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Monthly Archives: March 2007

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.

sos_homepage
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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We recognize that it’s early in the 2008 cycle and many candidates are not anywhere close to announcing a run for federal office, be that a U.S. Senate seat or Congress.  It’s natural that during this time, potential candidates are testing the waters, talking to friends, and contemplating the financial needs of any campaign they may choose to embark upon.

As of today we’re going to help make that last decision a little easier to encourage Democrats to run for office. We’ve created "Democratic Nominee Funds" for every Republican-held Senate and House seat.   All of the money raised for these funds will be held until after a state’s primary election and then transferred to the Democratic Nominee to help them with their general election campaign against Republicans.

So if you are a blogger or grassroots activist and want to raise money to aid Democratic candidates in the future, making use of Democratic Nominee Funds is a great way to encourage new candidates to run and not take sides in a primary. For example, Texas bloggers are raising money for a Democratic challenger to Sen. John Cornyn while discussions go on about potential candidates.

(Just look through our directory (i.e. Florida) to see seats where no one has filed and a Nominee Fund exists instead! It works for any state search.)

As ActBlue continues to expand our operations on the state level into new states we continuously see great examples of using ActBlue for different purposes.  This week I would like to highlight the San Diego County Democratic Party. 

While many campaigns use ActBlue to process contributions, the SDCDP is using ActBlue to process contributions and create a guest list for events.  They created a page for their event and added invitation text and sponsorship levels for their donors.  Then, they circulated this link anywhere they advertised the event.

Accepting contributions through an ActBlue page made specifically for an event makes several aspects of event management easy:

  • Today’s donors enjoy the convenience of donating online for events.  By having an online option for event ticket payment, donors can immediately pay online after receiving advertising for the event.
  • Having a special page with the invitation text reduces the potential for donor confusion.  While a normal contribution page would work, a page just for the event makes it very clear what the donation is for.
  • ActBlue’s CSV data export is perfect for creating a guest list and nametags.  From that file you can mail merge the data into whatever format you would like.

Even though technology can make these processes easier, it is no substitute for the hard work that you already put into making events a success.  Your emails, phone calls and mailings are what drive your donors to the page and compel them to contribute.

As always, feel free to email me (campaigns@actblue.com) if you would like assistance with setting up a page or exporting data.

Ever since ActBlue was founded in 2004, we’ve aggressively expanded from helping federal candidates for U.S. Senate and Congress to aiding state executive and legislative candidates across the county. By the end of the ’05-’06 election cycle, ActBlue was set up to operate in 20 states, raising nearly a million dollars for state candidates and PACs.

We’ve increased that number to 22- having just become active in Mississippi and Virginia- both states with legislative elections in 2007. You can now scan the candidates in the candidate directories I just linked to and donate or create new fundraising pages for these states or even add their candidates to your existing fundraising pages.

A number of Virginia candidates have already embraced ActBlue and are using our system for their online fundraising- candidates like Chap Peterson, Carlos Del Torro, Bruce Roemmelt, Connie Brennan, and Susie Garner. In addition, Virgina bloggers have already raised over $4,000 for various candidates in less than two weeks but we’ll have more about them in a future post.

With as many friends as ActBlue has in the Democratic blogging community, it’s about time we joined the party with a blog of our own. So today we are launching our official ActBlue Blog where we look forward to bringing our donors, candidates, campaigns, fundraisers, and bloggers interesting resources, analysis, tips, and other information to more effectively raise funds to elect Democrats!

Here’s just a sampling of things you can expect to see here-

  • Case Studies on some of the most creative ways ActBlue has been used
  • Analysis on how and why people donate
  • State Reports that highlight successful state level campaigns
  • Tips & Tricks about ways to use ActBlue you may not have known about
  • Page of the Week where we will highlight our favorite fundraising strategies
  • Monthly ActBlue Zeitgeist to explore trends, patterns, and other cool stuff
  • Major Series where we will explore how we are most relevant to your efforts in fundraising

Our posts will strive to be informative and useful while maintaining the Democratic grassroots values which have driven us for the last two and a half years. We encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up to receive new posts via e-mail to keep up with our latest posts (both available in the right sidebar). Otherwise keep checking http://blog.actblue.com for the latest!

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