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Benefits

The matching funds program benefits democracy in NYC by empowering voters and expanding opportunities to run for office.

How NYC Benefits
How Candidates Benefit
How Democracy Benefits

By matching their contributions with public funds, the Program empowers New Yorkers in every neighborhood to make their voice heard in city elections. By encouraging candidates to raise small-dollar contributions from average New Yorkers, the program increases engagement between voters and those who seek to represent them.

Matching funds get more New Yorkers involved in elections. In the 2013 elections, more than 44,500 New Yorkers — half of all NYC contributors to participating candidates — made a contribution to a city candidate for the first time. Three-quarters of them made small contributions of $175 or less.

FIRST-TIME CONTRIBUTORS BY ELECTION CYCLE
Election Cycle First-Time Contributions % Who Gave $175 or Less
2005 28,170 68.7
2009 33,900 83.0
2013 44,540 76.0
Estimated based on aggregate of contributor names. New York City contributors only.

Matching funds help ensure elected officials are accountable to city residents, not to special interests. Individual contributors are the most important source of a candidate’s funding, not special interest money.

For every dollar contributed by an individual NYC resident, a participating candidate can receive $6 in matching funds, for a maximum of $1,050 per contributor. In the 2013 elections, the CFB distributed over $38 million in public funds.

Those funds make it easier for ordinary citizens to enter public life and run for office. With matching funds, candidates can run competitive campaigns even if they lack access to wealthy contributors, party bosses, lobbyists, or special interest groups.

Hopeful candidates can build a viable campaign by relying on the support of their neighbors and constituents.

The success of New York City’s Campaign Finance Program demonstrates how small-dollar matching funds can engage citizens and strengthen democracy. The Program maximizes the voices of ordinary voters, amplifying small contributions and helping ensure politicians are accountable to the people they serve, not to big-money special interest contributors.

With public matching funds, ordinary citizens can run (and win) campaigns against well-known, well-funded opponents, giving New Yorkers greater choices at the polls. Candidates don’t need to be millionaires, or even know millionaires, to compete for elected office in NYC.

Comprehensive disclosure of candidates’ financial activity provides transparency that helps maintain public confidence in the political process. In addition, rigorous audits of every campaign keep politicians honest. The CFB’s independent, nonpartisan oversight of candidates’ fundraising and spending creates a culture of respect for the law, which benefits all New Yorkers.