Creating a Campaign Finance Plan

Learn how to create a finance plan for your campaign fundraising in this post. A finance plan is a critical document that organizes all aspects of fundraising in one place. We provide insight into creating accurate call time, event, PAC, direct mail, online, and pledges projections.

Creating a Campaign Finance Plan
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

View our 2023-2024 Finance Plan template, complete with formulas and ready for use!

One of the first things you should do when starting your fundraising program for your campaign is to create a finance plan. A finance plan is a spreadsheet document that organizes all aspects of fundraising for your campaign in one place. There are many things you can include in a finance plan, but we will start with the basics that you should include in a basic finance plan:


Projections are an essential part of the finance plan and a critical part of the a Finance Director's job since the difference between campaign success or failure can often come down to managing cashflow.  The more accurate your fundraising projections are, the more efficiently your campaign will be able to plan and spend its resources effectively. It is crucial to always project accurately, even if the numbers are significantly lower than your goal. Wishful thinking in fundraising projections can only hurt your campaign. Creating good projections is fairly straightforward, and should be kept simple in your finance plan.

Your fundraising team’s capacity and your campaign preferences will determine how granular your projections need to be. While some campaigns need to project daily or weekly, others may need to only monthly or quarterly. You also may change the frequency of your projections based on the stage of the campaign you are in. For example, many campaigns will do monthly projections early in the campaign, and switch to weekly (or even daily) projections later in the campaign closer to election day.

When creating projections in your finance plan, you should assess each “bucket” or source of contributions individually, and then total them to get the total projected raise number. The example sources of contributions that are included in the Finance Plan Template provided with this article are

Call Time



Direct Mail


In Kind/Misc

Call Time

Creating an accurate call time projection requires you to look at the results of past call time sessions and pull a few key metrics, as well as understand how many hours of call time your candidate will do going forward. Here’s an example of how to calculate a monthly call time projection. Using the Data provided, we will see if the projection is able to match the call time goal.

Candidate-Leslie Knope
Total Calls Last Month- 600
Total Call Time Hours- 60
Total Call Time Contributions-$60,000
Future Call Time Hours this month-37
Call Time Goal- $50,000

First, we must determine Leslie’s dollars per hour raised in call time. This is calculated by dividing the total call time contributions ($60,000) by the total call time hours (60).

Leslie’s dollars per hour is $1,000/hour raised in call time.

With a projected 37 hours of call time this month, Leslie is projected to raise $37,000, $13,000 under her goal. As Finance Director, we believe it's your responsibility to present this issue at your next scheduling meeting and request an additional 13 hours of call time be added to Leslie’s calendar. Call Time projections will change frequently as your candidate’s call time efficiency and volume will fluctuate often.


To create an event projection, you need to have individual projections that you can trust for each individual upcoming fundraiser—then total those projections. In order to project the raise amount of each fundraiser, you can use a variety of methods. First, talk with your hosts. Talking with your event hosts about goals and projections is the most important thing you can do for your event projections. You need to be on the same page with your hosts with what you are expecting of them. And you will need to have a realistic expectation of what they can fundraise for your campaign. If the event is a repeat of a prior event, try should look to at what the past event raised as a baseline projection to start out with.

After speaking with your hosts about the goals and projections, try researching the donor dynamics of the the town where the event is being hosted. If it feels like a donor hotspot for your campaign, you may want to bump up goals projection. If the event is on Zoom, look to past Zoom fundraising event successes for a projection. Your event projections should change regularly as you gather new information from hosts, about donors, and as the date of the event approaches.


PAC contributions refer to contributions received from Political Action Committees. Not every campaign will receive these types of contributions so you may not need this section in your finance plan. Political Action Committees rules and regulations vary between each state’s campaign finance laws, and the federal laws.

Direct Mail

Direct mail refers to contributions recieved through the physical mail, usually in the form of checks and cash. When calculating how much money you raised through direct mail, you should make sure to exclude contributions received in the mail that are for an upcoming event, or were called in call time. It is important to never double count contributions with call time.


Online contributions are a catch-all term for a variety of different contributions, that may or may not serve your campaign’s specific finance plan needs. For this example, we are treating online contributions as any contribution received through a web link that was not specifically for an event or call time. This would include email, direct donate ads, peer-to-peer texting contributions, and many others. Projecting these contributions can be tricky, as this will be your largest source of contributions for many campaigns, and can fluctuate greatly due to national trends and other political factors that you can’t control as a finance director.  


In order to make sure you are keeping track of pledged contributions and following up with donors in a timely fashion, it is helpful to keep your pledge tracker as a part of your finance plan, rather than a separate document you might forget to check regularly. A good pledge tracker is a simple document that includes:

Name of the Pledged Donor
Pledged Date
Notes about how the pledge was received

These pledges should be listed in the tracker in descending chronological order, and then deleted/moved to another section when they are fulfilled. (Please note, Pingdex automatically sorts pledges for you in the web app which you can read about here if you are interested.)

Keeping Your Plan Up-to-Date

Updating the finance plan should be a regular task for your campaign, adding in contribution information into the proper “bucket”. Depending on your campaign’s needs, you may update the finance plan daily or weekly. While choosing which “bucket” to put contributions in is somewhat subjective, establish guidelines on your campaign about how often to update your finance plan. Typically finance plans should be updated daily or weekly in order to accurately project what your campaign will raise.

View our 2023-2024 Finance Plan template, complete with formulas and ready for use!

Try out this interactive quiz to test your knowledge of finance plans:
Finance Plan Quiz

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All the best,