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Monthly Archives: June 2007

Today ActBlue marks its 3rd Anniversary. Seriously, 3 years? I know- time flies.

Back in 2004, our founders Matt DeBergalis and Benjamin Rahn thought they could build something that would change Democratic fundraising- making it, well, more democratic. The two of them, living off of savings and limited investment, set out to build a platform that would end up changing our Party. Working out of their homes, they built the first generation of ActBlue.

This innovative, secure, and groundbreaking way to give money to Democrats was launched in June of 2004 before the end of the fundraising quarter. The earliest adopters, the blogosphere, helped push $250,000 into federal campaigns that summer. Printing $1 million in checks out of Matt’s living room by the end of 2004 was an accomplishment for the start-up. ActBlue caught the eye of Democratic campaigns, organizations, and establishment investors and it was time to grow.

And grow ActBlue did. You can see it for yourself in the numbers.

Total Raised for Democrats through ActBlue: $24,167,741

# of fundraising pages on ActBlue: 4,204

# of people contacted in just 3 weeks via ActBlue’s new Spread the Word tool: 3,751

# of active entities in ActBlue’s directory: 3,739 (will grow towards 10,000 this cycle)

# of candidates and committees receiving funds to date: 1,725

# of states where ActBlue is active for state level activity: 23 (soon to be 24)

# of people behind the ActBlue curtain: 6

# of months until ActBlue outgrows its 600 sq foot office: 1
  (that’s over $40,000/sq.ft. of productivity!)

There a lot of talk about investing in lasting infrastructure for the Democratic Party. ActBlue returns over $20 in aid for Democratic candidates for every $1 in investment. We have more ideas under the hood than you can shake a stick at, limited not by our creativity, but by time and investment.

ActBlue is an investment in our Party. ActBlue is an investment in a Democratic future.

So, in honor of our 3rd Anniversary, will you invest in ActBlue?

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

With your help, the future will be more than just bright- it will be Blue.

So I offer a toast: the undiscovered country . . . the future. Here’s to turning 3.

One of the keys to successful fundraising is to give potential donors a solid reason for why they should give. Today’s ActBlue Page of the Week is a great example of this.

Check out this Next Generation Democrats fundraising page. Its title? NGD’s "Pay Grant Herring’s Rent" Page.

Included on the page are a couple of good practices.

  • A Clever Title: This engages the donor and the youthful nature fits the page.
  • Contains a Picture: Attractive to the eye, it helps may a direct connection. There is a face behind the words and a sense of connection between the donors and who they are helping.
  • Solid Introductory Text: It explains the Next Generation Democrats primary mission in one sentence. It then explains what a contribution to NGD will be put towards- helping Grant in his paid position as deputy field director for an endorsed campaign.
  • Appropriate Explanatory Text: Included on the page is additional background about who Grant is and why his work is important. Not only are donors giving to support his work, but they are also giving to support the ideals of young progressives being paid in politics.

These elements come together to make a compelling ask that is on message and to the point with minimal clutter.

Check out past ActBlue Pages of the Week.

On of the things we’ve noticed for some time is that ActBlue helps campaign earn free media attention. While we keep tabs on our own coverage (you’ve probably seen me pop up in the comments of any blog post concerning ActBlue fairly quickly), what we love even more is to see candidates using ActBlue make the news.

I’ve pointed this out before in a blog post where Democratic candidates Martin Heinrich and Steve Novick received coverage because of their public fundraising numbers on ActBlue. This week we’ve seen Carlos Del Toro, a state assembly candidate in Virgina receive some free press in a local paper in the district he’s running in. We’ve also seen Presidential candidates earn media. For instance, ActBlue was pointed out as the reason for this front section story in the New York Times about presidential fundraising.

Political beat reporters are hungry to have a reason to write. As a former journalist and state-level blogger myself, the public fundraising numbers that are provided by ActBlue are a great hook. This is great for local stories about elections that may not otherwise be generating much news. While politics is more than just about money, smart campaigns can leverage this fact to their advantage. In an environment where earned media is an important component of modern campaigns, the public nature of ActBlue can be a natural ally. Feel free to make use of it!

Yup, here we go with yet another newsletter chock full of information
about yet another powerful feature to multiply your impact, yet another
state we’ve activated, and yet another type of Democratic committee we
can now help! 

Summer may have started but politics isn’t taking a vacation, and neither is ActBlue. So let’s get started right now…

1. Introducing "Spread the Word"
2. State of the States (now with Missouri!)
3. ActBlue for County Parties
4. Conference Calls with ActBlue and Democracy for America

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1. Get Ready to "Spread the Word"

New
this month: upon completing their contribution, all ActBlue donors are
automatically prompted to enter their friends’ e-mail addresses and
invite those friends to contribute as well. This is part of our new
"Spread the Word" feature to help donors take the next step by
fundraising for the Democrats of their choice. 

We’ll talk a
lot more about this tool soon — we’re in the midst of adding in some
extra goodies — but in the mean time, give it a try!  Visit any
candidate or organization’s entity’s ActBlue Hub and click on the
orange "Spread the Word" arrow to try it out. For instance:

http://www.actblue.com/entity/fundraisers/8257

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2. State Level Activity at ActBlue (now with Missouri!)

Say
hello to Missouri — the newest state where ActBlue can help
legislative and executive candidates, state PACs, and Missouri County
Committees. E-mail us at info@actblue.com to get your Missouri campaign or committee listed.

As
always, ActBlue is working hard to add new states as fast as we can (a
certain Plains State could be ready by next month).  We’re excited to
be a part of the resurgence of the Democratic Party at the state and
local level.  In Virginia (in the midst of 2007 state elections), we’ve
seen over $175,000 raised on ActBlue for state candidates and
committees since launching just a few months ago. If you’d like to
learn more about how we can help your state candidates or are
interested in helping us activate your state, please get in touch! 

Visit
the ActBlue directory today and start raising for state level
candidates.  You can again donate to candidates in Texas, Tennessee,
and Alabama (in addition to the other 20) now that their legislative
sessions have adjourned:

http://www.actblue.com/directory

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3. ActBlue Now Available for County Parties

ActBlue can also help your local County Democratic Party!

In
the 23 states where ActBlue is already active, all of ActBlue’s
fundraising tools — used by top-tier House and Senate campaigns — are
at your county party’s disposal.  Already this year, we’ve seen success
stories from across the country.

Read the following post on our ActBlue Blog to see some great examples, and e-mail us at info@actblue.com to get your county group started.

http://blog.actblue.com/blog/2007/05/actblue_helping.html

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4. New Conference Calls: ActBlue & DFA

ActBlue
is continuing our monthly "How-To" conference call series next week
with a focus on the new "Spread the Word" feature. Learn more about how
to use this feature effectively, along with some basic fundraising
skills useful for campaigns and individual fundraisers alike. We have
two calls scheduled:

June 25th,  07:00pm  EST (Monday)
June 27th,  10:00pm  EST (Wednesday)

Send an email to rsvp@actblue.com by Monday June 25th at noon EST with your date preference to receive call-in information.

In
addition, ActBlue is joining Democracy for America in hosting an
"Online & Email Fundraising" Night School Conference Call. You must
RSVP online at DFA-Link in order to participate in this session. Join
hundreds of other attendees for this hour long special collaboration.

Event Date:  June 26 (Tuesday)
Event Time:  8:30 PM Eastern

RSVP: http://www.dfalink.com/event.php?id=20359

If you are already reading the ActBlue Blog via RSS or e-mail, you can skip this entry.

We haven’t reminded folks about this option in a while, but for casual visitors to the site you may not know that you can get every ActBlue Blog post without missing out!

If you like e-mail, just to the right of this post at the top of the column you can sign up to receive each new post as they are written. They will be delivered right to your inbox and you can opt-out at any time (though we’d hate to see you go ever so much!)

Another option is to subscribe to our RSS feed. It’s a popular new way to keep track of reading all of the sites you want to each day without missing any great content- even if you take a week’s vacation. Whether you use Google Reader like me or other readers such as Bloglines or NetNewsWire, there are plenty of options out there that help make reading blogs more efficient.

Recently we talked about County Parties and how ActBlue can help them in many states across the county. We’ve been adding new counties scattered across the county since that post but I wanted to point our a really great success story.

Enter the Hancock County Democratic Committee in Maine. An institution that goes back many years, folks involved with the Party saw our posts and with the help of the writers over at Turn Maine Blue got set up using ActBlue.

What’s more exciting is that they used ActBlue to launch an innovative fundraising pitch for a new bumper sticker they were selling. (kakistocracy meaning "Government by the least qualified or most unprincipled citizens.")

They set up this ActBlue fundraising page and crossposted it as part of a story that hit the top of the recommended list at Daily Kos. They raised over $225 for their county committee while pushing out a great message (and adding a word that probably did not previously exist in our vocabulary).

So a hat-tip to the Hancock County Democrats in this installment of "Page of the Week". (Yes, we’ll get back to this feature more regularly so it doesn’t turn into Page of the Month.)

340m18302 Continuing our participation with Democracy for America at their Training Academy programs across the country, I’ll be in Salt Lake City Utah this weekend. I’ll be heading up two Online Fundraising sessions, talking about how to integrate online components of finance into all areas of a campaign including traditional fundraising strategies that can be enhanced through this medium.

Utah is one of one of the states where ActBlue is active on the state level. (You can browse the Utah directory here.) The way in which Utahns came together to activate their state on ActBlue will be the subject of a future post here on the blog. Netroots leaders as well as candidates and the state party worked together to collect funds to cover our startup costs and bring us to their state.

 

df2007_logo

This weekend ActBlue’s political director Erin Hill and associate Karl-Thomas Musselman will be traveling to Manchester, New Hampshire to attend the 4th annual DemocracyFest. First held in 2004, DemFest has drawn thousands of Democrats and progressives that grew out of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and now participate in the various state and local chapters of Democracy for America.

The ActBlue duo will be presenting on the the topic of Online Fundraising Tools and Tactics on Saturday night from 4:30 – 6:00 pm as part of the condensed Training Academy track being led by Democracy for America. If you are there, be sure to come by and say hello!

I wanted to take some time today to look at a few news clips out on the Internet that reflect the changing way in which we are looking at online contributions. The first one comes from Albuquerque Tribune about Democratic candidate Martin Heinrich who uses ActBlue and is running for Congress in NM-01.

Online support, however, is growing and is key to reaching people he probably otherwise wouldn’t, he said. And sites like actblue.com are an easy way to get donors to give
over an extended amount of time, including on an automatic, monthly
basis.

"For working folks, it’s a much more manageable way to give," he said.

Recurring contributions are a great way to spread out a larger contribution over a longer period of time. For families on limited or fixed incomes, this allows for easier participation in the political process, something that should not be limited to any one class of people. ActBlue has enabled this from the beginning, helping candidates and county parties set up steady revenue streams. In the future, we’ll look to provide our users with tools to better track these recurring donations and visually plan out donations.

Our next piece actually takes us to a blog story about another ActBlue campaign, that of Steve Novick running for the Oregon Senate seat held by Gordon Smith (R).

According to the Novick for Senate campaign, in the 48 days since his
announcement, the campaign has now raised over $100,000 from 300+
donors. At this moment, 253 of those donations for $56,797 have come via ActBlue.

Wow, would you ever expect to see over 50% of a federal campaign’s initial contributions made online? In "big-money" politics you might be more accustomed to a large number of high dollar checks providing the initial boost; clearly, this is changing. No one source of funding need be dominant, and we recognize that ActBlue’s ability to expand the donor pool is helping to diversify campaigns and their funding.

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