One. Billion. Dollars.

Get the confetti cannons out — we’ve officially crossed over A BILLION DOLLARS. That’s one billion dollars raised for Democrats, progressives, and nonprofits leading the fight for change.

one billion

This is by far our biggest milestone yet, but this isn’t just a celebration for us, this is a celebration (and a win) for small-dollar donors everywhere. They prove day in and day out that there is unbelievable strength in the grassroots movement.

This celebration is about saying thank you to the 14,308 campaigns, committees, and organizations who have used ActBlue’s platform, and the 24,200,973 individual contributions from millions of donors across the country who got us here. There are an amazing 4,032,813 donors that have used our platform to make their voices heard in the last 12 years, and they’ve showed people everywhere how powerful grassroots donors can be.

Small-dollar donors, campaigns, committees, and nonprofits have helped us build an amazing movement over the last 12 years, so we wanted to build something that allows you all to look back on the big moments that we created together, and that got us to this huge milestone.

The best part? This is just the beginning.

Check out billion.actblue.com to read about the #roadto1B, and join us in this celebration!

ActBlue Charities is HERE

*drumroll please* We’re excited to announce that charitable organizations can now fundraise using the same great platform that ActBlue has built over the last 11 years!

Organizations with a 501(c)3 designation are now able to get set up with our tools in just minutes. Contributions will be run through ActBlue Charities, the newest arm of the ActBlue family, but everything else stays the same. Charities both big and small, national and local, will be able to take advantage of our entire set of industry-leading fundraising tools, including the existing (and growing) 2.4M-strong Express user universe — that’s people who have saved their donor and credit card information and can give in an instant. By bringing our innovative tools to a whole new set of organizations, we’re hoping to add to revenue models for charitable organizations by working with them to build a new stream of small-dollar donors.

If you’re interested, you can start the setup process here.

So, why did we spend years (yes, years) working to make it possible for charities to use our fundraising tools?

ActBlue’s mission has always been to help connect grassroots donors with the causes and campaigns that they support, so they can effect change in the world. Through technology, we help break down barriers, and make it easier for Americans to chip in what they can afford to fuel change in this country. Just think of what can be accomplished if we can help thousands of charitable organizations build their grassroots fundraising base, much like we’ve done with political giving.

We’ve seen firsthand how powerful grassroots, people-powered movements can be, and we want to help charities create those kinds of movements and bring in more donations, so they can expand their capacity to do good works. And as a nonprofit, ActBlue is committed to offering those tools for free, so organizations at every level have access to the best technology possible.

There are certainly already a lot of platforms charities can use to fundraise online. Here’s what makes ActBlue a better choice:

ActBlue isn’t just a way to take in money. We’re a platform built specifically to support grassroots fundraising and the organizations doing that work. From our tools to our Express universe to our trainings, we draw from the experiences of thousands of groups fundraising with us.

How does that happen? Well, the huge volume of contributions we handle enables us to constantly improve our contribution forms with tiny optimizations that benefit the entire platform at once and immediately bring in more dollars. Donors are at the core of what we do, and we’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier and faster for them to give. The design of buttons, small layout changes, and user experience alterations can make big differences when it comes to conversion rates.

We do one thing — build grassroots fundraising software that raises organizations more money and helps them increase their capacity to do powerful work — and we do it really well. We’ve never lost a head-to-head A/B test against another donation platform.

ActBlue’s toolset is designed to scale for organizations both big and small. Everyone has access to the same features, data visualizations, and tools no matter their size. That means your small (but mighty) charity has access to the same fundraising tools as presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders.

And the other important thing to know is that we’re a mission-driven nonprofit. We partner with our clients, working together to help them reach their fundraising goals. We’re not just another vendor looking to profit off of you. We’ve been around for 11 years, helped raise over $960 million in grassroots contributions for thousands of campaigns and organizations, and built a reputation for being helpful, reliable, and innovative. There are some huge charities that are doing cutting-edge work right now, and we can’t wait to partner with them to make charitable grassroots fundraising even better.

We’re excited to be working with organizations in a space where there is room for small-dollar donor growth, and the potential to build powerful movements of all kinds. ActBlue Charities is open to any c3 organization that is willing to engage in grassroots fundraising, and whose activity doesn’t contradict ActBlue Charities’ policies and values. Those values include (but aren’t limited to) social equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, diversity, freedom of speech, and respect for scientific inquiry, discovery, and data.

Charitable organizations will pay our standard 3.95% processing fee on contributions, but other than that, every single one of our tools — including training and support — is free. We’re usually able to set charities up in a single day. No contracts, no hidden costs.

If you’re an organization that meets the criteria above, and are interested in getting set up, let us know here. If you have questions, or want to learn more about our tools you can email us at info@actblue.com.

This launch is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long learning process, and we’re excited to start working with some amazing new organizations. Together, we can make big things happen.

What a spontaneous online fundraiser looks like

I’d say last night was YUUUUGE, but others have done the Donald impression much better than I could. Suffice it to say, it was a historic night for ActBlue’s infrastructure.

Yesterday evening, during a 15 minute span, ActBlue processed over 26,000 contributions. That’s equivalent to 104,000 contributions / hour. For context, the biggest hour up to last night saw 13,981 contributions created. That’s how big of a surge it was.

We’re always prepping for the biggest moments, those are our bread and butter. And one of the best parts about a big night like last night is we get to see how our tools hold up to a heavy load, and how we can improve in the future. We processed every contribution that came our way last night, and we’re confident we could have handled 150k / hour (and we’ll be able to handle 200k by later tonight).

We did hit one bump late yesterday though. Last night’s spontaneous fundraiser (the one that raised $5.2 million in less than a day) broke our external processor’s response systems. That’s some amazing grassroots power. Like we said, we over-prepare, so we were ready for that. But the vendor started giving us a previously undocumented error message, which temporarily caused some donors to not move from the “please wait” page to the confirmation page…even though their contributions were already fully processed

It’s not ideal, and it’s not the exceptional donor experience we want to provide people with. And we were sorry for that. We worked quickly to get the issue remedied and to get the donor user flow back to what it should be. In addition to technical solutions, our customer service team was answering donor questions in real-time last night and they’re working hard to talk to every donor today.

And we’re happy to say that we didn’t drop a single contribution, and we didn’t go down. If you saw an error message last night, that was because you were trying to access a non-essential page. We triage those during our busiest times, so we can put all our resources behind handling contributions. That part worked exactly as it should, and it paid off with some pretty eye-popping statistics:

Numbers are fun, but pictures are more fun, so let’s start with a graph:

Want to guess what time Senator Sanders told a national TV audience to go to BernieSanders.com and donate $27?

Those are requests / minute as recorded by our (fabulous) CDN, Fastly. And for the briefest moment in time, we hit 333,000 rpm. Prior to last night, we’d never seen that number go above 40,000 rpm. So it was, in a word, unprecedented.

Internally, we could see those donors giving at a similarly rapid pace:

Isn’t it beautiful how nicely those graphs match up? And yes, this means we topped out at more than 2000 contributions / minute. Our previous record was 781. Here’s the breakdown of our new contribution records:

Minute: 2,689
5 minutes: 11,218
10 minutes: 19,822

But the best part of the contributions per minute graph is the natural decay in rate. By that I mean the gradual downslope as the wave passed. Why is this important? Because if our infrastructure was actually in trouble the graph wouldn’t look as natural — you would be seeing some sharp drop-offs.

Last night was a huge win for small-dollar donors. They once again showed that they are a powerful force to be reckoned with, and we’re committed to providing them with the best experience possible. We know that rock-solid and innovative infrastructure is key to helping Democrats up and down the ballot raise the most money online. But we also know that respecting donors and making sure they have a good experience both technology and customer service-wise is key to growing small-dollar donor participation. We’re expecting a lot more big nights, and we’re ready and excited to empower donors and help candidates build winning campaigns.

If you have questions about a contribution, or want to talk shop, email us at info@actblue.com and a real person will respond, as always.

Our 2015 report is here!

We just launched our 2015 report. It has all the graphs and (moving!) charts you could want, plus insights into the world of small-dollar fundraising.

At ActBlue, we have an amazing group of supporters who chip in to help us build our tools, plus a great community of campaigns and organizations putting our tools to the test with their fundraising prowess, so we wanted to take the time to thank every one of those people and report back on our work in 2015.

Check out the report.

Oh, and big things are coming in 2016!

Mobile giving just got a whole lot better

Mobile giving just got a whole lot better

Introducing the ActBlue Express Pass. Built for a mobile-first world.

ActBlue Express Pass

We’re always trying to improve our contribution forms — that means eliminating inefficiencies and making them more user friendly on every device. And nothing has seemed more inefficient to us than typing in 16-digit credit card numbers with your thumbs on a mobile device.

That’s why we’re introducing ActBlue Express Pass, built with our 1.5 million Express user pool in mind. It lets Express users with a mobile phone number bypass the form by simply clicking a link in a text message to give. Express users are donors who have saved their payment information with ActBlue and can give in a single click.

Here’s how it works: If an Express user starts filling out a contribution form on a device that doesn’t have their information stored and they have a mobile number associated with their account, we’ll offer them an Express Pass. Users fill in an average of 111 characters on a form, but with Express Pass they only have to enter their email address.

Why this feature? Why now? Mobile is the way of the future for online fundraising. Over the last two years, the percentage of ActBlue donations made via a mobile device has jumped from 9.1% to 29.1%. That can spike to around 67.7% on nights and weekends when people are away from their computers.

We already knew that when we roll out features that improve on-the-go donations, we see astronomical gains. When we launched our mobile-responsive contribution forms back in September 2013, we saw mobile numbers jump from 9.6% to 20.5% over one month. Still, no matter how mobile-optimized your form is, it’s a pain to type in information on a mobile phone, so we decided to take that step out of the equation for Express users. It’s the next step toward our goal of making mobile donating as easy as desktop giving.

Donors are already coming to campaigns and organizations via mobile, but if it’s not an easy process, some will abandon that donation. We’re meeting users where they are, and tailoring the donation process to their devices. We’ve crunched the numbers and Express Pass was associated with a 4.7% increase in conversions for mobile Express users, a statistically significant result.

The benefits are two-fold: Users can donate quickly and easily with Express Pass, and the next time they donate on a mobile phone, they’ll already have their information stored right there, so they can give with just a single click. That’s going to a major investment as we get closer to the critical 2016 election.

But the best thing about ActBlue Express Pass? It feels intuitive, and it fades into the background in the best possible way. It just works like it should, while bringing in more conversions for every campaign and committee.

User Experience & Implementation

The gif above gives you an idea of how the Express Pass steps work, but we’ll break them down for you below.

The user selects a donation amount, types in their email address, and moves on to fill out the rest of the form. But before they can do that, we check and see if they’re an Express user, and if they have a mobile number associated with their account (half of all Express users do). If both of those things are true, we show them a popup that reminds them they’re an Express user and offers to send them a text message where they can finish their contribution.

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Next, they click yes, because easy = awesome. Donors receive the text message, click the link, and their contribution goes straight through. If your campaign has chosen a post-contribution action like a pop-up recurring box or customized redirect, Express Pass users will enter that flow like any other user once their contribution processes. Otherwise, donors will see the thank you page like usual.

ActBlue Express Pass will significantly improve donors’ experience when giving on-the-go, and it makes it even easier for campaigns and organizations to collect donations at in-person events.

Express Pass is automatically turned on when Express Lane is enabled for a campaign or organization. Applicable donors will see Express Pass on single entity and tandem forms, but not on event and merchandise forms. Those require extra info and will still get the regular mobile treatment for the time being.

With ActBlue Express Pass, we’re not just looking to scale forms that were originally built for the desktop into mobile devices. We’re coming up with a whole new way to give. That’s what the future of fundraising tech will be about — solutions that work for every device, wherever your donors are.

Congrats to the new DCCC and DSCC chairs

We’re excited to see long-time ActBlue user Rep. Ben Ray Lujan be named chair of the DCCC.

Reminded us of this video from 2008 when candidate Lujan taked about the importance of the entire Democratic ticket in New Mexico using ActBlue and the “phenomenal grassroots effort” we could all build together.

Six years later and that Democratic network in New Mexico is really paying off. Congrats! Looking forward to doing even more together in 2016 to take back the House!

Also, a huge congratulations to fellow ActBlue user, Sen. Jon Tester on his selection as DSCC chair. We can’t wait to work with both of you in your new roles.

You know what’s pretty cool?

Yep, that’s right. The community that we started building in 2008 has grown to include one million supporters.

What’s so special about Express users? They’ve securely saved their payment information with us, which means they can give in an instant to any candidate, committee, or organization using ActBlue. Whenever you make it easier for people to donate wherever they are, whenever they want, they’re more apt to give and conversion rates go up. That means our work is directly benefitting Democrats and progressives across the country.

In other words, Express users are power donors. But not the Koch-brother type. The small-dollar kind. Check out how many dollars ActBlue Express users have been giving:

Express users also power Express Lane, ActBlue’s one-click payment system. Express Lane increases donation rates anywhere from 40% to 200%. The more Express users an organization has, the more likely they are to bring in those Express Lane donations. The best way to increase your Express user pool? We’ve found that sending Express Lane links to all your users increases donation rates and helps you convert more of your list to Express users. We wrote a post about it here.

The community has been growing rapidly, but we’re really happy to see the current monthly growth rate at about the same level as October 2012. If you remember, there were some big things going on.

As we get further into the election cycle, more and more new donors are emerging and joining the Express Lane community. Every campaign out there is organizing and growing their ranks, all the major campaigns in the country are using ActBlue and adding their donors to this pool, and together the entire left is raising more money. And if we’re seeing this many new donors signing up during summer vacation months….well, we can only imagine what this fall will bring!