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Liberal Fundraising Up – But Is It At A Cost?

As you’ve seen on here if you follow me, the Liberal Party’s Biennial Convention is coming up this month. As you also know, I’ll be there as an accredited blogger to cover the policy resolutions passed, and the elections, and so forth. Since that has been known, I’ve had some Liberals email me from Liberal-land who say not everything is all roses with the record haul of money we brought in last quarter.

One specific quote, which I asked if I could do verbatim (provided I keep the person anonymous) was this, where the person said and asserted the following:

The party is on a record fund-raising streak, but riding associations are abandoned. It’s difficult for associations to raise money because there are so many calls from the national party that the local association cannot compete, and smaller riding associations are getting starved. If the party wants to strengthen at the grassroots, it needs to put its substantial fund-raising might into both the national and local levels or the lopsided fund-raising will end up damaging our ability to fight tightly contested ridings.

Related to this, it was told to me that at the PLCQ convention in Drummondville in the past month/month and a half, an audience member got a standing ovation from the assembled delegates for criticizing the over-abundance of fund-raising requests, and saying that people in the party want to see more then just fund-raising requests all the time.

That is the gist of the complaints/conversation I’ve been getting. This is obviously being sent to me pre-Biennial to put it on the LPC’s radar, but I find their concerns to have merit, since I, like every other Liberal member, got inundated on email every day it seemed to donate and donate more.

My blogpost might end here, but for a personal thing that recently happened with me that I felt was related to this discussion. I received an email from Katie Telford, who is a senior adviser to Justin Trudeau. That email was asking me to renew my membership in their drive to get 5000 new or renewed members by a deadline they had set. The problem was I’d already renewed that membership – the first week of January. I shouldn’t have even been on that list of email.. unless they’d not gotten around to renewing yet.. because my Visa showed they took my money 🙂

That led me to wonder how well our database is/was getting updated with current information, so I decided to fire off an email to a couple of people in the LPC leadership and party office. I first wrote Ms. Telford, who wrote back apologizing, saying it apparently was to do with a duplicate record that had erroneous information, and that it had been corrected (and I thanked her for for that).

Next, on the advice of Kate Purchase, who works in Justin Trudeau’s Leader’s Office, I wrote to AndrĂ©e-Lyne HallĂ©, Communications Manager for the LPC (and who has been handling the accreditation process for bloggers and media for the Biennial) and I asked her if she’d like to comment on these concerns. This is her reply on behalf of the LPC:

We need a strong, well-funded Party in order to contend in the next election. The funds required for ad campaigns, getting the Leader out across the country and building our mobilization capacity, will ultimately help everyone. We appreciate the feedback. As we ramp up our fundraising efforts to try to close the gap with the Conservatives and raise what is needed to be ready for the next election, we need to look at what is working and understand where there are challenges.

Sustained funding at the riding level is equally essential. That’s why the Party has integrated Victory Fund into all its fundraising channels. As you probably know, Victory Fund is a monthly subscription giving program which is primarily designed to raise money for the local ridings. Our efforts have seen a substantial increase in the Victory Fund program and the primary beneficiary of that are riding associations across the country. You are totally right, we need well-funded ridings all across the country and that is essential to us. That is why our fundraising plan puts a lot of importance to the growth of the Victory Fund.

In terms of data and what you mention about your membership renewal, there are always some issues of duplicate records or timing differences and we are working to close those gaps.

Lastly, I decided to fire off some emails to the 2 people running to be the Liberal Party of Canada President; Brian Rice and Anna Gainey, to see if they wanted to comment.

Brian’s reply was this:

I understand that Liberals across Canada are feeling overwhelmed by these appeals, but the truth is that fundraising emails work (but) for a successful long term relationship with our donors we need to improve the content and delivery of these emails so that our supporters understand how important their donations are to us. They need to see us being effective in Ottawa and they need to feel like they’re getting something of value for their contributions.

Through a contact I know who is an Anna Gainey supporter, I also sent off the same question to Anna Gainey and her team last week, but as of this blogposting, she and/or her team have not responded or commented. If she or her team sends in a quote, I’ll be happy to update this posting to reflect her commentary.

My own opinion? I’m a bit removed from LPC Headquarters and also away from some of these riding associations that have complaints about being starved of funds, so I don’t feel it’s fair to offer an opinion one way or the other, though I’m like other Liberals who feel the fundraising appeals were being way overdone. That said, I much prefer having a program that can raise money, which we as a party were having trouble with, so I hope that a medium can be found.

Hopefully, I can follow up on this post from Montreal, if I can get more details and more opinions from some folks.

3 comments to Liberal Fundraising Up – But Is It At A Cost?

  • Caprice Barbour

    I am glad that Brian answered. He is always willing to respond to questions. I just wanted to add that HQ should make more of an effort to accommodate those of us trying to do our Judy LaMarsh/Laurier Club donation via Visa Debit. Yeah I know that it is new and most folks use regular credit cards but if I am willing to max out my donation, they should get with it!

    Just my rant for the day!

    Caprice

  • This is how Conservatives raise money. Every email, every event, and every time they’re in front of supporters, they ask for money – sometimes two and three times. They remind people that their donations are appreciated and that donations are the only way to support the cause.

    Liberals are not used to this. It’s something I’ve long advocated.

    The unfortunate truth is, you can’t win elections on ideas alone. While this will irritate some, with no more corporate donations at the federal level, this is a strategy that works.

  • Jennifer Ross

    I too understand that we need to raise funds, and while I can well understand how some view the constant emails as excessive, I was able to just hit delete most of the time. But then something happened that made me want, no NEED to give, and this is where I have a problem.

    I wanted to tell them, specifically, why I was giving–to reinforce what I found so stupendous it made me give up my week’s lunch money–to reward the good thing, not just that they wore me down by asking.

    I did ask the party to put a free-form comment box on the online donation page, and did get a reply that it would go to a meeting for discussion, but haven’t heard back so I guess that was a no. But to me, the excitement that can’t be shared is not just money “wasted” on my part, it is far less likely I’ll have the same enthusiasm another time.

    I think the Victory Fund is working well for the ridings, and as long as Fundraising Chairs understand ‘Do Not Have the Big Fundraiser Anywhere Near Christmas,’ I think it should be minimal impact. The other thing of course is that when candidates are fundraising, the focus will tend to leave National and go to the EDAs and candidates, so National had better get it while they can.

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