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Tips for Treasurers

Here is a quick 10 step check list on how to get started as treasurer for campaigns requiring depository bank accounts. This is just a summary of tasks; see the OCPF Getting Started Web Page for more comprehensive instructions and links to necessary forms. The OCPF also offers online training, in-person workshops, and one-to-one consultations by email and phone. They even have helpful YouTube videos you can watch on how to get started , how to file deposit reports , how to clarify expenditure reports by the bank, how to report credit card expenses, and how to file year end reports .

Treasurers (and candidates) will also want to be familiar with the OCPF Campaign Finance Guide and the following MA Elections Division publications:

10 Step Check List

  1. visit the OCPF Web Page . Click on Getting Started. What, you thought we were kidding? Only the OCPF's advice is official. Our advice isn't. In the event of a discrepancy, we're sorry. The OCPF is always right. And they are helpful too. If you ever have questions, call them.
  2. Choose a campaign name. The committee name must include the candidate's last name, so we suggest 'Friends of FIRSTNAME LASTNAME' or 'FIRSTNAME LASTNAME for Massachusetts.' OCPF will call it 'LASTNAME committee' so that works too. Don't let the candidate waste a lot of time deliberating over this (even though this is something candidates love to do). Name the committee and move on!
  3. Set up new email addresses for the candidate and the treasurer as almost all OCPF communication is by email [click for details] . These can be existing personal email addresses if you wish but we don't recommend this in most cases. It is too easy to send sensitive campaign email messages to the wrong personal address and personal messages to everyone in the campaign. Instead, create new accounts using a service like Proton Mail which can send a notification email to your personal email account when mail arrives (instead of autoforwarding the message itself). These accounts will be for internal campaign communications [click for details] .
  4. Decide on a campaign committee address. A post office box is generally a better idea than your residential address or that of the candidate --- especially if more than one person needs access --- but if you use one, you need to be careful how you set up and pay for if you don't already have a campaign account. [ click for details]
  5. Download, complete, and then file a Form CPF 101 statement of organization for a candidates committee with OCPF. You will need to supply a committee mailing address and email addresses OCPF can use. OCPF will reply, providing you a CF ID number and password for online treasurer training and filing of campaign finance reports.
  6. Once you have filed form CPF 101 with the OCPF, you are ready as treasurer to obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS. This should be done online. You need this even if you have no paid staff. The EIN number will be used by the bank when you open the campaign account in the same way a social security number would be used when opening a personal account. When applying online, do the following:
    • Identify: Select 'View Additional Types' then 'Political Organization'
    • Why is the Political Organization requesting an EIN?: Select 'Banking Purposes'
    • Who is the Responsible Party of the Political Organization?: You, the treasurer! So select 'Individual'
    • LIst your name (not the candidates) and your SSN number, then choose 'I am a responsible and duly authorized officer or a board member having knowledge of this organization's affairs'
    • Where is the Political Organization physically located? Unless you have a campaign office already you'll have to list your home address here because PO Box numbers are not permitted. You can, however, click YES in answer to the question 'Do you have an address different from the above where you want your mail to be sent' if you have a campaign post office box and want to have the mail sent there. Once an address is entered, the website will check your entered address against its database address and may suggest using the database address instead. If either will work, select the database address.
    • Legal Name of Political Organization: Enter the name of the candidate at the beginning of the field. Omit any officer's name. Place the words 'friends of', 'committee to elect' or other identifying information after the candidate's name. So if 'Friends of FIRSTNAME LASTNAME' then enter 'FIRSTNAME LASTNAME Friends Of' . If 'Committee to Elect FIRSTNAME LASTNAME', then enter 'FIRSTNAME LASTNAME Committee to Elect.' You get the idea.
    • Political Organization start date: use the date on the OCPF form CPF 101.
    • Closing Month of Accounting Year: use December
    • Will you file Form 8871 under Sec 527? No, because political committees of state and local candidates are exempt.
  7. Open a Campaign Bank Account. Not just any bank will do. It has to be what OCPF calls a 'Depository Bank' which is authorized to transact business and has its main office or a branch office in Massachusetts and is willing to file campaign finance reports with OCPF. You can find a list of banks currently serving as depository banks on the OCPF website . Some banks require a monthly fee in exchange for this service --- ask beforehand! Once you have selected a bank from the list --- or have talked a bank not on the list into serving as a Depository bank for your campaign --- print out a copy of Form CPF D103, have it signed and dated by the candidate and yourself (as treasurer), then bring it to the bank (along with a personal check or checks made out to the campaign committee from you and/or the candidate) for the account manager's signature when you open your account. Be sure you walk out with a signed and fully completed copy of that form! Bear in mind that not every branch account manager will know what you are talking about, so to save time it is best to call ahead to make an appointment indicating that you are interested in opening an OCPF depository bank account for a candidate for political office, and that you saw their bank's name on the state's list of participating banks, giving them time to inquire with the head office. Set aside up to 2 hours to complete everything once you are there and be happy if it takes less time than that!
  8. Bring in, mail, fax (?) or scan and email a completed copy of CPF D103 with OCPF immediately opening the account. Keep a copy for yourself. This is important. Follow up with a phone call if you don't hear back by email within 2 business days.
  9. Once you hear back from OCPF and have been assigned an OCPF ID (username) and password for their web-page based reporting system, it is time to electronically file a D102 Initial Report. This report must be filed within 3 business days after the candidate or committee designates a depository bank (using form D103). Yes, D103 follows D102. Don't worry about it. The purpose of the Initial Report is to disclose any activity which may have occurred prior to the designation of the depository bank (such as an in-kind contribution to open a PO box), complete through the date of the bank's designation (which would include the checks used to open the account). When filing out the report, bear in mind that assuming you are a new candidate or committee, the beginning balance for D102 is zero --- not the amount on the checks used to open the account --- and the starting date for the report will be January 1st. List the checks used to open the account as itemized receipts. Avoid all expenses and liabilities until after you have filed this initial report and do not let the candidate make expenses using personal accounts or credit cards at any time. All expenses should go through the committee bank account and the candidate usually cannot be reimbursed. Finally, avoid liabilities altogether. They are allowed but it is never really a good idea for a candidate to make loans (as opposed to outright donations) to the committee. They may never get paid off and you will end up being treasurer forever. Campaigns should live within their means, no matter how shiny those soon to be obsolete campaign buttons appear.
  10. Apply for campaign credit card for you and the candidate [click for details] . Campaigns are now finally allowed to use debit cards but if there are two of them and the candidate has one, you may never be sure exactly how much is the bank account when making a debit card transaction. Candidates may also forget they cannot use the campaign debit card to get cash for a later campaign expense. So get a credit card and review the OCPF's helpful video on how to report credit card expenses. A few points to bear in mind: the card must bear the campaign's name in addition to that of either the candidate or treasurer. Remind the candidate (and yourself) that the card can only be used for campaign expenses --- never for personal expenses --- and that no other credit cards (such as personal credit cards) may be used in its place for such expenses. Not even if the campaign card was forgotten and a personal credit card is all that is available. Sorry!

Congratulations! You are now ready to spend money on behalf of the candidate's campaign. If you want to accept credit cards, there are a million options. One way is to include a donation page on a website for a candidate --- we use the payment processor stripe.com and a CiviCRM extension to collect credit card donations --- but a simpler method for campaigns just starting up is to use a standalone webpage for donations offered by an organization such as CrowdPac and to share the link to the donation page with potential supporters by email and social media.

Did you find this page helpful? If so then please help us continue to share the love by making a small financial donation to keep us going. Even $5 goes a long way. And thank you!

A few rules of thumb before you go, however, regarding the use of cash: avoid using cash whenever possible, never ever let a candidate handle or accept cash --- never ever, and if you doubt this, imagine photos in the paper or a courtroom showing the candidate appearing to accept a wad of cash from someone who later turns out to be seeking favors --- even if it were legal. If you must handle cash, be sure to consult OCPF regarding the rules for handling and reporting of cash transactions and donations ahead of time. The rules involving cash are complicated and not all cash transactions are legal! To cite but two examples, all contributions above $50 must be itemized (so do you have the donor's info if it is by cash?) and any payment in excess of $100 must be made by credit card or a check or debit card drawn on the campaign's depository bank account.

Notes

OCPF Email: There is no need to create a campaign email address like treasurer@LASTNAME4MA.org for email communication with OCPF. Setting up campaign email addresses intended for public use is best done later once you have a campaign bank account. This is because in most cases these will cost money and the law requires you to use campaign funds to pay for campaign expenses.

Internal Email Setup: For internal communications between candidate, treasurer, campaign manager, etc, as well as OCPF, we recommend a service that provides private end-to-end encrypted email, such as protonmail.com, which was created by really smart particle physicists "drawn together by a shared vision of protecting civil liberties online." This isn't the only email service out there, so if you prefer something else, go ahead. We don't care. Do what you want. Really. But if your email service ends with @gmail.com, you are going to get a lot of ads for campaign materials and services. In the case of proton mail, the base service is free; you can upgrade it for use with a custom email domain (such as treasurer@LASTNAMEforMassachusetts.org) later for an added fee.

Post Office Box Setup Both the OCPF and your bank will want you to have a campaign committee address. If you use a post office box as the campaign committee address on your statement of organization form, then you may have a chicken and egg situation, as a post office box costs money yet you can't expend money as a campaign until the campaign has a treasurer and has filed the statement of organization. One possible way to solve this is for the intended treasurer to open a PO box with a personal check, indicate on the form that the PO box should accept mail addressed to the campaign name, then immediately report it as an in-kind donation on Form D102 --- your initial report to OCPF --- once you set up the committee and establish a depository bank account. The intended treasurer can't be reimbursed for this purchase using private funds because all spending has to be done using the campaign account (or as in-kind donations). Whatever you do, don't cross the spending streams (Ghostbuster reference). Consult OCPF if you have questions. There might be a better way to do this.

Campaign Credit Card A political committee can apply for and receive a "business" credit card for the purpose of making campaign expenditures. Alternatively, a candidate may also personally apply for a credit card to be dedicated solely for the committee’s use, provided the campaign committee name is also on the card. Campaign credit card activity is disclosed on campaign finance reports. Here is one responsible credit card vendor with no annual fee that we have used in the past: Green America Visa . There are of course others and your bank may be willing to issue one in addition to your debit card.

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