In a city of 900 000 voters, it costs money to run an election campaign.
Ideally, our city council campaign will be able to fundraise to pay a few staff to coordinate volunteers, but at the bare minimum, we still have to pay for materials like flyers and yard signs. In a city as big as Brisbane, those costs add up.
In Queensland, t
here’s no public/government funding of local council election campaigns, so parties/candidates are reliant on donations. This can be problematic though, because very wealthy donors might try to use the promise of big donations to influence a party’s policy position or secure greater access to a political representative.
Our campaign doesn’t take financial donations from businesses. Most of the money we’ve raised so far has come from smaller donations in the range of $20 to $200, plus a bit from selling t-shirts etc.
But we’re still deciding what the maximum amount is that we’d be willing to accept as a donation from a single person (even if that money is offered on a no-strings-attached basis).
If a wealthy Greens supporter reached out to my campaign team and said, “I really like your policies and I want to support you to win, so here’s $200 000” should we accept it? My inclination is ‘no.’ We shouldn’t accept really big donations from individuals, even if they are offered without any expectation of getting something in return.
But what should the limit be? What donation cap threshold should our campaign set? $5000? $10 000? $20 000?
These are tricky questions, because if we refuse big donations, it means we have less money to pay people who are otherwise volunteering long hours on the campaign. But on the other hand, taking tens of thousands of dollars from wealthy individuals could be a slippery slope towards corruption.
So what do you think? We’re running a simple one-question survey of our supporters to help us decide what the limit should be (or if there shouldn’t be a limit at all).
In case you’re wondering, so far the biggest donation the mayoral campaign has received is $2000, but we’re expecting a few more larger donations to flow in as we get closer to the election.