Meet our newest recurring tool: Smart Recurring

Recurring contributions are a popular feature on ActBlue because they help donors contribute to the long-term stability of organizations and campaigns. With a recurring contribution, donors have the opportunity to contribute a small amount on a monthly or weekly basis, rather than a large, upfront contribution. Meanwhile, campaigns and organizations can use recurring pledges to help budget and plan for the future, and at the same time build a community of committed supporters who become a real part of their work.

Our pop-up recurring feature allows campaigns to set up a pop-up that asks donors who have just completed a one-time contribution if they’d like to make their donation recurring. It’s been a useful feature because it offers donors another action to take to support the causes they care about, and it helps campaigns, organizations, and nonprofits build a pool of recurring donors that they count on to fuel their work.

We know that all recurring programs are different, and we want the groups fundraising with our tools to have options that suit their particular program’s needs. With that in mind, our tech team built Smart Recurring, a pop-up feature similar to the original pop-up recurring tool. Smart Recurring takes a donor’s initial contribution into account and offers up a smaller monthly contribution amount that makes sense for the donor based on their original one-time donation.

So what does it look like in practice? Say you just made a $25 contribution. With Smart Recurring turned on, your contribution would go through and you would see a pop-up similar to the one below, asking you to commit to a smaller amount every month.

pop-up

If you do decide to make a monthly recurring contribution, you’ll still give your original donation of $25 immediately, and starting the next month your $6 monthly recurring donation will be taken out each month on the same day.

You’ll receive a receipt with the details of the contribution and a note letting you know that a donation will be processed each month going forward.

receipt

You will also see a note indicating that the donation will recur when visiting your contribution history on ActBlue.

receipt-note

Overall, Smart Recurring makes the donation process more flexible by providing a great additional option for campaigns and organizations. It also takes donors into account, and recognizes that the amount someone wants to give once might not be what they’re willing to give every month. And ultimately, it helps fuel the long-term work of campaigns and organizations that donors care about.

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

We know that every campaign and organization’s donors respond differently, which is why we’re excited to add another recurring feature to your toolbox. Smart Recurring is great because it can help move your donors up another step on the engagement ladder while they’re already motivated to support your work. We recommend experimenting with it and seeing how it works for your program. And, like pop-up recurring, even if a donor doesn’t choose to commit to a recurring contribution, the original one-time donation still stands, so you don’t lose out on any money.

To enable Smart Recurring, just head to the Edit tab of your contribution form and choose “Use unlimited monthly contributions + smart pop-up recurring” under “Recurring Contribution options.” Right now, Smart Recurring only works for unlimited monthly contributions.

If you’d like this feature enabled on every form you’re using, you can update your default form settings. In that case, every form with default settings will have Smart Recurring enabled. You can read more about default settings here.

 

enable

 

As with the original pop-up recurring feature, campaigns and organizations can write a customized ask for the pop-up. We recommend making it short, and talking specifically about why a recurring contribution will make a difference in your work. You can also use a gif or an image as a way to show your donors why you need their support.

It’s important to note that if a donor makes a one-time contribution of $210 or more they won’t see any pop-up asking them to make a recurring contribution on top of their initial contribution.We’ve set that as a limit, because we know that oftentimes campaigns and organizations don’t want to ask donors giving a higher amount for an additional contribution right away. With traditional pop-up recurring, you can choose your own amount threshold for the pop-up your donors see.

The chart below outlines how Smart Recurring upsell amounts correspond with one-time contribution amounts.

upsell

When you export contribution data from ActBlue there will be a column on the CSV specifying whether or not the contribution was made via Smart Recurring, and a separate column noting the amount the contribution will recur for.

If you give Smart Recurring a try, we’d love to hear from your team about how it works for you. Just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

Our new integration with Account Updater makes recurring donations even easier

Over the past year, we’ve been working to integrate with Account Updater, a tool from the credit card industry that reduces disruption any time you get a new credit card number (i.e. when you receive a chip card or lose your card). Now that we’ve integrated with Account Updater, if we try your recurring contribution and learn that your credit card number has changed, we’ll try to seamlessly update your contribution with the new number, so your donation can go on uninterrupted.

We know how much of a pain it is to receive a new credit card number and have to find and update every recurring payment you’ve set up online. We wanted to eliminate that hassle for small-dollar donors. And, as an added bonus, if a recurring donor has their credit card stored on their ActBlue Express account, their stored card will also be updated automatically. That way the donor can continue giving in the future with a single click, without needing to go through the trouble of updating it on their own.

Account Updater has been gaining popularity in the e-commerce space — you might have noticed it’s a little less frustrating to update your Netflix subscription. It’s a courtesy for consumers and we are very excited to build this out across ActBlue to make the donation process as frictionless as possible. We want people to be able to give to the candidates and causes they support just as easily as they can buy concert tickets online or shop on Amazon. So far, recurring donors with automatically updated credit cards have given $6,190,367!

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

You don’t have to do anything to enable this feature. It’s available to every campaign and organization using our platform, and we don’t charge you any extra for the feature.

If your organization is running a recurring program, and you have a donor that lapses because their credit card is no longer valid, we’ll automatically attempt to update the donor’s card through their credit card company and retry the contribution three days later. If that works, their recurring contribution will carry on with the new card number.

We hope that this will make your lives easier — no more tracking down donors and asking them to update their information. To see what percentage of your donors have been able to seamlessly continue their contributions thanks to the integrated Account Updater, you can navigate to the Metrics page of your Dashboard, and scroll to the pie chart section.

pie-chart

If you have questions about the integration with Account Updater, let us know at info@actblue.com.

Weekly recurring is back and better than ever

We’re less than two months from the election. It’s definitely crunch time, and the need for resources has never been more critical. Our answer? Weekly recurring. It’s a great tool that helps campaigns and committees bring in more donations during these tough last few weeks when the pressure is really on.

Just as it sounds, weekly recurring gives donors the option to sign up and make a recurring contribution that processes on the same day of the week, every week, until November 8th. After Election Day, the recurring contribution automatically deactivates.

It’s important to note that we can only turn weekly recurring on for your forms if you’re using ActBlue to fundraise for both your emails and website.

Here’s what your donors will see when you’ve got weekly recurring turned on for a form:

weekly form

 

So if a donor signed up with a recurring contribution today, they’d be making 7 contributions that would each be scheduled to process on Thursday. If you’re interested in turning on weekly recurring, shoot us an email at info [AT] actblue [DOT] com with the forms you want it turned on for. If you decide you want to use it on more forms in the future, you can just clone a form that already has weekly enabled.

Don’t forget that you can use pop-up recurring for weekly contributions! But make sure you change the ask language and note that it’s a weekly recurring contribution.

When you’re creating your links, you can add a parameter (recur_weekly=yes) that sets the form to weekly. It looks like this:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/form_name?amount=10&recur_weekly=yes&refcode=weekly

We recommend you update your receipt text for weekly contribution forms. You’ll find the space to do that within the Edit tab of your forms:

receipt

 

We also recommend putting some time into figuring out how to make the right asks of the right folks. When we’ve tested our weekly recurring feature, we’ve found that people who are more likely to sign up for our usual monthly recurring ask are also more likely to give weekly. Conversely, folks who are more likely to give to a one-time ask are less likely to give on a weekly basis.

Another test we had great success with was our ‘7 for 7’ ask, where we asked donors to give $7 for the last 7 weeks before the election. But it’s important to remember that every list is different.

Weekly recurring is a great way to keep your donor base engaged with you up until when it really counts: Election Day. We’re thrilled to bring you this option again, and would love to hear about any tests you run that are particularly successful. If we’ve convinced you to get set up with weekly recurring, let us know at info [AT] actblue [DOT] com and we’ll turn it on.

Best of luck!

Recurring projections using a predictive model

Contributions from recurring donors are growing by leaps and bounds. Right now there are $46M pledged over the next 18 months from over 203,000 donors, across all of ActBlue.

That’s a huge revenue source for campaigns, and it helps them with long-term budgeting. But we know that some donors won’t fulfill their full pledge, despite all of our best efforts to retain them. That’s why it’s crucial that campaigns and organizations are able to effectively predict how much money is going to be coming in month over month.

We’ve built a new predictive statistical model to run this projection for you automatically. Just go to your Dashboard, click on recurring, and then click on the tab that reads “Recurring Projections”.

You’ll see something that looks like this (this is the current ActBlue monthly projection chart):

And here’s the daily projection chart:

This pane shows both the aggregate and daily amount of revenue we expect you’ll bring in from currently active recurring contributions over the next two months. These expectations are based off a predictive model that takes into account the historical performance of recurring contributions. We provide both the exact estimate and a confidence interval between which you can reasonably expect your revenue to be. You can hover over the chart to find the exact estimate as well as the high and low estimates.

If your committee has received enough recurring contributions to make a statistically sound prediction, then the model used to calculate the expected value of your recurring contributions is unique to your committee. Otherwise, we use a model based on data we see all across ActBlue. In either case, this model is recalculated daily to ensure your data is accurate and up-to-date.

Here at ActBlue we’re committed to providing infrastructure that gives cutting-edge tools to groups large and small.

Not every campaign or organization has the resources to build a predictive model for their program or the data to power it. We’re able to leverage the power of site-wide data to build these models and make them available to every organization, so we can all make smarter, more informed decisions. That’s the power of ActBlue.

As always, if you have questions or want advice on building your recurring donor program, just drop us a line at info@actblue.com and someone will be in touch.

Evaluate your recurring program with charts!

Building a pool of recurring donors is critical to the long-term success of organizations and campaigns. These sustaining funds are a huge help — budgeting is much easier when you have an idea of how much money will be coming in. Plus, donors appreciate that recurring contributions give them both a sense of investment in and a long-term relationship with the campaigns and organizations they support.

Right now, there are over 150,000 recurring pledges across our platform. Some political organizations have been steadily building up their recurring program over multiple cycles, while others are just now asking their supporters to sign up for recurring contributions. Either way, now is a great time to evaluate your recurring program’s strength. We have introduced two visualizations to help you do so. The election is still far enough away that anything you do now to build a lasting recurring pool will have a big impact.

Our new feature, the graphs found on the “Recurring Retention” tab, provides an overview of the recurring contribution performance for a specific campaign or organization. Admins can navigate there by going to their dashboard and clicking on the “Recurring” header beneath “Metrics.” The new tab is to the right of the “Overview” tab.

The first chart groups recurring contributions together by month. Here’s what ActBlue’s chart looks like:

Rows represent every recurring contribution that began that month. The numbers from zero to thirteen above the columns? Those represent the number of months since the initial donation. The percentages represent the retention rate of those contributions.

You can look left to right to follow the monthly trends of a group of contributions. You can also look top to bottom to figure out what happens to contributions after a specific number of months. Or, you can spot trends. Below is the same ActBlue chart as above, but with red boxes to highlight the November-to-December jump:

Notice that inside the boxes are some major retention rate decreases. That is most likely because many donors only want to give until the election, even though they signed up for an ongoing recurring contribution. This is not out of the ordinary and fairly representative of the cyclical nature of politics.

We’ve also included a graph at the bottom of the “Recurring Retention” tab to help you figure out what is actually normal for your organization. Here’s how that chart looks when you hover over a specific line:

The grey and yellow lines represent the retention rate for a month’s worth of contributions. Another way to think about it is that each row from the chart on top of this page is represented as a single line in this graph. The red line is a trend line, which can help you gauge whether a month’s recurring pledges are over- or under-performing. Lines above the red line are being fulfilled at a higher rate than average. The opposite is true for lines below the trend line.

Here at ActBlue, we’re taking a look at our own recurring program and using these new visualizations to do so. This post is just the first in a series of insights, so stay tuned for our next one when we report back. In the meantime, this new feature can give you a sense of how your organization’s recurring program is doing on a monthly basis. You can start by customizing your recurring receipts1 and determining if that improves retention rates. Don’t forget that now is the time to keep growing your recurring pool! We’re just seven end of quarters away from November 2016.

Footnotes:

1: Just go to your entity’s dashboard, click on “Settings” under the “Tools” header, and then scroll down and click on “Blurbs, Disclaimers and Tracking Codes.” Under the “Email Message Blurbs” header, you’ll find the box called “Recurring email blurb”, which is what you want to edit.

It’s crunch time so optimize those weekly recurring asks!

We’re fewer than six weeks from the election. That means, among other things, that optimal fundraising strategies become even more important than usual. Here at ActBlue, we’ve been running tests on a nearly daily basis on all kinds of Express Lane strategies.

Typically, we see the largest (statistically significant) improvements when optimizing factors related to the Express Lane askblock structure like amounts, number of links, and intervals between the links. For our own list, we find that, statistically speaking, the flashier aspects you see in some fundraising emails — emojis in subject lines, e.g. — do not do much (if anything) to improve donation outcomes. Here’s a tactic we recently tested, though, that’s a bit more on the fun side of things and definitely brought in a lot more money.

A little while ago, we started using our weekly recurring feature to great success. (By the way, if you haven’t tried this feature yet, shoot us an email at info [at] actblue [dot] com and we’ll turn it on for you.) After testing which amounts brought in the most money, we landed on this1:

We wanted to see if we could raise more money by asking for “$7 because there are 7 weeks until the election!” Gimmicky? Sure, but we had a hunch that it would perform well.2 Here’s what it looked like:

So what happened? The segment with the ‘7 for 7’ ask performed much better than the control; it brought in 87.6% more money, a statistically and practically significant improvement.3 Cool!

What’ll be interesting to me is to see when this tactic will lose its optimality. The key factor is that $7 (with gimmick) performed better than $10 (the control and previously optimal ask amount) despite it being a lower dollar amount. Though, at some point, a too-low number-of-weeks-to-election-dollar-ask-amount combination will negate the positive c.p. effect of the gimmick. Based on other testing we’ve done, my guess is that that will be at 4-weeks-$4. We’re doing follow-up testing on this “n weeks until the election!” tactic, so we’ll see!

If you decide to test something similar, send me an email and we can chat! Emails to info [at] actblue [dot] com with my name in the subject line will be directed to me.

P.S. Doing a lot of testing in the election run-up? Want a tool to help you manage your test groups? I wrote something in R for you! I’ll post something on the blog about it soon, but if you want it in the meantime, shoot me a note (emails to info [at] actblue [dot] com with my name in the subject line will be directed to me).

FOOTNOTES:

1 Actually, we built a model that predicts how a given Express user will respond to different types of donation requests based on previous donation information. Using those predicted values, we decide what type of donation ask they receive (of one-time, weekly recurring, monthly recurring) and for how much money they are asked. Math! The point: this is what we landed on for a certain subset of our list.

2 Of course, all else equal, it’s tough to distinguish whether any difference was due to the gimmick or because $7 is lower than $10. The theory would be that with a lower amount, more people would give, and even though the mean donation amount would likely be lower, the increase in number of donors would outweigh the decrease in mean donation size. This is definitely possible, but so is the opposite; it’s all about finding the optimal point.

In fact, we included a segment in the test which received an askblock starting with a lower amount and saw this dynamic in action, though the overall treatment effect was not statistically significantly different from the control. This lends support for interpreting the effect from the gimmick segment as the gimmick per se, but a detailed discussion is excluded from the body of the post for the sake of brevity. More rigorous follow-up testing on this “n weeks until the election!” tactic is already in the field— shoot us an email to chat!

3Pr(>|t|) < .01, controlling for other significant factors, including previous donation history.

Weekly recurring is back baby!

We’re less than 8 weeks out from Election Day and are now making the weekly recurring feature available to campaigns and organizations. Just drop us a line at info [AT] actblue [DOT] com and we’ll turn it on for you.

Yep, weekly recurring is exactly what it sounds like. You can ask your donors to sign up to make a recurring contribution that processes on that same day of the week every week until Election Day. After Election Day, the recurring contribution automatically ends.

So, if you get someone to sign up today for a weekly recurring contribution, they’d then have 7 more contributions scheduled to process every Friday.

Election Day is getting closer and closer though, so if you’re going to use weekly recurring, we suggest getting started soon.

Once we turn on the feature for you, create a new contribution form and open the “Show recurring options” section in the edit tab. You will see a new option there for weekly recurring. Make sure you also turn off popup recurring if you have it enabled — these two features aren’t compatible (yet!).

It looks like this:

We’ve run a few tests on weekly recurring this week with our own email list and have had a good deal of success. As always, a donor needs to know exactly what amount and for how long they’ll be charged before they click a link. If you’re going to use weekly recurring with Express Lane (and you should!), here is the disclaimer language we used and recommend you use as well:

Based on our testing, certain segments of your list will respond better than others to a weekly recurring ask (not exactly a shocking revelation). We sort our list into those likely to give to a recurring ask and those who are more likely to give a one-time gift. For the recurring pool, the weekly ask has been performing strongly. Unsurprisingly, the same can’t be said for our one-time folks.

Test it out with the portion of your list that is more likely to give recurring gifts. And try fun things like offering a small package of swag like bumper stickers in return for signing up for a weekly recurring gift.

And if you find an angle that’s working really well for weekly recurring, let us know!

August ’14: Spotlight on Recurring Contributions

Labor Day has historically marked the start of campaign season. Somebody forgot to tell this cycle’s campaigns: we’ve already passed the $200M mark!

In August 2014 we handled $22,982,206 from 690,488 contributions, placing it in our top-3 with October 2012 and July 2014 for most contributions in a single month. Both this month’s incredible number of contributions and the low average donation size (just $32.88) demonstrate how hard campaigns and organizations are working to mobilize a grassroots movement.

August ’11 August ’12 August ’13 August ’14
Contributions 78,172 309,877 155,524 690,488
Volume ($) $3,051,815 $12,785,110 $5,674,068 $22,982,206
Mean Donation $39.04 $41.26 $36.48 $32.88
Committees 916 1,981 1,305 2,251

August 2014 was more than $10M larger than August 2012, while the number of contributions has increased by 122%. That’s causing the average contribution size to decrease by 20%. And that means more small-dollar donors are supporting the causes and candidates they care about.

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of recurring contributions compared to previous cycles. 15.4% of August 2014’s total volume of money — a sum of $3,523,237 — came from sustaining donations. The chart below shows the growth of recurring volume in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles:

So far this election cycle, we’ve handled $17.8M of recurring contributions. That’s an increase of 170% from the same point in the 2012 cycle and more than ten times where at the end of August 2010.

Building a base of recurring donors can have a huge impact on the sustainability of a campaign or organization. A predictive, steady stream of money helps them better manage their finances. And for organizations, which will continue their important work long after November, a pool of recurring donations can help with the post-election donor-fatigue. Recurring donations help donors stay engaged by letting them make regular, small dollar investments in the causes they care about.

To cap off another massive month, we passed the 10 million contributions mark on August 30th! We were too preoccupied with a crazy amount of donations over the holiday weekend to properly celebrate. Over the last 3 days of the month, we handled 22.7% of August’s total volume of money. For those wondering, we did manage to take a screenshot of our internal metrics page and share it with the team.

It wouldn’t be an ActBlue monthly recap if we didn’t point out some impressive Express and mobile stats. Over 54k Express users signed up this past month to join our million-plus individuals strong community of supporters who can donate in an instant. Express users made 63.7% of all contributions in August 2014, which totaled more than $12M. That’s more than half of this month’s total volume, and a testament to how many campaigns are working with the Express tools.

Express users have saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. They give with mobile devices at a higher rate than non-Express users: 29.6% to 23.9%. Mobile donations continue to increase sitewide. This month saw 26.2% of all contributions made with a mobile device.

Campaigns and organizations are fundraising at a blistering pace. In the past two months, we’ve handled more than 1.3M contributions. And we’re prepared to handle the massive load of small-dollar contributions that are predicted to come between now and November. It’s going to be a crazy ride!

Recurring contributions: Now to infinity and beyond

Recurring pledges are like gold. There’s a reason why they’re often called sustaining contributions. Building a base of recurring donors can have a huge impact on the sustainability of any organization, including campaigns.

And now we’re making it easier for you to raise more long-term recurring contributions. Introducing: infinite recurring!

You’ve got a choice: ask people for a recurring contribution for a defined number or months (old standard), or ask them for one with no expiration date (new!). You can also choose not to have a recurring option, but we don’t recommend it (I’ll explain later.)

Here’s how you do it: Go to the edit page of any contribution form. Scroll down till you see this:

recurring toggle

Click on it to expand. It’ll look like this:

recurring options expanded

Select your radio button and then scroll down and hit submit. Yep, that’s it.

ActBlue got it’s start helping candidates raise money for their campaigns, which are built in two year cycles, so we allowed folks to set up recurring contributions for up to 48 months. The assumption was that donors would feel more comfortable signing up for a recurring contribution that would be sure to end at some point. These days, more and more organizations, who are around cycle after cycle, are using ActBlue. Plus, the way people use credit cards has changed and we have a whole system to let you extend/edit/add a new card to your recurring contribution, complete with prompts from us. It doesn’t make a ton of sense to have time-limited recurring contributions anymore.

So we tested it. Would forms with an infinite recurring ask perform the same (or better) as forms with a set number of months? AND would you raise more money if you didn’t have a recurring ask on the form, but asked people with a pop-up recurring box after their contribution was submitted?

We’ve got some answers. Several committees have run tests, confirming that conversion rates on time-limited forms and infinite recurring forms are similar. So if you’re around longer than election day, go ahead and turn on infinite recurring.

Generally speaking, making a form shorter and giving people fewer options leads to higher conversion rates. So theoretically, taking the recurring option off of a form should lead to more donations. We have a pop-up recurring box that campaigns can turn on to try and persuade a one-time donor to make their donation recurring, and there seemed to be a reasonable chance that having no recurring ask on the form would raise more money.

Nope! Turns out that we got a statistical tie on conversion rates between having the recurring option on the form or off. Just having pop-up recurring turned on did not generate as many recurring contributions as having it both on the form and as a post-donation action.

There were slightly more contributions processed on forms without a recurring option, but not enough to generate a statistically significant result. And then add to that the lost revenue from having fewer recurring donations, you end up with a pretty clear take-way: leave the recurring option on the form. Sure, you can turn off the recurring option, but you’ll likely lose money. And nobody wants that.

That’s why recurring contributions have been on every ActBlue contribution form since the beginning. These days we run anywhere from 8-14% recurring, and over $11 million is pledged to thousands of campaigns and organizations.

There is one big question we haven’t answered yet: will you raise more money overall from an infinite recurring contribution than say one with a 48 month expiration date? We’re currently working on a long-term experiment to test exactly that.

The answer might seem self-apparent, but the truth is nobody really knows. Credit cards expire and people cancel their pledges. You never know for sure how much money you’ll raise from a recurring contribution, but if you pay attention to your long-term data, you’ll be able to figure out your pledge completion rate.

If you’re interesting in figuring out a recurring donor strategy, we’re more than happy to give you some (free) advice. Just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

One-time vs. recurring donation asks

Note: This is the first in what we hope will be a regular series on the ActBlue blog sharing our lessons learned from our email program with our larger community of practitioners.

Have you ever wondered if you’d raise more money if you asked your email list for recurring contributions instead of a one-time ask? Yeah, us too.

We’ve tested this from time to time, and usually find for ActBlue and our community members that recurring asks perform better. But we know that the email copy can influence the results, so we decided to test it again. Last Thursday we sent out nearly identical emails to our members, but with two different asks. Here’s an example:

1-time ask

The only way we can do it is if we hit our big goal of raising $75,000 for ActBlue, by the end of the quarter on Sunday. Can you contribute $5, or whatever you can afford, right now to ActBlue, and ensure we’re prepared to help thousands of candidates and organizations raise millions of dollars next fall?

Recurring ask

The only way we can do it is if we hit our big goal of 1,000 donors to ActBlue giving $3 a month, or whatever they can afford, by the end of the quarter on Sunday. Can you contribute $3 a month right now to ActBlue, and ensure we’re prepared to help thousands of candidates and organizations raise millions of dollars next fall?

Each email was sent to 100k random members. We let the test roll for 24 hours before making a call on Friday morning, but it was pretty apparent early on that we were going to have a winner.

One critical piece of important information that we had was the ability to calculate with confidence how much money the recurring contributions would bring in. Recurring donors on ActBlue pick the amount of months they’d like to make their contribution – the maximum is 24 months and we set that as the default when people land on the page through the email parameters. ActBlue Page Dashboards (which are in beta) do the math for you and display exactly how much money your members have signed up to contribute. They’re a tad hidden at the moment due to the beta status, but just add /dashboard/list before your specific page name when you are logged in to see it. For example: https://secure.actblue.com/dashboard/list/offthecharts/. Here’s how it looks for this fundraising page:

But we know that for one reason or another some people don’t complete their pledge. Their credit cards expire and they never updated them with us (even though we ask) or they simply cancel their recurring contribution. That’s why we recently analyzed our pledge completion rate. Since November 2010 the percentage of money that was pledged to ActBlue’s own PAC and received is 88.97% for all recurring contribution pledges that have completed. We did not include people who are still contributing monthly.

Across all the different committees who use ActBlue, we find a sitewide completion rate of 80%, so ActBlue is a bit higher than the average. And our completion rate has grown from where it used to be. All-time we are at a 77.78% pledge completion rate, so clearly we’ve gotten better at getting our folks to finish out their pledges.

Since we had the pledge completion rate, we could calculate how much we could reasonably expect to get in from both the one-time contribution ask and the recurring contribution ask. And here are our results after 24 hours.

One time ask : $2,557 projected
Recurring ask: $4,365.70 projected

We had more contributions on the one-time page than the recurring page, but clearly we were going to end up bringing in more money if we asked the remaining portion of our list to make a recurring contribution. Thus on Friday we sent out the recurring contribution ask to the remaining members of our list, and followed it with a kicker on Sunday, the last day of the quarter.

Our assumption is that ActBlue is viewed by our members as long-term infrastructure that should be supported as such. We’re not a candidate that’s trying to post a great end-of-quarter number, and we’re not trying to raise funds for a specific project like other non-profits. So while our members dig the recurring contributions, your members may not. So test it and find out!

We know people often make different assumptions about recurring revenue, but as you see with this test, the recurring ask is worth significantly more even though fewer people participate. Plus, at this point – 18 months from election day – you’re building a recurring pool so that you’ll have all sorts of money coming in via recurring. That adds up! And it’s a chance to create a long-term bond with your contributors.

We’ll likely run this test again in the not too distant future to ensure that a) our member’s interests/behavior hasn’t changed b) the results were not due to the specific email copy being more suited for a recurring ask. But until then, you’re likely to just be getting recurring contribution asks from ActBlue.