Case Study: Amplifying the Effect of Small-Dollar Political Donations
Learn how Studio Hyperset is helping a political action committee use data about likely voter preferences to amplify the effect of small-dollar political giving.
Over the past twenty years, campaign finance in the United States has become increasingly focused on political action committees. Super PAC’s can engage in unlimited political spending and raise funds from whomever they like without any legal limit on donation size. And while traditional PAC’s generally receive lower-dollar donations, make lower-dollar contributions, and have more restrictions on their activities, both types of PAC are almost entirely financed by small groups of wealthy donors.
After the 2016 presidential election, a member of our professional network felt compelled to give small-dollar donors a larger voice in the political process. He outlined his vision to us, and in January 2017, we began building the following solution.
Repair Congress is a special kind of political action committee. Instead of raising money from a few wealthy donors, it pools small-dollar donations and amplifies their effect using knowledge about likely voter preferences. The solution we built uses four features to raise awareness, collect and boost donations, drive engagement, and determine how PAC funds should be spent:
When they first set up accounts, we use a series of screens to ask prospective PAC contributors to select issues, Congressional districts, Senate races, and candidates that interest them. Automatically populated and kept up to date by a collection of API integrations, these screens allow us to gather actionable data about the interests and preferences of likely voters.
Following Wikipedia’s donor model, we then invite prospective donors to make small-dollar, one-time or recurring donations to support the PAC’s efforts:
After they donate, we use a feature called “5×5” to encourage social sharing. This feature encourages each donor to donate $5 and to share the PAC with at least 5 friends. Beginning at 58, this has the potential to attach hundreds of thousands of voices to Repair Congress and raise millions of dollars to support its efforts.
After the 5×5 process, each donor receives a personalized homepage — like this one — that contains a personal statement and lists successful referrals, the user’s 5×5 score, and the issues, elections, and candidates the donor cares about. This page has both public and private elements, and all users have the ability to log back into their pages, adjust their selections, and manage their contributions.
Long-term, we plan to engage Repair Congress’ donor community using a variety of content offerings, including those focused on:
- aggregate donor reports that outline preference, donation, and geographical trends
- issues, races, and candidates the PAC has decided to support
- new issues we add to the system
- relevant candidate and race updates
Building the following deliverables gave Studio Hyperset the opportunity to serve both CPO and CMO roles:
- application wireframes and data generation/UX strategy
- web application
- content strategy
At a high level, Studio Hyperset’s solution:
- creates actionable data about the interests and preferences of likely voters
- amplifies the effect of small-dollar political donations
- creates long-term engagement and giving opportunities