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I've talked about the central role that transparency plays getting your fundraising momentum noticed as it's happening. As confirmation, today we have this article by Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post on the gathering pace of small-dollar fundraising around the public option:

Two freshman Democrats who launched a Senate effort to revive the public option have been rewarded by small online donors for their activism. ActBlue, which raises funds and is closely associated with the blogosphere, has seen more than $150,000 come in from more than 8,000 individual donors. That's an average contribution of less than $20.

I'd like to point out a couple of things here: first, ActBlue didn't raise that money. We built the infrastructure that enabled the PCCC/DfA push to rack up $150,000 in 48 hrs, but it wouldn't have happened without the efforts of the candidates and organizations involved and the response from their donors. Each of those things–infrastructure, organizing, response–are necessary but not sufficient conditions for this type of success. Second, they're getting press coverage precisely because Ryan was able to see their numbers. Without that ability, the story doesn't get written. That's the difference between ActBlue and Generic Payment Processor X. Back to the article:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
individually raised $70,000 and $40,000, respectively. Bennet, who is
facing a primary challenge in Colorado, led the effort, circulating
what became known as the "Bennet letter," which called on Senate
Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) to include a public option in a final
health care bill moved through reconciliation, which only requires a
majority vote. Gillibrand was an original cosigner, along with freshman
Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Two progressive groups that led the organizing effort also
benefited. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and
Democracy for America each raised over 20,000 from more than 4,000
donors, for an average contribution of $5.

As late as last week, the consensus was that the public option was dead. Whatever the final outcome of this round of legislation, the ability of these groups to revive a progressive idea, generate buy-in from vulnerable legislators, and buttress that effort with small-dollar donations from real, non-corporation Americans should be considered a signal of things to come.

Yesterday, Nancy Scola asked whether the Netroots could affect the legislative process, and I pointed out that transparent, online fundraising is critical to, in her words, "[pushing] Democrats out in favor of a progressive priority, and then make
the experience a pleasant one for the senator or representative." On the heels of that conversation comes Brian Beutler's TPMDC piece, How Outside Groups And Vulnerable Dems Gave The Public Option A New Pulse. Read it. The story is aptly summarized by a Senate aide, who said:

I would credit a lot the Netroots and then working with members who
had already been previously supportive, and members who have been in
tough positions for re-election.

According to Beutler's sources, the public option was revived by organizations like the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and Democracy for America (DfA), in concert with with Sen. Bennet and Sen. Gillibrand, and Reps. Pingree and Polis.

ActBlue has helped knit that diverse coalition together. The PCCC, DfA, and Sens. Gillibrand and Bennet are at the top of ActBlue's hot candidates and committees list, with Bennet banking nearly 1.5M on ActBlue. The PCCC and DfA were #1 and 3 on ActBlue's list of top 10 committees of 2009, separated only by the overnight (literally) success of Rob Miller. Rep. Pingree raised $730,000 on ActBlue for her 2008 election, while Rep. Polis came in at $510,000.

Now, I don't mean to shortchange the tremendous work that PCCC and DfA have done around this issue. But their ability to convince vulnerable legislators to work the inside game has a lot to do with their demonstrated fundraising power. In other words, their persuasive power is rooted in the idea that there is a cash constituency out there for progressive ideas, an idea that ActBlue has helped make clear, time and time again.

On TPM's editor's blog, Josh Marshall mused

Just a couple weeks ago, not only did reform seem pretty much dead but
any thought that a public option would be included in a deal seemed
pretty much crazy. And yet, out of the blue, through a pretty organic
and somewhat fortuitous process, it's back.

I think you have to give ActBlue credit for helping make that process possible.

The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands
bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method
and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above
all, try something.

That was President Frankin Delano Roosevelt in 1932, and his last injunction, “but above all, try something,” seems to have reached Washington D.C. almost 80 years after it was first uttered. On Monday the White House released a healthcare reform plan, and both President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have signaled their willingness to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills through–you guessed it–reconciliation.

That movement toward a majority vote on healthcare reform didn’t happen by accident, nor can the re-introduction of the public option be attributed purely to the subtle and inscrutable shifts of power within our nation’s capitol. I happen to think that Nancy Scola, on Techpresident, has it right:

The targeted, sophisticated grassroots drive now unfolding to provide political cover to the nearly two dozen Senate Democrats who signed the so-called Bennet letter, calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to include the public option in the great debate over health care reconciliation, is shaping up to be a something of a case study in how the “netroots” might force change by tweaking the legislative process as it functions today. The trick? To push Democrats out in favor of a progressive priority, and then make the experience a pleasant one for the senator or representative. Reward what is, in the eyes of the movement, good behavior, and create an environment where progressive political risk doesn’t necessarily trigger in politicians a negative response.

Or, to return to FDR:

I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Larry Lessig’s idea of an economy of influence in Washington D.C. What Nancy underscores in her post is the beginning of an important and very welcome revision to that dynamic:

  • The Old Way: Lobbyists place phone calls to legislators, tantalizing them with the prospect of special interest money for future elections and, perhaps, a career as a lobbyist should the election go against them. The price of that deal? Servicing the policy needs of a given special interest.
  • The New Way: Americans advocating for the public option (a policy they support) where everyone can see it, in real time. As for the price, well, it’s hard to imagine that giving the American people the same voice in Washington that special interests already have is much of a burden.

Underlying our work at ActBlue is the belief that if you give Americans a means to speak to power, they will. In two days, 7,500 Americans have doled out almost $150,000 to support the public option. Last summer, another drive supporting the public option raised $400,000 in a week. In the midst of the worst recession since FDR urged Washington to “try something,” those accomplishments aren’t just news, they’re a testament to the faith that Americans have in our democracy.

In his State of the Union address, President Obama said:

We face a deficit of trust–deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we must take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; and to give our people the government they deserve.

In light of that statement, the early release of the White House healthcare plan and the televised summit with the GOP on Thursday confirm the basic intuition we have about our system of government: if we speak, we ought to be heard. And if we speak the language of Washington ($), we will be.

If you're a campaign, the real-time numbers and transparency ActBlue provides are things you should embrace.

ActBlue helps your fundraising momentum get noticed as it happens, rather than months later. In September, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled "you lie" at President Obama. 48 hours later his Democratic opponent, Rob Miller, had racked up $1,000,000 on ActBlue. The first $100,000 came in overnight, and the rest poured in over the next 36 hours. For an entire day, Rob Miller was getting $7 a second through ActBlue.

That surge happened because reporters could see it happening in real time. The press coverage–Bloomberg, CNN, Politico–pushed the story out to an even wider audience, and the money kept pouring in. As a result, a race that was off the radar is now the focus of national attention. That's what ActBlue can do for you. You can't control when your opponent will make a mistake, but ActBlue ensures that you won't leave any money lying on the table when they do.

ActBlue isn't just about capitalizing on major fundraising events. It can also help you build a stable base of grassroots support and increase the size of your email list. That means when your opponent messes up, you'll have someone to tell.

When grassroots donors give, they're looking to connect with your campaign, to play a part in something larger than their $15, $20 or $50 contribution. When they give through ActBlue, their contribution is recorded and added to your total in real time. They can see how many other people are a part of this effort, and broadcast your momentum through their own social network using Facebook and Twitter. Using our recurring donation system, you can build a war chest and network of supporters months, even years before an election.

In other words, ActBlue means more donors, a bigger list, and more money

Without ActBlue, when the donor contributes that money disappears into your payment processing apparatus and doesn't see the light of day until months later, when it gets written up in an article about campaign finance that they won't read. They don't feel like they've made a difference, and they're less likely to give again.

That is–quite literally–a mistake you can't afford to make.

ActBlue and Facebook have more in common than a shared love of compound words: we’ve both created a space for people to make their passions known. With that in mind, it seemed only natural that ActBlue should have a Facebook page.

So take a minute of your Friday afternoon to become a fan of ActBlue on Facebook, and, of course, tell your friends!

We know that you have a lot on your plate, so the ActBlue Facebook page will be the place to read our blog entries and find out about the latest ActBlue news. It has a handy link to our Twitter feed, so you can find out what’s happening in real time.

You’ll also notice a new feature on your ActBlue contribution forms. Effective immediately, you’ll be able to share your donation on Facebook and Twitter. After you donate, just click on the appropriate button (see example below) and you can share your donation with your friends and followers.


ActBlue will automatically generate a wall post or tweet, which you can edit as normal. Furthermore, if you gave through a fundraising page with a thermometer, that thermometer will be appended to your wall post and your friends can join your fundraising effort with a single click:

In our series of posts looking back at 2009 (here, here, & here) there was one list we had not yet made public. So, thanks to popular demand, we'd like to post ActBlue's Top 10 most active campaigns and committees of all of 2009 when ranked by the number of donors.

Committee

Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Race/Type

Contributions

39,067

Amount 

$1,064,408.90

Rob Miller SC-02, 2010 25,669 $957,982.61
Democracy for America 17,255 $416,754.76
No on 1 / Protect Maine Equality Ballot Question 17,125 $1,398,965.97
Alan Grayson FL-08, 2010 13,508 $462,324.84
FDL Action PAC 7,402 $235,973.94
Blue America PAC 5,859 $114,534.53
Gavin Newsom CA-Gov, 2010 4,481 $1,035,928.73
Eric Massa NY-29, 2010 3,493 $208,342.72
Barney Frank MA-04, 2010 3,427 $41,716.45

What a list! Five out of the 10 top committees ranked by total contributions are campaigns. Those campaigns are spread across five entirely different states in all corners of the county. They include challengers and incumbents, statewide and congressional races, and varying degrees of electoral competitiveness. Among the five non-candidate committees, we find a ballot question in Maine's statewide marriage equality campaign, two Netroots blog based PACs, and Democracy for America (DFA). Topping the list for 2009 is the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) which raised over $1 million for the year. The PCCC and DFA collaborated on multiple joint fundraising pages in 2009 helping increase their total number of contributions and lift both committees to the top of our donor charts.

Congratulations to these 10 campaigns and organizations as well as the thousands of others that raised money through ActBlue in 2009. We're well on our way to a bigger, better, and bluer year of fundraising in 2010.

Welcome to the third installment of ActBlue data disclosure, 2009 edition!

Last week we presented a big picture overview of what 2009 looked like as well as how it compared to 2007, the most comparable year we have data for at ActBlue. These reviews highlighted our growth in donors, in donations, in recipients campaigns & committees, as well as personal grassroots fundraising efforts.

Since we are in the midst of a period of federal campaign finance reporting, it's time for us to reveal some more information specific to the fourth quarter of 2009. We will begin with some of the Q4 2009 categorical totals.

Number of contributions 86,158
Total raised $10,021,907.33
Average contribution size $116.32
Distinct committees receiving money 1,420
Distinct fundraising pages receiving money 1,540
Fundraising pages created 1,602

Now let's look at the top 10 recipient campaigns & committees of 2009's 4th quarter, ranked by number of donors. Topping the list are two progressive pugilists, Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-08) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Below them, the list diversifies, including a ballot committee (No On 1), the FireDogLake Action PAC, and a grab bag of federal candidates spanning the spectrum of the Democratic Party from Bernie Sanders to Bill Owens. It's a glimpse of the breadth that makes ActBlue unique. 


Name     

PCCC – Progressive Change Campaign Committee

Type

Organization

Donors

15,474

Raised

$407,439.22

Alan Grayson FL-08, 2010 11,362 $393,433.04
No on 1 / Protect Maine Equality Ballot Prop 8,517 $570,957.55
FDL Action PAC PAC 5,024 $156,099.32
Bill Owens NY-23, 2010 2,891 $335,112.52
Democracy for America Organization 2,593 $75,347.89
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 1,551 $242,836.66
John Kerry MA-Sen, 2014 1,237 $82,166.67
Bernie Sanders VT-Sen, 2012 996 $25,604.41
Deval Patrick MA-Gov, 2010 890 $292,582.50

If we change our ranking criteria to the top 10 recipient campaigns & committees by number of dollars we get the following table:

Name

No on 1 / Protect Maine Equality

Type

Ballot Prop

$ Raised

$570,957.55
Progressive Change Campaign Committee Organization $407,439.22
Alan Grayson FL-08, 2010 $393,433.04
Bill Owens NY-23, 2010 $335,112.52
Steve Pagliuca MA-Sen, 2010 $303,640.00
Massachusetts Democratic Party State Party $295,510.00
Deval Patrick MA-Gov, 2010 $292,582.50
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 $242,836.66
House Senate Victory Fund Committee $224,301.00
Cal Cunningham NC-Sen, 2010 $182,726.51


Beyond recipients, we like to look at successful fundraising pages. Unlike general recipient data, fundraising pages make a specific ask, and provide more information about which asks gained traction during Q4. Below, we've listed the top ten fundraising pages in Q4 by number of donors. Click on the name to be redirected to the page itself.

While these pages were the most successful, they are just a small sampling of the more than a thousand successful fundraising pages
created in the last quarter of the year for candidates and causes big
and small. To learn more and start creating your own personal
fundraising page for a Democratic cause or candidate, click here.

Name Donors Raised Average
congressmanwithguts 4822 $171,425.00 $35.55
allaboutjoe 3685 $76,478.66 $20.75
noon1 3177 $123,179.11 $38.77
reconciliation 2631 $84,788.83 $32.22
liebermanaccountable 2032 $48,550.34 $23.89
pressurelandrieu 1882 $57,858.11 $30.74
harryreidad 1669 $58,935.30 $35.31
obamafight 1422 $48,487.26 $34.09
noon1redalert 1382 $76,031.97 $55.01
obamapromise 1316 $26,913.37 $20.45
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