The Fundraising Begins

Canadian-currency

Well, one party got their Christmas gift this year.

If you trust the numbers that they brag about in their incessant fundraising emails, the Liberal Party of Canada had amassed $2,174,634 in December alone, as of early afternoon on New Year’s Eve.

Not bad for a party that was previously considered on its deathbed.

December is the all-important fundraising month for the parties, as its their last chance to squeeze donors in the run up to the end of the year.  After the new year, they’re able to contribute the maximum again, and the feeding cycle begins once more.

The Liberals have made much of their fundraising prowess.  The Conservatives, they point out, have shot for only $2 million for the month, whereas the grits originally had their goal set at $1 million.

“I’m not going out to celebrate the New Year until I’m certain we can top whatever the Conservatives end up raising, so chip in $3 now,” wrote fundraising director Christina Topp, in what may be the saddest fundraising ploy ever.

The Conservatives, being the cagey beasts that they are, actually haven’t disclosed how much they’ve raised.  But dangit, the Liberals are sure they surpassed it.

Their bravado might be bluster, in the end.

The Conservatives always raise $2 million in December.  If you do a bit of number crunching and carry some zeros, the Tories probably pulled about $2.5 million last year in December alone, roughly half of their $5 million take from the fourth quarter of 2012.  And, by all metrics, fundraising has picked up, not decreased, amid that Senate kerfuffle in Ottawa.  So don’t expect the Tories to slip behind their modest goal this year.  When the Elections Canada fundraising reports come out, it seems like a sure bet that the Conservatives will remain in control of their fundraising supremacy.

But, that aside, nearly $2.2 million for the Liberals is still impressive.  This time last year — admittedly, sans Trudeau — they scraped together $2.8 million for the last three months of the year.

If this seems like a useless pissing contest, for once, it isn’t.

In the middle of the month, on the back of their initial fundraising boon, the Liberals announced five new jobs in their federal office — an Engagement Strategist (“she or he will develop campaigns that grow our movement and give Canadians opportunities to show their support, donate, volunteer, become members, and help build and promote the 2015 Liberal Party of Canada election platform”), a Director of Analytics and a Data Analyst (“ensure that the Liberal Party of Canada continues to find data-powered, evidence based, innovative ways to reach out to Canadians for their donations, their time and their support”), and two Web Developers.

If the nuance of that escapes you: the Liberal Party wants more money.  A lot more.  And there will be more hires in the future, as the party builds up its analytics team, to monitor voters and try to understand them — all with the “evidence-based” (blegh) goal of fundraising.

The Tories, meanwhile, need to go back to the drawing board on their wildly expensive, and now axed, voter management software.  That won’t be cheap.  The return of Dimitri Soudas to the Conservative Party also marks the beginning the long jog to the 2015 election.

So what you’re seeing right now is the feeding of two electoral machines.

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And what of the third?  Well, things aren’t quite so chipper.

For the NDP, their year-end goal was much more modest — a mere $750,000.  As of dinnertime on New Year’s Eve, they were shy of $690,000.  Though Thomas Mulcair, bragging on Global News this past weekend, said they had surpassed the goal, hitting $800,000.  Even still, back in the last quarter of 2012, they netted closed to nearly $2.5 million — hot on the Liberals’ tails.  With less than three-quarters-of-a-million pulled in this month, they won’t even come close to that number this year.  It can only be the Trudeau effect.  Over the summer, in the third quarter, the Dippers pulled in a respectable $1.5 million.  Once this last quarter comes out, expect a similar number — which is bad news.

The NDP, too, have a voter database that needs fixing — the space-age voter-tracking program that was supposed to be unveiled several times over the years was ultimately kiboshed by Mulcair, upon entering the party’s chiefdom.  A replacement to their decades-old program, NDPVote, needs to be devised if they want to go toe-to-toe with the Conservatives, and the Liberals’ shiny Liberalist software, modelled after Barack Obama’s infamous iPad-based program.

Though the NDP did rope in erstwhile Obama advisor Jeremy Bird to establish their ground game, it’s unclear if they will even be able to afford him, if they continue fundraising quarters like this one.

The parties do get one more reprieve, as Elections Canada will still be paying out the per-vote subsidy, albeit a diminished version of it, until the end of 2014.

Paid off this week, the subsidy means the most to the NDP — with $1,150,000 going to them.  The Conservatives receive nearly the same amount, while the Liberals take in significantly less at just over $700,000.  The Bloc benefits to the tune of $230,000, while the Greens get a paltry $145,000.

When that decreases over this year, and finally evaporates in 2015, it’s going to be a test of mettle for the Liberals to see if they can convince their voters of the urgency of donations, and a sink-or-swim moment for the NDP, as they try to finance their operations entirely on the basis of public patronage — buttressed by the generous 75 per cent tax credit.

One more interesting fundraising metric: in their emails, the Conservatives suggest a $25 donation, the NDP a $5, and the Liberals?  Only $3.

Make of that what you will.

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Other articles by Justin Ling

What of the falling sky?

Senate Appointments

The Lament of the Floor-Crosser

Follow Justin Ling on twitter: @Justin_Ling

 

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