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Monthly Archives: March 2007


picture_1 On Monday I posted a tip for spicing up ActBlue fundraising pages by embedding video into ‘asks’. This is a very powerful fundraising tactic–especially when the asker and audience have an existing relationship.

Over at Calitics, a great community blog in California, they’ve taken that suggestion and run with it. I’ve included a screenshot of their pitch to the right (click on it to view a bigger version in a new window). Besides the video, Calitics’ blogger Brian uses several of the principles of fundraising to make a really compelling plea for his candidates.  Some of the successful elements they have included:

  1. Create Urgency- The pitch is for end-of-quarter donations.  Brian clearly states that there’s a deadline before which donors need to fundraise.  And he timed his pitch just a couple of days away from the end of quarter.
  2. Be Specific- Rather than overloading their page with a dozen candidates, Brian stuck with three candidates that have a common theme.  The majority of ActBlue donors give to an entire page’s slate of candidates…remember that when choosing your slate of candidates.
  3. Make it Personal- Brian, a Calitics blogger, is asking his own blog readers to donate. They have an existing relationship and a degree of trust built up. Potential donors are more likely to give when asked by someone they know and the pitch is personal.  They’re less likely to donate when spammed by someone they don’t know.
  4. Think Longterm- The Calitics’ ask offers the option of giveing once or of setting up a recurring contribution. Recurring donations are growing in popularity on ActBlue, with over 1000 users having chosen that option for a variety of candidates.   If a donor can’t contribute a lump sum amount at once, recurring contributions allow them to invest in the page in installments.

Most of these elements are included in their Calitics ActBlue fundraising page as well. To improve the impact, some ideas might be to include the text from the Calitics post next to the video on their ActBlue fundraising page itself or add the recurring contribution buttons below the embedded video. If that happened, their ActBlue fundraising page could be e-mailed around to additional friends or registered users of the Calitics blog extending the end-of-Quarter ask into a new medium.


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One other thing that might help the effort is to set a goal, similar to what the bloggers at Raising Kaine have done (screen shot at left again, click to enlarge). They are shooting for $20,000 to all their endorsed candidates by the end of the state quarter on Saturday, giving a real sense of momentum to their efforts. Adding some text about that immediate goal on their fundraising page would be perfect to tie it together with their blog posts.

While it is early in the cycle, bloggers can build upon their early adopters to make effective asks in creative ways that fit their audience. What ideas might you add?

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I wanted to point out an interesting graphic posted to the right produced by the Washington Post (which you can click on to enlarge). From their story

In the past five days, the campaign received more than 5,000 donations
totaling half a million dollars — about 50 percent of the total it
raised online in the previous three months, according to postings on
ActBlue.com, the Web site that tracks Edwards’s Internet fundraising.

Having blown past $20,000,000 yesterday, we’ve already added another $140,000 to that total in less than 24 hours. What’s driving it? End of quarter fundraising for 1Q 2007!

For ActBlue this week, it has been John Edwards driving most of that. His presidential end of quarter fundraising has now pushed him to the #1 slot on the ActBlue Pages listings in terms of donors (and very shortly also in terms of total amount raised). The combined Netroots Candidates page had held that spot up until this week with Senator Boxer’s Pac for a Change now holding in 3rd place.

But donors are filling in everywhere, including the state level. Fundraising driven by the bloggers at Raising Kaine have pushed over $15,000 into legislative candidate coffers. Kudos to them are well deserved (as is this graphic indicating their success so far).

March 31st is a federal quarterly deadline (and also one for Virginia as they have state elections this year). We exect this spike to continue through the end of the week and are of course fully prepared to handle any and all traffic. This one should be fairly reasonable being so far out from 2008 but it is the first major reporting date of the 07/08 cycle.

For those that have created their own fundraising pages, now is a great time to put in a pitch for extra donations to help your candidates put up respectable first quarter numbers!

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At around 8 PM tonight, ActBlue passed the $20,000,000 milestone. Needless to say, there was lots of refreshing of the homepage as we watched this very important milestone roll by.

November 2004: $850,000

February 2005: $1 million

May 2006: $5 million

September 2006: $10 million

and on March 26, 2007: We watched this…

beforesmall

turn into this…entirely fitting for 2007 don’t you think?

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After a toast around the office, I took some time to bring you the following delightful photoshop which expresses our office’s excitement over this amazing milestone. I’ve stashed it in the extended entry…

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Here’s a tip for all the ActBlue page creators out there- did you know you can embed a video clip in your personal fundraising page as part of your pitch to donors?  You can!

We’ve all gotten e-mails from campaigns and committees looking to raise funds for a hard hitting television ad that could change the direction of the election. They often ask you to click a link on some site where you can watch the ad and then ask you to click another link to donate to put the ad on the air.

Now you can include the video right next to the donate links in your ActBlue page. Check out these examples. Remember that powerful body armor ad VoteVets produced? One person put it directly into this fundraising page and circulated it while raising money. The Mississippi Democratic Party is gathering funds for a Gubernatorial attack ad…  you can watch it right where you click to donate.

But don’t think you have to be limited to just television advertisements. The Mark Leno State Senate campaign in California embedded his campaign announcement speech into this fundraising page. Such an effort allows you to communicate with your donors, introducing yourself while making an "ask".

Selectively embedding video in your pages can get your contributors to donate while still feeling the emotional effects of the content they just saw. Plus, this allows you to keep your content and fundraising pitch right next to each other, eliminating the falloff you see when people are forced to take two separate actions at two separate websites.

I just wanted to take this time to thank the 37 (and still growing) blogs that have been a part of our launch of ActBlue. Many of them promoted our guest diaries, commented on them, and got some productive discussions rolling.

At The Albany Project, our post led to a $2000 donation towards the efforts to Activate ActBlue in New York. At the Prairie State Blue we were invited to become an occasional front page blogger. I personally got to meet with one of the bloggers from Blue Mass Group on Tuesday and we’re getting added to the blogrolls at My Left Wing and Blue Hampshire. Because of our posts at Square State, West Virginia Blue, and Blue Jersey, we continued some conversations about getting active in states where we are not yet including one proposition that could lead to some exciting developments across the country.

Additionally, we want to thank Blue Sunbelt, Blue Oklahoma, AZNetroots, Below Boston, Burnt Orange Report, FLA Politics, Minnesota Campaign Report, and Swing State Project for promoting our cross-post to their front pages for discussion. Other blogs where we were present were Daily Kos, MyDD, Calitics, Raising Kaine, Capitol Talk, Colorado Pols, Blue Forests, Democratic Central, Left in the West, Michigan Liberal, Mass Revolution Now, South Carolina ’08, Texas Kaos, Turn Maine Blue36th District Democrats, Blue Indiana, Free State Politics, Progressive Connection, NMFBIHOP, Blue NC, and Green Mountain Daily.

And just to point out, this is a small section of the much larger State Blogging Communities which collectively consist of about 600 blogs (at least from what I have indexed so far).

One of the initiatives we’re most proud to have been part of in 2006 was the Secretary of State Project, which used ActBlue to raise $415,000 for seven Democratic candidates for Secretary of State in 2008 presidential battlegrounds.

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The result: Democratic victories in Ohio, Minnesota, New Mexico, Nevada, and Iowa, and with them hope for fair 2008 presidential elections in these states.  (One of the project’s common refrains was “No more Ken Blackwells!”)

The Secretary of State Project is a great example of how you can use ActBlue to bring national attention to local candidates.
Normally, raising money for a down-ballot candidate in another state is
a hard sell.  But by simultaneously fundraising for candidates across
the country around a related theme, you create a national cause whose
importance will be readily apparent to your prospective donors.

The SoS project is also a great case study because it
exemplifies one of the most important concepts for using ActBlue effectively:

Make a single, simple pitch

In any fundraising situation, it’s important to keep your pitch simple:
you need one overarching, compelling reason why the person you’re
asking should support your cause.  If you’re just fundraising for a
single campaign this is comparatively straightforward, but when you’re
fundraising for multiple campaigns at once it’s all too easy to fall
into the trap of just talking about each of the different candidates as
if they were unrelated (other than your belief that they are each
worthy of support).
In the case of the SoS project, their pitch was simple: “Support
Secretaries of State in 2006 who will protect voter rights in 2008″.
This one statement made the argument for supporting all of the
candidates all at once.  Of course they had details about each
candidate on the SoS project home page (the big banner at the top rotates through each of the candidates) and also on the main SoS ActBlue page) but think of this as “supporting evidence” that these are actually good folks rather than the main argument.

So what does this mean in practice for your own fundraising effort on ActBlue?

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We’ve noticed this in the last two months based upon the level of fundraising we’ve processed in what traditionally are some of the quietest in political fundraising- 2008 is not going to be any normal election.

In two pieces this weekend, the effects of the Presidential race have been pointed out in the changing strategies not only with fundraising but online engagement on the part of campaigns.

From the Wall Street Journal

[Chart]But the Web is about buzz as much as it is a tool. An
ability to convey early online success of some kind has an importance
all its own. With at least 13 candidates actively in the running so
far, and the New Hampshire primary still 10 months away, it is a way
for campaigns now to show concrete momentum and garner crucial early
attention.

"You had the money primary. The endorsement primary.
Now, you have a Web 2.0 primary going on concurrently with the
traditional money and consultant chase and stuff like that," says
Howard Mortman, a former MSNBC producer, blogger and now head of the
public-affairs practice at New Media Strategies, an Arlington, Va.,
Internet market-research firm.

  Still, the amount of money and attention being spent
by the campaigns on their sites this year is significant, Mr. Noble
says. Greater emphasis by campaigns on the Internet "is recognition
that the game is radically changing … It’s the Moore’s Law in
politics. Every two years it all doubles or more but this year, it’s
more than doubled."

And from Matt Stoller at MyDD

We’ll see what happens when the candidates report their Q1 numbers.
Despite a largely undistinguished set of internet campaigns, I’m going
to guess that online donations have exploded.  Hillary Clinton, the
most conservative of the Democratic candidates, is getting lots online.
Barack Obama and John Edwards, positioned slightly to the left, are
probably getting in huge quantities of online small dollar cash as
well. 

I know a fair number of online fundraising experts, and they all say
that transparency in fundraising is a really powerful tool.  Say how
much you want to raise, say why you want to raise it, ask for it, and
show how much you’ve raised so far.  Rinse, repeat.  None of the
candidates are doing this.  Clinton has come the closest with her
million dollars in a week, and Edwards did well with Coulter Cash (he
blew through the $100K target but didn’t announce it for some reason).

That these campaigns are not working their online fundraising
channels as well as they will later in the season, even as they bring
in massive numbers of small dollar donors, suggests that a new and
dramatically expanded hunger for a way to participate in politics is
real.  We could see between 5-10 million donors in the political system
this cycle, which is around 1-3% of the country’s population.  That’s
huge.  Americans are paying attention, and an increasingly
large number are getting involved.  If that translates, like it did in
2004, to a post-Presidential election involvement in local politics,
we’re looking at a political system with different levers of power.

Apparently Online Fundraising is becoming a hot topic when talking about the 2008 Presidential race- not that we can blame anyone!  It’s something we’ve believed from back before the 2004 elections and see as being one of the defining characteristics of this next election cycle. While physical contributions from folks writing checks or passing the hat at fundraising dinners are not going to disappear, the amount of money and the bond that candidates have with their donors is changing big time. With a Presidential contest that could exceed $1 billon, we’re aware that online donations scale more easily than whipping up a couple thousand more plates of roast beef!

This weekend the topic of online contributions highlighted two major articles, one of which from the LA Times focused in on our efforts here at ActBlue directly. While I’m posting some clips below, be sure to click through and read the rest of these articles.

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