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Monthly Archives: May 2007

US Counties

Since 2004, ActBlue has helped Democrats raise over $22 million in online contributions.  We are a Political Action Committee, not a business, so our motivation is getting Democrats elected instead of padding profit margins.  We know how much of a hassle accepting credit card donations on the Internet can be, and we want to help.

One of the areas that ActBlue can now help in is with your local County Democratic Party.

If your local county party or committee is in one of the 22 states where ActBlue is already active (minus some clean-elections states like Arizona), you can have all the ActBlue fundraising tools utilized by top tier House and Senate campaigns at the disposal of your county party.  Several county parties are already using those tools to achieve success!

In Oregon, the Yamhill County Democratic Party uses ActBlue to accept monthly recurring contributions:

http://www.actblue.com/page/ycd_presidents_circle

Instead of soliciting your membership for a one-time donation, recurring contributions allow you to ask them for $10 a month (or more) for the next year.  This helps you budget and helps your members by spreading out their contribution over an entire year.

The San Diego County Democratic Party used ActBlue to accept RSVPs and payments for their annual fundraising dinner:

http://www.actblue.com/page/rd

Using ActBlue for event management allows you to see your rsvps in real time (no waiting for a check in the mail!).  Online invitations help circulate event details while collecting contributions. Contributor data in spreadsheet form provides you with an instant guest list and useful template for nametags and thank you notes.

The Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley used ActBlue earlier this year to collect registration costs for their General Assembly meeting.

http://www.actblue.com/page/dpsfvregistration

So how cost effective is this for local parties?  There is no setup fee, no maintenance fee, no check fee, no check re-issue fee and no customer service fees.  We deduct a processing fee of around 3.95% which covers what we are charged by our credit card processor.  This fee comes out of your contributions so there are never any bills to pay.

Every Monday we mail checks to all campaigns and committees that received contributions through ActBlue during the past week.  All of the information about the individual contributors is available online and can be imported to your existing campaign finance software.

You can see that there are a number of ways that County Parties can use ActBlue. In the most basic sense, parties can use ActBlue to process their general donations and ease their reporting burden. At any time they can take advantage of these more creative and advanced options to enhance their fundraising, none of which even requires a county party to have a website!

This is just another way we are hoping to make ActBlue useful to you in building a more Democratic America. Please contact us at info@actblue.com to discuss how we can help your county party. We’ll be happy to get you started!

This spotlight of ActBlue Co-Founder Matt DeBergalis in Fast Company Magazine speaks to the concept of community in Democratic fundraising that ActBlue is all about. Here’s the piece from their latest issue.

"Thirty years ago, Republicans began to invest
heavily in lasting institutional assets—they built news institutions,
think tanks, talk radio, and a direct-mail strategy that’s grown to
become a monster at raising money. All of these things were deliberate
choices. The Democrats didn’t do this. The Republicans don’t need to
innovate quite as badly as we’ve had to because they had all of this.

We felt there were better ways to organize groups of people and get
them to take action, rather than do all top-down organizing the way a
campaign typically does. So we use existing social relationships,
whether they are coworkers or friends asking each other to donate, or
communities built around email lists or blogs. We don’t comment on the
fund-raising numbers of the campaigns who use our site, but when
Edwards announced that his wife’s cancer had unfortunately come back,
news reports said donations on ActBlue increased $100,000 in the five
hours after the press conference. This approach actually works better
for the Democratic Party than the Republicans. It just seems to fit
more with how we communicate and talk and participate."

ActBlue helps Democrats- this may not come as a shock to you, but I wanted to point this out in a way that you might not have thought of it before.

ActBlue is there for ALL Democrats.

  • Regardless of Ideology
  • Regardless of Incumbency
  • Regardless of Election

Since we don’t take sides on any of these fronts, it’s not impossible for Democrats running in the same primary to be using the same ActBlue platform to collect contributions and empower donors. In fact, we are seeing multiple candidates in Special Elections for the U.S. House this year all using ActBlue!

For example, in the Massachusetts 5th, there is a special election to succeed Rep. Marty Meehan. All five of the Democrats running have used ActBlue to fundraise in their campaigns and four of them currently continue to do so including…

There is nothing stopping anyone from creating an ActBlue fundraising page for any candidate, regardless if that campaign has officially embraced ActBlue as part of their online efforts. We’re here for all of them at any time!

 

 

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In addition to being in Virginia this weekend, ActBlue will be present in New York City for the 2007 Personal Democracy Forum sponsored by Google.

ActBlue president Benjamin Rahn will be speaking as a panelist for this Friday’s session entitled Political Money Online: Getting It and Spending It More Effectively.  Joining him for the session will be Henry Copeland of BlogAds, Kim Malone of Google AdSense, Pete Leyden of the New Politics Institute, and Becki Donatelli of Campaign Solutions. For those planning on attending the conference, be sure to add this session to your schedule.

340m18302This upcoming weekend, ActBlue will be traveling to Fairfax, Virginia!  Why, you might ask? We’ve been invited to join Democracy for America’s Training Academy once again in giving our presentation about online fundraising. Our political director Erin Hill will be sharing tips, strategies, and of course the basics of integrating it into all parts of a typical campaign. We’re excited to be on the road again after having a great time down in Austin, Texas last month.

More details about the even can be found here, and if you are in the area and interested in attending, you can sign up through that link as well. We’re looking forward to meeting a lot of new people and likely one or two of the many Virginia campaigns that are already using ActBlue.

So you may have noticed that we’re running some new code here on ActBlue as of yesterday evening. I’ll tour you through some of these features in upcoming posts.

As part of this upgrade, we’ve removed the page that gave recognition to all the groups that helped make ActBlue active on the state level. I’ve posted this archive for historical purposes in the extended entry as their support should be noted for all to see.

We’re looking forward to expanding to even more states after our successful launch of Virginia and Mississippi a few months ago. Thanks to some conversations this past week we might have an extra state or two to add to this list soon. If you’d like to discuss getting ActBlue active in your state and have some ideas, suggestions, or funding don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Here on the ActBlue blog we’ve highlighted our ActBlue Democratic Nominee Funds a couple times before. These funds allow for the collection of money against Republican-held seats for the U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and even U.S. President which then get disbursed to Democratic candidates once there is an official nominee. Donors don’t have to “pledge” to donate- they can do it directly and ActBlue directs it to the right people at the right time!

Some people have used them in conjunction with “Draft” efforts, others use them to start collecting funds for a candidate who is expected to enter the race shortly, while others make their 2008 contributions a year early since they plan to support anyone who wants to take more Republicans out of office.

John Kerry asserted today that it’s not just the President that stands in the way of his efforts to set a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq- it’s other Republican Senators. He’s taken his cause to his email list to kick-start the 2008 Senate elections against 4 targeted Republicans. And he’s used 4 ActBlue Nominee Funds to make that happen.

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He’s already raised tens of thousands towards those efforts- money that will be held for the Democratic nominees.

Senator Kerry and his fundraisers are offering an incentive to
encourage candidates thinking about running to commit since now they
know that national attention and interest exists to support them. They are also ensuring that the winner of contested primary has an immediate boost when these funds are released headed into the general election.

From John Kerry’s email…

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So
we’re launching a unique campaign to pressure the critical points in
the GOP caucus. We are targeting a few key Senators for this message:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senators Sununu, Collins,
and Coleman. The last three are already top races for 2008, and Senator
McConnell is the bulwark of the GOP leadership on this.

So
go here to contribute to a fund run by our friends at ActBlue that will
go to the eventual Democratic nominee in those states and then write an
email message to those Senators explaining why you did this
.

This is
an extraordinary campaign; to my knowledge, nothing quite like this has
ever been done. But this money can make all the difference in each of
these races, and these Senators will know it. Senator McConnell is
secure in his belief that no one will be able to raise the money to
challenge him. We can show that he’s wrong. The other Senators are
already top targets in 2008, but they hope the power of incumbency and
fundraising can save them. We can show them that the power of
Washington won’t stand against the power of the people.

Sen. Kerry is right that this is extraordinary. We at ActBlue are glad to make it possible through Democratic Nominee Funds. These elections, even the primaries, are next year but Sen. Kerry knows that this is not a standard election cycle and people are ready today to take the fight to Republicans and build upon our 2006 Democratic victories.

P.S. As we’ve seen from comments in Sen. Kerry’s post on Daily Kos there are lots of people interested in expanding this beyond just these 4 states. ActBlue is here for anyone (bloggers, state parties, other officeholders) to make use of this technology. …maybe you’ll be the one to send e-mails state by state for the other 17?

Fundraising pages are the most important component of ActBlue: the vast majority of visitors to the site arrive directly on a fundraising page because a friend, an organization, or a campaign has channeled them there.  We pride ourselves on these pages’ simplicity: donors can show up, immediately understand what’s going on, and contribute with no distracting bells and whistles.

But we harbor a dirty secret (or, not-so-secret if you’ve been with us a while).

Over the past three years, $22 million raised, and 200,000+ donors, these pages haven’t actually changed all that much.  For a bit of nostalgia, check out the DailyKos dozen page as it looked back at the end of 2004 (compare to the same page with today’s look).  Yeah, the site framework has changed a little, but the makeup of the fundraising pages is remarkably similar.

Next week, all that is about to change.

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Motivated by a strong sense that we could do better (and by a desire to burn down HTML code approaching its second anniversary), a few weeks ago we got to work putting together a new design with the help of the excellent Steve Ofner of Liberal Art.  The result is the new design that that you see at right.  (Click the image for a full-size mockup.)

In putting the new design together we had several aims:

  • A sharper, more dynamic look & feel
  • A simpler user experience
  • A clearer presentation of the dollar and donor numbers
  • A more attention-grabbing “contribute” button at the top

The result is an improved page design that looks good with long candidate blurbs, short candidate blurbs, no candidate blurbs, or all of the above.

We’ll be rolling out this design next week, and will continue to refine it in the coming months — so please let us know what you think!

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