Tandem Fundraising Works

Yesterday, Montana Democrat Steve Bullock announced that he was seeking election to the U.S. Senate. Seemingly on cue, Democrats across the country began raising money off the news — for Bullock, yes, but also for themselves.

This approach is called “tandem fundraising,” and it’s made possible by donation platforms like ActBlue, Anedot, and WinRed. Here’s how ActBlue describes it in their documentation

Tandem Fundraising is an ActBlue feature that allows campaigns, organizations, and activists to fundraise for multiple groups on a single contribution form. When a donor gives on a Tandem Fundraising form, they can easily split their contribution between all of the groups listed (or choose which ones they’d like to give to).

Source: ActBlue Documentation

To be clear: it’s not an exclusive ActBlue feature, but the platform does offer it. Indeed, they may have pioneered it.

In yesterday’s example, Democrat candidates for Senate in four states leveraged Bullock’s healthy news cycle — riding his coattails to a fundraising haul. But where it would have been hard to craft a direct appeal based on Bullock’s announcement, a tandem appeal is much more straightforward.

For years, Democrats have used this strategy to nationalize key moments in local campaigns. It allows them to turn a strong fundraising appeal for one campaign into a national fundraising opportunity, and, as a result, has allowed them to consistently capitalize off of big moments. Tandem fundraising is a huge part of Democrats’ longtime fundraising advantage, especially for candidates down-ballot. 

For Republicans, asking supporters to donate to a colleague feels counter-intuitive. But it works. Donors are often more likely to give when you rally them to the aid of an ally than if you send them your Nth direct fundraising appeal of the week. And as Elise Stefanik demonstrated last year, the candidates who learn to create great tandem fundraising moments and rally the community around them will reap huge rewards.