Ben Carson has raised $8.35 million in the first quarter of his campaign, much more than the political novice expected. But he has eyes on raising more.
Since March 3, the Carson campaign has received $10.5 million in donations from supporters, most of them donating in small amounts. Since Carson's campaign kicked off, they have been focusing on grassroots donations, shying away from soliciting larger donations until the second quarter.
During those past three months, the campaign saw 209,940 donations, with 151,000 of those coming from unique donors, putting it at an average of $50 per donation.
"This was stronger than our expectations. Those are extraordinary numbers," Carson communications director Doug Watts told the Washington Examiner. "We haven't made as strong an effort on major fundraising and we are just begun to launch our plans and build our structure there. That was purposeful, we want to have credibility to go to major donors and say 'yes we're a viable campaign, you can see this in our numbers'."
While the campaign's fundraising numbers are modest in comparison to the dollars garnered by Hillary Clinton's camp ($45 million) or what Jeb Bush is expected to raise, Carson's team is pleased with the early results.
As the campaign reaches out to bigger donors, they'll look to Carson's business and medical connections for support, as well as conservative small donors.
"Carson served on Kellogg and Costco boards for 15 and 18 years so he has a pretty wide slough of business contacts," Watts reminded. "and they're capable of major donations."
Run Ben Run, Carson's super PAC, has raised an estimated $20 million since its inception. While the PAC is separate, Carson's aides feel the campaign has benefited from its success. But in the future, Watts has "confidence that the super PACs will materialize for Dr. Carson."
Right now the campaign is running on enthusiasm and grassroots efforts. Carson, who has no prior experience in politics, is just starting to become a household name. A dynamic and engaging speaker, he's been surging in polls, most recently winning the Western Conservative Summit poll by a landslide.
"I see that the enthusiasm is growing," Watts said. "People will come up to me after events and just hand us checks right there."
According to Carson senior adviser Mike Murray, they are using direct mail email, search engine optimization banners, social media and telephone, testing to see which techniques work best to lure in Carson supporters.
"We're starting to scale," Murray said, "and I think the most encouraging thing is that they're no sign of anything slowing down."