aimed at people who don’t follow politics as closely as you and are much less likely to closely read this email. Liberal bloggers such as you and I are going to support the DSCC anyway and a poorly written email is very unlikely to change that.

    No one is going to argue that political fundraising is pretty, but I think this email isn’t even that ugly relative to the current political landscape and climate.


    1. I would have to imagine that DCCC contributers must be quite politically active though?
      I do still think it is possible that fewer emails might, over time, cause more donations


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