Guidelines for House Parties
As a grassroots activist, you'll want to get together friends, neighbors, and family members for a house party. Here's a guide on how to handle finances for your event.
How much money may I spend on my event?
You may spend up to $1,000 on food, beverages, and invitations while hosting a campaign fundraising event in your own home. Your spouse may separately spend up to $1,000 in connection with the same event. These monies do not count against either individual's contribution limit and are not disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, but you must keep records of these expenses. Note that this exemption is cumulative for all events in connection with the same election; therefore, if you host more than one event for Obama for America during the primary campaign, you may only spend up to $1,000 in total on food, beverages and invitations without your expenses being considered an in-kind contribution.
Are vendors allowed to give me special discounts on supplies for my event?
Yes. Discounts from vendors of foods or beverages (including corporate vendors) beyond those that the vendor might normally give are permitted up to a value of $1,000. However, the vendor may not charge below cost, and the total value of all discounts given by the vendor to events supporting the campaign may not exceed $1,000. The discount applies only to the sale of food and beverages.
What if I spend more than the $1,000 limit on my food, beverages, and invitations?
Event expenses not subject to the exceptions above will generally be considered contributions given in-kind and count toward the host's $2,300 contribution limit to the general election. You may contribute up to a total of $2,300 to the general campaign. If you are giving the campaign an in-kind contribution, you must fill out an In-Kind Contribution Form and return it to the campaign.
What is the maximum contribution an individual who comes to my event is permitted to give to Obama for America?
An individual may contribute up to a total of $2,300 for the general campaign.
Who can donate?
Only U.S. citizens and lawfully-admitted permanent residents may contribute to Obama for America. Contributions may not be accepted from corporate or union treasury funds, or from federal contractors. Furthermore, Obama for America policy is not to accept contributions from currently registered federal lobbyists or lobbying firms, registered foreign agents, political action committees, or minors under the age of 16.
Do I need to collect employer/occupation information for all donations?
Yes. Federal law requires us to collect certain information about each donor, including name, address, occupation, and employer.
How do I accept contributions?
Each individual who contributes must fill out the campaign's Contribution Form. You should have these forms printed and ready for distribution at your event. This form is intended to ease the collection of employer/occupation information and additional information as required by Federal law. You may collect contributions at your event, but you can also encourage your guests to contribute on our website. Individuals may donate via check, money order, credit card, or cash.
Can I accept cash contributions?
Yes, but each cash contribution must accompany a contribution card and be attributed to an individual donor. You may not accept cash contributions anonymously. You may not accept more than $100 in cash from each individual.
Can I bundle separate cash donations into one larger donation?
No. By law each contribution to Obama for America must come from a single donor. We value every contribution no matter the amount.
How can I accept credit card contributions?
Your guests can fill out a Contribution Formwith their credit card information, and you can send it to our office or they may go online and make a secure credit card contribution via the donation website.
Where should I send the contributions after my event?
Please send all checks, money orders, and credit card contributions with the accompanying contribution forms to:
Obama for America
P.O. Box 802798
Chicago, IL 60680
The FEC requires that you send contributions within 10 days of receipt. Please promptly send contributions to the campaign.
Guidelines for Community Events
If you're coordinating an event in your community, like a get-together, rally, or discussion, here are some guidelines on how you can best handle the finances.
What can I do to advertise a rally or other event?
To avoid having to register with the FEC, you should limit any advertising of events to the following:
• Your own web page (including one at My.BarackObama.com) • Any number of personal emails • Postal mailings of 500 or less • Telephone calls of 500 or less • Printed flyers of 500 or less
Expenses for the above items are not counted as contributions to Obama for America.
You should not spend more than a total of $1,000 on all of the above activities combined. You may not pool resources to pay for advertising or other expenses to support Barack Obama by depositing contributions from anyone else into your own or anyone else's bank account. (See below for more information about establishing a separate political committee.)
What other expenses can I incur?
If the rally or event is at your residence, or in a church or community room (including a room in your apartment complex or dormitory), you may spend up to $1,000 on food, beverages, and invitations. A spouse may separately spend up to $1,000 in connection with the same event. These monies do not count against either individual's contribution limit and are not disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, but you must keep records of these expenses.
Note that this exemption is cumulative for all events in connection with the same election; therefore, if you host more than one event, you may only spend up to $1,000 in total on food, beverages and invitations without your expenses being considered an in-kind contribution.
You may also pay a nominal fee for the use of a church or community room without it counting against your contribution limits.
Discounts from vendors of foods or beverages (including corporate vendors) beyond those that the vendor might normally give are permitted up to a value of $1,000. However, the vendor may not charge below cost, and the total value of all discounts given by the vendor to events supporting the campaign may not exceed $1,000. The discount applies only to the sale of food and beverages.
Other event expenses, including fees for the use of a public space such as a park or a room in a restaurant or coffeehouse will generally be considered contributions given in-kind and count toward your $2,300 contribution limit to the general election. As noted above, an individual may contribute up to a total of $2,300 to the campaign. If you are giving the campaign an in-kind contribution, you must fill out an In-Kind Contribution Form and return it to the campaign.
Please do not create your own T-shirts, buttons, signs, or stickers; instead, you can get all your materials at the campaign's online store.
Guidelines for Internet Activities
Another way you can help is to get the message out via the Internet.
As long as you follow the below guidelines, you may use the Internet without restraint to discuss and promote Obama for America.
You may create and operate your own website, or your own personal web page on a website like myspace.com. The use of your personal computer is not considered to be a contribution to Obama for America; neither is a fee paid to register a domain name.
You may send as many personal emails as you would like, to as many people as you would like. Please be respectful of any request to be taken off of your email list.
Use of the Internet while at Work
You may make occasional, isolated or incidental use of computers at your workplace for your personal, volunteer Internet activities in connection with the Committee, so long as that use does not violate any of your workplace's policies. Your Internet activities must not prevent you from completing your normal amount of work or interfere with any of your workplace duties. When sending emails supporting Obama for America, you should use your personal email address and not your work email address.
Expanding the Scope of Activities
By following the guidance outlined above, you will be able to show your support for Barack Obama and the Obama campaign while working with Obama for America, without becoming a "political committee" under federal election law, and without triggering any reporting requirements either as a political committee or as an independent expenditure campaign.
Some individuals and associations may wish to do more. For instance, some individuals may want to go beyond the limits outlined in Community Events to advertise a rally or event in support of Obama. An association may like to open a separate bank account to pool resources. A group may plan to take out an advertisement in a newspaper or on the radio to promote Barack Obama's candidacy.
If you expand your activities by going beyond the suggested activities, or by raising contributions for your organization, Obama for America cannot legally work with you or your organization. You will be operating either as an individual making an independent expenditure, or – if you are in a group that raises or spends more than $1,000 – as a federal political committee that in all likelihood would have to report to the Federal Election Commission.
If you choose to expand your activities, you should familiarize yourself with the registration, reporting, and operating requirements of the FEC. Individuals operating alone should consult the FEC's Independent Expenditures Brochure. Organizations planning to raise or spend more than $1,000 should consult the FEC's Campaign Guide for Nonconnected Committees.
However you choose to proceed, thank you for your support of Barack Obama and Obama for America.
Terms and Conditions
Provided in this document is guidance for you to follow when conducting certain activities that involve the raising or spending of funds to support the campaign. Individuals who rely on this guidance also agree to abide by the following Terms and Conditions:
I understand that I am not authorized to act as an agent of the campaign, or to represent myself as an agent of the campaign.
I acknowledge that I am volunteering my time and efforts.
If I hold a house party fundraiser, I will comply with the legal requirements pertaining to the raising of funds, including all contribution limitations and prohibitions (visit the FEC website for more information).
I will not raise any money on behalf of the campaign that does not comply with all federal contribution limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements. If I spend any money to hold a campaign event, I will comply with the legal requirements pertaining to the expenditure of that money including any applicable reporting requirements (visit the FEC website for more information).
I understand that all fundraising activities must comply with the Federal Election Commission rules. I have reviewed the campaign's fundraising guidelines and understand the rules that apply to my event. I also understand that federal law forbids me to raise soft money for a federal candidate or officeholder, and that I may raise only hard money – i.e., contributions subject to the limitations and requirements of federal law.
I understand that federal law prohibits foreign nationals, except legal permanent residents of the U.S., and federal contractors from contributing to Obama for America.
I understand that Obama for America policy prohibits contributions from currently registered federal lobbyists or lobbying firms, registered foreign agents, political action committees, or minors under the age of 16.