Starting Jan. 27, members of the Morris County Republican Committee (MCRC) and of the general public can support their local politicians by buying newly minted non-fungible tokens (NFTs) from a storefront powered by Go! NFT Yourself, a Sayreville-based company cofounded by CEO Peter Chmiel.
The NFTs can be purchased at http://NFT.MorrisGOP.org.
This is a first for any Republican committee in the country, and a first in the Northeast for any political party, according to Laura Marie Ali, chair of the MCRC.
Ali noted in a recent press conference that the committee will be using the NFTs in a pilot program to fundraise, engage new members and attract younger people into the party. It will start by offering three limited editions of NFTs, with the editions differing in price and quantity. The cheapest level will be a “button” labeled “Take Back NJ,” which will feature an animation of an elephant kicking a donkey off the button. The committee will issue 500 of these at $50.
The next level, “MCRC Gold,” wasn’t revealed at the press conference, but the committee will be issuing 199 of them, priced at $300. The highest level, “MCRC Platinum,” will be fashioned as a plaque, and the committee will issue 39 of them, each one for $1,000.
Ali said that she had learned about the power of NFTs for fundraising at a Morris County Chamber of Commerce meeting where she met Chmiel. Also, she and her family had invested in an NFT of Yankees icon Derek Jeter. According to Chmiel, just short of $25 billion worth of NFTs were sold in 2021.
Go! NFT Yourself helps artists, brands and personalities unlock the value in their intellectual property by minting, marketing and monetizing NFTs, Chmiel said. The startup’s custom-branded NFT storefronts enable organizations to sell NFTs to their entire fan bases, not just the crypto savvy. When fans register by email or single-click social signup, they get a wallet and the right to buy NFTs with a credit card in U.S. dollars.
Usually, when the MCRC “hits people up for money,” it’s to buy a ticket to an event or give a donation, Ali stated. The committee uses the donations to support Republican candidates for office. “We really do run a very smart operation here and we’re very resourceful with our funds. But, now, when people want to support the Republican Party, they’re actually going to be buying an asset that they’ll be able to hold onto. And because it’s scarce, and hopefully very much in demand, they’ll also be able to resell it.
“Owning an NFT effectively makes you an investor or a member of our club. … It’s also going to give the owners of these NFT’s — depending on the levels they buy in at — special perks, similar to a loyalty program.” One notable benefit for the Platinum buyers will be VIP seating at MCRC conventions in 2022, she noted. “How cool is that going to be? Because we know everybody’s going to want to do that.” Ali said that, working with Chmiel, the MCRC is making it easy to resell the NFTs in the open marketplace.
She also noted that the MCRC has always been very innovative when it comes to using sophisticated software for campaigns. “For anybody that’s involved with us during the campaign, they know our technology is second to none. We do everything, we hope, ahead of everybody else. And this is going to lead the way for 2022.”
She added, “We always want to reach out and get new engaged community members, and we want to have some different ideas for fundraising. This accomplishes both of those goals.”
Chmiel said that his company has made it as easy as possible for the contributors to buy and store the NFTs. “Everyone’s heard of crypto, and maybe they have heard of NFTs, but maybe they are not crypto savvy. So, we made the buying experience simple, so that everyone who goes to the site will be able to buy an NFT, sign up with their email address or social sign in with Facebook or Twitter and get a wallet. And then you’ll be able to buy these entities with a credit card in US dollars. … You don’t have to learn about crypto or buy any crypto, but when you buy that NFT, it will go into your wallet, and you’ll have ownership of it.”
He added that the e-commerce store is compliant with election laws. “We capture your donor information, the name and your employer; and for the first NFT that you buy, [we] ensure that you’re a U.S. citizen over 18, using your own funds.” Also, Go! NFT Yourself makes sure that no money gained from secondary sales to anonymous buyers in other NFT marketplaces will go back to the political organization, Chmiel said.
Unlike a regular donation, the NFTs give the organization the ability to “give back” to donors. Besides the VIP seating mentioned above, buyers will get presale access to any future NFT sales, and will be able to buy, for example, NFT “trading cards” featuring Republican candidates when (and if) the cards become available.
“This creates a much more fun, exciting, engaging way to be part of the community. And, at the same time, you now have a digital collectible that has the potential to go up in value,” Chmiel said. “When these are for sale, you can buy one or more. There’s no limit or cap on the number of NFTs buyers can purchase. You’re welcome to buy three or four or more.” He added that even though the NFTs have the potential to go up in value, he hoped that the buyers would actually hold onto them and take advantage of the benefits and “all the great events that [Ali] is going to be throwing over the next year that [they’ll] be able to attend.”
Towards the end of the press conference, Ali and members of the audience discussed using blockchain for voting, in an effort to promote accurate tallies on Election Day.