Looming election, loss of party subsidy spurs year-end fundraising frenzy

The spectre of a looming election, combined with the imminent end of a generous public subsidy, has added a heightened sense of urgency to federal political parties’ annual year-end fundraising frenzy.

OTTAWA — The spectre of a looming election, combined with the imminent end of a generous public subsidy, has added a heightened sense of urgency to federal political parties’ annual year-end fundraising frenzy.

The email blasts from the three main parties have been coming fast and furious over the past few weeks, urging supporters — as they do every year — to donate before Dec. 31 in order to qualify for a tax credit in the current year.

But they’ve also played heavily on the notion that every penny is desperately needed to fight and win the next election, scheduled for October 2015.

“You will provide the extra dollars we’ll need to help Conservative candidates win the big Federal Election in 2015 when 338 seats are up for grabs,” the ruling party said in a recent “special alert” fundraising missive.

“Make no mistake: This is truly urgent. Your help is needed now.”

Some opposition party pitches for money have ratcheted up the urgency quotient by warning of the possibility that an election campaign could be just weeks away — if Prime Minister Stephen Harper breaks his fixed-date election law.

“If the pundits are right and Stephen Harper calls an early election, this (Dec. 31) could be the last fundraising deadline of our campaign,” warned an NDP missive sent out over the past weekend.

The fundraising appeals don’t mention it but there is another big reason why the parties are eager to pump up their donation hauls: the per-vote public subsidy on which they’ve relied since 2006 comes to end in the new year.

The Harper government has been gradually phasing out that subsidy over the past several years but it was still worth $3.7 million to the Conservatives in 2014, $2.8 million to the NDP and $1.8 million to the Liberals. In 2015, they’ll get nothing.

“It’s a lot to make up,” said NDP national director Anne McGrath. “So I think that partly explains why you’ve seen all the political parties really accelerate their fundraising efforts.”

New Democrats will have another hole to fill in their coffers in the new year as a new cap of $1,500 on bequests to political parties goes into effect. The NDP has been the primary beneficiary of bequests in the past, raking in more than $800,000 from the estates of fewer than 20 deceased supporters between 2007 and 2012.

While many might consider the constant appeals for money to be an annoyance, McGrath says there’s “a real science and art” to it. Among other things, each party tries to find the message and messenger most likely to trigger donations and tries to tailor its appeals to a supporter’s financial circumstances and donation history.

A glimpse of the varying strategies employed by the three main parties can be seen in the differing amounts of money each has been soliciting lately from supporters who’ve donated little or nothing thus far: the Conservatives have been asking supporters to chip in $15 to $45, the NDP $5 and the Liberals just $3.

“We know that most Canadians don’t have a lot of disposable income to be donating to political parties,” said Liberal national director Jeremy Broadhurst.

Since the Liberal party dropped its “minimum ask” to $3 about a year ago, Broadhurst said the number of donors has increased “dramatically.”

The small amounts requested by both the Liberals and NDP are evidence of what is known in political organizing circles as the “ladder of engagement” — the notion that if a person gets involved in a party in a small way, they can be encouraged over time to get more involved.

“We’ve seen that once a person has donated once, they are far more likely to further engage with the party, sometimes by donating again but also by becoming a member, participating in the party’s open nomination process or volunteering for the party,” said Broadhurst.

“If we were setting the bar too high on that initial (donation) ask, we could risk losing that ongoing engagement before it even gets started.”

McGrath noted that fundraising appeals are “segmented” so that the message and the “ask” would be different for those who’ve previously donated.

Conservative party spokesman Cory Hann declined to say why his party has been asking for larger donations than either opposition party, saying “our fundraising strategy is an internal matter.” But it may reflect the fact that the ruling party has a more established donor base and its supporters are higher up the “ladder of engagement” than either the Liberals or NDP supporters.

“I can say that our fundraising totals show that Canadians have been responding and donating so the prime minister can continue his strong, dependable leadership,” Hann said.

The Conservatives have been the undisputed champions of fundraising since 2006, when corporate and union donations on which the Liberals and NDP respectively had relied, were prohibited and strict caps were put on individual donations.

However, the Liberals have been steadily eroding the Conservatives’ fundraising advantage since Justin Trudeau became Grit leader 20 months ago.

Last year, the Tories raked in $18.1 million, compared to $11.3 million for the Liberals and $8.2 million for the NDP.

In the first nine months of this year, the Tories pulled in $13.5 million to the Liberals’ $10 million and the NDP’s $5.7 million.

Just Posted

Patrons practice on a putting green as the Whitestone Bridge looms in the distance at Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point in the Bronx borough of New York on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. Former President Donald Trump has a rich history of fighting back when he’s down and making others pay, and that’s exactly how he intends to deal with New York City over its plans to fire his company from running the city golf course. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dump Trump? Kicking him off NYC golf course may not be easy

Trump Organization has been reeling after the Capitol riots

A photo illustration made December 14, 2012 in Montreal shows a computer in chains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Irish health system says it’s targeted in ransomware attack

Health care systems have been a target before

A woman wearing a mask talks on her phone near an exhibition depicting a rover in Mars in Beijing on Friday, May 14, 2021. China says its Mars probe and accompanying rover are to land on the red planet sometime between early Saturday morning and Wednesday Beijing time. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
China Mars rover to land between Saturday and Wednesday

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars

Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes on a building in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians flee as Israeli artillery pounds northern Gaza

Israel called up 9,000 reservists as fighting intensifies

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Team Canada’s head coach Troy Ryan talks with players before the start of the of the Rivalry Series at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, February 3, 2020. Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., has been named head coach of Canada’s women’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Troy Ryan to coach Canadian women’s hockey team in 2022 Winter Olympics

Ryan was Canada’s assistant coach from 2016 to 2019

FILE- In this April 19, 2021, file photo, people wearing masks as a precaution against the coronavirus wait to test for COVID-19 at a hospital in Hyderabad, India. Misinformation about the coronavirus is surging in India as the death toll from COVID-19 rises. Fueled by anguish, distrust and political polarization, the claims are further compounding India’s crisis. (AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A, File)
Misinformation surges amid India’s COVID-19 calamity

Distrust of Western vaccines and health care also driving misinformation

FILE - In this Friday March 6, 2020, file photo, Britain’s Prince Harry visits the Silverstone Circuit, in Towcester, England. In an episode of the “Armchair Expert” podcast broadcast Thursday, May 13, 2021, Prince Harry compared his royal experience to being on “The Truman Show” and “living in a zoo.” (Peter Nicholls/Pool Photo via AP, File)
Prince Harry thought about quitting royal life in his 20s

Feared his family would have to deal with the same spotlight that was on his late mother

Opinion
Mental health: Gossiping, backbiting and forming factions is unhealthy

We all know of dysfunctional organizations, which can be as troublesome as… Continue reading

Family practice physician Christina Tuomi, D.O., (right) gets Homer's first dose of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from Emergency Department nurse Steve Hughes (left) on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020 at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Alaska. Tuomi has been the hospital's medical lead throughout the pandemic. (Photo courtesy Derotha Ferraro/South Peninsula Hospital)
Alberta physicians: Vaccines are our path forward

As the AMA representatives for Alberta’s family physicians, we were immensely relieved… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Nils Hoglander, right, is checked by Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom during third-period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Thursday, May 13, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Lindholm, Tkachuk lead Calgary Flames in 4-1 win over Vancouver Canucks

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, right, drives to the basket against Toronto Raptors center Khem Birch, left, and guard Jalen Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Thursday, May 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

LaVine, Markkanen lead Bulls past Raptors, 114-102

Most Read