Bob Barr campaign broke?

Susan Davis reports:

In perhaps the most desperate sounding e-mail solicitation yet this election cycle, third party Libertarian candidate Bob Barr’s campaign manager sent out a plea today to supporters to raise $15,000 each day this week—or else.

Under the subject line, “Have I said or done something to offend you?” Russ Verney writes, “You see, I have to report that unless we receive and immediate cash infusion of $85,000, our progress will stop dead in its tracks. To be very blunt, I am presently faced with bills equaling our bank account balance, and I know there are many more expenses on the horizon.”

According to the latest report with the Federal Election Commission, Barr’s campaign had just $69,000 cash on hand at the end of June, and he raised just under $200,000 last month.

Hurry, this is a limited time offer! Operators are standing by. If you donate in the next 15 seconds, you can get a Bob Barr bumpersticker at no charge!

17 thoughts on “Bob Barr campaign broke?

  1. paulie cannoli Post author

    The headline is overly harsh, as I suggest in the LFV comments on that piece.

    As one might have surmised by my editorial comment: “Hurry, this is a limited time offer! Operators are standing by. If you donate in the next 15 seconds, you can get a Bob Barr bumpersticker at no charge!”

    For anyone reading who does not know (this is not aimed at anyone in particular), commercials which pant breathlessly about limited time offers are just trying to get people to make a purchase before they think it through. Operators are always standing by 24/7, and likewise you can get one of the free Barr bumperstickers from any time, which the “15 seconds” thing was poking fun at.

    Just to have hopefully made that even clearer, at LFV I titled this post “This is a limited time offer! Operators are standing by.”

    That is a headline which would be inappropriate here, IMO.

  2. Steven R Linnabary

    Sheesh…have you EVER received a fundraising letter from NOW? republicans are putting wimmin back in the dark ages!! Fund raising letters from PETA will tell you that puppies are being burned alive!! Fund raising letters from McCain say that Obama wants to end the “War on Terra”!! Fund raising letters from HandGunControl tell us that when we had gun control not a single AK-57 was ever on the streets!! Fundraising letters from Gore tell us that because of global warming, not a single penguin is alive ANYWHERE in the Arctic Circle.

    It is called FUND RAISING. I expect at least some hyperbole. That is what makes most people give.


  3. paulie cannoli Post author

    I’ve received FR letters from all of those and more.

    This is why I treated the subject with humor.

    On a serious note, however, I think that it is a heavily overused fundraising tactic.

    I think what works better is the straightforward approach:

    Here’s what we have done so far with your money. Thank you! If you send us amount x, we can also now do y. If you send us amount a, we can now do b. Thanks again!

    One of the drawbacks of the “sky is falling” approach is that even if it motivates donors, its non-sustainable. After all you can only cry wolf so many times before your marks…oops, I mean donors, stop taking your professions of imminent doom seriously.

  4. chuckmoulton

    It’s a terrible fundraising strategy. I call it the “we don’t have any comprehension of economics” fundraising strategy.

    Economics is essentially all about two things: 1) scarcity and 2) unintended consequences / opportunity costs. Unintended consequences and opportunity costs are two sides of the same coin… unintended consequences are results you didn’t want that follow from your actions and opportunity costs are results you want that you forgo because of your actions.

    When a “the sky is falling” fundraising strategy is used, money rolls in from some donors. Other donors write your organization off as broken and not worthy of any future donations. Idiotic fundraisers who have no comprehension whatsoever of economics look 0nly at the immediate cash receipts, ignoring the future all in cost of alienated donors that more than counterbalances it. As Bastiat would phrase it: they look only at what is seen and not at what is not seen.

    The Libertarian Party and poorly run campaigns like the Bob Barr campaign use the “the sky is falling” tactic over and over again, then wonder why our donor base erodes as members have no confidence in the organization and leave. It’s tragic.

    If the organization itself keeps telling its membership over and over again that it mismanaged past donations to the point of bankruptcy, the membership would be fools to stick around for more abuse.

    Paulie is absolutely correct. Donors want to see results with their past donations and a solid, achievable plan for their future donations. That is the blueprint for good, sustainable fundraising.

    I send the LP a monthly pledge because I don’t want to encourage terrible letters by sending them money in response to letters. Really I should start deducting a dollar from my monthly pledge for each bad letter I get, but I don’t have the heart to do it to them.

    When I see something from the Barr campaign that makes me proud to be associated with them I’ll send them some money. For now I’ll just be holding my nose and voting for him in November. I was going to give a 3 strikes and you’re out rule of thumb on my vote, but he’s already at strike 11. I feel some obligation to the LP and Barr is still the lesser evil on the ballot.

    Ron Paul has done some things that make me cringe, but he has also done lots of things that make me cheer. Bob Barr has done some things that make me cringe, and he’s only coupled that with things that make me give a light golf clap.

    Note: I say all of this as a Bob Barr voter, a Bob Barr presidential elector, a Bob Barr meetup organizer, and a guy who just spent the whole day validating Bob Barr petitions.

  5. Fred Church Ortiz

    If the organization itself keeps telling its membership over and over again that it mismanaged past donations to the point of bankruptcy, the membership would be fools to stick around for more abuse.

    I felt the text deserved to be as bold as the truth it conveys.

  6. johncjackson

    I remember getting many LP fund raising letters back around 2001-2002 ( I think, I know it was Neale times) saying that if I could not donate the LP would cease to exist. I never gave and am wondering why the LP is still around.

  7. Steven R Linnabary

    Of course the sky isn’t really falling. You know that, I know that.

    But what about the people that actually have lives, and aren’t keeping up with every nuance of the campaign(s)?

    The “sky is falling” theory of fundraising must work. EVERY group seems to use it.

    And fundraising is a science. Every part of a fundraising letter has a purpose, and increases overall response. Right down to that little “personal message from…” or “lift piece”. Fundraisers wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

    While I despise Vigurie (sp), I do recognize that he is a professional fundraiser. If he does it, and other professional fundraisers do it regularly, then there must be a reason for it. Like maybe it works.


  8. paulie cannoli Post author


    It does work – in the short term. Sort of like a shot of meth. In the long term, it only wears you down. Sort of like a meth habit.

    Non-sustainable, as I explained.

    And drives long term steady donors away – the kind with whom an organization builds a long term relationship – in favor of churning new ones, at a high recruitment cost, through the short meat grinder.

    As Chuck explained.

  9. G.E.

    Paulie and Chuck – You’re making a mistake if you think Bob Barr and Russ Verney care about the “long-term.”

  10. G.E.

    The LP membership really screwed itself by voting Chuck Moulton out of office. Now he has more important things to do.

  11. paulie cannoli Post author

    @TPW # Bill Crain Says:
    July 30th, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Question: How is the money being spent?

    We’ve been through campaigns before where the campaign itself was nothing more than a fund-raising engine and the actual expenditures (beyond office and staff) were primarily directed at more fund-raising.

    The operation of the candidate’s Leadership PAC, while apparently both within legal limits and even business-as-usual for members of Congress, has to raise some concerns.

    So far it’s been free media, right? Is there substance on the way?

  12. Arthur Torrey

    I used to be a monthly pledger to the LP, but I quit after they voted to expend party resources on a Republican candidate (Something Moulton supported) and set up that effort to auction off the Presidential nomination…

    I reluctantly renewed my annual membership, to be thanked by having National tell us to burn petitions. (By a person that is STILL employed by LNC, therefore I must assume they approved of his actions…) So I won’t make that mistake again…

    Obviously I wouldn’t give the Barr campaign the time of day…

    I do agree with the other posters that “the sky is falling” type letters don’t do much to make me feel generous…


  13. paulie cannoli Post author

    Speaking of Massachusetts burning, ART posted another update at LFV

    Just as an update, we had an LPMA State Committee meeting last night, where we counted the validated signatures that we’ve gotten back from the various cities and towns so far… We’ve gotten about 3/4 of the petitions back after certifying the sigs. I personally collected petitions from about 30 cities and towns, amounting to over 4,600 valid sigs.

    We have been getting a little better than expected validation rate, and as of last night, we had a little over 12,000 valid sigs in our possession. This is comfortably over the 10,000 sig minimum needed. We are still getting validated petitions back, and if we keep similar validation rates, will end up w/ about 15,000 in total.

    Next step is to turn them in to the Secretary of State and make it “official”, putting the Phillies / Bennet presidential ticket, and Robert Underwood for US Senate (vs. John Kerry) on the ballot.

    Incidentally, among the the places that have been collected in are the ones that Gary Fincher was the primary petitioner – accounting for more than 90% of the sigs in those towns. His validation rates were EXCELLENT, at or above the average rates for the rest of the state.

    LPMA Operations Facilitator
    Speaking mostly for myself

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