Mobile Giving and Infrastructure

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has a well-reported item up on mobile giving and campaigns. The takeaway is that everyone knows mobile giving is the next big thing but the actual "how" of the process as it relates to political donations is still unclear. As I've mentioned before, what we're dealing with is fundamentally an infrastructure problem. Amazon's one-click model works for two reasons: you can buy almost anything on Amazon and people are now broadly comfortable with the idea of purchasing things on the internet (in no small part due to Amazon's work in that area).

In the political world, neither of those conditions hold. For starters, the environment is far more fractured, with most candidates pursuing a la carte solutions. If you take a random sample of 25 campaigns, you'll find ten different vendors are responsible for processing donations, each with a particular set of technical constraints that means they can't play nice with one another. That means that each campaign would have to set up their own mobile donation platform, which in turn would require donors to create a mobile profile for each and every candidate they want to give to. Surprisingly, most people aren't up for that. 

Second, online political donations are a fairly new phenomenon and people's comfort zones are still adjusting. A few years ago, an online fundraising program was an optional part of your campaign plan. Today, it's essential. That change happened very fast, and it's why we regularly receive calls from folks who want to give to a candidate but aren't comfortable doing so over the internet. That's not unusual in circumstances like these. In 1998, Newsweek ran an editorial questioning whether anyone would ever buy books–much less other things–using internet retailers like Amazon. Today, the questions are somewhat different: will Amazon kill off book publishers, for example.

The reason ActBlue Express has succeeded relative to many other approaches to mobile giving is that we provide the same clearinghouse advantages that Amazon enjoys. You can create a single profile and give to every Democrat listed on our site (which is to say: almost every Democrat). Instead of campaigns pursuing endlessly duplicative infrastructure and trying to lure donors to this website or that website, they can come to a single place and connect with a pre-existing community of users. Crucially, the fact that these users have ActBlue Express accounts means they're donors and they have a pretty high level of engagement with politics. 

The fact that we've been around for a while and people know and trust us doesn't hurt either.

But the single greatest advantage we enjoy in here is the fact that we're a political committee, not a business. That means we can innovate in ways that for-profit vendors can't match. Simply put, they have to look after their bottom line. Because margins in this business are thin, if something isn't going to be immediately profitable it tends to land on the back burner. At ActBlue, we're able to get out in front of things like mobile giving because we're not as constrained in that regard. Our constituency of interest is our userbase, not our shareholders. If we can provide value to our users, that's the metric we're interested in.

ActBlue Express is simply one expression of that core tenet. 

5 comments
  1. Ronmald Fanyak said:

    On the gross video on Elizabeth warren I have these comments:
    1.it’s about jobs; in ads ask,”so why did 100% of Republicans vote down obama’s jobs bill?..Elizabeth gets it[ unemployment is due to the damage to our economy created by fraudulant practices by financial corporations on Wall Street].What the 99%ers are protesting about. Rove don’t get it!
    2. The failed stimulus bill [actually titled The recovery and Reinvestment act].
    The major financial advisor companies and economists all agree that the bill was the right approasch. But the republicans demand to limit the amount caused its “so called” failure , because the problem was so large and pervasive it required more investment, at least 1.5 trillion dollars.To be effective. The additional funding is what knowledgable people see as needed.
    3.it’s NOT a bailout [the spin conservatives put on it].It’s an investment to allow companies to restructure to survive AND SAVE JOBS.
    tHE 3 MAJOR CAR COMPANIES PAID BACK THE LOANS AND SAVED THE LOSS OF AN ESTIMATED 2 MILLION JOBS IN THE AUTO INDUSTRY.

  2. pioneergirl said:

    PACS distort and hamper the political proces.
    Super PACS hijack the entire voting system.
    If taking money from Big Oil is so bad, what is it when you take twice as much money from Big Banks? Your candidate is no better than the republican candidate you are attempting to demonize.

  3. jonny doe said:

    I stopped believing anything on this site once I notice 7 different adware services stealing and selling my info out.

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