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How to raise campaign funds using Miss Manners' Guide to Wedding Registry Etiquette

Recently I mentioned missing the lunch party at a private home for guest of honor Barack Obama. When Catherine Morgan ran that article on The Political Voices of Women (a great blog you ought to be reading if you aren't already, and I don't say that just because she listed me in her fantabulous 250 Political Women Bloggers), a reader somehow thought I was saying Hillary Clinton was better than Barack Obama and used better fundraising techniques. Although I thought it was fairly clear that I was abusing all politicians equally, and expressing my disgust at a system of campaign fundraising that distinctly needs reforming as well as my consternation that an entire majority of voices are silenced due to lack of economic privilege, I grant that the reader's comment had a point.

Therefore, when Hillary Clinton's invitation to a coffee and talk landed in my email this morning, I thought I'd better make sure to comment fairly and equally on her fundraising practices and how they discriminate against the less economically privileged, too.

Here's Hillary's event:
Wednesday November 28, 2007 "Women Making History with Hillary"
Hillary Clinton Reception
Date: Wednesday November 28, 2007
Time: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Type: Breakfast (Public)
Location: Hilton Americas, 1600 Lamar, Houston, TX
Join Hillary Clinton for her "Women Making History with Hillary!" tea reception in support of her 2008 Presidential campaign ($10,000-Chair;$2300-Host;$1000-Sponsor;$100-General Admission.

4:30 pm - Chair and Host Coffee;
5:00 pm - General Reception
For more information or to RSVP, please contact Yael Ouzillou or Stephanie Davis at 512-440-8791 or email or
You can also visit https//contribute.hillaryclinton/events/houston1129.html


I think it is necessary to point out that Hillary does drop down to $100. She does also go up to $10,000.

And that's when it occurred to me that Hillary was employing the Judith Martin approach to fundraising.

[It would be oh so much better to go without saying that YES in my upbringing there was in fact not only charm school (clearly a waste of everyone's time and money) but also the requisite reading of Miss Manners Guide to a Genteel Life (also possibly a waste of everyone's time and money---although I caught the main concept at least) (please rest easy that I was NOT a debutante). However, were I to omit this relevant fact, you could possibly wonder how it is that I have such a useless stack of manner knowledge in my cranium.]

Miss Manners advises that when one is getting married and registering for gifts, one must ensure to have multiple tiers of gift costs and both formal and everyday items.

When I got married, the basic tiers were:

Tier 1: $50 and under

Tier 2: $50 to $200

Tier 3: $200 and up

One's registry should be fairly evenly divided among the tiers, in order to provide ample opportunity for guests to purchase a gift within their means.

One should not simply register for what one wants; one should also consider what one's guests can and will buy.

Upon re-reading Senator Clinton's invitation, I see she has provided four tiers.

Bravo, Senator Clinton. And welcome to Houston. Now just don't breathe in too frequently or deeply.

While I am offering unsolicited advice, I'd like to add the following:

If you really want to see women making history and hear from the women who carry the present on their backs, how about a reception at a Tex-Mex restaurant with the following tiers of admission:

$50 chair
$25 host
$15 sponsor
$10 general admission

It is my humble opinion that those are amounts the average joe can afford.

Alternatively, Senator Clinton may attend the candlelight vigil for health and clean air at Hartman Park tonight at 7 p.m. It's sponsored by the Mothers for Clean Air.

There's some women making history, Senator.

On Tuesday the EPA is coming to Houston to host an innovative public hearing about National Emissions Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants. It is the first and only of its kind in the US. (Note, please, that is in HOUSTON.)

Individuals---hopefully including me if I can get my voice back---will have the opportunity to testify about how air pollution has affected us. A sort of victim's voice moment.

I promise there will be lots of women making history there.

I may not be going to a reception that raises funds I don't have for a candidate I'm not sure about.

But I'll be making history, regardless.

I'll be actively doing my part to clean up this planet.

P.S. Please don't miss my Monday Mission to help a friend, below.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
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Lawyer Mama said…
Great news about the EPA!

So did you figure out that $2300 is the legal limit for personal donations?

Are you going to go to the HRC event? You should try contacting her campaign and see if you can get in for free or with press credentials. I know a lot of people have been able to do that on SV Moms Blog, and all the related sites.
Suz said…
I would love to hear your take on the HRC event should you be able to get in with press credentials (and have the time to go). Good luck with the EPA event...I hope that your voice heals in time.
thailandchani said…
Your suggestions are entirely reasonable and would lead to a lot more participation.

And, btw, I had to suffer through the Barbizon School as a teenager. :) I suppose most of us had our variation of it.
Kyla said…
I second your recommendation, THAT would be something I could do.
Anonymous said…
The $2300 is the maximum amount that can be donated by one person during the democratic primary. I think Lawyermama said that though.

The tier theory is a good theory.
Julie Pippert said…
Okay upon advice...I have contacted the HRC campaign and plead my case for a spot at the table (so to speak...I can lean on the wall, too).
Leslie said…
Your suggestions are great. I realize that these are fundraisers, but with the Educational Foundation that I Chair, we also sponsor "friendrasers" - they may not make us alot of money, but we sure make a lot of friends who later on may want to give us money when we ask.
Do you (or someone) happen to know what percentage of a campaign donation is tax deductible?

Also, what do you get for the $100 G.A. spot? I'm guessing a remote big screen link-up from another conference room.
Julie Pippert said…

I don't know that political contributions ARE tax deductible.

I also am not sure what difference it makes state level versus national level, because states have individual laws about it.

This is what I found at my fave tax law site:

Charitable and Political Contributions
Home » Tax Law » Tax Deductions & Credits » Charitable and Political Contributions

Charitable deductions are only deductible as itemized deductions (thus, you are not eligible if you take a standard deduction). If your income exceeds $139,500, the deduction is subject to a 3 percent reduction of total itemized deductions.

You must have a receipt if the charitable contribution exceeded $250; cancelled checks are not valid unless it is under $250. Deductions are only good for the tax year – and can be post dated up until December 31st of the tax year (even if it’s not cashed until the following year).

Contributions to political campaigns or political action committees are not deductible. Likewise, you get no deductions for contributions to professional groups, lobbying groups, donations on behalf of individuals (even needy ones), or even contributions to for-profit schools or hospitals.


I would check carefully.
Julie Pippert said…
Leslie, I LOVE the idea of "friendraisers."

You have some of the BEST ideas, seriously.

You need a guide for the rest of us. And I'm so serious when I ask that.
dharmamama said…
I'm standing and cheering after reading this (and typing! How's that for multi-tasking?).

Yay, Julie! Thanks for making history.
Anonymous said…
That bottom tier should be labeled "whatever you can afford". They're leaving out a big bunch of Democrats...even with Clinton's four tiers.
Unknown said…
I can't wait to hear the full report on Tuesday's event. Best of luck - use your voice!
Anonymous said…
I'm finally all caught up with you, oh most prolific one. Hope you're feeling better.
Julie, it is awesome that you are going to the EPA event, and I'm looking forward to getting a full report. I'm crossing fingers that your voice will, indeed, be back for the panel!

About HC, or any of the fundraising campaigns for that matter - would you agree that a donation can go up to $10000 if someone so desires, provided the tier *starts* at a respectable level?

Ie a chair can be $50 *or higher*...?

From what I know of US politics, the candidates depend *solely* on these funds to run their campaigns, and will continue to do so until there's some kind of reform.

But until then, how would they fund their campaigns if these donations were to shrink to nothing?

Of course, I am totally noseying into other people's business here -I'm not even American. Just there a public funding system available to candidates??

Julie Pippert said…
Heidi, my issue isn't that the top tier caps at $10,000 for groups and $2300 for individuals.

My issue is that all of the events cost up at that level, in the thousands, per person. In order to get the face time, you have to pay out the MAXIMUM. It's exclusive.

I don't even mind that the high-end events happen. I grasp that the candidates must raise unbelievable amounts of funds.

I do wish we could reform this process.

I wish (a) the candidates weren't so dependent upon private funds in such a needed high amount and (b) the fundraisers were balanced with "friendraisers" (see Leslie's post above).

I'm not implying a need for ONLY low level tiers (as per my suggestion).

I'm suggesting we need to balance it out and provide space for people less economically privileged, too.

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