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Grab your coffee and make sure your laptop is fully charged, the end of the first quarter 2010 is upon us!

Why do we all fundraise at the End of the Quarter?  To people outside of the business it could seem like finance staffers are lazy… waiting until the last minute and then making up for it in a mad frenzy of fundraising reminiscent of cramming for that Biology 101 final your freshman year.  The truth is that donors respond to urgency and the end of the quarter finance disclosures provide a convenient urgent deadline four times a year.

At ActBlue we've seen plenty of EOQ deadlines come and go. The campaigns that consistently do the best are the ones who savvily use goals.  Here are a couple of tips for running a goal based EOQ fundraising campaign.

Set an attainable public goal

You should really have two goals. You already have an internal goal for how much you need to raise online to meet your quarterly numbers.  The other is the initial goal that you will make public for your EOQ push.

Goal Thermometer

The key to a good initial goal is making it reasonable enough that you can be confident you can hit it, but still challenging enough that it leads donors to believe that they need to chip in order to make the campaign a success.

You also should decide whether you want your public goal to be denominated in Dollars or Donors.  Many campaigns, knowing that their online givers tend towards a smaller donation amount average, like to go with a number of donors goal to publicize their grassroots support.

Make the goal visual

Donors love to see visuals and goals are no exception.  You could build a thermometer graphic by hand and update it constantly throughout the EOQ with new totals — but ActBlue has a much easier way.

Every Fundraising Page on ActBlue has a thermometer tool which allows you to set a goal denominated in dollars or donors.  Our system automatically updates the thermometer every five minutes with the current totals.  Once you pick your goal you can embed the thermometer anywhere on the internet and it will continue to auto-update from your live ActBlue numbers.

You can even embed the thermometer in an email, and it will pull the up-to-date numbers when it is opened by a potential donor.

Update your list on the goal's progress

One email isn't enough!  Once you have a goal, and people are donating, be sure to update your list on the goal's progress.  You should send an email to people who have already donated with an update on the goal and an ask for them to forward it to their friends and family.  People who haven't donated should get an email reiterating how important a donation is towards achieving the goal for the quarter and winning the race in the fall.

One good technique for a followup email to non-donors from the first solicitation is to get a quick quote from a recent donor.  Donors respond well to a message from other donors talking about how important it is to contribute to the cause, and how good it feels to be part of a movement.

As always, the ActBlue team is here to help your campaign succeed.  Please let us know if you have questions about EOQ fundraising or want help melding your fundraising ideas into into the online tools. 

Happy fundraising!

You asked for it.

Choose a goal.  Embed your thermometer anywhere.  Make your pitch and watch the mercury rise!

Any fundraising page on ActBlue now has the opportunity to have a goal and an auto-updating thermometer.  Embed it in your diary, in the comments of an open thread, on your blog or in an email.  You can put your thermometer anywhere you can hotlink an image.

Here is how it works:

1. Click "Goal" in the admin tab of your fundraising page

2. Choose whether you would like to shoot for a certain number of donors, or a certain amount of money

3. Click "Save"

4. Use the code to embed your thermometer anywhere.  It is already on your fundraising page.

Don’t have a fundraising page?

Time to get one!  First, think of a candidate you admire.  Don’t worry if you can’t pick just one, having multiple candidates on a single fundraising page is a specialty of ActBlue.  Search for your first candidate in our directory:

http://actblue.com/directory

Once you find your candidate, click on the "Fundraise" button to the right of the candidate’s photo.  If you have an ActBlue login, you can use it here.  If you don’t have a user account, just create one now.

Then, just fill out information for your fundraising page.  Make your pitch and explain why your candidate deserves your friend’s hard-earned dollars.  Click over to the "Goal" tab and get a thermometer or look at the "Add" tab to select more candidates for your page.

Goal ThermometerOnce you have created your page there are two more steps to your chosen candidate’s success.

1. Donate on your page.  It is hard to ask other people to donate to your favorite candidates if you haven’t already.  We all can afford at least $5 for our favorite candidate.

2. Ask your friends, relatives, neighbors and coworkers to donate to your chosen cause.  While this might seem daunting, these people care about you and are interested in your passion.  By making the first donation, they’ll know you are serious about helping your candidate win.

As always, feel free to shoot any questions about Thermometers or ActBlue in general my way.  I’ll be here in the comments, and my email is nate@actblue.com

Over on the political side of ActBlue, occasionally we come across a problem that cries out for an automated solution.  One of these problems involved periodically updating the database with newly filed Federal Democrats.  To help keep us up to date, I wrote this ruby script which queries the FEC and compares the current list of filed Candidate Committees to the list the last time the script was run.  It then emails whatever address you specify in the code with the candidate name, address and committee ID.

Download FEC_Check.rb

This is released with the MIT software license so please use it to your heart’s content.  Be sure to glance over the script before running it, as it does have some dependencies that may need to be installed and variables that need to be set.

This is released without any technical support from ActBlue.  I am not a formally trained programmer and I assume there may be better ways of accomplishing the same thing.  You can feel free to contact me at nate@actblue.com but please don’t expect a speedy response as I spend the majority of my day helping state and local candidates use ActBlue effectively and successfully.

As ActBlue continues to expand our operations on the state level into new states we continuously see great examples of using ActBlue for different purposes.  This week I would like to highlight the San Diego County Democratic Party. 

While many campaigns use ActBlue to process contributions, the SDCDP is using ActBlue to process contributions and create a guest list for events.  They created a page for their event and added invitation text and sponsorship levels for their donors.  Then, they circulated this link anywhere they advertised the event.

Accepting contributions through an ActBlue page made specifically for an event makes several aspects of event management easy:

  • Today’s donors enjoy the convenience of donating online for events.  By having an online option for event ticket payment, donors can immediately pay online after receiving advertising for the event.
  • Having a special page with the invitation text reduces the potential for donor confusion.  While a normal contribution page would work, a page just for the event makes it very clear what the donation is for.
  • ActBlue’s CSV data export is perfect for creating a guest list and nametags.  From that file you can mail merge the data into whatever format you would like.

Even though technology can make these processes easier, it is no substitute for the hard work that you already put into making events a success.  Your emails, phone calls and mailings are what drive your donors to the page and compel them to contribute.

As always, feel free to email me (campaigns@actblue.com) if you would like assistance with setting up a page or exporting data.

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