What’s it like to intern at ActBlue?

Our (paid) interns are an integral part of our operations here at ActBlue. They’re given significant pieces of work and an opportunity to learn from every department.

Every summer and semester we have a new group come in to answer donors’ questions, assist staff with various projects, and just observe/ask questions from the staff. It’s even served as a talent pipeline, with three people on our staff who are former interns.

Obviously, we’re pretty proud of the program and are honored to give several of this summer’s interns an opportunity to share a bit from their experiences.


So what’s an internship at ActBlue actually going to look like? What are you really going to take away from your time here professionally? ActBlue is a startup and a non-profit that has had such success that it now has the resources and benefits of working at a larger organization with the fun upbeat nature of a smaller organization.

What does this mean? You know basically everyone in the office, the staff is small enough to have weekly meetings, and interns are much more involved than the coffee runs they might otherwise be doing at a large firm. However, ActBlue’s size affords departments the resources for no shortage of projects, presentations and wisdom on a variety of topics including but in no way limited to: marketing, outreach, technical services, security, operations, compliance, business, how to be a person 101, etc. What this meant for me personally was a variety of interesting presentations and projects on what it takes for an organization to run smoothly.

Part of why I took this job to begin with was to learn about working at a non-profit. In pairing me with projects, my intern supervisor was extremely attentive to this. In general, the intern supervisors at ActBlue are very accommodating and supportive and actively work to make sure that when you walk away from your time here, you do so satisfied, with relevant experience under your belt.


Having the opportunity to work somewhere that is a major force for the causes I’m passionate about and genuinely cares about its employees has been amazing, and the fact that it’s paid is the icing on top.

At ActBlue, I’ve been able to make a real impact supporting progressive politics. ActBlue is a small organization, and as a result interns play an integral part in day to day work. Whether it’s by interacting with donors and campaigns, researching potential candidates, or collaborating with the marketing team, I saw the direct results of my work constantly.

Since day one, ActBlue has made interns’ professional growth a main concern, and developing an understanding of how each team functions is just a part of that. They have pressured me to hone my career aspirations, and challenged me to become a better employee.


Having had past internships with campaigns and a state political party, I felt that interning for ActBlue would give me that third perspective that I was missing: who is behind the success of a campaign? We constantly hear about the innovation that the internet has brought to political campaigns (cough Obama 2008 cough) but what is the structure behind the success of democratic campaigns across the country? I discovered that the structure behind a large portion of the success is a 40 person-staff office in Davis Square.

Of the many positive attributes of this internship, one that I especially appreciated was the reminder of the role that the interns play in the organization as a whole. Each staff member of ActBlue constantly sought feedback from the interns on the projects that we were working on and the experience that we were having with ActBlue. They also asked about my interests and what I found interesting in this field.

The office culture of ActBlue has set the standard for my future careers fairly high: A comfortable workplace with coffee (critical), an open concept workspace for conversations, and an appreciation of current affairs. This office space is inhabited by young, progressively minded individuals, all working to improve the current political sphere. ActBlue brings the same friendly, helpful attitude they have with donors to their staffers (including interns!)

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at ActBlue. I was able to work with a revolutionary non-profit that is changing the landscape of online political fundraising, build valuable working relationships, live in Davis Square for the summer, expand my LinkedIn network, and most importantly, discover more about myself and my desired work environment for the ever daunting and quickly approaching “real world.”

We look for new interns year-round. For more information, email opportunities@actblue.com.

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!

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!

10 Years and Counting…

Yep, we’re 10 years old. That’s ancient in Internet years.

We’re pretty busy during this last week before the critical end-of-quarter deadline, but we found some time to celebrate this milestone with a special message to the ActBlue community.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make ActBlue what it is today, from our amazing donors to the thousands of campaigns and organizations that have used our software to build a better democracy.

ActBlue Express: A grassroots movement 750,000 strong

Drumroll please…

Three quarters of a million people have signed up for ActBlue Express accounts!

That’s 750,000 people who have saved their payment information with us and can give with just one click on every ActBlue form. It doesn’t matter if it’s $5 for a city council race in Cottage Grove, MN or a max-out donation for Alison Lundergan Grimes, it works exactly the same.

We’ve been experiencing a crazy growth spurt in the Express user base, which is up from 600,000 in August. Below we chart the number of Express users we’ve added since the launch of the program. As you can tell, the number spikes during election years. One million here, we come!

The Express program is designed to help the Democratic party as a whole. Donors love it because it saves them time and gives them a secure and trackable way to give. And candidates and committees benefit from higher conversion rates.

Making a donation is a streamlined experience for Express users. That equals higher conversion rates, especially on mobile. The mobile part of the equation is going to be key during this election year.

We’ve already seen up to a quarter of the day’s donations come in via mobile. Since 2013, 18.1% of donations from Express users were made via mobile phones, compared with 10.9% for non-Express users. Since we launched mobile responsive contribution forms, 23.1% of all Express contributions were made on mobile (15.8% for non-Express users).

Making the giving experience as easy as possible for users is just as important as increasing conversion rates (although the two are obviously intertwined). Express users are some of our most active users. They give to an average of 2.57 entities campaigns or organizations a year and since 2013, 3.5% of donations from Express users were recurring, compared with 2.2% of donations from non-Express users. These are people who are committed to supporting the candidates and issues that mean the most to them, so it’s important that we’re paying attention to their giving patterns, and listening to them when they reach out to us. Not just for our own success, but for the success of the party.

Express Lane, our one-click payment system, has been a game-changer. We’ve been rolling out Express Lane to a number states for statewide and legislative races the past few months, and we’ve seen campaigns across the country increase their conversion rates (and raise up to 200% more money).

The Express user pool will grow dramatically as we get closer to the election, so we’ll be more focused than ever on finding new ways to increase conversion rates and make the donation process easier for these users.

Have you tried out Express Lane for your federal campaign? Have you used your Express account to keep track of your political donations? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.

2012 Numbers: $12m August

On ActBlue, August pushed us north of $12 million for the month and put the Big Number within striking distance of $300 million. That’s huge. And while the top 5 committees for August raised more than $6m of that total, none of them had an average donation size larger than $40. The rest of the $12 million went to nearly 2,000 other committees. There are around 500 races that get you a seat in Washington D.C., which means that 1,500 other candidates and committees are raising money through ActBlue.

Across the aisle, the folks at the top of the organization decide to drop huge sums of money on a few races. Over here, hundreds of thousands of donors give what they can to support thousands of candidates across the country. I don’t know if you’ve seen the polls lately, but it looks like our way is working a little bit better. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 309,877
Total raised $12,785,110.61
Average Contribution size $41.26
Committees receiving money 1,981


Here’s what August 2012 looks like compared to August 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

August 2008 August 2011 August 2012 Change
Contributions 21,267 78,172 309,877 296%
Volume ($) $2,706,849.69 $3,051,815.13 $12,785,110.61 319%
Mean Donation $127.28 39.04 41.26 5%
Committees 1,068 916 1,981 116%


Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for August 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 129,318 $4,215,738
DSCC Party Committee 40,678 $1,585,605
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 16,120 $385,933
Democracy for America Organization 13,674 $274,859
Mazie Hirono HI-Sen 9,499 $227,671

2012 Numbers: $8m in July

Not only are the July numbers strong, they reflect how broad ActBlue has become. While the top 5 recipients make up a significant portion of July’s volume (~$4.5m) that leaves another ~$4m that flowing through ActBlue to smaller candidates, committees and causes. It’s evidence of the broad base of support that ActBlue represents, one that is changing the way people raise money. It couldn’t be more timely. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 200,247
Total raised $8,346,045.09
Average Contribution size $41.68
Committees receiving money 1,836


Here’s what July 2012 looks like compared to July 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

July 2008 July 2011 July 2012 Change
Contributions 19,906 66,746 200,247 200%
Volume ($) $2,565,814.49 $2,678,159.69 $8,346,045.09 212%
Mean Donation $128.90 $40.12 $41.68 4%
Committees 1,043 861 1,836 113%


Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for July 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 85,045 $2,695,553
DSCC Party Committee 31,359 $1,319,036
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 11,798 $241,687
Democracy for America Organization 8,575 $198,614
PCCC Organization 8,376 $119,989

2012 Numbers: Q2 Roundup

Here’s the short version: $27 million sent to Democrats via ActBlue with an average donation under $50. That’s incredible. To put it in perspective, we tripled the amount of money we sent over the same period in 2011, and quadrupled the number of donations. We sent that money to twice as many campaigns. So when we talk about grassroots power, we’re talking 8 figures.

Number of contributions 582,951
Total raised $27,186,771.78
Average Contribution size $46.64
Committees receiving money 2,476


A for-profit company would love to take these numbers to their shareholders. Since we’re a non-profit, we’re bringing them to you. While 2012 is a presidential election year and that pushes the numbers upward, you can glance at our 2008 numbers to see how much we’ve grown over the interim.

Q2 2008 Q2 2011 Q2 2012 Change
Contributions 61,617 142,027 582,951 310%
Volume ($) $13,423,736.96 $9,110,160.70 $27,186,771.78 198%
Mean Donation $217.86 $64.14 $46.64 -27%
Committees 1,390 1,106 2,476 124%


Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for Q2 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 182,345 $5,343,811
Tom Barrett WI-Gov 26,827 $2,010,889
DSCC Party Committee 46,091 $1,875,056
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Party Committee 45,048 $1,105,153
PCCC Organization 24,270 $244,764

Rubber, Meet Road

We have another milestone to celebrate around the office: 2 million donations! And we got there only a year and a half after we hit 1 million. Averaged out over that period, we're talking 55,000 donations a month during some of slowest months of the election cycle.

Here's why it matters: our infrastructure is what turns grassroots passion into political results. While the "enthusiasm gap" was making headlines across the country, Democratic donors flocked to ActBlue to connect with their chosen candidates. Our infrastructure enabled the Wisconsin Recall efforts to demonstrate their fundraising oomph in real time, and helped labor issues find their way back into national discourse. Today that conversation is in a dramatically different place than it was a few months ago.

But 2012 is where the rubber meets the road. It's our transparent, participatory architecture against the small and increasingly shadowy world of Republican fundraising unleashed by Citizen's United.

2 million grassroots donations or five guys writing blank checks: which system would you rather have?