October ’14: A monster of a month

With just one day until the election, we squeezed in some time to reflect on our monster October. There was no real “October surprise,” just a whole lot of grassroots fundraising, and a whole lot of work from campaigns and organizations across the country.

ActBlue handled a total of $56 million from 1.2 million contributions. Donations averaged $45.59 and went to 2,514 different campaigns, committees, and organizations. It was our biggest month by far, both in terms of dollars and donations. The runner up? Last month (September 2014), when we raised $38 million from 890,915 donations.

If you’re curious, the biggest hour of the month was on 10/31 at 3 PM EST ($222,965) and the biggest day was 10/15, the pre-general reporting deadline ($3.3 million). That’s a deviation from our typical month; fundraising totals usually build steadily, and the last day of the month is almost always the biggest. With Election Day looming, October was crazy from beginning to end. And that meant a massive, steady stream of contributions to handle, customer service emails to return, and campaigns to assist.

Check out how October ‘14 stacks up to past years:

  Oct ’11 Oct ’12 Oct ’13 Oct ’14
Contributions 61,438 825,893 289,808 1,229,502
Volume ($) $3,857,573.91 $35,055,118.28 $10,055,290.31 $56,051,590.11
Mean Donation $62.79 $42.45 $34.70 $45.59
Committees 1,140 2,183 1,576 2,514


Express users accounted for a huge chunk of that money — $33 million to be exact or 59%. With tens of thousands of new donors tuning into politics in October, our Express user community also grew significantly. We added 73,679 Express users last month, bringing the total up to 1,206,416!

Mobile donations continue to be a huge factor. 24.9% of contributions sitewide were made via a mobile device.

One of our most popular election season features is weekly recurring — and for good reason. It accounted for 10.7% of total volume in October and 315,281 contributions. More importantly, that money, combined with built-up monthly recurring (7.8% of total volume), provided a steady source of income for campaigns, so they could plan ad buys and GOTV efforts effectively.

Check out how this month stacked up against September, when we debuted weekly recurring and saw fundraising rising to a crescendo, rather than steadily marching towards Election Day.

(Click above to expand)

The narrative of the 2014 election has been that voters aren’t paying attention. But these numbers prove one thing: small-dollar donors are engaged and getting involved at a higher rate than ever before. And amongst all the Koch brother headlines, that’s an encouraging sign.

Time to Double Down

With just 13 days to go until the election, ActBlue is doubling down, and your supporters can too.

Double Down (formerly known as Insta-match for those of you with us in 2012) allows you to create a pop-up asking donors to double their donation after their initial contribution is processed.

This is your chance to convey a sense of urgency to your donors and make the conversion, so make sure you use short, compelling content (pictures allowed, too!).

To turn on Double Down, go to the “edit” tab of a form that you have created and scroll down and click “Show ‘Double Your Donation’ Options.”

Check the box to enable the feature and write a powerful sentence or two on why donors should double their contribution to your campaign or organization.

For compliance purposes, doubled donations will show up as two separate line items with the same ID.

We’re always working to make sure ActBlue’s tools suit your needs through the election cycle, and we hope Double Down will help power your campaign to victory. Weekly recurring has always been a super successful feature, but at this point in the year, you need a new way for donors to show their support. Double Down, just like weekly recurring, will end after Election Day.

If you have ideas for other great October-specific tools or questions about setting up or using Double Down, drop us a line at info [at] actblue [dot] com. Happy fundraising!

Yes you can (do your own refunds)

Our mission has been to make your lives easier this campaign season, so you can spend more time connecting with supporters. We rolled out a new refund feature that will do just that. Now you can issue your own refunds for your campaign or organization, as long as we haven’t sent you a check with that money yet.

As always, we’re ready and willing to handle your donors’ questions and refunds in a timely manner, but this feature gives you the option to issue the refund yourself if it suits your needs.

Now, if someone contacts you directly for a refund, you can feel free to take care of that while you’re on the phone with them. If you know a particular donor is over their contribution limit, or ran a donor card incorrectly, you can handle that refund right away in-house.

Making a refund

One of our other favorite new features, the search function, makes the whole refund tool possible. Navigate to the search tab of your Dashboard, fill in the donor information that you have available, and click search. Once you’ve found the right contribution, you can click on the associated date to open up all the contribution information.

If the contribution is eligible for a refund, you’ll find a drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen where you can choose the reason for your refund and process the refund.

If the contribution has already been disbursed in a check, you’ll see a message prompting you to contact ActBlue Customer Service to obtain a refund.

You have a contribution you can’t refund yourself? Have a question for us? Would like us to handle a refund? Let us know!

Just drop us a line at info [at] actblue [dot] com and we’d be happy to help.

May ’14: EOQ prep and a blast from the (Wisconsin recall) past

Last month we focused on how the culture of fundraising deadlines, even in non-EOQ months, has led to crazy-busy closes to each month. May was no exception. 29% of the $13.9 million fundraising total was raised during just the last 4 days of the month.

We’ve gotten used to doubling our 2012 fundraising numbers each month, and we were surprised when we only came in about $4 million ahead of our May ‘12 total of $10 million. And yes, we know it sounds crazy to be saying “only $4 million.” Even weirder: we only raised a million more in June ‘12 than in May ‘12.

We jumped in the way-back machine to investigate and realized that two years ago our May fundraising numbers were driven up because of the Wisconsin recall elections. This year, we had a solid but not stand-out month, which is what we’d expect when the country isn’t focused on one very unusual recall election. Campaigns are planning huge fundraising pushes for June, and May is just the (relative) calm before the end of quarter storm.

You can dig into the rest of the numbers here:

May ’11 May ’12 May ’13 May ’14
Contributions 45,783 234.065 173,541 353,386
Volume ($) $2,679,279 $10,041,334 $6,343,977 $13,891,935
Mean Donation $58.52 $42.90 $36.56 $39.31
Committees 728 1,854 1,068 2,099

It’s been a month of shuffling, with new campaigns joining and others dropping off due to primaries. We had 215 new campaigns and organizations sign up in May, and a total of 2,099 groups actively fundraising, compared with 2,001 last month.

Mobile donations continued to be hugely important and accounted for a full 23% of donations sitewide this month, and 25% of all Express contributions.

Our Express user base grew to 871k. The growth was partially driven by more and more campaigns switching over to ActBlue and using Express Lane. They’re getting to see just how big of a boost one-click payments provide. 14% of all contributions in May were made with Express Lane. Check out the growth here:

That’s a whole lot of clicks, and we only expect the numbers to rise as we move into June, which is sure to be a monster month for fundraising.

Donor data at your fingertips

You asked and we’ve delivered. We just rolled out a brand new contribution search–one of the most widely requested features–for all of our campaigns and organizations.

This feature gives Finance Directors quick access to contributor data. You can search for donations by a bunch of relevant fields, including amount, date, name, and start date. Here are a few other things your Finance team can do with the new feature:

  • Answer questions from donors by searching for their contributions right in your browser, no .CSV needed
  • Search to see if a pledged donation has been fulfilled
  • Find a list of high-dollar donors by searching for contributions over $100, $1000, or whatever amount you choose

You’ll find the link to the contribution search in the left-hand toolbar of your campaign or organization’s Dashboard. All you need to do in order to find a donor is fill in the relevant fields and click “search.”

Have questions about the contribution search? Let us know at info@actblue.com!

March ’14: A photo finish for EOQ

A blockbuster $3 million dollar day.

That’s how we finished up the first quarter of this Election Year. It was the second biggest day in ActBlue history and only our second day over $3 million. Our team was up late watching the numbers roll in and making sure everything was running smoothly. We collectively cheered when we hit the $3 million mark at 11:59 PM EST. Definitely a photo finish!

All that money came from 56,065 donors, making it our 7th largest day by number of contributions. It’s no wonder that 99 of our 100 busiest minutes of the month were on 3/31. The top time of the day was 9:24 PM with 114 contributions.

The grand total for March? $18,123,793 million. That’s more than our entire Q1 2012 total of $18,044,520. This year we raised $36.1 million in the first quarter, buoyed in part by a competitive special election in Florida and lots of high-profile Senate candidates like Jeanne Shaheen using our tools.

Check out the year-by-year numbers below:

  Mar ’11 Mar ’12 Mar ’13 Mar ’14
Contributions 143,012 167,030 204,232 405,802
Volume ($) $5,847,994.09 $8,966,153.88 $7,446,487.35 $18,123,793.44
Mean Donation $40.89 $53.68 $36.46 $44.66
Committees 673 1,628 951 1,967


As you can see, we doubled our March ‘12 fundraising totals and far more than doubled the number of contributions we brought in (167,030 to 405,802). The average contribution amount also fell from $53.68 in 2012 to $44.66 in 2014. The average contribution amount on our site has been declining over time, but contributions tend to be slightly larger during election years.

We’ve got an internal staff metrics page that we check rather obsessively, but never more so than on EOQ nights. We grabbed a screenshot for you today — check out the huge spike in donations during the end of the quarter. The five days ending up to the end of the quarter all had donation totals over $900k. And as usual, there was a sharp dropoff in fundraising as soon as midnight hit, making the first day of April relatively slow (though we wouldn’t call $529,811 too shabby).


A big winner for us has been our Express program and one-click donation system, Express Lane. We’ve got 794,000 Express users (it was only a month ago that we were so excited to hit 750k!), and dozens of campaigns using Express Lane to fundraise. 13% of all contributions in March were made with just one click of an Express link! That’s a huge number and we’re only expecting it to grow as more campaigns use the service and we continue to grow our Express user pool.

One of the other big factors contributing to our strong numbers is the number of candidates, committees, and organizations fundraising with us. We cut, printed, sealed, and sent checks to 1,967 candidates (our interns had to carry quite a big bag to the post office on Tuesday.), up from 951 in 2013 and 1,628 in 2012. And we had a particularly busy month with new campaign setups. We added 350 entities to the site in March alone.

Mobile donations continued to play a huge role in fundraising. 22% of all donations sitewide and 24% of Express donations were made via a mobile device. The total percent of mobile donations predictably jumps on the weekends. Some days, including end of quarter weekend, saw a full 25% of all donations made on mobile. The average mobile donation is $27.97, which indicates that mobile devices are a great way to reach a huge group of small-dollar donors.

It’s going to be a big, big year — and we’re taking bets on how huge the next EOQ deadline we’ll be. Got a prediction? Throw it in the comments.

February ’14: And we thought 2012 was busy

We’ll forgive you for not noticing that anything big was happening (after all, your contribution forms loaded faster than ever), but this relatively calm February was the 10th biggest month in ActBlue history. What’s even bigger is the fact that this was the only month in the top 10 that wasn’t at the end of a quarter or during the fall of an election season. If a random February can make ActBlue history, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2014.

Our last day of the month was our biggest as usual. We helped bring in $1.38 million dollars on February 28th. That was our second biggest day between any election day and June 30th of the next year. And if February’s $10.2 million fundraising total (double our February ‘12 total of $5 million!) is any indication, it will be a very busy March indeed.

Check out the numbers below:

  Feb ’11 Feb ’12 Feb ’13 Feb ’14
Contributions 34,496 110,323 162,791 259,464
Volume ($) $2,228,051.55 $5,076,973.20 $5,661,971.23 $10,263,484.93
Mean Donation $64.59 $46.02 $34.78 $39.56
Committees 561 1,340 801 1,684


We had a quarter of a million contributions in February, more than double the number of contributions we saw in February 2012. Our average contribution size dropped from $46.02 in February ‘12 to $39.56 in February ‘14. That means that we’re scaling and even increasing participation from small-dollar donors as our candidates and organizations raise more money.

February’s fundraising was boosted by a few factors. The competitive special election race in Florida’s 13th District (Go Alex Sink!) and the rise of the Koch brothers as a foil to grassroots funded campaigns made fundraising appeals more urgent. But the biggest driver of growth was the sheer number of campaigns and organizations raising money early. We sent checks to 1,684 different candidates, committees, and organizations, which is up 26% from February ‘12. We also had 242 new committees sign up to fundraise on our site last month, which only means bigger fundraising totals and more donors to come.

On February 28th, we came in to the office and saw we’d raised over 200k already, which mostly came from the monthly contributions scheduled for the end of the month. 7.9% of all donations sitewide were recurring donations, compared with 5.91% in February ‘13. The number of recurring donors has grown substantially over the years, and we couldn’t be happier because recurring money helps campaigns and organizations make realistic plans for the future. Recurring donors also give more money over time than one-time donors, which means that recurring donors can be incredibly important to a group’s success.

It wouldn’t be a monthly numbers blog post if we didn’t remind you all just how important mobile donations have become. They accounted for 19.2% of all traffic sitewide for the month and 22.6% of all traffic on the last day of the month. Additionally, 23% of all Express contributions were made via mobile.

If you missed our recent Express blog post, we’ll catch you up on why Express users are so important. We’ve got over three quarters of a million Express users who give to an average of 2.57 entities. In addition, 40% of all unique donors on ActBlue (since we started back in 2004!) have signed up for Express accounts. If someone has made a donation via ActBlue, there’s a good chance they’ve saved their payment information with us. That translates to a streamlined experience for donors and more money for campaigns and organizations.

The fact that we’ve been doubling our 2012 totals this year (and our internal goals!) indicates that 2014 will be one heck of an election year. And when you think about the fact that we brought in $35 million in October ‘12, it becomes clear just how big 2014 will be. Since then, online fundraising has grown rapidly, and we’re already working on scaling our tools to handle the huge growth spurt we’re seeing. Will we see a $100 million month? It’s not out of the question. But no matter what our volume numbers are in October ‘14, we’ll be ready.

ActBlue Civics + Alliance for Justice 501(c)(4) Training

Alliance for Justice Action Campaign and ActBlue Civics are delighted to announce a new joint-training, fashioned for 501(c)(4) social welfare groups, that will cover the legal rules and online fundraising skills for 501(c)(4) groups!

You’ll learn about the activities your 501(c)(4) can participate in and how to fund these activities through grassroots online fundraising.  This two-part, 80-minute web training will give a legal overview of the various advocacy activities permitted by 501(c)(4) organizations — including lobbying and election-related activities — as well as some tips for staying in compliance with your 501(c)(4) status.

In addition to learning the legal rules, attendees will receive skills-based training focused on best practices and methods for online fundraising for 501(c)(4) organizations.  We’ll go over the nuts and bolts of executing your fundraising program, how to ask effectively, and most importantly, how to raise more money for your organization.

Whether you’re just starting your online program or looking to give it a refresh, we’ll help you get up to speed on the latest in today’s fundraising strategy.

We’ll also discuss the recently proposed IRS 501(c)(4) regulations and how they could potentially impact your work.  This FREE, two-part web training will be offered at 2:00p.m (E/T) on February 18 and February 25, 2014.  Register for February 18th here and for February 25th here.

January ’14: Just getting started

January just ended, which means Election Day 2014 is right around the corner. At least it feels that way in the fundraising world, where early money is key for structure, momentum, and success in November.

2012 was a breakout year for online fundraising, and had presidential election year with presidential-level media attention, but as you can see below, 2014 is poised to be much, much bigger. And that’s because more campaigns have started using ActBlue as their main fundraising platform, got an early jump on fundraising, and harnessed the power of grassroots donors.

  Jan ’11 Jan ’12 Jan ’13 Jan ’14
Contributions 10,120 87,370 98,953 223,334
Volume ($) $636,711.13 $4,001,392.93 $3,341,964.67 $7,780,137.87
Mean Donation $62.92 $45.80 $33.77 $34.84
Committees 460 1,206 764 1,604

We helped raise $7.8 million in January ‘14, nearly double the $4 million in January ‘12. The money we raised this past month came from 223,334 donors, who gave an average of $34.84. So: we doubled the amount of money while shaving $11 off of our average contribution size in January ’14. That’s the kind of grassroots power that we love to see in action, because those donors will likely give several times and it’ll add up to a big impact come Election Day.

Because of optimization testing and development work we’ve done in the offseason, we’ve got a ton of new folks gearing up to work with us in 2014. We set up 214 new campaigns and organizations this past month alone! (If you work for a campaign or organization and are interested in trying out our tools, please get in touch.) The combination of higher conversion rates and more campaigns and organizations means rapid growth.

So, what else did January tell us about the year to come? We’ve been saying it for a while, but 2014 will be the year of mobile, and January’s numbers confirmed our mantra. 19.7% of all contributions on ActBlue were made via a mobile device, with some days seeing that number rise to 25%.

Mobile contributions are even more popular when it comes to Express users, who made 22.8% of their donations via mobile devices. That’s key because we now have over 720,000 Express users, and they accounted for 55.2% of all donations made on ActBlue in January. They’re our power users, and the biggest supporters of Democratic candidates and causes. As the number of Express users grows, and mobile phones become the go-to way to check email for supporters around the country, all eyes will be on mobile conversion rates.

Taking a look at the past few election cycles, we can make some predictions about 2014 fundraising.

election year giving


We brought in $35 million dollars in October ‘12, almost 9x the amount that we helped raise in January ‘12. The beginning of the year, while strong, will pale in comparison to those big months. Predictably, fundraising spikes in March and June for the end of quarter fundraising pushes. However, fundraising growth continues at about the same rate after September’s crucial end of quarter, which means you can bet that October 1st won’t be a day for recovery. From July on, it’s likely to be non-stop fundraising.

January is one of the biggest months for political contribution reporting (our compliance team worked overtime and then some to get it all done). We sent reports on 380,311 contributions to 16 different federal and state agencies. For us, that’s just as important as the $7.8 million we raised. Our mission is to help supporters elect Democrats and progressives, but those grassroots victories would be meaningless without transparency and accountability.

2013: Our $90 million year ended with a bang

For ActBlue, 2013 went out with a bang. A $3 million bang. And that means a very happy new year for Democrats and progressives across the country. On the last two days of the year, we processed $1,174,688 (12/30) and $2,089,632 (12/31). That brought our 2-day total up to $3 million and gave us our second $2 million day of the year.

The supercharged final days brought our December total up to $11.2 million, our biggest month of the year. The quarter and year totals came in at $28.7 million and $89.5 million, respectively. That’s more than double our 2011 off-year total of $41 million. So, in other words, 2013 was big, and the work we did this past year is going to help pave the way for victory in 2014.

Here are a few other fun facts about the year:

  1. The busiest minute: 12/04 at 10:11 PM EST, when we raised $5,171.54 from 176 donations (and yes, it’s totally random)
  2. The biggest day of the year was 9/30 with $2.1 million, followed by 12/31, 2/28, and then 12/30
  3. We went from 731 mobile contributions in 2010 to 293,934 in 2013
  4. 7/10 of the busiest minutes were on 2/28 during the 5 PM hour (thanks impending government shutdown!)
  5. October 12th had the highest percentage of mobile contributions (28.5%)

We broke down the numbers for December, Q4, and all of 2013, for this triple-the-data, triple-the-fun end of year recap, with the big moments, trends, and takeaways from the year in fundraising. Dig in below.

  Dec ’10 Dec ’11 Dec ’12 Dec ’13
Contributions 27,807 61,438 76,424 259,423
Volume ($) $1,185,162.85 $3,857,573.91 $2,344,501.66 $11,245,607.21
Mean Donation $42.62 $62.79 $30.68 $43.35
Committees 442 1,140 1,356 1,585


  Q4 ’10 Q4 ’11 Q4 ’12 Q4 ’13
Contributions 209,981 186,769 1,168,637 680,113
Volume ($) $19,122,770.37 $13,076,171.73 $48,273,858.28 $28,705,060.90
Mean Donation $91.07 $70.01 $41.31 $42.21
Committees 1,927 1,688 2,419 2,194


   2010  2011  2012 2013
Contributions 544,759 685,830 2,896,197 2,119,923
Volume ($) $56,927,561.68 $41,121,132.96 $136,467,283.62 $89,500,820.43
Mean Donation $104.50 $59.96 $47.12 $42.22
Committees 3,084 2,344 3,894 2,988


This year’s New Year’s Eve, the Q4 deadline, outpaced the last few by HUGE margins. In 2011, just a year out from a presidential election, we brought in $511,553.47, compared with the $2 million and change in 2013, a nearly 300% increase. Expect to see more monster fundraising deadlines next year. If you’re part of a campaign or organization that is fundraising, you might want to make sure you’ve got more than one email at the ready if you want to jump in the mix. Don’t get swallowed up by the inbox influx. And yeah, we can all see where this trend is heading.

We raised $15.7 million more in Q4 ‘13 than in Q4 ‘11, for a total of 2,194 different candidates, committees, and organizations. That’s a 30% increase in the number of committees from Q4 ‘11. Conversely, the average donation fell substantially, from $70.01 in 2011 to $42.22 in 2013, meaning that an army of small-dollar donors powered this huge jump. Early money is worth more to campaigns and organizations because it means they can build infrastructure, hire staff, and recruit volunteers. The successful Q4 will go a long way towards ensuring these groups are prepared for the upcoming election, and shows the GOP that Democrats are gearing up for a serious challenge next November.

This year we also launched Express Lane, our one-click donation system. We’ve been building up our pool of users for years, and now have a total of 714,519 Express users, shared across all candidates and committees. That makes it a whole lot easier for donors to give to all of their favorite candidates, and for candidates and organizations to increase conversion rates.

It had been pretty clear to us even before 2013 that mobile is the future of online donations, and we rolled out brand new mobile-responsive forms this year that made it easier than ever for donors to give on the go. Overall, the percentage of donations via mobile in 2013 was 14%, double the previous year’s mobile rate. Consider the fact that we introduced our mobile responsive forms late in the year—mid-September— and the results are even more incredible. With such a huge upward trend, we’re predicting that 2014 will be the Year of Mobile.


We had a hunch that the mobile numbers might have jumped during the holidays, when donors were away from their desks. We were right. Mobile contributions constituted 24% of all contributions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the highest of the entire month. That number also stayed above 20% from 12/20 on. The beginning of the month, on the other hand, saw rates around 13%-17%. The takeaway? If you’re sending on a weekend, a holiday break, or a popular vacation time in the summer, be extra sure your content is mobile friendly. Then again, you should already be doing that.

So, 2013 was busy to put it lightly. But it will pale in comparison to the volume we’re going to see next year ahead of the midterm elections. We spent 2013 beefing up our tools so that we’ll be ready for a crazy busy 2014.