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The Power of Flashmob Fundraising

BY Editors | Monday, November 5 2007

This is a guest post from Ron Paul supporter Avery Knapp, Jr. We will run posts from partisan supporters when we think they are of value; this doesn't imply an endorsement of any candidate by techPresident.

Ever since Ron Paul's campaign decided to take a risk in the fourth quarter and make all fundraising data immediately public and broadcast live using a real-time, open-source approach, his fundraising has been on somewhat of a tear. The campaign ambitiously set a goal of $12 million for the fourth quarter, well more than the $5.2 raised in the third quarter, and in fact well more than the Paul campaign's fundraising upward trend would suggest possible. The campaign set fundraising goals of $3 million for October, $4 million in November, and $5 million for December. Is it possible that this October goal could be surpassed in one day in November? That was the goal of Lyman Trevor, a grassroots supporter and the creator of ThisNovember5th.com, a website whose purpose was to Internet-flashmob $10 million to the Ron Paul campaign in the span of 24 hours -- in $100 increments from 100,000 people. November 5 was likely picked as Guy Fawkes Day, which is remembered as the day in 1605 on which a few British Roman Catholic" conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Palace of Westminster to incite a revolt. Picking this day was seemingly a statement about blowing up conventional thought in Washington and the traditional media.

As the date approached, just under a fifth of the intended supporters signed on, and lower goals were set. As of Nov. 4, over 18,000 people had signed up and pledged to donate $100 each, for a projected total of $1.8 million. While far from the original goal of $10 million, the project still harnessed the power of burst-fundraising by a dedicated group of web-connected individuals is being harnessed. Will the web and e-mail campaign work? Early indications show that perhaps it will, according to ronpaulgraphs.com, which tracks the open-source fundraising data in near-realtime, and uses advanced mathematical analysis for projections and data analysis. It is a popular website for the subset of Paul fanatics who are also Internet geeks and like to see the fruits of their labor in numerical and digital form (a note about the author: I'm in both subsets).

People respond well to seeing their names up in lights on their hero's campaign website and getting immediate feedback about their contributions. At a recent lecture showing the rolling names of donors projected behind the lecturer, the author and his girlfriend were tempted enough to donate using a blackberry and cheer in the back; the lecturer mistakenly thought the cheers were for his speech. Perhaps this feedback is a reason the open-source approach to presidential fundraising is likely to continue and increase. Perhaps one day the Federal Election Commission monitoring of election finances won't even be necessary as campaigns will make all fundraising data public.

These single-day fundraising numbers may not be extraordinary at the end of an election quarter for a well-known and well-funded candidate, BUT they certainly are for the middle of a quarter. Ron Paul would have beaten all the Republican candidates in single-day fundraising total (only the GOP's Mitt Romney's best single-day total of $1.3 million would have come close), but would come well behind Barak Obama's best single-day total of $3.7 million and Hillary Clinton's best day of $9 million. In any event, it arguably would set Paul would be well on his way towards achieving the lofty title of "top-tier Presidential candidate" or at the very least, "very well-funded Presidential candidate."

As of 1 p.m. EST on Nov. 5, over $1.7 million has been donated online in just 13 hours.