How can I donate more money to Barack Obama?
February 6, 2008 4:57 AM   Subscribe

How can I donate more money to Barack Obama?

I would be willing to donate more of my money to Barack Obama's cause, but I have already donated the maximum legal amount of $2300 for the primary.

I have read that you can donate not just $2300 for the primary, but also another $2300 for the general. In fact, this is encouraged on every politician's website that I've seen. However, it's not clear to me whether the candidate can use general election donations for the primary; if not, I'd rather hold on until it's clear that he's actually going to run in the general.

Another alternative: You can give additional money to... uh... PACs and stuff?

So, my questions are: If I donate now towards the general election, would he be able to use those funds in the primary?

If not, what PAC (or whatever) would most help Obama win the primary?

Submitting anonymously because I'm not interested in having people know that I'm giving thousands of dollars away.
posted by anonymous to Grab Bag (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The PAC recently endorsed Obama. I bet that's the largest and most-organized PAC to support him.

Also, you know that political donations aren't anonymous? Your name and address are publicly published alongside your donation.
posted by Sfving at 5:20 AM on February 6, 2008

This is tricky stuff. I've done a little of this work advising unions and it is really hard to get around the $2300 limit. Talk to a lawyer or the campaign itself.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:16 AM on February 6, 2008

Donating to a PAC to help Obama might not be the best idea. Obama has already made it clear that he does not want any help from PACs, so accepting help from them at this point would make Obama look bad.
posted by burnmp3s at 6:28 AM on February 6, 2008

You ought to try finding a 527 that supports Obama. MoveOn is one (Well, there is a PAC and a 527). 527s are independent groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, but can't coordinate with the campaign at all.

There are a couple candidate specific 527's out there on the republican side, "Trust Huckabee" is one that has been doing robocalls to lots of people.

Googling around I found an article about Vote Hope, an Obama specific 527. That could be your best bet. It's not clear exactly how much help MoveOn will be bringing to Obama, and donations to MoveOn could be used for anything (As far as I know)

Obama has already made it clear that he does not want any help from PACs

Well, a 527 isn't a "PAC", and it's not technically "Help" since they are independent.

In theory you could spend the money to buy ads asking people to donate to the Obama campaign, but I'm not sure if that would be legal or not. There are a lot of issues involved.

But you should be glad about these laws. Only 3% of Obama's donors have hit this cap, and while Clinton's fundraising early on was good, much of her money is general-only cash, from people who tapped out for both the primary and the general. Hillary has a ton of money she can't spend.

You could also consider volunteering, phone banking, etc. Rather then money, take some vacation time and volunteer. Then use the money to buy pizza for the guy's your working with :)
posted by delmoi at 6:56 AM on February 6, 2008

I second the volunteering idea.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:00 AM on February 6, 2008

if you are married, your spouse can give the max as well, from family funds. Of course if you're single, getting married to give more probably isn't the best idea.

You could give money to local races in Texas and other upcoming states that plan to do get out the vote drives and probably have large overlaps with Obama voters. You could give money to PACs that support those candidates. This is probably your best bet but will take some effort to research.

You can give lots of money to MoveOn. That money won't go directly to Obama, but some of the money will be spent on getting out the vote.

You can spend your time doing phone banking.

You can call the campaign, tell them you want to volunteer, and fly to wherever they tell you.

This next one is a gray area and I'm not sure if it's legal, because it may be an in-kind contribution. I'm not sure of the current rules around those, so I would call the campaign first. But you can pay for OTHER volunteers' airfare/bus fare/hotels/rent if you can't make it. When I volunteered in 2004, I paid my own. Other people might have volunteered if they could afford it.

You can give money to local Democratic clubs in upcoming primary states that have endorsed Obama. Sometimes clubs will hire a paid staffer who then spends their time working with endorsed campaigns. You could contact the clubs for details.
posted by Pants! at 7:07 AM on February 6, 2008

Maybe volunteering your time would be a better solution?
posted by Oktober at 7:08 AM on February 6, 2008

I think what Delmoi said is right on the button.
posted by jtron at 8:10 AM on February 6, 2008

don't you have relatives/friends who like him but haven't given contributions? make the donations in their names.
posted by matteo at 8:52 AM on February 6, 2008

The way his site makes it sound, they really cannot use the general election designated dollars until that point. Which makes me wonder if they refund that stuff. Or if they can use earnings on interest on those dollars.
posted by disillusioned at 9:29 AM on February 6, 2008

Don't follow matteo's advice. Just because you lie about your identity doesn't mean you're not making a contribution in excess of legal limits.
posted by punishinglemur at 10:20 AM on February 6, 2008

1 - Wait until key swing states are identified in the general, look for MOCs or even state legislators who are running and supporting Obama, ideally in tough races where they will have to do a lot of GOTV, and support them. (Turnout, not persuasion, wins tough elections.) Note that there are overall contribution limits that you probably won't hit but should be conscious of. And no you can't spend primary dollars in a general.

2 - You can organize events - watching an obama video or if you can turn out enough people, have some connections and are in an important enough constituency you might be able to convince the campaign to send out a "surrogate" to address your group. Those events can be just persuasion/gotv events, or fundraisers, but here be VERY conscious of bundling laws - the checks have to come from other people directly, not through you; you should never touch the money. (I don't know how that's been adapted to online fundraising though - if you have an event and then turn on a computer and everyone lines up to donate online, is that legal or illegal bundling? The Ron Paul people probably know.) I haven't looked but i'm sure the obama site has ideas and ways to have a home event like that.

3 - And you should volunteer. Volunteering can be a miserable experience - you will be bossed around by patronizing 25 year old precinct coordinators who think they are God's gift to politics; all of your great ideas for improving the campaign will be politely dismissed and ignored; you will spend significant amounts of time doing nothing and wondering at the complete disorganization in the campaign; total strangers will hang up on you and slam the door in your face. But if you want to be a part of the arcane american political process, its the best place to be and is largely unique to the US.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 10:33 AM on February 6, 2008

It's not directly donating your own money, but you could hold a fundraiser to get other people to give to his campaign. You'd probably need to check on the legality of which expenses you're allowed to cover directly (for example, if you hired a caterer) and which would be considered in-kind donations above your limit.
posted by bassjump at 11:07 AM on February 6, 2008

You can wait until he wins the nomination and then donate money to the Democratic National Committee. I was at someone's house the other day who had photos of his children posing with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, and I wondered how much he gave to earn that souvenir. I checked on and he had given donations of $10,000 to various republican committees.
posted by thomas144 at 11:38 AM on February 6, 2008

An example of my point 2, don't give more yourself, organize for others to give:

Come support Senator Obama and watch the DC/Virginia/Maryland returns come in! We will have special remarks from Richard Danzig, 71st Secretary of the Navy and senior foreign policy adviser to the campaign.

Minimum donation is $100 per person, payable in advance online at or at the door (cash or check).

Thanks, and hope to see you there!

posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 11:56 AM on February 6, 2008

Great suggestions above, especially the fundraising parties/bundling.

Also the volunteering; if you had $2300 to donate, you have a skill the campaign could use. (Even if you're a trust fund baby who earned none of that money; then your skill is calling your rich friends.)

If you can't volunteer, you can support volunteers.

If you have a spare room and you're in a state with an upcoming primary, house a volunteer.

And if you've got a truck or a station wagon, somebody can use it to transport chum. Or seriously, just coming by to take out the trash frees up staff and volunteers to get the "real" work done. If you know even low-level PC helpdesk stuff, or networking, the campaign can use it, or use having you on call.

Most important: drop off food at the local Obama office; volunteers and staff have to eat, but taking time out to find food takes time away from campaigning. And burger after burger saps morale; eventually I just had to go out and find a decent restaurant with seafood, which took even more time away from campaigning. Dropping off a decent prepared meal (Chines, pizza, or even better something nice and catered-y) can make a lot of difference; I remember how very popular those were when I was volunteering for Kerry. Also, minor luxury items (good coffee, chocolates, real bagels, even a case of soda cans) puts a smile on everyone's face, increasing morale and imparting a "Yes we can!" feeling to the campaign and the public who interact with the campaigners.
posted by orthogonality at 4:47 PM on February 6, 2008

I've seen several RNC donations made by-proxy through a company: X gives bonuses of $2300+ to like-minded subordinates under the tacit assumption that they would donate the limit - which is (as noted above), completely verifiable by X. Of course, outright telling your subordinates how to donate would be a problem...
posted by Orb2069 at 6:54 PM on February 6, 2008

Yeah, don't violate the spirit of the law. Ask the campaign what you can legally do for them, and I'm sure they will have something for you.

Or donate to some sort of free speech org that fights for your right to donate more money to campaigns of your choice.
posted by gjc at 7:49 PM on February 6, 2008

You can give the money to Obama's own PAC, Hope Fund, so that he can use it to buy superdelegates. Yes, I'm obviously a bit cynical about that, and I know Hillary does the same thing.
posted by grouse at 1:40 AM on February 15, 2008

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