When I talked to some of our colleagues in other Green Parties in other countries and asked them about their finances, they tended to react in disbelief when I explained that the contributions that members make to the party are a mainstay or our financial resources. In many other countries, there is serious financing for political parties that comes from the taxpayer. This has a lot of benefits in terms of the quality of democracy. But we have the situation we have and we have to live with it.

Essentially, money could come from a variety of sources:

  • Governments and other political institutions – our elected members do receive money in this way and they do contribute a good chunk of that to the party. But because we have few elected representatives, this is far less than other parties have
  • Corporate donors – a major income source for the ‘big’ parties; we don’t have that source of income for good reasons.
  • Legacies – an unpredictable source of income
  • Donations and membership fees – that’s an important source of funding for us.

Membership fees come in through the national party and are distributed via capitation to the regions and local parties. In our conversations with members, this has come up quite a lot: mainly because capitations are often late and parties don’t know well in advance how much it is going to be. It makes planning difficult.

But we have also heard from some of you that you think dishing out this money evenly across the board as capitation doesn’t help target the money to those areas where we need it most because we have a reasonable chance of winning seats if we can throw enough money at it.

So that’s an issue we have to address.

Donations are mainly in response to fundraising appeals. They can come from the national party, from individuals, from regions, or from local parties. They are often linked to specific campaigns. You have told us you feel often that you get too many fundraising appeals and sometimes several at the same time.

Part of the problem here is planning. Broadly, we know when elections are going to be fought and we can plan probably 3 or 4 years out how much that will cost. We could have a 4 year financial plan with different scenarios: one, where we only count the money we need in the key target areas; one where we count the money we need in another band of areas where we think we can build up; one where we allow a certain amount in all areas to ensure that we can at least have non-target ward candidates across the board. Once we have done that, we can look at the implications for fundraising and give members decent information about what they are contributing to if they give money.

In both the local parties I have been involved in we have always been told regular small amounts of money (direct debits, each month, come election or not) is what makes the difference. And that is of course true. But if we know in advance when we need additional money (for deposits, for example, or extra leaflets, or a campaign bus, or billboards or whatever) then we can ‘save up’ for this in the years when we’re not focussing only on a live campaign.

So, no, we don’t talk enough about money.

  • We need to understand what we have.
  • We need to understand what we might be able to access (fundraising strategy: nationally, regionally, locally).
  • We need to understand the risks we face (not having enough, committing expenditure we can’t cover, misreporting to the authorities during elections, getting money from the ‘wrong’ donors, etc) and we need to make sure that we minimise those risks.

And we need to ensure that members know all this and get a clear picture of how they can best contribute within their means to make the GPEW the strongest party it can possibly be in a political and economic context pitched against us.

 

Categories: Updates

11 Comments

Nicole Haydock · June 7, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Absolutely. Talking about money is a very welcome step in the right direction if we are to have a sensible and rational debate about the Party’s future structure and organisation. It is good therefore to see “money” being brought into the HRC’s consultation process and review.

But before exploring external sources of funding from wealthy and sympathetic donors, or a possible change in the redistribution of membership fees through the capitation system, what all members need to be made aware of ( and not just the 1% who attend conference ) is exactly how much money we have and how that money is being used in the here and now.

And it is no use telling us that the accounts are on the members’ site as so few members actually know how to access it or if they do, cannot find what anything they need ! This being said, a link to the accounts from the members’ site would be welcome.

So if the HRC wishes to start talking about money in an open and honest way, all our members need to know is exactly how much we have and how what we have is being used. Only then will we all be able to make an informed contribution to that crucial aspect of the the Party’s ” radical reform ” agenda.

Nicole Haydock · June 7, 2018 at 3:03 pm

Submitted by Scott Bartle on Wed, 06/06/2018 – 20:45

Property to rent in London costs a fortune, Greens could have bought a property in a number of other regions for that – outright. Having a HQ in London is a drain, it doesn’t generate any income, it’s not sustainable and a a poor business model / way of investing members money.

Year end 2014

Office and premises costs: £134,179

Staff costs £530,193

Year end 2015

Office and premises costs: £186,869

Staff costs: £1,171,204

Year end 2016

Office and premises costs: £159,359

Staff costs: £1,160,898

2017 accounts aren’t with the electoral commission yet.

But as you can see, the party has been off its head having a premises in London.

There could have been premises ‘rented’ in multiple regions in the UK for that sort of money.

Likewise, the money could have gone towards paying down mortgages for property.

Alex Horn · June 8, 2018 at 11:03 pm

What’s wrong with corporate donations from green companies like Solar Century, Good Energy or even Vestas?

    Susan Jones · June 11, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I too would like us to seek and accept more corporate sponsorship. We need to build relationships with renewable energy companies, ethical green companies… there are loads around. It’d boost our profile and our bank balance, both of which are essential. We need to up the ante if we’re going to get the momentum required to combat climate change and habitat destruction.

      nicole haydock · June 11, 2018 at 6:48 pm

      So right Susan. We are pretty hopeless with seeking large donations from pro green businesses. From my limited knowledge of what we have done in the past about this is that we failed to employ a professional fund raiser. So short sighted…

        Paul Woodhead · June 11, 2018 at 8:16 pm

        I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment and if we are to compete with the other parties but to do this we need to demonstrate that we can achieve something from the money donated from these ethical or green industry businesses. These are businesses at the end of the day and motivated (in the main) by profit rather than an ideological basis. If they are to donate they will want to see actual change we can effect. This can be at a Local Council level and through our Councillors being supported to implement policies at local levels may attract funding for these Councillors and their support networks. We do very well with TTW and getting Councillors elected and we need to do more to support them in a coordinated manner to be effective councillors, develop links with local/green/ethical businesses and work to introduce policies in each council across the nation. If we do this we could demonstrate our impact and hence money from businesses

David Newman · June 11, 2018 at 5:30 pm

We need budgets and accountants. With a realistic costing of what is needed to do something we can set out budgets, use those as fundraising targets and check off, month by month, deviations from the planned expenditure.

That is now happening at the national party level, but needs to happen in local and regional parties. And to do it well we need to involve (or at least get advice from) accountants.

Underlying the budgets are realistic calculations of how much something costs. Start with what we want to achieve (e.g. elect 2 councillors), work out what we need to do (e.g. print 12 leaflets) and how much it costs (e.g. £1500), and then plan to raise that amount of money.

Unfortunately, too often we start with the amount they have in the kitty and talk about what we can’t do until we get more money. This results in doing things too late, as we found in the 2014 SE European Election campaign.

Paul Woodhead · June 11, 2018 at 8:24 pm

Another line towards funding is developing our relationships with other green and environmental campaigning groups in a similar manner to the Labour Party links with Trade Unions. If these campaigning groups want to achieve their objectives their best hope is for a Green Government or increased Green Party representation at Local Government, rather than excusing a “Green Wash” of Conservative/Labour/LibDem. They need to put their money where their mouth is and back us to deliver change

Nigel Hiley · June 12, 2018 at 8:07 am

I agree with the general comment that we need to talk about money. In general, I do not believe that we should be asking corporate donors to fund our organisation. This should not preclude us from approaching them for funding for individual campaigns but to accept corporate donations would leave us open to the charge of undue influence by those donors. We have only to look at the other political parties to see where this leads.
As regards funding for elections, it must make sense to put the majority of our funds into our winnable seats and also to help build our organisation in those areas between elections. We will only grow by focusing on our strengths. I live in an area with only a small chance of Green Party representation but hope to do what I can to help other stronger areas.

    Paul Woodhead · June 12, 2018 at 9:38 pm

    I agree with your concerns Nigel but believe this is about scale and influence. Attracting a small number of high value donors would lead to the concerns you express but a wider base of donors contributing smaller amounts (in relative terms) would dilute the potential for adverse influence.

    On your second point we will have many winnable Council seats so aiming at that level and our potential impact on local policy and economy could be more attractive – back to my point elsewhere on this thread that we need to prove we are able to deliver something for someone to give us money. If we wait for increased national winnable seats we will never be able to compete and deliver the scale of change we need to attract the donors – a bit chicken and egg

nicole haydock · June 12, 2018 at 4:11 pm

In a way, contributions so far show how divided we are on the issue of money. As far as I know, the Green Party is not against profit per se ; so asking for donations to businesses which are broadly sympathetic to our aims on climate change and saving the planet should not be pushed aside because of ” ideology”.

At the other end of the spectrum, the argument put that David Newsman about the need for accountants and an accountant’s approach to budgeting is fair enough. But if we do not have the money to start with, we still have a problem.

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