I’ve done a lot of fundraising over the years. Raising money for political contributions might be the biggest challenge yet. Nevertheless, I’m going to ask this bluntly:
Will you please donate to my riding and my political party?
There are three reasons why I have the guts to ask you this so candidly.
1. I believe in the cause
You might say I’m a natural fundraiser. I founded Give a Day to World AIDS, which has raised over $4 million for people affected by HIV. As co-chair of the physician campaign at our hospital I helped raise over $1 million in donations from local doctors for the Markham Stouffville Hospital expansion. It seems I’m raising money all the time: for TEDxStouffville; for educational programs at the Markham Family Medicine Teaching Unit; for Family Medicine programs in Ethiopia; and more. A friend once put out a public warning that people who aren’t inclined to charitable giving should avoid meeting me.
But make no mistake. That doesn’t mean I find it easy to ask for money. I do feel vulnerable and timid at times. I can only ask people to donate if I believe in the cause. In this case, I am asking you to make a political donation, because I believe we need a change in the political leadership of our country. I’m upset about the ways Canada has changed in the past decade. We need a better government. I believe I would be an effective representative in Ottawa for the people of my community. As a Member of Parliament, I could use my talents and energy to help improve peoples’ lives – in my community, in my country and around the world.
2. You are generous
If you’ve read this far, you are a generous person. You’d have moved on several sentences ago, if you weren’t open to the pitch. I’m asking you to donate because I believe you are generous and you want to give. There is scientific evidence that people are hard-wired for generosity. When I ask you to give, I’m convinced this can actually add to your happiness. I think you will find joy in contributing to a good cause.
One of my favourite Hausa proverbs is “Dukiya ba ta sa kyauta, sai zuciya.” This means: Wealth does not cause generosity, only the heart does. Some people assume that it’s easy for me to raise money because, as a doctor, I know a lot of affluent people. But affluence and generosity are not necessarily correlated. Perhaps they should be. In fact, a Bassar proverb warns, “If you are rich and not generous, it is as if you had nothing.” But I have learned that it is often the people who have the least that are most inclined to give liberally. Generosity is correlated with the size of your heart.
3. We need your donation
In 2015, if I am going to win the privilege of representing my riding in Ottawa, I need to fill a treasure chest before that campaign starts. (Note the metaphor. I’m not looking to build a war chest, but a treasure chest. This is not war.) A reality of modern politics is that it takes money to win. A person could be a superior candidate, but without adequate material resources, it could be very difficult to win a campaign. One of the reasons why the Conservative Party was successful in 2011 was the superiority of their fundraising program. But don’t worry; with your help, the federal Liberals are catching up.
When we get enough money in the riding association, we can use it for promotional materials, office space and staff. Eventually some will be transferred to campaign expenses including lawn signs and other communication costs. The limit of what our riding can spend for the campaign is about $75,000. It cannot come from corporate donations. It has to come from individuals like you. I’d like to get that money in the account now. The sooner I fill my treasure chest, the sooner I can focus all my energy on community-building and nation-building.
I’m asking you to do two things now.
Request Number 1: DONATE
Please make a donation. My first choice is that you donate through the Victory Fund. This is a monthly program where you can support my riding association and the Liberal Party of Canada. You can give as little as $10 per month ($5 to the Markham-Stouffville riding association and $5 to the national party.) Please note that you get a very generous tax credit. For example, you get 75% of your donation back in tax credits for the first $400 you donate each year. That means you can donate $10 each month and it only costs you $2.50!
Not sure how much to give monthly to the Victory Fund? My rule of thumb for political donations is that each month, you should give the equivalent of your hourly wage. If you make $10 per hour, I’d like you give $10 each month (one hour of work) to the Victory Fund, If you make $30 per hour, please consider giving $30 per month. If you prefer to make a one-time donation, of course, that is also greatly appreciated.
Request Number 2: LET ME KNOW!
When you make a one-time donation or a Victory Fund donation to my riding association, please let me know. Write to me at email@example.com. Of course I’ll get a notification through formal channels, but I’d also like to hear from you directly. I want to thank you personally. I’ve embarked on this quest to become a Member of Parliament, believing that it is a collective effort. I couldn’t do it without the extraordinary support of my family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.
One of my favourite authors, Chinua Achebe, wrote: “We do not pray to have more money but to have more kinsmen.” As you join me in this effort to build a better country, you are my kin.