Could “Matching Funds” be a Game Changer in Your State?

Posted by on March 06, 2020 at 4:19 PM

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It seems like every campaign season candidates brag about raising millions from their “small donor” base, which serves as “proof” that they are not controlled by big money donors. It’s even better to say that you’ve raised more money from small donors than large donors. It’s even better to say that you’ve raised more money from small donors than large donors. Unfortunately, it takes a high profile campaign to pull that off, and the vast majority of candidates are not running high profile campaigns. That’s why, according to the National Institute for Money in Politics (NIMP), the average candidate for state office receives over ¾ of their campaign contributions from some combination of large donors ($1,000+), non-party organizations, and their political party.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. According to NIMP, states could significantly boost small donations by providing matching funds for donations up to $250. In that scenario, a candidate could ask a supporter for $20 with the promise that it would be worth $40 (or even $80!) to their campaign. Check out the impact in your state hereIn Pennsylvania, for example, NIMP estimates that a 4-to-1 matching program would shift the large-to-small donor ratio from 90-to-6 all the way to 57-to-34.

NIMP has other fascinating tools as well, including a database on state campaign financing laws, which includes a breakdown of which states provide public financing / matching funds. 

In other news, TechCongress is looking for recent graduates of technical degree programs to help shape tech policy in Congress. If you are looking to make a big impact on how our federal government treats technology in the 21st century, the Congressional Innovation Scholars program is a prime opportunity to do just that. Hurry up, though, because applications are due March 15th.

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