New Matching Funds Program Sparks Higher Public Funds Payments and Increase in Small-Dollar Fundraising


Public matching funds accounted for more of the funding available to Public Advocate candidates in yesterday's special election than in any previous citywide race dating back to 2001. According to campaign finance filings submitted to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB), public matching funds payments accounted for more than 73 percent of the funds available to candidates on the ballot.

The new program also helped change private fundraising patterns helping to spark an increase in small-dollar fundraising.  

  • 75 percent of contributions raised came from New York City residents;
  • $10 was the most common contribution amount, compared to $100 in previous Public Advocate elections.

The CFB issued payments totaling $7,178,120 to 11 candidates in a broad field that reflected New York City's diversity and gave voters a real choice at the polls. All 17 candidates on the ballot raised $2,607,325 in private funding

"Making New York City's matching funds program more accessible and beneficial to more citywide candidates was a key goal of the 2018 Charter Revision Commission. These results are a very encouraging sign that those changes, which were adopted in November by more than 1 million city voters, are working," said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the New York City Campaign Finance Board. "The matching funds give candidates the incentives to raise money the right way, by going to the New York City voters they want to represent in government, not to big-money donors or special interests. If we want a government that is closer and more responsive to the people, it has to start with how candidates fund their campaigns."

The 2019 Public Advocate special election was the first election under the improved matching funds program adopted by voters in November 2018. Under the new regulations, New York City’s matching funds program provides public funds to qualifying candidates at a matching rate of $8-to-$1 for the first $250 contributed by city residents. That means that a $10 contribution is worth $90 to a qualifying candidate. Candidates in the special election were able to choose to participate in the old program, which matches contributions by $6-to-$1 for the first $175 per contributor.

To qualify for public matching funds in the special election, candidates must receive a minimum of $62,500 in match-eligible contributions (only the first $250 or $175, depending on program choice, of a New York City resident's contribution counts towards the threshold). Additionally, candidates must receive contributions from 500 New York City residents. Candidates must comply with all program rules, including the prohibition on contributions from corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships, to be eligible for public funds.

More information about the candidates' campaign finance data is available on the CFB website in the Campaign Finance Summary portal. Individual contribution data is available in the Follow the Money database.