NDP debt-free thanks to surge in online donations

The NDP has retired its debt from the 2011 election with another election not expected until 2015 - the earliest the party has found itself in the black before an election.

The NDP is assured of starting the next election campaign with money in the bank.

Last week, the Official Opposition paid off its debt from the 2011 election, the last of some $6.75 million that had been borrowed to finance the campaign.

With the next election not expected until October 2015, it's the earliest the NDP has found itself free of debt before a campaign.

NDP national director Nathan Rotman, said it is mostly due to the party's success in ramping up its online donation program, with online contributions more than doubling in the past year.

“Now our focus will be to continue expand our fundraising as public financing whittles down more and more each year. And start to put away a nest egg to run a really strong campaign in 2015,” Rotman said.

A taxpayer subsidy to political parties based on their share of the popular vote will be fully phased out by next year.

Even with some money saved, the party still expects to have to go back to the bank for a loan for the next campaign.

But Rotman said there has been steady growth in terms of the number of donors and contribution amounts.

“Our donations, which have traditionally been much smaller, are starting to rise in line with the other parties," Rotman said.

The number of party donors rose to 43,000 in 2012 from 22,800 in 2010. Numbers for last year are not yet available.

Starting the year in the black may be a milestone for the NDP, but it’s still small potatoes compared to the powerful Conservative fundraising machine.

That party’s chief fundraiser, Senator Irving Gerstein, confirmed at the Conservative convention in the fall that his party has no debt and more than $14 million in the bank.

The Liberals did not comment on the party's debt, but pointed to strong fundraising in December that collected more than $2.1 million from more than 32,000 donors.


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