Thursday, January 31, 2008

On Fundraising

Elections Canada has just released fourth-quarter financial returns for national political parties. The Conservatives have again outstripped the Liberal Party. The Cons raised just under $5 million from 44,000 contributors. This is an average contribution of something like $110. The Liberals, by contrast, raised just under $2 million from about 14,000 Canadians for an average contribution of $143.

The Conservative fundraising machine is still far superior to the Liberal's; they continue to raise more money in smaller donations. These small donations are the key to success in the post-C-24 world. As donors are quite limited in total annual giving, parties who can raise small amounts of money from regular donors are better off. They can return to these donors when in need rather than having to find altogether new donors. So, the Conservatives appear to maintain the advantage, both in total donations and in the average size of donations.

I should note, however, that it is not all bad for the Liberals. Indeed, comparing this quarter's returns with the previous three quarters suggests that they are getting their act together. In the first quarter of last year the party raised just half a million dollars. They increased that to $1.2 million in the second quarter but it dipped down to just $800,000 in the third quarter. So, their fourth quarter was a big improvement. As importantly, they are increasing the number of donors, from just 4300 in the first quarter to 13,618 this quarter. While they average donation per donor is going up (up 17% from Q1) the number of donations is going up faster (up 311% from Q1). This is the key figure and those slogging away in party headquarters should take some real pride in it.

The Liberal Party still has a long way to go in matching the fundraising capabilities of the Conservatives; an ability which is a result not of wealthy donors but an ability to engage partisans. But they are on the right path. Which is all the more reason for Harper to go to the polls soon.

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