The by-elections earlier this year give us a bit of a snapshot into the finances of the political parties involved what surprised me is how financially badly off the BC Conservatives are.
In 2011 the party managed to raise $212,797 and spend $101,726 for a net surplus of $111,071 - average money raised per month $17,733 and spent $8477. On December 31st 2011 the BC Conservatives had a net worth of $115,326, all off of that cash on hand.
In 2012 through to April 19th the BC Conservatives had raised $89,563.44 of which they spent $63,925.64 related to the by-elections and such - $19,260 given to the Christine Clark campaign and $37,918.50 given to the John Martin campaign. This left them $25,637.80 ahead after the by-elections, but this does not count the normal party operation costs. If the party averaged the same cost as the year before this would have been an expenses of around $30,000. This means the party could have gone into their reserves slightly during the by-elections but still should have over $100,000 in the bank.
Average money raised from January 1st to April 19th was $24,673 per month - one has to assume this is higher than it would otherwise have been because of the by-elections. If we are generous and say the party is now averaging $20,000 per month, this is still not a large surplus that is accumulating especially given the new $4000 a month expense for John Cummins' honorarium. Now, how much will have the recent infighting have harmed the finances of the party? That is hard to say but it will have had some measurable impact as at least one director has noted a decrease.
If we assume party expenses for 2012 will be close to $200,000 and total fundraising will be about $250,000, this means the party will have a surplus of $50,000 for 2012. Adding this to what they come into 2012 with means they will have a war chest of only $165,000 going into 2013 and getting ready for the election. This is not nearly enough to make any impact on the election
To give you an idea how far $165,000 is from what is needed you only need to look at the spending in the 2012 by-elections. For the two by-elections in 2012 the BC Liberals candidates spent $186,727.01 and the two NDP candidates $182,911.85. The BC Liberal party spent another $70,440 and the NDP $60,337.38. In just two races the two major parties spent significantly more than the resources the BC Conservatives are likely to have on January 1st 2013.
When you are going into an election you really need to have the majority of your money in place several months ahead of time. One example of why this is important is because it is much more cost effective to get your brochures and signs printed up before the election starts. As someone that has had to buy campaign signs during an election, it takes precious time and can easily cost more than twice as much because you will need air shipping to get to in time. The BC Conservatives will not be ready to order materials in January and are likely going to have to wait till the actual writ is dropped.
The BC Conservatives should be averaging at least $50,000 per month and realistically more like $100,000 to get them to the level of financial support they need to fight an election. They need to be entering 2013 with $500,000 in the bank as a minimum and $50,000 in the bank accounts of the 20 top target ridings. So why are the BC Conservatives not reaching this amount?
Clearly membership is not nearly as large as I had thought it would be by now, the number of small contributors in 2011 was 2,146 but in 2012 to date it only was been 1280. In the run up to the two by-elections, one of which was truly crucial to the party, the party could not get even get half of their 2011 donors to contribute. The party is also not getting any sort of corporate donations. You would think some red neck truckers or small business owners would have given money, but in 2012 that number has been zero. The party should be able to raise $500,000 a year from businesses without too much difficulty