martes, 10 de julio de 2012

¿Por qué Romney es tan bueno recaudando fondos?



Con motivo de la chocante cantidad de 106.1 millones recaudada en junio, rescato una pieza de The New Republic del mes pasado que señalaba que el mormonismo es tan importante como la experiencia en los negocios para entender la habilidad de Romney como recaudador de fondos:

There is one way in which business success seems very likely to benefit a future president: fundraising. It’s not just that the businessman knows a lot of affluent people whom he can tap for money, though that helps. And it’s not just that the former businessman is steeped in the social mores of businesspeople, making him deft at rubbing elbows with those he doesn’t know. It’s that he’s likely to be very skilled in the mechanics of convincing people—even perfect strangers—to give him money, since that’s a huge part of the entrepreneurial game.
It certainly was for Romney, who raised billions of dollars from investors during his 15 years running Bain Capital. As the Times reports today, that skill—and it really is a skill—has paid enormous dividends for Romney as a candidate. To take one example:
There are daily and weekly conference calls, many featuring senior campaign members who offer updates [to donors] on strategy and policy, and a software system that encourages friendly competition by allowing donors to monitor giving from friends whom they recruited. Several supporters recalled receiving all-hours phone calls and e-mails from Spencer Zwick, Mr. Romney’s fund-raising chief, who has a 24-hour rule: all messages are returned within a day. 
Having said all that, I’d argue that the relevant portions of Romney’s background here include more than just his business experience. After all, Romney was actually a fantastic fundraiser long before he entered the business world. Consider this from a great Washington Post piece about his undergraduate days at BYU:
On Page 379 in the 1971 school yearbook, Romney, wearing blazer, tie and slacks, is identified as club president as he kneels with other members in front of a pond on a farm outside Provo. The opposite page reads: “What student group would accept the challenge to raise $100,000 in twelve months’ time? Cougar Club did without hesitation.” …
In addition to the traditional sale of chrysanthemums for homecoming and pushing records of BYU fight songs and tickets to football games, Romney “did things in Cougar Club that had never been done before,” according to Clint Hunter, a junior member of the club. “Mitt had much grander concepts of how you raise money.” …
“…He said, ‘What if we can get the school administration to share with us the contact information of everybody who has ever matriculated through the school.’ And we set up phone banks and got the students to make these calls as volunteers.”
Romney also worked out a deal with a local car dealership so that the Cougar Men, along with their wives or girlfriends, would pick up prospective donors in new, polished cars for a spring day of activities and presentations.
Now some of this savvy was just in the ether around the Romney household circa 1960, given that George was a highly successful businessman himself. But surely a certain amount of it flows from Romney’s Mormonism, too. Like successful fundraising, evangelizing requires endless conversations with strangers. The fundraiser, like the evangelizer, must speak without embarrassment about subjects that are normally cause for much embarrassment, and must ultimately persuade the stranger to entrust him with something of great importance (money in the first instance, their eternal soul in the second).
(...) In Romney’s case, I’d say it was both the general culture of entrepreneurialism that Mormons are steeped in, and his own particular experience trying to save souls in France (possibly the least hospitable place on the planet for such an undertaking), that gave him such a leg up in his future salesmanship.
And so while it’s no doubt true that Romney’s business background helped turn him into a remarkable fundraiser, it’s probably more accurate to say that Romney’s Mormonism made him more successful at both.