Online Fundraising in the News

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.

From the LA Times

Ben
Rahn and Matt DeBergalis aren’t fat cats, and they don’t operate
from a smoke-filled room. But they funneled $17 million to Democratic
candidates in 2006, making them among the largest political players in
the country. They expect to handle a lot more in 2008. Activists and
entrepreneurs, they are writing the latest chapter in the Internet’s
transformation of political fundraising.

After a slow start in the 2004 elections, ActBlue caught on. Its
users include the candidates themselves, individuals who want to donate
to a particular state or national candidate, and up-and-coming
"bundlers" mimicking, on a more modest scale, wealthy fundraisers who
squeeze tens
of thousands of dollars from friends and associates.

"It is all transparent. It’s all small donations," DeBergalis said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) used ActBlue to raise $900,000 in 2006,
doling it out to Democrats nationally. Candidates also use ActBlue to
operate their online fundraising. Edwards makes heavy use of ActBlue,
having raised $1.07 million so far in his quest for the Democratic
presidential nomination. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has raised
more than $288,000.

In many instances, individuals set up pages on the ActBlue site and
recruit friends to contribute, via credit card, to candidates they
tout. ActBlue transmits the money to the selected candidates.

Nate de la Piedra, 24, a political science student at George Mason
University in Fairfax, Va., is one such bundler. He figures he has
raised $70,000 for state and federal candidates.

"It
allows anybody to become a bundler," de la Piedra said. He envisions
the potential: Rather than have a handful of wealthy people raise money
for a candidate, "why not
have a finance committee of 1,000 people each raising $1,000?"

Florida Democrat Tim Mahoney saw the power of the Internet last year
when he campaigned to replace Republican Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned
after his suggestive e-mails to congressional pages became public.
Mahoney, running in what had been a safe Republican district, was the
beneficiary of $510,000 funneled through ActBlue."It is a great
indicator of the momentum your campaign has," Mahoney said, adding that
online money helped "create the buzz" that he could win.

From the Washington Post

In one post on Daily Kos, a blogger rails against former congressman Mark Foley and four congressmen who he says concealed the Florida Republican’s
interactions with House pages, dubbing those members the "Foley Five."

"Wondering
what you can do about it? Let’s replace the whole lot," he says, with a
link to a page on the ActBlue site called "Fight the Foley Five." The
page raised more than $3,000 for the five Democrats challenging those
members.

"Is there symbiosis? Absolutely," said ActBlue President Benjamin Rahn.

Rahn
called bloggers "one of our most important marketing arms." He credits
the "organic process" of blogs sending visitors to ActBlue for
producing about $2.3 million in donations last year — a healthy slice
of the $19 million raised for Democratic candidates since the site’s
creation three years ago.

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