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Earlier this month ActBlue was honored by our friends from Living Liberally at their 10th anniversary party in New York City, along with Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. The party brought out local New York City advocates, progressives from around the country both young and old, and candidates, including mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio to the Downtown Community Television Firehouse, an industrial event space in Chinatown with a screen projecting live tweets from party guests using the hashtag #DL10.

ActBlue Executive Director Erin Hill accepting our award from Living Liberally co-founder Justin Krebs

Living Liberally was founded 10 years ago, about a year before we founded ActBlue (which, you guessed it, means our 10th anniversary is up next). It began simply as Drinking Liberally during the combative Bush years, when liberals were seeking like-minded individuals to drown their sorrows – and organize – with. Since then the plight of liberals has improved, but Living Liberally has still been able to expand to their social organizing program to include Eating Liberally, Laughing Liberally, Reading Liberally, and Screening Liberally events. An unexpected side effect of all this socializing, they joked, was dating liberally, marrying liberally, and procreating liberally.

Living Liberally

Living Liberally co-founders Justin Krebs, Katrina Baker and Matt O’Neill with Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz (second from right)

When the founders took the stage for the speeches portion of the night, the crowd almost immediately broke out into a chant of “10 MORE YEARS.” It was a celebration that included chapter leaders from all over the country, many of whom don’t get to see each other on a regular basis. My favorite story came from Kathleen Thompson, a chapter leader from Grapevine, TX, who talked about how she felt like she was the only liberal in the area, and what a relief it was for her to find a place where she could meet others who shared her beliefs.

Kathleen Thompson and Joseph Stiglitz

Kathleen Thompson and Joseph Stiglitz

Greg Leding, the current Democratic Leader of the Arkansas House of Representatives, met the people who ended up encouraging him to run for his seemingly unwinnable House seat through Living Liberally. Now he works to foster Democratic talent, in the hopes of recruiting others to take the big step of running for office in a state that’s often hostile to liberals.

Erin Hill, our Executive Director, took the stage to accept our award for “Empowering Liberally” through our work to connect supporters with candidates and causes in order to build a stronger progressive movement. We were happy to accept the award amongst some of our newest partners in New York City. This is the first election year that we’re able to work with candidates for mayor and city council. Justin from Living Liberally helped introduce us to many of them, including Council Member Brad Landers, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus of the NYC Council and the rest of his team, which is using ActBlue for slate fundraising in order to help support all of their members. It was the power of social organizing and the work Living Liberally does in action.

ActBlue helped candidates, committees and organizations raise almost a million dollars more this month than we did in April 2012, when the presidential election was really ramping up. That’s awesome.

What does that mean? It means that more people are donating more often. And beyond that it means that the amount of people engaged and connected with the electoral process is going up. People are fighting to have their voice heard and standing up for what they believe in now that they have the tools to do so.

We’re pretty proud of that. Take a look at how the numbers stack up:

  April ’10 April ’11 April ’12 April ’13
Contributions 31,000 51,727 122,619 170,090
Volume ($) $2,767,800.98 $2,580,800.91 $5,485,860.74 $6,382,236.67
Mean Donation $89.28 $49.89 $44.74 $37.52
Committees 1,235 677 1,651 1,031

 

Our average contribution rate is dwindling – it’s now $37.52. That’s the one metric we’re thrilled to see going down. It’s less than half of what it was 3 years ago during the midterm elections and $12 lower than in April 2011 when we were in the midst of the grassroots movement in Wisconsin. Even with smaller contributions, our overall volume is growing, which means that people are more engaged than ever. In April alone, we processed 170,000 contributions, an increase of 50,000 compared to April 2012. This growth is driven by an increasing number of small dollar donors who are becoming active and pooling their resources together to make a big impact.

Another interesting fact? 621 fewer committees raised money in April 2013 than in April 2012. We don’t like seeing numbers go down, but that difference is understandable as there are always more races during a big election year. Knowing that a smaller pool of campaigns and organizations pulled off these impressive fundraising numbers makes it even sweeter. These groups are building truly grassroots efforts and we’re excited to see them grow.

The South Carolina special election between Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Mark Sanford is a prime example. Sanford recently called us an “ultra liberal money funnel” and tried to discredit Colbert Busch’s hard-earned grassroots donations. No wonder he was nervous: she raised an impressive $731,100 from 19,328 donors this month and helped drive lots of traffic. That’s a whole lot of engaged folks for a spring election in an off year.

Our biggest tool for building online grassroots programs has been ActBlue Express, which allows returning donors to give with just one click every time they get served up an ActBlue donation page. That means all Express users are valuable for any campaign or organization who decides to use us. Last month over half (52.1%) of our site wide contributors were ActBlue Express users and we brought our total Express users up to 552,188. We know that these users are our most dedicated donors, so we’re happy to see that number growing!

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