Keeping your settings consistent just got a whole lot easier

The days of having one contribution form for your organization or campaign are long over.

Organizations and candidates often have dozens of forms created and maintained by several different people. It can be difficult to make sure all of your settings stay consistent across your forms, especially when you have a rigorous testing program that’s frequently settling on new best practices. For example, it’s time consuming to go and change all your old forms one-by-one if testing indicates you should use different pop-up recurring language.

That’s why we’re excited to roll out a new feature that allows you to create a default form with your best practices and tag pages that you want to have those universal settings. When you update the settings in the default form, all the other forms update automatically.

Here’s how it works:

You’ll now see a column that says “Use defaults” in your newly renamed Form Management tab in the left menu of your Dashboard:

See that contribution form at the top in grey? That’s your campaign or organization’s default form. It’s new and we’ve created it for everyone. It’ll always appear at the top of the Form Management tab.

Open up the default form and select all of the settings you typically apply to every contribution form, things like your pop-up recurring ask threshold or your preset contribution amounts. It looks just like a regular form, but it only has one purpose: to establish the defaults for other forms.

Once you’ve done that, go and click the “Use defaults” box for every form that ought to have those settings. That’s it! All your forms have the same settings, no matter who created them.

Keep in mind that the default form will override all of the settings except for Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. That means if you leave something like the Thank you text blank on your default form, none of the forms with default settings will have Thank you text. So be careful with your selections.

Further, if you’ve selected default settings for a form the only fields you’ll be able to edit are Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. Every other setting will be hidden. You can still run an A/B test or set a goal, however. And if you decide you’d like to make edits outside the default settings, just uncheck the “Use defaults” box for that form and make any edits you wish. Just keep in mind that the form won’t update the next time you edit your default form.

You can always go back and edit the default form at any time.

This new feature should save folks that use it a bunch of time and lead to a more consistent fundraising program. But it’s a totally optional feature, so use it at your own discretion.

Our dev team has a few more new features they’re working on right now, so stay tuned! And in the meantime enjoy the new default forms.

Q3: The most donors in a day, ever.

As you read this, keep reminding yourself that we’re talking about the third quarter of an off-year. An off-year!

We broke the record for most contributions in a single day: 147k on September 30th. It was also our second biggest day ever in terms of money raised, a total of $5.5M. What’s #1 all time? Well, that was September 30, 2014, in the run-up to the mid-terms.

Here’s how we got there: We started off the morning strong with a peak of 400 contributions a minute (a new record) when we ran recurring contributions as a batch while everyone was sleeping. Later in the evening we were flying at 250 contributions per minute — all new, organic contributions (also a record).

In moments like these, infrastructure matters. Our engineers have been working for years to increase the volume we can handle per minute and everything ran as smooth as butter (or your favorite non-dairy substitute).

Meanwhile, people are no longer chained to their laptops — mobile giving was a powerful force this past quarter, especially in the evening hours, when people are more likely to be checking email on their phones. Between 9 and 10 PM on September 30, we saw mobile contributions spike to an unbelievable 50% at one point (another new record) and finish at an average of 44.3% for the hour.

The chart below details newly made contributions on September 30. You can see the incredible hourly volume we handled and the breakdown of mobile vs. desktop contributions:

That figure — 44.3% mobile contributions in an hour —is unheard of in this space. For a little context, just two years ago our mobile average was just 15.5% for the month. This leap was only possible because our tech team has focused on improving mobile conversion rates with notable features like Express Pass and Express Lane and on constant, small iterative changes to our contribution form that make it load faster.

There is no way that we would have broken so many records without thousands of hours of developer time going into mobile optimization and sheer processing infrastructure.

The chart below details the pace of the day compared to the other top EOQ days. We know fundraising picks up later in the day, so we process all of the scheduled recurring contributions early in the morning (note the massive number of contributions that start in the 4AM hour).

And it’s not all just west coasters giving in the last few hours. It’s folks checking their email on their phones before bed, reading an urgent appeal, and responding. And it’s a beautiful sight to see, for those of us who care about our democracy being for and by the people — not just those who can cut checks for thousands (or millions) of dollars.

But this quarter was about more than just the EOQ deadline. Here’s what we wrote to recap the first quarter of this cycle:

If current trends hold, ActBlue could process half a billion dollars in small-dollar contributions this cycle.

Well…it’s been nine months and we’re already well past the $130M mark. It’s fair to say we’re well on our way to hitting that target. And $56M of that money came in this quarter alone (scroll down to see how this quarter compares to previous years).

Campaigns, organizations, and committees are coming out in full force this year. So far this cycle, almost three thousand different campaigns and committees have raised money using ActBlue.

It’s all a sharp contrast to the massive checks the Republican super PACs have been cashing.

The bigger the pool of active, engaged donors, the stronger the party. That’s why we place such a strong value on our whopping 1.7 million Express users, who have saved their payment information with ActBlue. What’s important is not just the sheer size, but how recent and active these donors are. We’ve added more Express users (267k) this quarter than in any other. And we added an incredible 24k on EOQ day alone (new record)!

One reason why that’s the case: high Express conversion rates. This past month, 38% of donors eligible for an Express account signed up for one. Last cycle, we were averaging just over 20%. It’s an indication that more and more new donors are coming in and immediately thinking ahead to their next donations. That’s a huge strength for the party right now.

A bigger Express donor base is in the interest of Democratic organizations and campaigns of all sizes. As our Executive Director Erin Hill said in the Washington Post on Wednesday:

“Small[-dollar] donors are becoming the backbone of Democratic giving.” And the Republicans have nothing like it.

The chart below shows both the number of new Express sign-ups and the rate at which non-Express donors are signing up as Express users over the past 12 quarters.

Below we break down this quarter compared to previous quarters.


2012 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3
Dollar Amount $42,997,505 $22,600,373 $80,391,630 $55,836,968
Contributions 973,909 637,924 2,304,190 1,791,040
Average Contribution Size $44.15 $35.43 $34.89 $31.18
Distinct Entities 2,681 1,827 3,064 2,263


2012 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3
% Mobile 7.0% 15.1% 27.2% 29.8%
% Mobile
for Express users
9.3% 18.7% 29.3% 32.4%


2012 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3
% Recurring Volume 7.2% 6.6% 13.7% 23.9%
Recurring Volume $3,107,154 $1,490,781 $11,021,894 $13,319,997

Some interesting nuggets from this data: We processed more than double the dollar amount we saw in our last off-year, Q3 of 2013. And there was an even bigger growth in the number of contributions from two years ago. We jumped up from 637,924 to a massive 1,643,083 contributions this quarter. That’s a 259% increase.

Recurring contributions remain the best way to sustain a campaign or organization in the long-term. And we’re continuing to see huge strides forward with recurring. On the morning of September 30th, we processed our biggest recurring haul ever: about $700k in recurring donations, from 37k contributions.

Look at the huge jump in the overall recurring numbers for the quarter. A full 23.9% of all the money that came in this quarter was from recurring contributions. That’s phenomenal!

This doesn’t all just happen. We’ve spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of a strong recurring program and helping campaigns and organizations increase their conversion rates. At the same time, Americans are starting to get more comfortable with giving monthly. Recurring is a huge percentage of the money raised by international NGOs. They’ll spend up to $175 on acquisition per person, because of the lifetime expected value of a recurring contribution.

Campaigns don’t value recurring contributions quite that highly yet, but it’s exciting to see the tide turning. It’ll lead to much more stability for campaigns and organizations. And they’ll be able to focus more on core work beyond fundraising. Plus, donors love being able to easily give on a regular basis to the candidates and organizations they care about.

To all the hardworking digital campaigners out there who made this quarter such a success, congrats! We’re proud to help you fuel your campaigns and organizations. Drop us a line any time if you want to talk strategy, or just have a question:


co-authored by: Kim Niedermaier

Custom Facebook and Twitter share content

Our tech team is on a roll. Now you can enter custom content for both Facebook and Twitter shares on your Contribution Forms.

If you’re in the edit tab on a form you’ll see a new section:

social share

Here’s what a Facebook share would look like:

facebook share

Custom text and images should help increase conversions, so we encourage you to spend the extra couple minutes filling this in when you’re creating a new form. But at the same time, don’t expect social donations to be a magic bullet.

The vast majority of contributions come in from email, with Facebook coming in far behind, followed by Twitter. Custom share content won’t change that, but it will help on the margins, especially when your campaign is in a rapid response situation.

Enjoy this new feature and don’t forget to go back and edit your default donation form you link to on your website. As always, just drop us an email at if you have any questions.

Three quarters of a billion dollars

ActBlue has now processed $750 million in grassroots donations in 11 years, from over 16 million donations at an average of $46.47. It’s incredible.

We’re on an amazing tear. Look at this growth chart:

31% of our total amount raised has come in the past year alone. And here’s why:

ActBlue is now the fundraising software of choice for nearly all Senate and House Democratic candidates, along with the DCCC, DSCC and the DLCC. And an increasing number of c4 non-profits use us. But one of the biggest factors for our meteoric growth? Organizations and campaigns are simply raising more grassroots donations.

And we can take a little credit for that. With 1.4 million Express users and counting, constant optimization testing, and ridiculously good uptime and load times, we’ve been working hard to ensure our clients raise as much grassroots money as possible.

Together, we’ve built a powerful force in fundraising that has propelled thousands of Democrats and advocacy groups to victory.

Who wants to take bets on when we hit ONE BILLION DOLLARS? And yes, quite a few Dr. Evil impressions have been heard around the office this week, given that we’re in a presidential cycle and the trajectory of our growth it won’t be long!

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 and someone will be in touch.

Conversion rates by refcode

Our developers have been on a 2015 quest to give users greater access to data and visualizations to help you optimize your fundraising program.

We just rolled out a new feature on page dashboards: conversion rates per reference code (refcodes, for short). The two new columns on the refcode table display the number of people who landed on your form and the percentage of those that actually made a contribution.

Previously, you had to use your email mailer to check how many folks clicked each link to your contribution form and then look on your dashboard to see the number of contributions that were made. This will save you a step.

Just go to any form statistics page and you’ll see it (sample image from our testing):

FYI, we added new tracking functionality to make this work, so there isn’t historic data — only data from yesterday on will show up.

However, this will come in handy when sending emails, particularly if you are testing different versions of an email that are all linking to the same contribution form.

And, in addition to comparing conversion rates among different refcodes on the form, it should be useful to see how conversion rates differ from form to form. Know your organization-wide conversion rate, and pay attention if any form slips below that. Low conversion rates might ensue if there is a disconnect between the email content and what’s included on the form or if there is too much or too little text on the form.

It’s another tool in your toolbox that should help save you time and make better decisions. Speaking of new useful things, don’t miss the Recurring Retention charts that we just rolled out.

Questions? Just drop them in the comments or shoot us an email at info AT actblue DOT com.

Victory at the FEC: Draft Fund Fun

Last month the FEC ruled 6-0 to approve our request to open up restrictions on draft funds for federal candidates. Yes, it’s incredibly nerdy, but it’s a big deal.

Here’s Politico on the ruling (behind paywall):

Democratic digital fundraiser ActBlue won a unanimous green light from the Federal Election Commission today allowing the firm to start raising money for the Democratic 2016 presidential nominee — only if that person is a woman.

Hillary Clinton or any other female Democrat who secures the top spot on the 2016 ticket would benefit from ActBlue’s efforts. The company had previously secured FEC approval to establish “draft” campaigns before a formal candidate had declared their intention of running for an office. With its latest request, ActBlue got specific permission to establish a fund for which gender was the primary reason for someone to donate cash.

Yep, ActBlue can now set up a nominee fund and raise a pot of money that goes to the nominee if she is a woman. She’d get it when she officially became the nominee.

Additionally, you can now set deadlines for candidates to declare. If they haven’t announced their candidacy by then, the money goes elsewhere. It’s a way of building urgency around draft campaigns and getting your issues injected into the debate.

And wait, there’s more! The FEC gave us a thumbs-up to create draft funds that name a series of potential candidates as recipients.You can combine the two and do something totally whacky like:

  • If Beck declares by February 20th he gets the money
  • But if he doesn’t and Beyonce gets in by March 14th she gets it
  • But if she doesn’t and Kanye decides to run by April 27th then he gets it
  • But if none of the potential recipients declare in time, then the DNC receives the funds.

The primary reason we asked the FEC to rule on these requests is so that millions of small-dollar donors can encourage candidates — especially women — to run for federal office, in particular the presidency. And that’s something the FEC commissioners are interested in themselves.

ActBlue is always innovating to find new ways to give small donors a voice and help the organizations that use us advance their agendas and meet their goals. This new freedom from the FEC will help us do just that.

2014 Cycle: Breaking records, taking names

Last Tuesday was rough. Really rough. As we analyze this election and start to hone in on the things that went really well, one of the brightest spots is the continued rise of the small-dollar donor.

We didn’t just have a big cycle here at ActBlue we had a HUGE one. I’m talking nearly double 2012. Here are the top line numbers:

  2008 Cycle 2010 Cycle 2012 Cycle 2014 Cycle
Contributions 474,625 810,797 3,848,447 8,501,067
Volume ($) $62,187,361 $85,814,697 $173,166,827 $315,187,405
Mean Donation $142.86 $114.83 $50.19 $44.54
Committees 2,681 3,564 4,457 4,987


The increase in donations (98.3% growth compared to the 2012 cycle!!) is way higher than the growth in the number of number of campaigns and organizations using ActBlue (11.8% increase). Everyone’s raising a lot more grassroots money than ever before. It’s awesome.

Keep in mind, the overall amount of money spent on Congressional elections is actually fairly stable compared to 2012. That means the overall share of money coming from grassroots donors on the left is increasing.

The average contribution continues to drop, but not nearly as dramatically as it has in the past.


The Express user universe is simply massive at 1.2 million people with saved credit cards. It’s been growing at a steady rate all cycle, but has picked up steam since June 2014, averaging more than 67,653 sign-ups a month during the run-up to the election.

Express users accounted for 53% of contributions this cycle, but in October they accounted for 59% of contributions. This is one trend we don’t see stopping any time soon.

Express profiles lead to increased conversion rates and donors absolutely love the convenience of not having to re-enter their information.


One of the biggest stories this election was the rise of the mobile giver. Just check out this chart:

You’ll notice a dramatic spike when we rolled out our mobile responsive form in September 2013. We worked incredibly hard to decrease load time, even if we were shaving off mere fractions of a second, to boost mobile conversion rates. Read more here.

These numbers will continue to climb, since more and more people are reading their email on their mobile devices. Smartphone adoption rates may have slowed, but usage is increasing rapidly.

Going forward, it will be even more important to optimize your forms for mobile devices, which means sticking to best practices like keeping the amount of text on your forms down and making sure headers aren’t too lengthy.

Nobody wants to have to type in a sixteen digit credit card number, let alone address/employment information, on a mobile device (no matter how big the phone’s screen is). That’s why Express is so important.


All of these stats make us proud, but what’s the thing we’re most excited about? The growth in recurring. Look at these numbers!

Recurring volume was up 241% over 2012. Even more eye-popping is the 461% increase in weekly recurring. That’s way more than the overall increase in volume that we’ve seen this cycle.

We’ve been banging the drum for years about the potential of recurring donations, and this cycle is where we’re really seeing those recurring programs take off. Despite the bad news for Democrats this past week, there are dozens of organizations keeping up the fight and hundreds of candidates who did win. These groups will be around for years to come, and building a sustaining donor program is critical to their long-term success.

And we’re just scratching the surface of potential growth. We saw recurring contributions spike to 13.7% of all money raised in August, which was amazing to see, but typically it’s much lower and it shouldn’t be. Sophisticated email programs should be targeting likely recurring donors and sending them only recurring asks.

Off-years are the perfect time to be asking you list for sustaining money and building that pool of recurring donors. Internally, our team will be basing our 2015 goals on the number of people we sign up for recurring donations, and secondarily on the overall money we want to bring in. We’re optimizing for long-term sustainable growth.

Breaking all the records

Record-breaking is really the only way to refer to this cycle for ActBlue.

The combination of adding more campaigns and organizations, optimizing our features, and promoting grassroots fundraising led to a monster cycle. Here are our top 10 months in terms of total dollar volume. Seven were in 2014:

Date Total Dollar Amount
October 2014 $56,031,512
September 2014 $38,025,565
October 2012 $35,056,897
August 2014 $22,805,106
October 2012 $21,880,341
June 2014 $20,449,848
July 2014 $19,719,378
March 2014 $18,05,8418
October 2010 $16,775,008
May 2014 $13,858,256

And we had nine of our top ten biggest day in terms of dollar volume this year:

Date Total Dollar Amount
9/30/14 $5,624,944
6/30/14 $3,600,311
10/15/14 $3,310,945
9/29/14 $3,235,268
9/30/12 $3,037,231
3/31/14 $2,930,408
10/28/14 $2,902,375
10/31/14 $2,801,009
10/20/14 $2,786,699
10/27/14 $2,596,036

The biggest hour in terms of money was, shockingly (not), right near the end of the third quarter: 9/30/14 at 10 pm, when we processed a whopping $446,812.30. And the biggest hour in terms of the number of contributions processed was also during that end of quarter, when we processed 15,885 recurring contributions in a batch at 5 am. Yeah, that’s a lot.

And really, it speaks volumes about our reliability. We had no significant outages or problems this cycle, and that’s our norm. Our uptime is 99.99%. This past year we had a total of 54 minutes of downtime from 33 instances. And the vast majority of those were planned outages for maintenance.

We spent a ton of engineering time building our infrastructure to be able to handle 15k contributions in an hour, and it paid off. And our team is already at work preparing for 2016 and 50k contributions an hour, because it’s going to be so big that we might run out of superlatives.

We’re excited to see what 2016 brings for Democrats, but until then, we’re going to keep working every day to build tools that uplift small-dollar donors and the campaigns that are powered by them.

Note: We’ve made a change to how we tabulate the number of contributions made via ActBlue. Historically, we’ve only counted the first contribution made in a recurring subscription, mostly just because of how our database records this information. Now we will be counting each subsequent recurring contribution towards the total number of contributions. That’s how your dashboards calculate it already and this will keep things consistent.

Pings for everyone!

Pings for everyone!

Introducing the greatest ActBlue feature ever: the ping.


Sometimes you want to know every single time you get a contribution, right? I mean, you need more notifications in your life.

Now it’s possible. Visit your campaign or organization’s Metrics page and scroll to the bottom where you’ll see an option to “Play a sound when you get a contribution!” Use the drop-down menu to test out sounds and make your selection.

Sounds include chaching, ice rink, coin, and more! Happy Friday everyone. 24 days to go!

Have a suggestion of a sound you’d like us to add? Let us know at

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!