Update will ease data collection for campaigns
The mobile fundraising platform Square is making a handful of new features available to campaigns from the top of the ballot on down.
Since January, the campaigns of both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney have made use of the mobile card reader to collect donations at campaign events across the country. But now, some features tailored specifically to the presidential campaigns are available to down-ballot candidates.
The three-pronged update makes data gathering easier on staffers by collecting FEC compliance information within the application itself during the contribution process. Detailed reports containing contributor information can also be pulled up on a political organization’s account dashboard. And any campaign can now authorize multiple staffers to accept donations through their accounts.
“We’ve already seen a number of local political campaigns across the country use Square to raise money,” says Square spokesman Aaron Zamost. “Anyone can donate to a politician with whatever they have in their pocket.”
The application went public in the fall of 2010, so adoption was minimal ahead of that year’s midterm elections. Just a year later, however, 1 million individuals and businesses were using Square, and as of this June that number was more than 2 million.
The card reader has even reached down to the county party level in a number of states. Jim Reavis, who heads the Arkansas Republican County Chairman’s Association, says at least one county party in his state is employing Square. Since the Washington County GOP has started to collect donations with the card reader, a number of individual campaigns, particularly in rural Arkansas, have implemented it.
“I think it’s given us a huge edge in fundraising out of convenience to our donors,” Reavis says. “They like the change.”
Square obtains occupation and employer information upfront to ensure FEC requirements are met should a donor contribute more than $200. There’s a 2.75 percent fee per swipe for Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards, but funds are deposited into a campaign’s account the next business day.