Green With Fundraising Envy

Green Party

Editor’s Note:  An error was made in the original article.  We initially wrote that the Green Party of Canada had never previously had a five-digit non-election fundraising quarter.  This was incorrect.  We meant to state that the party had never had a seven-digit non-election fundraising quarter.

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After a flurry of increasingly annoying donation asks flooding partisans’ inboxes throughout December, the winner of the year-end political fundraising flurry is — the Green Party?

With the federal per-vote subsidy slowly winding down, disappearing into nothingness in advance of the 2015 election, parties have become ever-more competitive when it comes to fundraising.  For the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, that meant harassing their membership until they coughed up enough cash to meet their December fundraising goals, which I covered earlier in the week.

For the Greens, money poured in — more than doubling their efforts over last year.

And for the Bloc, well, things aren’t over until they’re over.

December, of course, is the last chance parties’ have to max out supporters’ contributions, up to the $1,200 limit.  Sweetening the pot, too, is that partisans can claim a tax rebate on their donations, meaning they get 75 per cent of their contribution back at tax time.

That’s entailed some communications shadowgames, as each party creates a false sense of urgency around their fundraising numbers.  December has become a rhetorical stunt — with the Conservatives warning of the imminent fire that will engulf Canada should Trudeau out-fundraise his Conservatives, the Liberals casting aspersions of Harper’s nefarious intentions should he come out on top of the moneypile, and the NDP tugging at heartstrings and warning of the sad state Canada may find itself should it endure four more years of Harper.

If you follow the number game, the Conservatives confirmed that they hit $2 million via their online Seize the Moment campaign, but said they were still racking up the numbers and couldn’t site an exact number.  The Liberals, meanwhile, bragged that they surpassed $2.2 million in their analogous campaign, which featured a flip-counter seemingly designed to torment me.

That’s all shadowboxing, in the end.  While they might be an interesting metric to show the parties command over their legions of faithful, those numbers do not include regular contributions from members, nor do they take into account fundraising events done “IRL” (as the kids say) — two areas in which the Conservatives do very well.  The final fourth quarter numbers, which the parties usually leak while we wait for Elections Canada to publish them, will reveal just how well the two parties did in sucking donations from their supporters’ pockets.

Don’t expect the Liberals to actually beat out the Tories when the final figures come out.  In the last quarter of 2012, the Tories broke $5 million. The Grits, meanwhile, just barely crested $3.2 million — and they can thank their leadership race for that, with $375,000 coming in the form of transfers from those leadership hopefuls.

These totals display how much money the parties solicited via their harassing email campaign. These numbers are no measure of how dedicated those donors are, and they are hardly an indicator of long-term fundraising totals.  They’re a flash in a pan.

That’s what fundraising guru Alice Funke, of PunditsGuide.ca, told me when I asked.  “It’s all a communications exercise,” she says, cautioning that the Elections Canada-published numbers are the real marker for fundraising success — barring some of the parties’ known accounting wizardry, that is.

Not playing that communications game was the newly-grown Green Party, who provided some journalists with the raw numbers of how much they earned as of late.  And they have reason to boast.

Elizabeth May and her band of environmentalists roped in an impressive $828,000 in December alone.  That’s a huge jump up from 2012, when the party pulled in just over $300,000 in the last month of the year.

The numbers, provided by the party, are part of a larger trend — the Greens raised $1.2 million in the last quarter of 2013.  That makes it their best non-election fundraising period ever, as they’ve never had a seven-digit non-election figure in a single quarter.  We don’t know the numbers behind that figure, however, and whether that includes loan repayments from riding associations, for example.

In 2012, the Greens raised only $1.6 million for the entire year.

The impressive Green fortunes may well decline as the new car smell dissipates from freshly-minted MP Bruce Hyer, formerly of the NDP, who invigorated new life into the previously single-member party.  Or it may increase, as Hyer taps a broad Ontario donor base in a way that May couldn’t.

Yet Hyer might not be the only thing the Greens stole from the NDP — they may have also stolen the Dippers’ fundraising thunder.  According to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, the party pulled in $800,000 during their December online fundraising campaign, just above their goal of limited ambition, $750,000.

Like the other parties, the NDP doesn’t factor in regular donors or fundraising events into that figure.  The Dippers will still need a few weeks to calculate just how much they raised in the last quarter.  So the real number, no doubt, tops $1 million, and they will almost certainly beat out the Greens’ fourth quarter fundraising.  I inquired to the party, but they wouldn’t confirm if they raised more than Greens.

Even still, the party has 50-times as many MPs as May’s party, and they’ll be put in an awkward situation if their numbers are even remotely close.

That just caps off a less-than-stellar fundraising year for the party.

Mulcair’s gang had one of their best non-election fundraising quarters ever in December 2012, raking in nearly $2.5 million.  It doesn’t appear that they’ll hit that same number this quarter, baring a calculated surprise from them.  Their donations have softened somewhat in 2013, thanks in part to robust, resource-diverting NDP campaigns in Nova Scotia and British Columbia, as well as momentum-capturing Trudeau-mania.  Comparing the first three quarters of 2012 fundraising to the first three of 2013, the federal party’s fundraising was behind to the tune of about $700,000.

Piling on the woe is the Bloc Québécois, who, despite losing their leader earlier last month, are set to improve their fundraising total from 2012, even if just barely.

The sovereigntist party told me that they raised almost $270,000 in the fourth quarter — but with donations from the last two weeks of December still to be counted.  They expect to meet or surpass their $320,000 total from the last quarter of 2012.

The NDP’s reprieve comes in the form of the penultimate year of the per-vote subsidy, with the party getting a $1.1 million supplement in the fourth quarter of 2013, not far off the Conservatives’ $1.4 million, and well beyond the Liberals’ $700,000, the Bloc’s $200,000, and the Greens’ $150,000.

Those totals will be dolled out again in the first quarter in 2014, before they’re halved in April.  They’ll disappear completely a year later.

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Other articles by Justin Ling

Flaherty’s Last Act

What of the falling sky?

Senate Appointments

Follow Justin Ling on twitter: @Justin_Ling

 

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