Accounting for Campaigns

Political campaigns, whether they are for the local school board or the Senate, are run on money as much as on issues. And all that money must be accounted for. Candidates, election officials and the public have a right to know how much money was raised from whom and how it was spent. Two software applications, DirectFile and CompleteCampaigns makes the job of campaign accounting and financial reporting easier.

Calling itself “the most advanced political accounting software available today”, DirectFile was created in 1995 for campaign treasurers in California. A team of campaign treasurers, computer programmers and political consultants joined together to develop a political accounting applications to help candidates, political action committees (PACs) and others meet legal and disclosure requirements.


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According to statements on the firm’s website, DirectFile was the first online political accounting application. The web-based system off campaigns several advantages including access from any location and even multiple locations simultaneously; increased accuracy through constant monitoring of reporting laws and regulations; and enhanced security through the use of encryption technology and strict back up procedures. A Live demo is available from www.directfile.com.

CompleteCampaigns entered the political arena in 2000 and currently serves more than 300 clients in 26 states according to the company web site. Founded by former campaign manager and fundraiser, Benjamin Katz, CompleteCampaigns Back Office application is also web based. Back Office offers integrated budgeting and accounting along with integrated communications and government reporting. A preview of Back Office is available from http://www.completecampaigns.com/view_backoffice_screenshot.asp.

The CompleteCampaign web site is also home to CampaignGuide, a collection of articles addressing many of the issues facing political campaigns, including accounting and budgeting. One article, in particular offers advice that anyone involved in political accounting should keep in mind: “While good campaign management software can make it easier to file FEC reports, there are some things you should do regardless of how good your software is.” Read the manual, know the calendar, and compare new filings against previous filings and bank accounts are just a few pieces of the advice that can be found in this and other CampaignGuide articles.

Good accounting, of course, cannot guarantee victory at polls. But it can’t hurt.

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