Andrew Yang, a previously little-known tech entrepreneur, has raised $1.7 million for his 2020 campaign during the last two months.
An aide to Yang said that 80,000 individual donors had given to the campaign for an average contribution of $17.92. That number is smaller than the average contribution for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) campaign, which has been the gold standard for small dollar giving, averaging around $20 per donation—albeit from a much larger pool of donors.
“An outsider candidate raising nearly $2 million in two months in entirely small contributions is unheard of,” campaign manager Zach Graumann told The Daily Beast. “Andrew Yang has proven he can build an online fundraising army from scratch. The Yang Gang effect is real.”
The “Yang Gang” refers to Yang’s active online support base, who like his ideas about universal basic income and his concern about mass automation sparking unprecedented unemployment. Yang has encouraged fans of his to give $1 in order to clear the 65,000-donor threshold set by the Democratic National Committee to make it onto the debate stage.
And they’ve responded, not only getting him well beyond the threshold but also by stuffing his campaign coffers. The campaign had raised only a small amount in January of this year. But it took off in February based on small dollar donors rushing to give. An aide told The Daily Beast that 99 percent of its donations were less than $200.
“I could not be more proud of our fundraising haul for this quarter. Small dollar donors are going to continue to fuel this campaign as we continue to spread our Humanity First message,” Yang said, acknowledging that a majority of people don’t yet know who he is. “We are changing that every day and we are confident that the message of the Freedom Dividend is one that will resonate with the American people.”
Yang is the fourth 2020 candidate to reveal fundraising numbers for the first quarter, often used as a metric for the success a candidate may have in the race. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised $7 million from 158,550 donors. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised $12 million from 138,000 donors. And Sanders leads the pack with $18.2 million from 525,000 donors.
Yang has no past experience in politics. But it is fairly likely that the money he raised could match or even surpass some of the other more established and experienced candidates in the race.