Day 373: 5/27/20

Donating only delays emails, it doesn’t stop them.


For all new readers: Welcome! I am currently on the mailing lists of Joe Biden and Donald Trump, though I have previously been on the mailing lists of 28 Democratic candidates! This blog breaks down recent emails with charts and excerpts. If you already know all of this, feel free to skip to the next chart!

It took some time for the Trump emails to kick in, so I started officially tracking his list on July 7. I have been tracking Biden’s for longer, but I will start comparing them as of July 7. All of these emails are going to a new email, and I have not donated, filled out surveys, signed petitions, or otherwise interacted with either candidate’s emails.

The rules I try to follow for the various categories are laid out in The Framework.

The first email of the day really made me angry.

Joe Biden emailed me 4 times on Wednesday as a non-donor, and only 3 times as a donor.

Only one non-donate ask, and it was technically still asking for money.

The very first email of the day I received was to my donor account, and it was the exact same email I had received last week as a non-donor.

We have a huge goal to hit this month, and the truth is that we’re tracking a little behind where we need to be for this week.

So we’re reaching out this morning because we need to see a surge of donations today. We need 30,000 donations by midnight to put us where we need to be. So we wanted to ask you specifically to help us get there.

Biden for President

The use of the word “truth” there really irritated me. What a remarkable coincidence that you are behind by the exact same amount you were behind last week when you sent me this email! Last week, you had two fantastic fundraisers with Hillary Clinton and Pete Buttigieg, and this week you didn’t, and you’re in the exact same place!

The truth is, this isn’t the truth. This is just a political email spewing whatever garbage is necessary to fill up words so they don’t feel so bad about asking for more money.

Unfortunately, it is precisely this sort of email that turns people off this sort of email. Maybe this sort of marketing works on older generations, but the up and coming Millenials and Gen-Xs are fully aware that this is just a marketing scheme, it’s not genuine, and it’s not the truth.

This irritates potential donors. It aggravates potential donors.

It makes potential donors unsubscribe from mailing lists and then no longer get reminders in their inbox to donate to Joe Biden. It is an incredibly short-sighted way of fundraising.

Sure, Biden needs money right now. He needs money to pay for content, for his staff, for his ads. But he’s also going to need money in a month. And if he is continually shrinking his mailing list with bad emails, then it will become harder to extract money from that mailing list, and then his emails will become pleading and desperate (again), because he’s trying to get more from less.

Imagine, if you will, a mailing list where people actually click on your emails and open them. Imagine people knowing that Monday’s email will be providing them with events happening this week, while Tuesday’s focuses on how a Biden policy will make tomorrow a better place (maybe with examples of where similar policies are used at a local scale to great success, or where the inspiration from a policy came from).

On Wednesdays, staff is shouted out, and you get to learn about the people who are supporting Joe Biden and making him awesome. People get to learn about his press secretary or comms director… because those people are probably going to be players in Biden’s administration. We all look at whatever one of Trump’s goons is the flavor of the week in the press briefing room and wish there was someone competent there, right? Introduce us to that person now! Let us root for them now and look forward to getting them behind that podium!

Thursdays can talk about things Biden is thankful for, perhaps, or how to deal with the hatred, injustice, and grief currently in the world. Talk about a charity or cause people can get involved with or donate to. Talk about Biden’s favorite type of ice cream, or what Champ or Major did that was fun this week.

Talk about what’s going on in the country and the world on Fridays. Recap major news events of the past week. Educate people on foreign policy issues or national environmental concerns.

Saturdays can be dedicated to volunteer opportunities. Explain phone and text banking, and offer ways for people to get trained or sign up. Empower volunteers to make content. Let volunteers share their experiences connecting with other Biden supporters or how they convinced friends or family to vote Biden.

On Sunday, recap the campaign in the past week. How many events did Biden hold? How many questions got answered? What was the best question and answer of the week? Let people ask questions with donations, and have Biden randomly answer two or three in next Sunday’s email.

Throughout the entire week, stress that campaigns are expensive and Biden needs money to keep campaigning. Don’t overdo it, but a mention in the top or bottom or middle of every email with the standard ActBlue donate buttons and a donate button below the signature is enough. Be genuinely truthful about it: donations power this campaign. Your donation helps your voice and your values be heard through the mouthpiece of Joe Biden. Anything you can give adds another inch to the blue wave as it builds to crest over Donald Trump.

But make the emails be something people WANT to read. More than that, make them be something people WANT to share. Imagine, if you will, a mailing list that actually grows itself, because hey, mom, did you know what’s going on in the South China Sea? Look at this email…

Or, unheard of unless you are my mother sitting across from me at our lunches (that are no longer happening because of social distancing), imagine people talking about your political emails over the dinner table.

Or, you know, keep on doing what you’re doing, Joe Biden’s email team, and watch people actively avoiding your mailing list and watch them unsubscribing and throw your dignity to the wind as you beg and plead for any little dollar. That does take a lot less effort, I’ll give you that.


After all, Joe Biden won the Democratic Primary. He clearly had a winning strategy, and as such, he’s sticking to it. Take all the rest of the emails from yesterday, for example. The first one was written by Barack Obama and talked about the importance of rolling up our sleeves and helping elect Joe Biden with a donation. Then there was an email from Biden forwarding that email to me (but only as a non-donor), telling me how important it was to listen to Obama telling me how important it was to roll up my sleeves and elect Joe Biden. The third email in this series (ALL IN ONE DAY) was to ask me if I saw that Barack Obama had emailed me earlier in the day to talk about the importance of rolling up my sleeves to support Joe Biden!

Tell me, if I had only read one of those three emails, would it have mattered which one I read? Only if I cared about the name at the bottom, really.

Biden’s final non-donor email of the day was to let me know that Donald Trump (who has been raising money for the 2020 election longer than any other presidential candidate in history, as he is the only one to open his re-election campaign on his inauguration day), has raised more money by this point in the election than any presidential candidate from 2012 or 2016.

Who would have thought that raising money longer = more money raised? (not John Delaney, not these days).

Biden was making it out to be a terrible tragedy, but the chart told me an entirely different story.

Total raised by Biden, Trump and their predecessors
I looked at the slopes.

According to this chart, Joe Biden is raising money faster than any presidential candidate in 2012 or 2016. In fact, if you extrapolate the chart using the current speed of fundraising, Biden will have raised in 1.5 years what Trump needed 3.5 years to do. Around July or August, Biden will have caught up to Trump’s massive moneybags.

Of course, that does require Biden to keep motivating his donors to donate. I’m not sure how well that’s going to turn out. We’ll have to see what May’s numbers look like.

Few more days, and we’ll hit 1111 donor emails

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