Budgeting for campaigns isn’t always easy or straightforward, especially if you have limited budgeting experience. But fear not -- we have a few recommendations!
First, begin by breaking your campaign costs down into categories and specific items that go under them. Within your budget, you will have broad categories, like operations, communications, voter outreach, and fundraising. Within each one of those categories, identify all of the things on which your campaign may want to spend money. For example, under the category of “operations,” you may include items like “staff salaries,” and “office space (including rent and utilities).” Communications might include “digital marketing,” “signs,” and “website.”
Second, use campaign finance disclosures from recent elections to guide you! These records are publicly available. They can give you a sense of how much investment is required for the office you seek. These are especially helpful when budgeting for items like TV ads or mail campaigns, which may be trickier to estimate than something like office space. Pay particular attention to the disclosures of successful campaigns, and consider which past elections most closely mirror your own!
Candidate Boot Camp provides a world of resources on running for office, including this guide. We particularly appreciate the breakdown of a campaign budget, where they dive into the many budget items you should consider when trying to budget for a campaign!