Yes to a Birmingham Mayor campaign asks business to donate "on behalf of named staff, friends and family"

By Jonathan Walker on Feb 24, 12 11:18 AM in Politics

The Yes to a Birmingham Mayor campaign has launched a fundraising drive, and hopes to raise up to £45,000 in the run-up to the referendum on May 3 when Birmingham will be asked whether it wants a directly-elected mayor or not.

Julia Higginbottom and colleagues at the campaign have done an excellent job raising awareness of the referendum so far, and it seems to me that their work has could be applauded by "no" campaigners - and anyone else who wants Birmingham residents to make an informed choice on referendum day - almost as much as supporters of a mayor.

I'm a fan but one thing stuck out in their plea for funding. They write on their website (at

Fundraising has started and we are aiming at £25 donations from around 1880 sponsors to meet our maximum campaign spend of around £45,000. Companies and organisations are welcome to donate more, but uniquely we are asking for them to donate on behalf of named staff, friends and family. The ethos behind this is that we would like the campaign to be driven by the grassroots citizens who want to show that this City has a strong civic, non-party political scene, which can drive and engage with issues outside of traditional party politics.

It's great that they want grassroots citizens to drive the campaign but if any donations are going to come from companies and organisations, shouldn't they simply be given, and received, on that basis? Asking an organisation to donate "on behalf of named staff, friends and family" risks giving a misleading impression about the source of the funding.

After all, those named staff, friends and family won't be the ones reaching into their pockets in this case (they can make a personal donation of course, but what we're talking about here is donations from a business or organisation). And if the reality is that not all the cash comes form the grassroots - if some of it comes from businesses or organisations - shouldn't that fact be made very clear? Or have I misunderstood?

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Telman said:

The comments to the effect that individuals should be seen to be donating as individuals and businesses donating as businesses are valid. However, what I consider unacceptable about the idea is that there is no safeguard to ensure that the "friends, staff and family" individuals in whose name(s) business donations are made would even know their names were being used!

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Jonathan Walker

Jonathan Walker - The Birmingham Post's political editor
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