With just 13 days to go until the election, ActBlue is doubling down, and your supporters can too.

Double Down (formerly known as Insta-match for those of you with us in 2012) allows you to create a pop-up asking donors to double their donation after their initial contribution is processed.

This is your chance to convey a sense of urgency to your donors and make the conversion, so make sure you use short, compelling content (pictures allowed, too!).

To turn on Double Down, go to the “edit” tab of a form that you have created and scroll down and click “Show ‘Double Your Donation’ Options.”

Check the box to enable the feature and write a powerful sentence or two on why donors should double their contribution to your campaign or organization.

For compliance purposes, doubled donations will show up as two separate line items with the same ID.

We’re always working to make sure ActBlue’s tools suit your needs through the election cycle, and we hope Double Down will help power your campaign to victory. Weekly recurring has always been a super successful feature, but at this point in the year, you need a new way for donors to show their support. Double Down, just like weekly recurring, will end after Election Day.

If you have ideas for other great October-specific tools or questions about setting up or using Double Down, drop us a line at info [at] actblue [dot] com. Happy fundraising!

Introducing the greatest ActBlue feature ever: the ping.

pingping

Sometimes you want to know every single time you get a contribution, right? I mean, you need more notifications in your life.

Now it’s possible. Just go to your dashboard and append ?pinger=ping to the end of url. Like this: https://secure.actblue.com/dashboard/entity/entityid#?pinger=ping. Just log in and fill in your organization’s entity ID number and listen to the money come in.

And we’ve created a few options for the sound:

?pinger=beep
?pinger=chaching
?pinger=ping
?pinger=melody
?pinger=gong
?pinger=drip
?pinger=boing
?pinger=harp

Happy Friday everyone. 24 days to go!

Have a suggestion of a sound you’d like us to add? Let us know at info@actblue.com.

The third quarter of 2014 — our biggest ever — went out with a bang!

On the last day of September 2014, we handled over 130k contributions and helped raise $5.8M. It was a record-shattering final fundraising deadline before Election Day.

September 30 was the biggest day in ActBlue history (our first $5 million day!) and bested June 30, 2014, the now-number-2 biggest day, by 52k contributions and $2.1M. In a word, it was massive! Just for some context, it took us a full 2 years to reach 100k contributions. On September 30, we passed that 100k mark by 8PM.

We also established a few other impressive records:

  • most contributions in an hour (16,249 on 9/30 between 5 and 6 AM EST), a month (893,682 in September 2014), and a quarter (1,992,863 in Q3 2014).
  • highest dollar amount in an hour ($460,432 on 9/30 between 10 and 11 PM EST), a month ($39,245,312 in September 2014), and a quarter ($80,805,304.60 in Q3 2014).

Those records wouldn’t have happened without a seriously strong push from Democratic campaigns and organizations!

They’ve been hard at work throughout the election cycle engaging small-dollar donors to sign up for recurring contributions. These sustaining contributions give donors a chance to make a regular investment in the causes they care about. Though they averaged just $24.65 in size, they totaled $5,459,265 in September 2014. And it’s clear that these small-but-mighty contributions are adding up and making a huge difference.

It was a busy fundraising period for a significant number of campaigns and organizations. We sent checks or wires to 2,499 distinct entities, an increase of 18% over 2012’s total. At the same time, we had a nearly 100% increase in donations and dollars. That means these groups are raising a lot more grassroots money.

For the entire month of September, we averaged over $1.3M and 30k contributions each day. And the pace was simply blistering during the last week. We processed 44% of the month’s total dollar amount in the final seven days and 24% of the month’s total in the final two days.

We handled almost double the dollar amount and number of contributions as we did in September 2012, a presidential election year. At the same time, the mean contribution size decreased by 10%. It’s proof that with ActBlue’s help, Democratic campaigns and organizations are expanding the world of small-dollar donors.

You can dig into the rest of the month’s numbers here:

September ’11 September ’12 September ’13 September ’14
Contributions 70,156 463,044 319,890 893,631
Volume ($) $4,492,068 $21,881,384 $11,222,121 $38,211,396
Mean Donation $64.03 $47.26 $35.08 $42.76
Committees 1,068 2,113 1,439 2,499

Our Express universe continues to grow: 65,427 Express users signed up last month. The total number of people who have saved their payment information with us now sits at over 1.1M users. This community is shared across our platform, so if you’re an admin, make sure you’re contacting us to take advantage!

Express users are engaged, reliable donors. In September 2014, Express users were responsible for 64% of this month’s newly-made contributions, which added up to more than $20.7M. That’s more than half of the month’s total volume! And it demonstrates how campaigns and organizations are using the Express toolset to fundraise from small-dollar donors. We believe that more people engaged in the political process and having their voices heard strengthens our party and small-d democracy.

Express users continue to set the bar for mobile numbers…for a simple reason: they’ve saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. Express-users don’t have to go through the trouble of entering their info. Instead, they can just click a link. The proof is in the pudding. Last month they outpaced non-Express donors on a mobile device 27.2% to 21.7%.

There are fewer than five weeks until Election Day, and we don’t expect this pace to slow down. The stakes are too high to step off the gas pedal now. Campaigns across the country are relying on small-dollar donations to fuel them to victory. That’s why they’re using ActBlue. But rest assured we’ll be busy preparing for an intense rest of the campaign season.

We’re fewer than six weeks from the election. That means, among other things, that optimal fundraising strategies become even more important than usual. Here at ActBlue, we’ve been running tests on a nearly daily basis on all kinds of Express Lane strategies.

Typically, we see the largest (statistically significant) improvements when optimizing factors related to the Express Lane askblock structure like amounts, number of links, and intervals between the links. For our own list, we find that, statistically speaking, the flashier aspects you see in some fundraising emails — emojis in subject lines, e.g. — do not do much (if anything) to improve donation outcomes. Here’s a tactic we recently tested, though, that’s a bit more on the fun side of things and definitely brought in a lot more money.

A little while ago, we started using our weekly recurring feature to great success. (By the way, if you haven’t tried this feature yet, shoot us an email at info [at] actblue [dot] com and we’ll turn it on for you.) After testing which amounts brought in the most money, we landed on this1:

We wanted to see if we could raise more money by asking for “$7 because there are 7 weeks until the election!” Gimmicky? Sure, but we had a hunch that it would perform well.2 Here’s what it looked like:

So what happened? The segment with the ‘7 for 7′ ask performed much better than the control; it brought in 87.6% more money, a statistically and practically significant improvement.3 Cool!

What’ll be interesting to me is to see when this tactic will lose its optimality. The key factor is that $7 (with gimmick) performed better than $10 (the control and previously optimal ask amount) despite it being a lower dollar amount. Though, at some point, a too-low number-of-weeks-to-election-dollar-ask-amount combination will negate the positive c.p. effect of the gimmick. Based on other testing we’ve done, my guess is that that will be at 4-weeks-$4. We’re doing follow-up testing on this “n weeks until the election!” tactic, so we’ll see!

If you decide to test something similar, send me an email and we can chat! Emails to info [at] actblue [dot] com with my name in the subject line will be directed to me.

P.S. Doing a lot of testing in the election run-up? Want a tool to help you manage your test groups? I wrote something in R for you! I’ll post something on the blog about it soon, but if you want it in the meantime, shoot me a note (emails to info [at] actblue [dot] com with my name in the subject line will be directed to me).

FOOTNOTES:

1 Actually, we built a model that predicts how a given Express user will respond to different types of donation requests based on previous donation information. Using those predicted values, we decide what type of donation ask they receive (of one-time, weekly recurring, monthly recurring) and for how much money they are asked. Math! The point: this is what we landed on for a certain subset of our list.

2 Of course, all else equal, it’s tough to distinguish whether any difference was due to the gimmick or because $7 is lower than $10. The theory would be that with a lower amount, more people would give, and even though the mean donation amount would likely be lower, the increase in number of donors would outweigh the decrease in mean donation size. This is definitely possible, but so is the opposite; it’s all about finding the optimal point.

In fact, we included a segment in the test which received an askblock starting with a lower amount and saw this dynamic in action, though the overall treatment effect was not statistically significantly different from the control. This lends support for interpreting the effect from the gimmick segment as the gimmick per se, but a detailed discussion is excluded from the body of the post for the sake of brevity. More rigorous follow-up testing on this “n weeks until the election!” tactic is already in the field— shoot us an email to chat!

3Pr(>|t|) < .01, controlling for other significant factors, including previous donation history.

At ActBlue, we’re constantly working to improve our technology in ways that will help us further our mission so that we can share those improvements with you! But it’s not always a steady march towards progress. As anyone with compliance experience knows, campaign finance regulations aren’t always up to date with emerging technology and that’s when we have to get creative.

We recently encountered a clear example of this tension in our home state of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance (“OCPF”) is responsible for promulgating, overseeing, and enforcing campaign finance regulations within the state. We wanted to roll out Express Lane, our single click donation system, in Massachusetts, but one OCPF regulation in particular gave us pause. This regulation applies to contributions made with a credit or debit card over the internet and it requires that the contributor click a checkbox on the contribution form to confirm they meet certain requirements prior to their final act of clicking the “donate” button. Given that the whole purpose of Express Lane is to just click once in an email in order to contribute, the regulation meant that we couldn’t use Express Lane in Massachusetts.

In some instances, outdated regulations slow us down and we can only offer limited tools in that state or locality. Fortunately, we sometimes get to work with agencies like the OCPF that are interested in learning about the ways their regulations might impact evolving technology, so that they can evaluate regulations and develop workable solutions. With an important gubernatorial election around the corner and deadlines looming, ActBlue submitted a request for an advisory opinion to the OCPF. We were seeking clarification of the regulation’s application to Express Lane and offering a creative solution for how our Express Lane tool could comply with the law in Massachusetts. (In case you didn’t know: lawyers can be creative, too!)

Luckily the OCPF shares our commitment to making it possible for more grassroots supporters to get involved in politics. The department invited our legal staff for a sit-down at their office to discuss the advisory opinion request. The staff expressed its interest in finding a way for Express Lane to help spur contributor and voter engagement in Massachusetts and agreed that requiring some changes to Express Lane could be counterproductive if they resulted in inhibiting contributions. That’s the ideal situation when we work with regulatory agencies. We always want to play by the rules, but we also appreciate working with regulators who want to ensure that the rules encourage small donors to participate in the democratic process.

Ultimately, the OCPF determined that adding specific language in Express Lane emails could allow contributors to simultaneously donate and certify that they meet the requirements, as opposed to requiring two separate actions. Because the OCPF was willing to work with us as we made changes to our tools to ensure Massachusetts candidates and committees could use Express Lane with ease, we’re proud to say ActBlue Express Lane is now active in Massachusetts, along with thirty-two other states! We’re looking forward to working with more regulators to solve the challenge of keeping campaign finance regulations up to date with technology.

Want to use Express Lane in Massachusetts? Just drop us a line at info at actblue dot com.

We’re less than 8 weeks out from Election Day and are now making the weekly recurring feature available to campaigns and organizations. Just drop us a line at info [AT] actblue [DOT] com and we’ll turn it on for you.

Yep, weekly recurring is exactly what it sounds like. You can ask your donors to sign up to make a recurring contribution that processes on that same day of the week every week until Election Day. After Election Day, the recurring contribution automatically ends.

So, if you get someone to sign up today for a weekly recurring contribution, they’d then have 7 more contributions scheduled to process every Friday.

Election Day is getting closer and closer though, so if you’re going to use weekly recurring, we suggest getting started soon.

Once we turn on the feature for you, create a new contribution form and open the “Show recurring options” section in the edit tab. You will see a new option there for weekly recurring. Make sure you also turn off popup recurring if you have it enabled — these two features aren’t compatible (yet!).

It looks like this:

We’ve run a few tests on weekly recurring this week with our own email list and have had a good deal of success. As always, a donor needs to know exactly what amount and for how long they’ll be charged before they click a link. If you’re going to use weekly recurring with Express Lane (and you should!), here is the disclaimer language we used and recommend you use as well:

Based on our testing, certain segments of your list will respond better than others to a weekly recurring ask (not exactly a shocking revelation). We sort our list into those likely to give to a recurring ask and those who are more likely to give a one-time gift. For the recurring pool, the weekly ask has been performing strongly. Unsurprisingly, the same can’t be said for our one-time folks.

Test it out with the portion of your list that is more likely to give recurring gifts. And try fun things like offering a small package of swag like bumper stickers in return for signing up for a weekly recurring gift.

And if you find an angle that’s working really well for weekly recurring, let us know!

Labor Day has historically marked the start of campaign season. Somebody forgot to tell this cycle’s campaigns: we’ve already passed the $200M mark!

In August 2014 we handled $22,982,206 from 690,488 contributions, placing it in our top-3 with October 2012 and July 2014 for most contributions in a single month. Both this month’s incredible number of contributions and the low average donation size (just $32.88) demonstrate how hard campaigns and organizations are working to mobilize a grassroots movement.

August ’11 August ’12 August ’13 August ’14
Contributions 78,172 309,877 155,524 690,488
Volume ($) $3,051,815 $12,785,110 $5,674,068 $22,982,206
Mean Donation $39.04 $41.26 $36.48 $32.88
Committees 916 1,981 1,305 2,251

August 2014 was more than $10M larger than August 2012, while the number of contributions has increased by 122%. That’s causing the average contribution size to decrease by 20%. And that means more small-dollar donors are supporting the causes and candidates they care about.

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of recurring contributions compared to previous cycles. 15.4% of August 2014’s total volume of money — a sum of $3,523,237 — came from sustaining donations. The chart below shows the growth of recurring volume in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles:

So far this election cycle, we’ve handled $17.8M of recurring contributions. That’s an increase of 170% from the same point in the 2012 cycle and more than ten times where at the end of August 2010.

Building a base of recurring donors can have a huge impact on the sustainability of a campaign or organization. A predictive, steady stream of money helps them better manage their finances. And for organizations, which will continue their important work long after November, a pool of recurring donations can help with the post-election donor-fatigue. Recurring donations help donors stay engaged by letting them make regular, small dollar investments in the causes they care about.

To cap off another massive month, we passed the 10 million contributions mark on August 30th! We were too preoccupied with a crazy amount of donations over the holiday weekend to properly celebrate. Over the last 3 days of the month, we handled 22.7% of August’s total volume of money. For those wondering, we did manage to take a screenshot of our internal metrics page and share it with the team.

It wouldn’t be an ActBlue monthly recap if we didn’t point out some impressive Express and mobile stats. Over 54k Express users signed up this past month to join our million-plus individuals strong community of supporters who can donate in an instant. Express users made 63.7% of all contributions in August 2014, which totaled more than $12M. That’s more than half of this month’s total volume, and a testament to how many campaigns are working with the Express tools.

Express users have saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. They give with mobile devices at a higher rate than non-Express users: 29.6% to 23.9%. Mobile donations continue to increase sitewide. This month saw 26.2% of all contributions made with a mobile device.

Campaigns and organizations are fundraising at a blistering pace. In the past two months, we’ve handled more than 1.3M contributions. And we’re prepared to handle the massive load of small-dollar contributions that are predicted to come between now and November. It’s going to be a crazy ride!

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