And that’s how much we’ve helped Democratic candidates and progressive organizations raise online since 2004! Check out how we got there together.
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|
|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|
Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for August 2012.
|Democracy for America||Organization||13,674||$274,859|
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|
|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|
Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for July 2012.
|Democracy for America||Organization||8,575||$198,614|
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|
|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|
Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for Q2 2012.
|Democratic Party of Wisconsin||Party Committee||45,048||$1,105,153|
Here’s a rule about political fundraising: January is dead. People are feeling the pinch of their Christmas shopping, it’s cold, and the political cycle doesn’t really heat up for the non-primary-having party until later in the year. All in all, not a great time.
Not this January. This January was bananas. ActBlue sent over $4 million to Democratic candidates and committees this month, a nearly four-fold increase over January 2008. If you recall, in 2008 there was this little, kind of boring contest called the Democratic Presidential Nomination Fight–Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and so on. Still, 2012 is clocking in well ahead of those numbers, as you’ll see below:
|Number of contributions||87,408|
|Average Contribution size||$46.01|
|Committees receiving money||1,207|
You can’t really get a sense of how big January was until you see how it stacks up relative to 2011 and 2008:
|Jan 2008||Jan 2011||Jan 2012||Change|
Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for January 2012.
|Democracy for America||Organization||10,555||$187,149|
|Democratic Party of WI||Party Committee||7,400||$152,406|
There are a couple of big surprises in the data–the DCCC and the CREDO SuperPac make the leaderboard for the first time and buck expectations by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars with an average donation size under $30. We believe small donors and disclosure are the key to a healthy political system and it looks like folks are coming around.
In July, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) asked ActBlue to set up a draft fund for Elizabeth Warren. By mid-August the PCCC had shattered all records for the largest and fastest growing draft fund in our history, raising over $102,000 from around 7,000 supporters even before Elizabeth Warren formed an exploratory committee for a Massachusetts Senate run.
Today, their unprecedented success is the reason we're sending her committee a six-figure check.
The PCCC's landmark efforts are not only impressive, they tell us something important about the way politics is changing in response to the digital age. In 2009, the PCCC was a brand new organization. Today, the PCCC has a played a central role in a number of key battles over the last two years — from the fight for the public option and the push to keep Keith Olbermann on the air, to this year's Wisconsin recall elections and the Draft Warren fund. With the help of a large and active donor community, the PCCC has raised millions even though their average donation size is just under $15. In short, they've become a major political player at a speed and donation size that would've been unthinkable five years ago.
Much the same can be said of ActBlue. Seven years after our founding in 2004, we've become the single largest source of political funds in the United States. Our mission was (and is) to give voice to the voiceless, and bring attention to those donors and communities that are often ignored or overlooked. We call it "Democratizing Power," and this is how it works:
ActBlue raises up small donors, who raise up the PCCC, which raises up Elizabeth Warren.
It's an organic, bottom-up process that's based on shifting the incentives that politicians face in a direction that's a win for everybody involved and the political system at large. By using ActBlue, the PCCC can demonstrate to everyone who cares to look that they can have a major impact on campaigns, and their donors can see exactly how powerful they are when they work together. Politicians learn that grassroots donors can be counted on to produce major results when it matters. And over time we get a political system that's responsive to the needs of folks who contribute $25, not just those who can afford $2500 donations.
The first quarter of the 2011-12 election cycle is on the books, and it’s a doozy. We saw a massive uptick in contributions relative to previous cycles, driven by the backlash against Gov. Walker’s union-busting in Wisconsin. That drove a precipitous drop in the average contribution size relative to 2009, which was made starker by a higher-than-usual contribution size in 2009 thanks to inaugural events. All in all, the trends are exactly what we want to see: more money, coming from more people and going to more Democrats.
|Number of contributions||180,547|
|Average Contribution size||$48.27|
|Committees receiving money||881|
|Fundraising pages receiving money||974|
And here’s how those numbers stack up to the last few cycles. Remember that we offer 2007 as a benchmark for a pre-presidential off-year and 2009 to illustrate cycle over cycle growth:
|Q1 2007||Q1 2009||Q1 2011||Change|
|Pages w/ Money||203||684||974||13%|
And here are the five top committees, ranked by number of donors, for Q1 2011.
|Democracy for America||Organization||44,767||$503,841|
|Democratic Party of Wisconsin||Organization||43,595||$1,099,087|
|Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee||Organization||30,726||$768,067|
|PCCC Recall Committee||Organization||25,481||$267,919|
Here, as everywhere else this quarter, we see organizations dominating the field as political campaigns have yet to ramp up. Those organizations, in turn, are laying the groundwork that will make them valuable allies when the horse race gets underway in earnest.
Our latest installment of "ActBlue in One Take" features Sen. Al Franken. The Senator from Minnesota understands the value of grassroots donors–he raised over $2M on ActBlue in 2008, funds that were crucial to both his election day victory and drawn-out struggle against Republican attempts to keep him from taking his seat in Washington. Click on the video below to see what Sen. Franken had to say about the role of grassroots donors–and ActBlue–in 2010
On Tuesday, the Personal Democracy Forum (PdF) released their "Who to Hire" guide to political technology providers, and we were happy to see that ActBlue took 2nd place overall, with a 4.23/5 rating and the third highest number of survey respondents. If you follow the link above, you'll see that when they broke down the responses by category, ActBlue led decisively across the board:
- Capacity and Reliability of Software: 2nd
- Usability of Software: 1st
- Quality of Customer Service: 2nd
- Fairness of Pricing: 2nd
No other service provider placed as highly in as many categories. In our internal discussions, these are exactly the categories where we strive to be an industry leader and it was humbling to see that our efforts were recognized by survey respondents. I want to highlight the "Usability of Software" category, and not just because we stand atop the podium.
As Nancy Scola has written, one of ActBlue's core goals is to normalize the act of political giving. That's fancy talk for a pretty simple idea: political giving should be a regular part of American life. You go to work, cook dinner, and after dinner head over to the computer and donate $5 to your preferred candidate.
A lot of the anger Americans feel toward their elected leaders is rooted in the idea that Washington serves special interests rather than the American people. And, to the extent that this intuition is correct, it's because those special interests have a lot of campaign cash to dole out. The obvious answer to this problem is to create an alternate source of funding for our elected officials, so that standing up to special interests isn't such an electorally damaging proposition.
The central idea behind ActBlue is that the American people have the potential to be that alternate source, and at this point we've clearly demonstrated proof of concept. ActBlue has sent $127.3M to thousands of Democratic candidates and committees, with an average donation size of around $100. And ActBlue users send their money to everything from presidential campaigns to mayoral races. As a final note, we practice what we preach: we fund our operations through tips and direct donations from our users.
However, if political giving is going to become a normal part of American life, it has to fulfill two criteria:
- It must be easy.
- It must be transparent.
I'm going to tackle the second point in a separate entry, as it's a complicated one. But #1 is pretty straightforward. Very few Americans pursue politics as a career. In fact, most of us are preoccupied by our roles as parents, small business owners, or what have you. So, if you want people participate in politics, you have to find a way to slot it into the very busy lives we all lead.
When I see that ActBlue is ranked #1 in terms of usability it tells me that we're making progress toward that goal. Whether you're a campaign or just someone looking to make a difference in the five minutes they have to spare, ActBlue is your best option.
(And, as a final note, it's not just PdF that feels this way. The New Organizing Insitute (NOI) honored us with the Most Valuable Technology award.)
If you're a campaign, the real-time numbers and transparency ActBlue provides are things you should embrace.
ActBlue helps your fundraising momentum get noticed as it happens, rather than months later. In September, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled "you lie" at President Obama. 48 hours later his Democratic opponent, Rob Miller, had racked up $1,000,000 on ActBlue. The first $100,000 came in overnight, and the rest poured in over the next 36 hours. For an entire day, Rob Miller was getting $7 a second through ActBlue.
That surge happened because reporters could see it happening in real time. The press coverage–Bloomberg, CNN, Politico–pushed the story out to an even wider audience, and the money kept pouring in. As a result, a race that was off the radar is now the focus of national attention. That's what ActBlue can do for you. You can't control when your opponent will make a mistake, but ActBlue ensures that you won't leave any money lying on the table when they do.
ActBlue isn't just about capitalizing on major fundraising events. It can also help you build a stable base of grassroots support and increase the size of your email list. That means when your opponent messes up, you'll have someone to tell.
When grassroots donors give, they're looking to connect with your campaign, to play a part in something larger than their $15, $20 or $50 contribution. When they give through ActBlue, their contribution is recorded and added to your total in real time. They can see how many other people are a part of this effort, and broadcast your momentum through their own social network using Facebook and Twitter. Using our recurring donation system, you can build a war chest and network of supporters months, even years before an election.
In other words, ActBlue means more donors, a bigger list, and more money
Without ActBlue, when the donor contributes that money disappears into your payment processing apparatus and doesn't see the light of day until months later, when it gets written up in an article about campaign finance that they won't read. They don't feel like they've made a difference, and they're less likely to give again.
That is–quite literally–a mistake you can't afford to make.