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Campaign contributions

A campaign contribution is the value of any money, property or services provided without compensation to a candidate for campaign use. A campaign contribution can be made at any time.

A campaign contribution can be a donation of money or goods, advance, deposit or discount. Campaign contributions of money can be made by cash, cheque, credit card or electronic funds transfer.

If a candidate gives money to their own campaign it is a campaign contribution and must be recorded and disclosed in the same way as all other campaign contributions.

A candidate giving money to their own campaign is making a campaign contribution.

Campaign contribution source restrictions

Campaign contributions can only be made by eligible individuals and cannot be made by organizations or any other individuals.

An eligible individual is:

  • a resident of British Columbia, and
  • a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident

Campaign contribution limits

Eligible individuals are subject to a limit for campaign contributions made to each candidate during a calendar year. This limit includes any loans made by an eligible individual to a candidate. The campaign contribution limit for each calendar year can be viewed on the Elections BC website at elections.bc.ca/lecf.

Candidates making contributions from their personal funds that are not endorsed by an elector organization can provide up to twice the campaign contribution limit in the calendar year of the election. They are subject to the regular campaign contribution limit in other years.

For candidates endorsed by an elector organization, the limit applies to the elector organization and all of its endorsed candidates in a jurisdiction. An eligible individual may not contribute more than the annual limit, in total, to the elector organization and its endorsed candidates for each calendar year. A group of candidates endorsed by the same elector organization can make additional contributions to the elector organization that do not exceed the contribution limit.

When a candidate receives endorsement from an elector organization, the financial agent for the candidate must provide all campaign contribution information to the financial agent of the elector organization to ensure that contributions from eligible individuals do not exceed the limit.

Campaign contribution limits are adjusted either by regulation or by changes to the consumer price index (CPI). Adjusted amounts will be published on the Elections BC website and in the B.C. Gazette.

Making and accepting campaign contributions

The following are rules for making and accepting campaign contributions:

  • Campaign contributions must be made to the financial agent or an individual authorized by the financial agent.
  • Only eligible individuals may make campaign contributions and financial agents and authorized individuals may only accept contributions from eligible individuals.
  • Campaign contributions of money must be deposited into the campaign account.
  • Financial agents and authorized individuals must ensure that contributions received from eligible individuals do not exceed the contribution limit.
  • When accepting a campaign contribution, the financial agent, or authorized individual, must record the value, the date the contribution was made and the required contributor information.
  • Contributors must provide information so that financial agents can meet their legal disclosure requirements.
  • Donated (in-kind) property or services must be assigned a market value, recorded and disclosed in the same way as contributions of money.

Crowdfunding, or crowdsourcing, through the Internet for campaign contributions is also permitted. The crowdfunding system must require the contributor to provide the value, the date the contribution was made and the required contributor information so the financial agent can record it. Anonymous contributions cannot be collected by crowdfunding or crowdsourcing over the Internet.

Anonymous contributions

Anonymous contributions of $50 or less are allowed. However, an eligible individual can only give a total of $50 in anonymous contributions to a single candidate. The financial agent must record the value and date of the contribution and how it was received.

An anonymous contribution of more than $50 is prohibited. It is also prohibited to accept multiple anonymous contributions from the same eligible individual totalling more than $50.

An anonymous contribution must be truly anonymous. This means that the financial agent or candidate does not know who made the contribution. It is not permissible for a contributor to ask that their contribution be anonymous.

Example

Candidate Ralph is hosting a social function and asks Michael, a volunteer for the campaign, to monitor a donation jar at the entrance. As attendees arrive, Michael observes that eight people make anonymous contributions totalling $112, and no one donates more than $50.

Are these anonymous contributions permissible?
Yes. They are permissible because no one has donated more than $50.

Discounted property or services

If property or services are provided by an eligible individual to the candidate at less than market value, the eligible individual is making a campaign contribution. The campaign contribution is the difference between the price paid and the market value.

Market value is the lowest price charged for an equivalent amount of property or services in the market area at the time.

Example

Jeremy is a sole proprietor of a sign shop and gives a special discount on signs to Alex for her election campaign. The signs would normally cost $1,500, but Alex is only charged $1,000. Jeremy has made a campaign contribution as an eligible individual.

What is the value of the contribution?
The campaign contribution is valued and recorded as $500 ($1,500 - $1,000).

Donated property or services

Donated property or services, also called in-kind contributions, may only be given by eligible individuals and must be recorded as a campaign contribution. The value of an in-kind campaign contribution is its market value.

The value of a candidate’s own property used in their own campaign is not a campaign contribution.

Example

Deanne donates wood for signs to Michelle’s campaign. The value of the wood is $500. Deanne is making a campaign contribution as an eligible individual.

What is the value of the contribution?
The value of the campaign contribution is $500.

Capital assets

Capital assets may include buildings, computers, office furniture and equipment. When capital assets are donated by eligible individuals, the contribution is the market value of using the property.

Example

Miriam provides office furniture to Anne, a candidate, to use in her campaign office for one month. The furniture is normally rented for $500 per month.

Is Miriam making a campaign contribution to Anne?
Yes. Miriam is making a campaign contribution as an eligible individual to Anne of $500, the market value of renting the furniture for one month.

Required contributor information and other recording requirements for campaign contributions

Financial agents must keep accurate and detailed records of all financial transactions. Detailed records will make completing the campaign financing disclosure statements easier.

Financial agents must record the following for each campaign contribution:

  • the full name, mailing address and, if it is different, residential address of the contributor
  • the value of the campaign contribution
  • the date the campaign contribution was made

A residential address is the eligible individual’s home address. Mailing addresses such as a PO Box, work address or commercial address do not meet the recording requirements.

A contribution must come from a single eligible individual. If a contribution appears to come from multiple eligible individuals, the financial agent must determine which contributor made the donation and record that information.

Example

Josie receives a contribution by cheque from Sam and Pat Smith for $300. Josie must determine which eligible individual made the contribution.

Scenario 1
Josie contacts Sam and Pat and asks which name should be recorded as the contributor. Sam tells Josie that the contribution was intended to come from both of them. Josie records a contribution of $150 each from Sam Smith and Pat Smith.

Scenario 2
Sam tells Josie that the contribution was from Pat only. Josie records a $300 contribution from Pat Smith.

Significant contributors

Significant contributors are eligible individuals who make campaign contributions of $100 or more to the same candidate. The contributions could be either a single donation of $100 or more, or multiple donations that total $100 or more. This includes in-kind contributions.

Information about significant contributors must be disclosed in the candidate’s disclosure statement. This includes:

  • full name and residential address of contributor
  • value of contribution
  • date of contribution

Elections BC will redact residential addresses of contributors prior to publishing disclosure statements.

Example 1

On September 1, Raj’s uncle, an eligible individual, donates a $50 gift certificate for use in a silent auction for Raj’s campaign.

Is the uncle a significant contributor?
No. The value is less than $100.

Example 2

On September 23, Raj’s uncle gives Raj a $75 cash campaign contribution.

Is the uncle now a significant contributor?
Yes. The total contributions from him are now $100 or more.
$50 in-kind donation + $75 cash contribution = $125 total contributions.

Prohibited contributions

It is an offence to make or knowingly accept a prohibited contribution. If the financial agent becomes aware that a contribution is prohibited, they must return the contribution, or an amount equal to its value, within 30 days.

If the contribution cannot be returned (such as an anonymous contribution over $50) the financial agent must send it to Elections BC.

Example 1

Rosalie receives an anonymous contribution of $75 in an envelope. Rosalie keeps $50 and sends the remaining $25 to Elections BC.

Is this permissible?
No. All of the $75 must be sent to Elections BC because it is an anonymous contribution over $50.

Example 2

Carrie, an eligible individual, has already contributed the maximum annual amount to a candidate during the calendar year when she makes another contribution of $300.

Is this permissible?
No. The candidate must return the $300 to Carrie because it is a prohibited contribution.

Contribution rules

It is important to know which contributions are acceptable, which are prohibited, and when money, property or services are not contributions.

Acceptable contributions

Prohibited

Not contributions

  • money of any amount given to a financial agent or an individual they have authorized
  • non-monetary property and services
  • money given by a candidate to their own campaign
  • discounts on property or services
  • anonymous contributions of $50 or less
  • a person paying the campaign more than market value for goods or services
  • contributions made by organizations and ineligible individuals
  • contributions that exceed the contribution limit
  • giving a contribution to someone other than the financial agent or someone they have authorized
  • making or accepting a campaign contribution, other than a permitted anonymous contribution, without providing or recording the required contributor information
  • making or accepting indirect campaign contributions
  • elector organizations contributing money
  • making or accepting an anonymous campaign contribution of more than $50
  • services provided by a volunteer including the use of their own property in that role
  • transfers of money, property, or services between an elector organization and its endorsed candidates
  • non-monetary property or services provided by a candidate for use in their own campaign
  • candidate’s surplus campaign funds from the last election returned by the jurisdiction
  • free transmission of election advertising if offered equitably to all candidates
  • publishing or broadcasting news, editorials, interviews, columns, letters, debates, speeches or commentaries for free in a legitimate periodical, radio or television program
  • publications intended to be sold whether or not there was an election

An indirect contribution is a campaign contribution made with money or non-monetary property or services of another individual or organization.

Example 1

Jane contributes cash to a candidate but is later reimbursed by her employer.

Did Jane make an acceptable campaign contribution?
No. This is a prohibited contribution because the employer has made an indirect contribution through Jane.

Example 2

John is a candidate and sets up his campaign office at home and uses his personal computer and office supplies to make brochures and signs.

Did John make a campaign contribution?
No. Property or services provided by a candidate for use in their own campaign is not a contribution.

Fundraising functions

A fundraising function includes a social function held by, or on behalf of, a candidate for the purpose of obtaining funds.

Tickets sold for a fundraiser may only be purchased by eligible individuals and they cannot be reimbursed for the purchase of tickets. The purchase of tickets by an eligible individual may or may not be a campaign contribution.

  • If an eligible individual purchases more than $50 worth of tickets, it is a campaign contribution.
  • If an eligible individual purchases $50 or less worth of tickets, it is not a campaign contribution.

Example 1

Sally, an eligible individual, buys five tickets for $50 each to a candidate fundraising dinner.
5 tickets x $50 per ticket = $250

Has Sally made a campaign contribution?
Yes. Sally has made a campaign contribution because she purchased more than $50 worth of tickets.

Example 2

Big Company buys two tickets for $25 each to a luncheon held by a candidate.
2 tickets x $25 per ticket = $50

Is this permissible?
No. This is a prohibited contribution because organizations are not allowed to purchase tickets to fundraising functions. The $50 must be returned to Big Company.

All money received at a fundraising function must be deposited into the campaign account. Candidates and financial agents are not permitted to use cash received at the function to pay for any expenses. They must deposit all income from the function into the campaign account and pay for costs of the function from the campaign account separately.

Example

Buck is a candidate who is his own financial agent. He hosts a burger and beer fundraiser at a pub for $20 per meal. The pub collects $400 and charges Buck $200 to host the event. The pub gives Buck his $200 profit, which Buck deposits into the campaign account.

Is this allowed?
No.

What should Buck have done?
Buck should have collected the entire $400 from the pub and deposited it into the campaign account. Buck should have then paid the pub $200 from the campaign account to cover the cost of the event.

Income from the sale of property or services may be a campaign contribution. If property or services are bought at a price higher than the market value, the difference between the price paid and the market value is a campaign contribution.

All money received must be deposited into the campaign account.

Candidates are not permitted to use lotteries, raffles or other gambling activities to raise campaign funds.

Example 1

To raise money for Martina’s campaign, Jerry donates a TV with a market value of $625. Jennifer buys the TV at Martina’s fundraising auction for $400.

How much is Jerry’s campaign contribution?
The contribution of the TV is $625 because that is its market value.

Has Jennifer made a campaign contribution?
No. Jennifer has not made a contribution as the amount paid was less than the market value of the TV.

What is the $400 paid by Jennifer?
The $400 paid by Jennifer must be deposited into the campaign account and reported as an “other deposit.”

Example 2

Marvin, a candidate, hosts a silent auction and purchases a gift certificate for $75. The gift certificate is sold to Kim for $100.

Has Kim made a campaign contribution?
Yes. Kim has made a contribution because she paid more for the gift certificate than its market value.

How much is Kim’s campaign contribution?
Kim’s contribution is $25 (price paid less the market value $100 - $75 = $25). The remaining $75 is reported as an “other deposit.”

Loans or debts

Any loan or debt that remains unpaid for six months after it becomes due converts to a campaign contribution unless the creditor has started legal proceedings to recover it. Creditors keep their rights to collect the loan or debt past the six month period even if no action to collect is taken.

Prohibited contribution rules apply to loans or debts that become campaign contributions from organizations or eligible individuals if the total amount of their contributions exceeds the contribution limit.

If a loan or debt becomes a campaign contribution after the disclosure statement is filed with Elections BC, the financial agent must file a supplementary report. See here for more information on supplementary reports.