Five New Year’s Resolutions for Liberal Democrats #3

I’m suggesting five New Year’s resolutions that Liberal Democrats should make for 2016. Here’s the third.

Sort our fundraising out

Any professional fundraiser knows that it takes years to establish a successful fundraising operation. In politics, that’s much more difficult to do because of the electoral cycle and general political climate. Professional fundraisers might baulk at the way in which we as a party ask people for money so frequently and by our increased use of digital fundraising. In some ways they may be right, but they also need to understand more about the rapidly changing environment in which we operate.

Candidates and campaign teams at all levels are going to have to be much more strategic about how we approach raising money to pay for our campaigns in the future, particularly when many of them are facing well-fundsd opponents carpet bombing their target areas with phone calls, emails, direct mail and literature. There is a huge disparity between what we can afford and they can so we need to be more creative in use of free stuff and work out how we can seriously raise some more money. It will increasingly come down to local campaigns having to do it for themselves rather than relying on the national party to do it for them. However, we need a national operation too, to help build our capacity on the ground in all parts of the country and that costs money. If we are to grow again, we need to make much more progress.

In the couple of years before the election, we were doing really well, regularly out-pacing the Labour party on donations from individuals, but the environment is a great deal different now. We are still relevant and we are still key players in Scotland, Wales and across the UK, but we need more money even to stand still. There’s no chance that the Tories are going to reform party funding, other than to try to limit union donations to Labour, because it suits them fine the way it is. The challenge this presents to us is significant.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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3 Comments

  • “still key players in Scotland” debatable. Sitting last in the polls with less than half the green vote in the List and with conflict over the carmichael debacle in the two constituency seats. The SNP can afford to throw everything at orkney and Shetland. In other areas the list is going to be difficult. With the worst GE result since 1974 no MEP 1 councillor in Glasgow and three in Edinburgh voters are going to question the relevance of the party.

  • David Evans 3rd Jan '16 - 2:50pm

    Having read NYRs 1-3 I would suggest just one New Year’s Resolution. Stop rearranging deckchairs and ask our ex-voters what they would want to start voting for us again. Then we will know where we need to spend what little money we have.

  • Simon Banks 4th Jan '16 - 4:08pm

    And then, David, we’d automatically do it? I suspect most of the messages we’d get would be very sound, but we spent too much time during the coalition doing what the polls said would be popular.

    I share the concern about repeated calls for money. That way we risk losing members and making the ones we keep unreceptive when, for example, there is a by-election we really could win.

    But there is another way of dealing with richer opponents – make more use of social media. And though we’d still need to get the message right, we’re moving in the right direction and the best of messages still needs resources.

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