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Running for local office? Here’s how to build a digital presence for less than $20 a month

5 months ago - Erik Talvi

Local political campaigns are usually short on two things: time and money. The following digital tools will help you save both.

*Note: most of the tools listed here are totally free to start, and you’ll only need to pay once your race starts taking off.

There are 4 basic things you need to launch a digital campaign:

  • A website (where voters can come to learn more about you and your platform, make donations, sign up to receive updates, learn how to contact you, and register to volunteer)
  • An email (it’s a good idea to keep your personal email and your campaign email separate)
  • A way to take donations
  • A way to organize volunteers and supporters

The Website

This is the only thing on this list you will need to buy—a domain. Luckily, you can purchase a domain for about ten dollars a year. Sometimes, you can find cheaper options if you are willing to have something other than a .com, such as a .vote.

Your website is like a house. The domain is the address used to locate it so it’s best if you name it “yourcandidate.net” or voteforcandidate.com.

To buy a domain name, you’ll need to buy it from a registrar. Take a look at Namecheap, Google Domains, or Hover. Once you have your domain the rest of the tools on this page are for the great initial cost of free.

Constructing the Website — Finding a Volunteer

This is the most challenging. Find and inspire someone to create the website for free. They’ll need to be technically skilled but your first website doesn’t have to be perfect—it just needs to exist. Once your campaign begins to receive donations, you can invest in creating a more professional version.

Free Website Hosting- Netlify or AWS Lightsail

If the domain is your street address and the website is your house, paying for hosting a website is like leasing the land you’re building your house on. After all, a website is made of up data (mostly pictures and text) that needs to be stored somewhere for people to access.The same person who built your website most likely knows how to host it on either Netlify or AWS Lightsail.

Netlify is one of the simplest website hosts. They have a free tier for each service and you can automatically scale up your website as viewability grows. AWS Lightsail is a simple server to host your website and Amazon offers a generous free tier for low traffic websites.

If you want to set up the hosting yourself, here’s a great resource to show you how.

Free Email - Gmail

Google offers a free email service. You want to create this email early on in your campaign and use a different account from your personal email. This will only be used for campaign work and communication.

mail



Google now also offers easy-to-use Advanced Security Protection that you can upgrade to. You’ll want to do this as your campaign takes off and security becomes more of a concern.

Donation Platform - Revv (Conservatives & Progressives), Crowdpac (Conservatives & Progressives), or Act Blue (Progressives)

All of these options don’t have an upfront cost. They take about 4% of donations (Crowdpac charges the donor, not your campaign). All these tools are made for campaigns to connect with donors and maximize contributions.

Crowdpac is the most interesting in this group as it labels itself as the Kickstarter for political campaigns. This means that you can start with Crowdpac even before you have a website.

Organizing Volunteers and Supporters - Google Sheets

Google Sheets is Google’s version of Excel. However it has one great twist for campaigns—files can easily be shared so your team can work collaboratively. The best part, is all you need is a Google account to use this and you likely have one through your free account.

This list of tools allow you to get your campaign off the ground. You may find them lacking certain features but they are great starting options as you kick off your campaign.

Once you do start taking in donations, the next step is to get a password manager so that you can stop sharing passwords within your team. As you start adding digital tools, use unique passwords for each one to enhance security. Once the password manager is up and running, you’ll be amazed at how much time you spent remembering and entering passwords. A password manager is a must—we’ll show you the best ones here.


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