Political fundraising drops off a cliff but NDP, Greens buck the trend

By Sabrina Nanji August 6, 2020

Ontario’s main political parties put fundraising on the backburner during tough pandemic times, but they continue to rake in cash donations. 
According to Queen’s Park Today‘s analysis of Elections Ontario data, the PCs led the pack with about $1,376,770 so far this year. 
While they rank third at the legislature, the Liberals came in a close second, earning around $1,294,436 in the first seven months of 2020. 
Both the Tories and the Liberals — which have taken turns leading in a recent spate of public-opinion polls — saw donations dip during the height of the pandemic, when many folks were struggling with shutdowns, layoffs and reduced work compared to earlier in the year. 
Between January and March, the Tories clocked more than $1.27 million, but then donations dwindled in April and beyond, to the tune of about $101,579.
Grit donations also slumped. The party pocketed roughly $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2020 and $198,274 in the following months. 
That doesn’t include all the cash hauled in from the March leadership race where Steven Del Duca was crowned the new party captain. Election fundraising rules allow individuals to contribute $1,625 annually to a political party, as well as to a leadership contestant, doubling loyal Grits’ fundraising power (but much of that cash does not go directly to party coffers, so Queen’s Park Today excluded it from this analysis).
Leadership race aside, the Liberals likely got a boost from campaigning and fundraising hard ahead of two February byelections held in historically Grit bastions in Ottawa, which they ended up winning. Donors to all parties could have also coughed up a total of $1,625 for those byelections (because they were held on the same day, they were considered one campaign). 
But not all parties saw less money coming in. The official Opposition NDP and one-sitting-member Green Party posted an uptick in pandemic-era donations. 
From January to March, the New Democrats earned $128,374, versus $467,952 from April through July. Over that same timeline the Green Party earned $56,753 in the first three months of the year, and $164,873 in the following four. 
The NDP and Greens have brought in about $596,329 and $221,628 respectively in 2020. 
While the parties suspended fundraising activities in March, around the time the state of emergency was declared, the NDP, Greens and Liberals say they’ve slowly restarted efforts. The NDP appeared to be earliest out of the gate and sent fundraising email blasts in late May.