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Liberals need to learn grassroots/netroots fundraising lessons – and quickly.

So, the Conservatives and NDP folks are gloating a bit over this report that shows the Liberals lagging even the NDP in fundraising for the first 3 months of 2007. While I wouldn’t be so quick to say it’s due to a lack of inspiration in Dion’s leadership (I find it odd for a Conservative spokesperson to gloat when they’ve dropped 10% in the last month in public opinion polls), it does to me point out that the Liberal hierarchy still hasn’t learned how to play in the rules of the new fundraising game now that corporate donations are severely limited.

Quite honestly, I’m actually glad we have that limitation in place – it’s less likely we will “owe” any of the multinational corporations any favours or be seen as in their pockets. But, I just wonder if the Liberal braintrust is really “getting it”.

Howard Dean was invited to speak to the Liberal Convention in Dec/06. I’m beginning to think it might be a good idea to get Joe Trippi – his campaign guy who helped get Dean’s grass/netroots funding off the ground – back up here to tell or show the Liberals how to get a better system in place… because whatever they’ve done so far hasn’t produced results.

There are also some smart folks at the largest liberal Democratic blog Daily Kos who know how to fund-raise for candidates they like in the Democratic Party they support. Maybe someone in Liberal HQ  should be giving Markos a call, or if not a call, at least order and read his critically acclaimed book, Crashing The Gate, Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics


12 comments to Liberals need to learn grassroots/netroots fundraising lessons – and quickly.

  • Olaf (and Jason H.):

    Having one’s own site and being affiliated with a particular party also allows me to write posts that are designed to poke at the Conservative Party or their blogging supporters. Consider that polling post to be in such a vein (as well as listing where they probably are losing support for).

    Seeing the reaction it got from you, obviously the post worked 😉

  • Scott,

    Obviously, I don’t have a problem with you supporting the Liberals, and putting a good “spin” on controversial events – everyone does this to a greater or lesser degree. My problem is how party affiliation has seemed to affect your judgement on relatively straightforward matters of consistency. I mean, do you really, objectively, find polls more realistic, believable or worthy of consideration when they show the Liberals up? This seems to be the position you’re taking more and more -that a poll is only as substantial as it is preferable to you – which is disconcerting and doesn’t bode well for your credibility, in my opinion.

    I’ll give you an example, from Steve’s post a while back, where he said:

    If you want to take the SES poll numbers as proof that the Liberals are still viable, and Harper is well short of majority territory, then you also have to accept the (negative) leadership numbers at face value.

    Does Steve take a Liberal perspective, focus on Liberal successes and sometimes ignore Liberal weaknesses? Sure. Is he far more critical of the CPC than the Liberals? Of course, he’s a Liberal. But he doesn’t try to manipulate objective reality in the process.

    Anyways, I’m just making the point that you seem to be slipping in this direction. Just one mans friendly opinion though, so feel free to ignore it completely.

  • Whooee! I reckon when people are inspired, they give money. I don’t watch Merkan Idol as a rule but last night I seen the last 5 minutes. GWB come on and patted all the generous viewers fer their $70 million in charity contributions raised in a 2 week campaign.

    In 2004, Howard Dean raised something like $40 mil through online fundraising.

    If Liberal supporters are motivated and offered a compelling message and simple way to send money, they can catch up. They need to be motivated. Roused. I hate to once again point the finger at Dion but I can’t help but think his style is not motivational enough. His quiet intellectualism inspires respect but I think people want to back a fighter — a fierce fighter who goes toe-to-toe with the competition.

    I think people donate to parties not because the party needs the money but because they believe in the party and believe in the party’s chances to win.

    I’m a GPC member and I pay my dues. I’ve only made an additional financial contribution once. That was when Lizzie may ran in LNC and I sent $99 to the local campaign. I saw a chance for victory and I felt my $99 could buy a few pamphlets or lawn signs or maybe even coffee for some canvassers. Despite my strong ideological support for the GPC, I would likely not have made an extra donation if I didn’t think there was a chance at victory. Also, I was asked in an inspiring email to do what I could.

    The most recent polls bode well for LPC fundraising. People want to back a contender.


  • I wonder if it has anything to do with lack of accountability to members. I know that if my party didn’t want me to vote as an ordinary member for the leader unless I could afford some huge delegate fee, I wouldn’t feel much like donating more. Similarly, as I’ve said before, if I were a Liberal in Central Nova, I’d probably be telling the fundraisers to FO when they call me. Even with donations, people want some value for their money and that means local control….

  • I’m in the Liberal Party because of Dion. Of COURSE I’m going to write stuff supporting them. For you to think otherwise is silly. If you want to call me a Liberal hack or whatever because of that, thats not my problem.

    Indeed. Not to speak for Olaf, but it seems as though his point wasn’t that you are now openly a part of a political party, but rather that your outlook on polls has apparently switched on a dime simply because you’re team is up a point.

    But leave that be for a minute. If you are going to make a deal over these polss, then consider this: If you compare Decima poll to Decima poll (in other words, apples to apples) … well, remember this post of yours from Feb 20? In case the link doesn’t work, here’s the money quote:

    Decima’s results, provided exclusively to The Canadian Press, place the Conservatives at 32 per cent and the Liberals at 30 per cent. The NDP was at 15 per cent, the Green party was at 11 per cent and the Bloc Quebecois was at nine per cent nationally.

    So, after a lousy couple of weeks at least, the big movement between the “big 2” parties has been, according to Decima, a drop of 1 point by the Tories, and a gain of 2 points by the Liberals. Not exactly a huge surge in any direction for anyone.

    Personally, I think it’s stupid for either side to get too excited and/or worried about polls at this stage; as I’ve said in the past, at my much-neglected and much-less-read-than-yours site, it’s stupid to panic or gloat too much about a survey at this point in time.

  • Jayson

    I imagine many Liberal donors gave as much as they could to the party, the leadership candidates, convention fees, Laurier Club, etc during the last 2 quarters of 2006.
    Fatigue indeed.
    There is no doubt that LPC needs to get better at motivating the base to contribute. The weekly emails have been a great 1st step. I would expect more to come.

  • Lynne

    A stretch here, but could it be a little case of donator fatique? The leadership race was not that long ago and people donated to that.

    I’m guilty. I’ve been sitting on my membership renewal and donation because I felt like I just gave.

    It was a reminder though, to get going on it.

    What’s that saying? Oh ya, “money can’t buy you love”.

  • I predicted this in December. People like me, who donate to political parties, refrain when the party we support tells us that we are still going to be excluded by a quota based convention system that leaves 90% of us on the sidelines. Worse still we have to accept disproprotionate representation for youth in what is quickly becoming one of the oldest countries in the world.

    If the Liberals want their members to send the cash, they had better start listening to the members instead of listening to special interest groups within the Liberal power structure.

  • “frankly – you’ve more or less gone Cherniak.”

    Olaf, there’s no reason for such vulgar profanity.


    This fundraising is devastating. The only excuse, leadership hangover, but given all the election talk, and the sense of urgency, that’s not really credible.

    The lesson of the Dean campaign, was there ability to motivate the base. There was a passion there that filled the Dean Bats that Trippi put up, it became a cause. The Conservatives have a passionate base and that is why they excel in fundraising.

    I honestly believe this objective failure goes beyond learning the ropes of a new system. Less than half what the NDP raised? Geez.

  • Umm.. aren’t you leaving this in the wrong message thread? The poll message thread is one message below 🙂

    And quite frankly, Olaf.. you weren’t reading very well at Prog Blog then. I’ve always been anti-Conservative/Anti-Harper. I still maintain a much better view of the other parties like the NDP and the Greens then a lot of my Liberal blogging brethren, but I’ve always been harsh on this conservative batch, and that hasn’t changed with my now becoming a Liberal.

    I’m in the Liberal Party because of Dion. Of COURSE I’m going to write stuff supporting them. For you to think otherwise is silly. If you want to call me a Liberal hack or whatever because of that, thats not my problem.

    (This wasn’t exactly a rah-rah Liberal message either. Ironic you’d choose to decry my so-called partisanship in this particular blogpost).

  • Scott,

    You’re a riot.

    I find it odd for a Conservative spokesperson to gloat when they’ve dropped 10% in the last month in public opinion polls

    Every time a poll came out that had the Conservatives anywhere close to majority territory (which were certainly far more numerous than those that have shown them dropping 10% in the las month), your posts were filled with skepticism, apologies, excuses and obfuscation – anything to avoid taking the polls at face value. And generally, I agreed with you – polls are notoriously fickle and rarely indicate anything of lasting importance. So when you would brush them off (oh, it was just a Decima poll, oh, Stephen Harper was this low before the 2006 election, oh, it was an internet poll, oh, the margin of error is much closer, etc. etc. etc.), I could deal with it.

    But then, once a single poll comes out that’s more to your preference (eg. showing the the Liberals and the Tories statistically tied, which is a modest victory at best), you revere it, and quote it, as if all of a sudden polls mean something again once they’re more to your personal liking.

    No offence, but in my opinion, the level to which you let your partisan biases corrupt any level of consistency your readers once enjoyed has become far more glaring after you officially joined the Liberals. I very rarely agreed with what you said at ProgBlogs, but I took it at face value and considered it. Now, it’s becoming embarrassing, frankly – you’ve more or less gone Cherniak.

    Hope you can come back to us one day. :em36:

  • knb

    Hmm. I don’t think there has been enough time to turn the machine around, but your point is well taken. For the con’s to gloat in any form is to be expected.

    I’m with you, it’s not about Dion, it’s about a new way of doing business. Fair enough, time to rally and get it going.

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