Former President Donald Trump is stuck for campaign money after launching his 2024 presidential campaign in mid-November, according to year-end numbers obtained exclusively by NBC News.
Trump, who has been the GOP’s most prolific fundraiser in recent years, raised about $9.5 million in the last six weeks of last year through his campaign and a joint fundraising committee, according to a person familiar with his loot.
The numbers were shared with NBC News ahead of Trump’s submission of the first campaign finance totals from his third bid for the presidency Tuesday.
Trump’s decision to launch in the shadow of a tough midterm election for the GOP, donor fatigue and his imminent absence from social media giant Facebook all contributed to the cash crunch, Republican operatives said.
In a sign that Trump understands he needs to raise more money faster for what promises to be a competitive GOP primary campaign, his campaign recently expanded its digital fundraising team by hiring the Campaign Inbox company to recruit the small dollar donor set. Campaign officials have long said he would use the early part of this year to build up his device and expand his footprint in early primary states.
There are other reasons to think Trump can bolster his ATM.
He has yet to launch a traditional mail-in fundraising device, which is a proven way to collect small contributions in large numbers. And his early fundraising was curtailed by his ban on Facebook, a top fundraising platform for him in 2016 and 2020, which kicked him off for inciting the mob that ransacked the Capitol on January 6, 2021. But the company has said the ban will be lifted.
Trump also hurt himself by announcing his campaign right after the midterm elections, a slog to raise money for candidates across the partisan and ideological spectrum.
Eric Wilson, a Republican digital fundraising adviser not affiliated with the campaign, said Trump not only announced at a bad time for fundraising in general, but began asking for money amid a round of finger-pointing. about the GOP’s disappointing midterms. pointing a few fingers at the ubiquitous former president.
“If you want a big fundraiser when you announce your campaign, you don’t do it right after an election where all your donors are burned out from bombarding fundraising requests and you don’t have a great track record to show for it, said Wilson.
That was the reality for Trump, whose affiliates actually raised more before the launch of his presidential campaign than after his big announcement — $11.8 million from Oct. 1 to his Nov. 15 launch, and then just $9.5 million from November 15 to the end of 2014. the year.
The vast majority of post-launch donations to Trump, which largely flowed through the joint fundraising committee, came from low-dollar donors, according to the person familiar with the numbers. The 291,617 donors who gave $200 or less accounted for 99.48% of his contributions. Their donations averaged $32.32.
It’s also possible that Trump will hire additional salespeople for the digital fundraising program, which relies on emails and text messages to solicit donations.
“Everyone wants that account. because he’s the king of small dollar donors,” said a Republican who works in digital fundraising, asking to remain anonymous to speak candidly about the former president.
In addition to the digital venture, Trump is expected to build a more traditional fundraising structure to raise donations of $2,900 each for the primary campaign — the maximum allowed by law. Campaigns often attract heavy hitters to pool those donations together at high-level fundraising events.
But it’s the low-dollar donors that have carried Trump in the past, sending small amounts of money to keep his campaigns going. Perhaps most important, Wilson said, is his imminent return to Facebook.
“Nearly 50% of Republican donors log into Facebook every day,” Wilson said, citing data from a questionnaire associated with a non-profit organization that he directs. “So if you can’t reach those donors, you’re just at a huge disadvantage in raising money.”
The cash-strapped Trump has not held any of his signature campaign rallies since announcing his bid. He kicked off his itinerary on Saturday with snide speeches in the early primary states of New Hampshire and South Carolina.