The company behind the Conservative Party’s powerful fundraising and voter-identification machine has been laying off staff and borrowing millions of dollars at high interest rates as it faces an “extremely challenging” cash crunch.
The Toronto-based iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. (iMSGI) last week issued layoff notices to an unspecified number of telephone workers in its call centres across the country.
The company posted a net loss of $3.9 million in the quarter ended last September, citing a downturn in its U.S. business and a “significant decrease” in its Canadian political fundraising and direct voter-contact work.
Under the name Responsive Marketing Group (RMG), the company performed the Conservatives’ voter-contact operations during the last election and was also hired to make calls for the campaigns of 90 Conservative candidates. RMG continues to work as the party’s telemarketing fundraiser.
The Tories have excelled at fundraising through the dexterous use of databases of known and likely supporters willing to make small donations when contacted by phone by RMG.
RMG has provided similar services to the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, the Wildrose Party in Alberta, the Saskatchewan Party and the B.C. Liberal Party.
But iMSGI is now cutting back on cold-calling to raise money for its roster of mostly conservative political clients, instead focussing on higher-yield calls to likely donors, according to a letter obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.
The letter from iMSGI’s human resources director Stephanie Hornby to laid off staff members said that “circumstances relating to economic pressures has resulted in iMarketing Solutions Group Inc. (iMSGI) to (sic) make the decision to temporarily cease new donor acquisition calling and focus resources on retention calling and high value house-calling.”
Calls soliciting new donors are less profitable for call centres than “retention” calls to people who have given money in the past.
“The nature of our business often necessitates ramping work up and down based on business requirements,” Chief Executive Officer Andrew Langhorne said in an email on Friday.
While some of Twitter are gloating over a Conservative firm’s demise, I am assuming they had to ramp up and expand to deal with the federal and provincial elections in the last two years and now are in an electoral down cycle with far less business coming in from Canada and the rather quiet American election cycle. To be honest, fundraising for the B.C. Liberal Party doesn’t seem like a lot of fun right now.
It does give you an idea of how political fundraising works and how hard it is to sustain it. Some might find it interesting that the Saskatchewan Party hires outside the province fundraisers. So much for a “Made in Saskatchewan” solution for the party.