What a year 2008 has been. What a year it has come to represent in the new millennium, not only in the challenges we face in issues like global warming, but also in its opportunities.
Not least of this are the dawning presidential elections this coming fall, which will perhaps be the most critical elections the United States has yet to see. With the field now cleared for Barack Obama and John McCain, where will the divisions be drawn, and the commonalities emphasized?
Especially with the story of the junior senator from Illinois, no matter what the outcome this November will be, Obama’s experiences and his campaign’s strategic decisions throughout this past year will be a remarkable blueprint and benchmark for future campaigns.
Perhaps what has impressed me most about his campaign, being the pseudo-techie that I am, is his team’s embracement and understanding of technology, and the power of social networking and the psychology behind it.
True, Obama has a charisma that resonates with his core base – young Americans – that is strongly reminiscent of the Kennedy campaign. True, his personal story is dynamic, engaging, and widely appealing, spanning not only racial chasms, but socioeconomic ones as well. True, he brings with him a breath of fresh air to a capitol that has long been perceived as rotting from within.
But no matter how much personality and personal charisma Obama has, his win and journey thus far would not have been possible without the monetization and mobilization of his empassioned supporters. He has astonished everyone with the tremendous amount of funding he has amassed from millions of Americans making five, ten dollar donations.
Matching contributions + matching Obama lovin’.
In a stroke of sheer marketing genius, Obama’s campaign tapped into one of the fundamentals of mass fundraising. Especially in giving, we want to maximize our contributions (hence, sites like CharityNavigator that sort through non-profits according to their efficiency). By having someone else – another Obama supporter – match every donation through the Obama site, his campaign turned every dollar of contribution into two.
And when that happened, it connected two contributors today. For example, if Suzy Q from South Carolina donated $15, it was matched by $15 from Bobby G in Florida. An e-mail was sent to both parties, letting both contributors whose fund they had either matched or been matched by. Want to connect? No problem. The ability to send an e-mail was only a click away. It created a sense of community, allowed people to have a platform to engage, and created a snowball effect of the “I heart Obama” phenomena that has played a tremendous role in securing Obama’s place on the ticket for November.
Uniting a nation the size of the United States, across 50 states and generations, is no small task, and connecting them through this online platform nicely backs the Senator’s continual call of “Together, we can.”