October ’16 Recap

October was a giant month at ActBlue — our biggest month ever! We handled nearly $84 million for over 3,000 campaigns, committees, and organizations.

Lots of campaigns took advantage of our weekly recurring feature this month, driving up our total recurring dollar amount. We brought in even more in recurring dollars than during October of 2014, when weekly recurring was a massive success.

Topline Numbers

OCT. ’13 OCT. ’14 OCT. ’15 OCT. ’16
Contributions 289,615 1,449,990 670,809 2,002,717
Total Amount $10,289,128 $57,093,748 $21,741,770 $83,823,165
Avg. Contribution Size $35.53 $39.38 $32.41 $41.85
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,574 2,503 1,937 3,316

 
October topline numbers

Mobile

OCT. ’13 OCT. ’14 OCT. ’15 OCT. ’16
% Mobile 20.0% 24.9% 31.0% 36.2%
% Mobile for
Express Users
23.6% 26.6% 33.6% 37.1%

Express

OCT. ’13 OCT. ’14 OCT. ’15 OCT. ’16
New Express Users 29,288 73,431 79,099 69,003
% of Total Volume
via Express Users
44.9% 59.6% 61.0% 59.6%
% of Contributions
via Express Users
54.4% 64.9% 68.5% 65.6%

 
October topline numbers

Recurring

OCT. ’13 OCT. ’14 OCT. ’15 OCT. ’16
Total Recurring Volume $611,951 $10,434,476 $5,693,932 $16,750,379
% of Total Volume 5.9% 18.3% 26.2% 20.0%

 

Customer Service

OCT. ’16
Total Incoming Calls 10,205
Email Conversations 29,461

Check out this last graph for a fun look at how many more campaigns, committees, and organizations are fundraising with ActBlue this election cycle as compared to 2014:

October topline numbers

Q3 2016: It’s definitely the quarter before an election

Man, oh man, was Q3 busy. We moved more than $130M, almost $50M more than in Q3 2014 (the same quarter in the last election cycle).

Why the uptick in volume? We handled donations for over 4,000 campaigns, committees, and organizations as they made their way into the final stretch of an incredibly important election cycle. That’s a 33.9% increase over the number of groups using ActBlue in Q3 2014. What else is exciting? Compared to Q3 2014, we handled $20M more in recurring dollars, which is a whopping 172% increase. And recurring contributions made up more than one-fifth of our total funds raised.

Read on to see how our sitewide fundraising compared to where we were at the same point back in previous years.

Topline Numbers

Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3 2016
Contributions 637,925 2,304,240 1,785,908 3,355,813
Total Amount $23,154,771 $82,657,048 $57,202,581 $131,890,675
Avg. Contribution Size $36.30 $35.87 $32.03 $39.30
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,827 3,064 2,259 4,102

 

Here’s the biggest news: as of Q3 2016, we’ve helped raise over $630 million in contributions. That means we’ve already nearly doubled the amount we raised in the 2014 cycle (2014 was a $335 million election cycle), and we’ve still got one more quarter to go in Election 2016.

In the chart below, we break down the total number of campaigns, committees, and organizations using ActBlue by cycle. The vertical axis shows the running total for unique groups raising funds on ActBlue, while the horizontal axis represents the days in the cycle with the first day of each quarter as the labels.

daily

Look at that rapid growth in committees and orgs using ActBlue! Almost 6,200 different groups used our tools to fundraise in this election cycle, with over 4,000 active groups this quarter. We had almost 800 new candidates and groups sign up this quarter, which is huge compared to 560 new signups during this time in 2014 and 558 in 2012.

This election cycle, we’ve expanded into new cities and counties. We’re working with a higher percentage of federal campaigns than ever before. And the best part is that we offer the same fundraising tools to candidates in school board races as we do to presidential candidates. We’re constantly innovating. We’re a one-stop shop where folks can give to all the causes they care about, at any level of government, no matter how big the race or how small the organization.

Express

In true ActBlue fashion, once we hit an exciting number, we have to keep upping the ante. 65% of our contributions this quarter were made via Express, and as of Q3 2016, we have over 3.2 million Express donors! And they’re an active bunch. In Q3 2016, we handled over $75 million in recurring contributions from folks who saved their information using our Express feature. As a quick refresher, our Express feature lets donors save their payment information with us and donate with a single click, making it easier for them to give (win, win). And in an election cycle like this where every dollar really counts, that efficiency and speed make a big difference in fundraising.

Recurring

Inspiring donors to give again and again is critical to any strong fundraising program. At ActBlue, over 43.5% of the contributions we handled in Q3 2016 were recurring contributions. Our recurring asks are usually monthly, but in September we brought back weekly recurring. That feature was so successful that it accounted for $3,821,234 of the nearly $31.5M we raised in recurring contributions this quarter. That means weekly recurring accounted for 10.26% of our total recurring volume in Q3 2016 — and it wasn’t even being used in full force until the end of the quarter! Take a look at the chart below to see how weekly recurring contributions have picked up steam:

recurring

In just two weeks, the number of new weekly contributions had surpassed the typical number of new monthly contributions. And let’s not bury the lede here: we handled more than 70k recurring contributions on September 30th. That’s the second highest total ever (surpassed only by February 29th when we ran recurring contributions from three days at once). In total, we moved $1.4M before 10AM that day — that’s a lot of traffic before most folks had even had their morning cup of coffee!

Q3 before an election has historically been a big quarter (no surprise there). But this election cycle features seven out of the eight greatest quarter over quarter increases in terms of recurring donations. Back in Q3 2014, we handled only about a third of the recurring contributions we handled in Q3 2016. And in 2012, which was the last presidential election year, we handled less than $5M in recurring volume. That means we’re now raising over six times what we did in the last presidential election. Pretty cool.

volume

Mobile

It was another strong quarter for giving on the go — 30% of the funds we raised came from a mobile device. And while people are definitely using mobile devices to do more, more often, we can’t chalk up the success of mobile giving just to time alone.

Mobile

We’ve also spent a lot of time optimizing for mobile. We tested and implemented a new feature: when mobile donors land on a form, they’re automatically taken past the contribution blurb to the part where they choose how much to give. With an increase of 5.2% in sitewide conversions (p < 0.05), that optimization has translated into real cash. We’ve also added an autocomplete search feature that populates your address on contribution forms, which has already started to boost our numbers. The goal with mobile is making it as easy as possible to give from a smaller screen, and that’s what we’re going to keep improving on.

Customer Service

It was another busy quarter for our customer service team, who handled an incredible 28,490 calls and had 72,504 email conversations with ActBlue donors. At midnight on September 30th, the last day of the quarter, there were a grand total of zero donors waiting to have their emails and calls returned. Our team had squared away their emails and calls in real time!

From folks who are giving for the first time and have questions about the process, to returning donors who want to check in about their contribution, our customer service representatives handle it all. They helped make the giving process as smooth as possible during this extremely busy quarter.

Remarketing

In February 2016, we launched our remarketing feature. When enabled, it sends a reminder email to donors who have started but failed to complete a contribution after 30 minutes of inactivity.

This quarter, remarketing helped bring an extra $420,000 in the door from over 13,000 contributions. In an election cycle where every dollar matters, that’s a lot more than just pocket change. But here’s the thing: only one fifth of our contribution forms sitewide that received contributions had our remarketing feature enabled. That means 80% of ActBlue forms are losing out on a lot of extra contributions! If you haven’t turned on remarketing yet, here’s a reminder about how to do it.

Contributions by Timezone

Being knowledgeable about where your donors are based is helpful because it can lead to new tests where you target different folks at different times. Take a look at this chart below to see where ActBlue’s sitewide donor base is located, and when folks from different parts of the country give most:

Timezone

It was an incredible quarter for ActBlue, and we’re so excited to have our biggest election year yet. That’s why we want to thank our donors! Without them, there’s no way we’d be on track to handle more than $700M this election cycle. We also couldn’t be more proud to be lowering the barrier for participation across the board. Our tools give folks who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get involved in the political process the opportunity to make real change happen.

Of course, we’re also thrilled that the more new folks start using our tools, the more fundraising records we can break. After all, let’s remember our prediction back in Q1 2016: we said we might process over half a billion dollars in small-dollar contributions this election cycle: looks like we’ve got some ceilings to smash both in terms of our own record, and in the White House.

A big mobile boost from one simple test

We run optimization tests on our forms constantly, but it’s rare that we see winners as big as our recent mobile test.

At this point we’re running around 40% of all donations made on mobile devices. Anything we can do to keep that number going up, the better, given the massive transition in traffic from desktop to mobile.

In this test, when donors landed on a form, some were moved directly to the point on a form where they’d choose an amount to give — skipping past the contribution blurb they would normally read first, as you can see below. Others got the normal form with the headline and blurb up top.

form

 

The forms that skipped over the blurb won by a landslide. The result was a statistically significant increase of 5.2% conversions on the variation (p < 0.05). It was such a big winner that we automatically rolled it out sitewide.

Most of our tests see a tiny bump, but any increase in conversions makes a big difference when we’re running tens of millions of contributions through our forms each month. And a 5.2% bump? That’s real money.

There were more than 250k new mobile contributions made sitewide in July, with an average contribution size of about $30. That means our mobile form test resulted in about 400k extra dollars. Like I said, real money.

We previously tested a contribution form without a blurb on both desktop and mobile versions to our email list. The results were abysmal, which is why we ran this sitewide test to mobile donors specifically.

By nature, our mobile users are seeking ways to save them time and enhance their convenience when they’re making contributions. And that’s what this switch gives them.

A busy quarter before an even busier election: Q2 2016

Q2 2016 was strong; back in Q2 2014, folks using ActBlue’s fundraising tools had raised just shy of $48 million. For this quarter, we’ve passed $130M! Talk about an exciting upwards trajectory.

Q2 2016 had 2.8 million more contributions than Q2 2014. That’s more than 200% growth. Donors contributed to 3,753 different campaigns, committees, and organizations. Our average contribution size has shrunk a little, because of the impact of repeat donors. The average contribution size for new donors was $55, compared to $30 for donors who have given previously. More than 1.2 million unique people made a donation on ActBlue in Q2 2016, and, of those, 80% made more than one contribution. That’s only the second time that at least one million individual people have given in a single quarter on our platform.

Topline Numbers

Q2 2013 Q2 2014 Q2 2015 Q2 2016
Contributions 529,614 1,215,413 1,273,379 4,082,976
Total Amount $22,236,309 $47,488,545 $48,158,911 $132,986,033
Avg. Contribution Size $41.99 $39.07 $37.82 $32.57
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,610 2,807 1,970 3,753

 

During Q2 2016, we hit another major milestone: over $500 million raised via ActBlue for this election. For context, the combined total raised for the 2012 and 2014 cycles is $517 million. It took the entire 2014 cycle to raise $335 million and just over 15 months to reach that total this election year.

Our number crunchers had been predicting our total for the entire 2016 cycle would be $500 million. But now we’re more likely on a path for something around a $700 million cycle.

We’re already ramping up for another big quarter — Q3 is traditionally the largest in any cycle. (Looks like we’ll need a bigger chart.)

The graph below breaks down our top-line stats further (and says it all): Express contributions have increased from less than 10% at the start of the 2012 election cycle to 70% of all donations this past quarter. The mobile contribution rate has hovered around 40% the past two quarters, which is about double the rate for the same points in the last election cycle. Recurring as a share of the total fundraising volume tends to fluctuate more than the other two metrics within a cycle. If you look just at the 2016 election cycle, percent recurring volume has landed in the 15-28% range each quarter.

Express

Our Express feature, which allows donors to save their payment information with us, helps donors give (literally) with just the click of a button. The majority of our 3 million Express users have signed up this cycle.

Because it’s easier for people to give when they don’t have to spend time entering in their address and credit card information, they’re more likely to go ahead and contribute. In Q2 2014, we raised about $28 million from Express contributions. Fast forward two years, and we’re at almost $83 million raised via Express for the quarter. And I know we mentioned it earlier, but it’s too stunning a stat to only say once: Express contributions now make up an incredible 70% of our total contributions. Plus, with 4 million contributions overall and 1.2 million unique donors during Q2 2016, it’s clear that we’re getting a lot of repeat givers thanks to the overwhelming success of our Express feature.

Recurring

This time last cycle, 14% of our contributions were recurring. Now, that number’s at almost 42%. Why the increase? Recurring donations work well for both the fundraiser and the donor as an easy way to make regular contributions, providing a stable fundraising base. Plus, we’ve been helping lots of campaigns and organizations figure out a recurring donor strategy.

The chart below shows the incredible growth we’ve been seeing in recurring, particularly from Q2 2014 to this quarter. The spikes on the chart below are the last days of each month. That’s when we see the highest number of contributions. The typical daily recurring volume in Q2 2016 was significantly higher than even the busiest days in previous second quarters. When we look at the last days of each month this quarter, 2014 and 2012 are left totally in the dust.

One of our favorite features, weekly recurring, will be back at the end of this current quarter for some groups using ActBlue. Our team can turn on weekly recurring six weeks ahead of the election. It’s a great way to get donors excited and primed for Election Day, and to raise critical cash for your cause at the most important time. If you’re interested in learning more about how weekly recurring could give your campaign a boost, start planning your weekly fundraising strategy now. We’re more than happy to help brainstorm with you.

We expect to have some big Q3 news about exciting new innovations in recurring giving, and our engineers are hard at work. Stay tuned and excuse our vagueness, but watch this space!

Mobile

In Q2 2012, just 5% of contributions through ActBlue were made via a mobile device, and that number grew to 24% in Q2 2014. This quarter? Almost 40%.

We’ve broken down the mobile percentage day-by-day for Q2 2016 so you can visualize how it changes over time.

Notice the spike in mobile contributions towards the end of the week and on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays were peak mobile days throughout the quarter, and it’s likely that these are times when people are less tethered to their computers, which is why they do more of their giving from mobile devices.

We can’t really take credit for the popularity and spread of iPhones and other mobile devices, but we can take credit for optimizing our forms for mobile. Our high contribution volume affords us lots of space for A/B testing and optimization. Plainly put, we have the best mobile experience in nonprofit and political giving out there. Our mobile contribution rate speaks for itself.

Customer Service

Our customer service team is working hard to make sure donors always have a good experience, so that the organizations and campaigns who use our tools can focus on doing the organizing. Inquiries are always a percentage of volume, and for Q3 2016, we expect volume to go up, meaning our CS team will be even busier than this past quarter. As we get ready for one of the most critical elections of our lifetime, time will be of the essence, and campaigns will need to use every dollar they’ve raised as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To handle the traffic, we’ve expanded our customer service team so that there are folks always ready to answer questions and resolve issues as quickly as possible. And we’ve intentionally staffed up to have more coverage in the evening and weekend hours to be as responsive as possible to donor questions.

Remarketing

We launched our remarketing feature in February 2016, which reminds donors about a contribution they’ve started to make but haven’t completed after 30 minutes of inactivity. In Q2 2016, contributions from remarketing totaled more than $500,000 — all campaigns and organizations had to do was turn the feature on form-by-form and our infrastructure took care of the rest. Find out how to turn it on here, if you haven’t already.

Almost half of remarketing contributions are made from mobile devices. The average monthly mobile contribution rate for remarketing is 9 percentage points higher than the sitewide average. We thought this stat was interesting, and have more than a few theories that might explain it. What we know for sure is that when donors get that remarketing email, we’ve tracked where they were in the giving process, so all the information we know about them has already been pre-filled. And that makes it really easy to complete a contribution, particularly on a mobile device.

Shifting people from desktop to mobile during the giving process also means that donors will have their information stored on multiple devices, reducing friction the next time they want to give. And that is a great thing, my friends.

Contributions by time zone

Where are donors based? It’s on every email fundraiser’s mind. We ran the numbers for contributions made using ActBlue and came up with the chart below. As always, keep in mind that every individual list is different.

 

One last fun fact we pulled from this dataset: West Coasters in the Pacific time zone made more contributions per donor on average (3.84) than in any other time zone this quarter. So, there’s a little more green in that chart than if they had given at the same rate as the combined category that includes the Alaska, Hawaii-Aleutian, and Atlantic time zones, for example.

One of the most exciting things about this quarter was how even without presidential traffic, we’re running at nearly double the last election in terms of funds raised. And of that non-presidential volume, over 15% was raised in just three days this quarter: the last days of April, May, and June.

As we move into the general election, we’re expecting the amount of contributions we’re processing to rise, particularly at the end of each coming month. Q3 2016 will likely be a record-breaker. The only question: Just how big will it be?

Biggest quarter ever

Wow, this has been some beginning to 2016. We launched ActBlue Charities, passed the $1 BILLION mark, and had back-to-back biggest months ever.

At the end of last year, we were over the moon about handling 150k contributions in a single day on December 31, 2015. Well, we handled twice that on February 29, 2016 and surpassed 200k contributions two more times this quarter.

Check out this chart showing what our three biggest donor days looked like hour-by-hour (with the total contributions processed on those days in parentheses): March 30, 2016 (215,954), March 31, 2016 (275,763), and February 29, 2016 (299,174):

 

 

There are many things that go into massive days like this (and not just a lot of email).

For one, we typically run recurring contributions in a series of batches starting at 4AM. That pattern is evident on the two days in March, but our tech team actually scheduled out February 29th a bit differently because all recurring contributions originally made on the 29th, 30th, and 31st of any given month needed to be run in a single day. We processed over 80k recurring contributions that morning (new record, by far) by starting earlier and capping the contributions per hour, and we were ready to handle the end-of-month rush well before 9AM. Gotta love when a good plan comes together…

It’s abnormal to run three days of recurring contributions at once, and it’s the reason why February 29th goes down as our biggest day in terms of contributions, but the end-of-quarter deadline day is our biggest by dollar. The average for a one-time donation this cycle is $38.65 compared to an average of $21.03 for recurring contributions, since recurring contributions tend to have a smaller average than one-time gifts. But the really amazing number is the average value (so far!) of a single recurring sign-up this cycle: $72.88.

We saw March 31st bring in a ton of traffic at the end of the day, with two hours of more than 20k (!!) contributions after 9 PM. Volume stayed unbelievably high until the steep drop off at midnight. And yes, people really do respect it as a deadline and stop giving when the clock strikes twelve on the East Coast.

Topline Numbers

Q1 2013 Q1 2014 Q1 2015 Q1 2016
Contributions 467,163 897,884 782,820 5,571,391
Total Amount $16,904,456 $36,955,661 $26,905,248 $165,170,022
Avg. Contribution Size $36.19 $41.16 $34.37 $29.65
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,243 2,478 1,728 2,989

 

Almost 3,000 different campaigns, organizations, and committees raised a total of $165M this quarter, with the average contribution size under $30. For context, it took us more than four years to pass that dollar total and more than nine years to pass the 5.5M contribution mark — both of which we just accomplished in three months. Yeah, that’s nuts.

More and more people are supporting the non-profits, campaigns, and causes of their choice via the ActBlue family of organizations. Of the 1.8 million people who gave a contribution this quarter, 65% had made a donation on our site before.

Express

Those repeat donors are the lifeblood of so many campaigns and organizations. And that’s why our system is designed to reduce friction, making it painless to give again. ActBlue Express is at the heart of it, allowing donors to give with a single click, again and again. Of these repeat donors, almost 9 in 10 have saved their credit card information with ActBlue. Plus, nearly 3 out of every 4 donors who made a contribution for the first time in Q1 2016 signed up for Express accounts.

More people have created an ActBlue Express account already this cycle than in every other cycle combined.

 

 

And looking at just this past quarter, over 750k people signed up for an Express account — that’s more than twice the number who signed up in our previous biggest quarter (Q4 2015 had 302k new sign-ups). Altogether, we’re up to an incredible 2.9M Express users.

Almost three-quarters of all contributions on ActBlue at this point are made by Express users. That added up to over $110M from Express users last quarter.

Saved payment information is no longer the future; it’s the new normal here at ActBlue.

The chart below shows both the overall growth in the number of contributions, as well as how the number of Express contributions as compared to those made by non-Express users is increasing. For much of last cycle, there was not much difference between these types of users, but the ratio has become closer to 3:1 recently.

 

 

There are a lot of reasons why we’re seeing this big spike in Express donations. We’ve run a number of optimization tests with the goal of boosting Express sign-ups and the use of donors’ saved payment information. There haven’t been any breakout tests, but the slow and steady tweaks have added up over time.

At the same time there is a broader movement coming from the e-commerce industry to promote saved credit card information, with Visa checkout being the most visible example. More Americans are comfortable saving their financial information online, and we work hard to earn and keep their trust. ActBlue is Level 1 PCI compliant — the gold standard for security — and we undergo a rigorous audit every year to maintain it.

The larger trend toward mobile is having an impact as well, as Express users continue to outperform non-Express users on non-desktop devices. And features like Express Pass continue to help boost conversions.

Mobile

Making it possible for people to give with a single click means higher conversion rates. More and more people are making donations on mobile devices. It’s part of a wider traffic trend away from desktop and toward mobile. This quarter alone, over 41% of contributions were made on a mobile device. That’s double the mobile giving rate we saw at the same point last cycle (Q1 2014 had a mobile rate of just 20.5%).

 

 

And the mobile contribution rate jumps to 44% when looking just at Express users, who — as we’ve alluded to already — are our power users. We’re expecting to cross that 50% threshold very soon!

Recurring

Recurring contributions continue to be a great source of fundraising for campaigns, organizations, and nonprofits. This past quarter we processed $26.2M in recurring volume from over 1.4M contributions — both of which are new quarterly records. For context, we raised $26.9M TOTAL during Q1 2015. The chart below details the growth in the overall number of recurring contributions, broken down by whether or not the recurring contribution is new or subsequent.

 

 

How big was this quarter? Well, the number of new recurring sign-ups in the past quarter (347k) was more than all of the total recurring contributions made in Q1 2014 (new + subsequent).

One of the best parts of a recurring program is that it provides a steady stream of income for campaigns and organizations that allows them to plan out their fundraising goals from month to month with ease. If you’re not running a recurring program and you’re interested in starting one, drop us a line at info@actblue.com and we’re more than happy to help strategize.

It was a helluva start to 2016. We’re excited to see what the rest of the year brings. In the meantime, our tech team is hard at work on a number of infrastructure upgrades, optimization tests, and some cool new features (as always). So stay tuned. And may the email odds be ever in your favor.

What a spontaneous online fundraiser looks like

I’d say last night was YUUUUGE, but others have done the Donald impression much better than I could. Suffice it to say, it was a historic night for ActBlue’s infrastructure.

Yesterday evening, during a 15 minute span, ActBlue processed over 26,000 contributions. That’s equivalent to 104,000 contributions / hour. For context, the biggest hour up to last night saw 13,981 contributions created. That’s how big of a surge it was.

We’re always prepping for the biggest moments, those are our bread and butter. And one of the best parts about a big night like last night is we get to see how our tools hold up to a heavy load, and how we can improve in the future. We processed every contribution that came our way last night, and we’re confident we could have handled 150k / hour (and we’ll be able to handle 200k by later tonight).

We did hit one bump late yesterday though. Last night’s spontaneous fundraiser (the one that raised $5.2 million in less than a day) broke our external processor’s response systems. That’s some amazing grassroots power. Like we said, we over-prepare, so we were ready for that. But the vendor started giving us a previously undocumented error message, which temporarily caused some donors to not move from the “please wait” page to the confirmation page…even though their contributions were already fully processed

It’s not ideal, and it’s not the exceptional donor experience we want to provide people with. And we were sorry for that. We worked quickly to get the issue remedied and to get the donor user flow back to what it should be. In addition to technical solutions, our customer service team was answering donor questions in real-time last night and they’re working hard to talk to every donor today.

And we’re happy to say that we didn’t drop a single contribution, and we didn’t go down. If you saw an error message last night, that was because you were trying to access a non-essential page. We triage those during our busiest times, so we can put all our resources behind handling contributions. That part worked exactly as it should, and it paid off with some pretty eye-popping statistics:

Numbers are fun, but pictures are more fun, so let’s start with a graph:

Want to guess what time Senator Sanders told a national TV audience to go to BernieSanders.com and donate $27?

Those are requests / minute as recorded by our (fabulous) CDN, Fastly. And for the briefest moment in time, we hit 333,000 rpm. Prior to last night, we’d never seen that number go above 40,000 rpm. So it was, in a word, unprecedented.

Internally, we could see those donors giving at a similarly rapid pace:

Isn’t it beautiful how nicely those graphs match up? And yes, this means we topped out at more than 2000 contributions / minute. Our previous record was 781. Here’s the breakdown of our new contribution records:

Minute: 2,689
5 minutes: 11,218
10 minutes: 19,822

But the best part of the contributions per minute graph is the natural decay in rate. By that I mean the gradual downslope as the wave passed. Why is this important? Because if our infrastructure was actually in trouble the graph wouldn’t look as natural — you would be seeing some sharp drop-offs.

Last night was a huge win for small-dollar donors. They once again showed that they are a powerful force to be reckoned with, and we’re committed to providing them with the best experience possible. We know that rock-solid and innovative infrastructure is key to helping Democrats up and down the ballot raise the most money online. But we also know that respecting donors and making sure they have a good experience both technology and customer service-wise is key to growing small-dollar donor participation. We’re expecting a lot more big nights, and we’re ready and excited to empower donors and help candidates build winning campaigns.

If you have questions about a contribution, or want to talk shop, email us at info@actblue.com and a real person will respond, as always.

What reaching 2 million Express users means for you

We hit a major milestone during the recent end-of-quarter rush: 2 million Express users! That’s 2 million donors* who have saved their credit cards with ActBlue and can give to virtually any Democratic candidate in America — and an increasingly large percentage of progressive organizations — with a single click.

Now, that’s obviously a huge number, but big numbers don’t mean much on their own. What’s important is that it’s not just a big pool, it’s a big recent pool of donors. These aren’t just donors who signed up back when President Obama was running the first time — these are current, active, and engaged donors. 815,706 Express users signed up in 2015 (573,241 in the last 6 months alone), from 2,685 campaigns and organizations. Check out this growth chart:

Cumulative total of ActBlue express users: 2.1M

And here’s a closer look at the year-by-year breakdown:

Cumulative total of ActBlue express users: 2.1M

And Express users don’t just sign up for accounts, they actually use them. Express users account for 69% of all donations made site-wide right now, and their mobile donation rate is consistently higher (41% vs 32%) than non-express users. That’s going to be key in 2016, given the steady growth of mobile donations. We’re seeing a full 38% of donations made via mobile, and as much as 58% during big night or weekend hours.

But the best part of the Express universe, as always, is that it’s a shared resource. That means that organizations and candidates — from small non-profits up to presidential candidates — can fundraise more effectively. And it means that donors can connect and contribute to their favorite causes in one place. Together, we build grassroots movements for change.

* Actually, it’s 2.1 million now. Yep, the Express universe is growing that fast.

Record-breaking quarter caps off ActBlue’s biggest off-year ever

Breaking records doesn’t ever get old around here. Then again we’re a bunch of digital fundraising nerds that get super excited about participation in democracy and our larger society.

And we did a ton of celebrating this quarter. Not only was December 31st our biggest donor day in history with 150k contributions, but we handled more volume over the last four days of the quarter than we’ve ever handled during a four-day period. Yep, even bigger than the lead up to the 2014 midterms. It was a virtual wave of grassroots money flooding into thousands of campaigns and organizations.

That doesn’t happen without tons of dedicated staffers working for candidates and organizations grinding it out over the holidays, working to reach more donors, and get more people participating earlier than ever in a crucial election cycle.

We broke plenty more records this quarter as well. Q4 saw the most Express users ever added in a quarter — 302k — which brought our total number of donors who have saved their credit card information past the 2 million mark.

I’ll admit that I didn’t think we’d reach that big milestone by the end of the year, but there was a tremendous surge at the end of December that put us over the top. We added the most Express users (31k) in a single day on December 31, 2015 — part of our unending quest to make it increasingly simple and easy for folks to give again in a single click.

During the last quarter of 2015 we handled 2.4M contributions — you guessed it, another record. Here’s a chart comparing Q4 2015 to past quarters, dating back to the 2012 election cycle:

Total contributions by quarter since 2011 on ActBlue

As you can see, the two previous cycles started out with slow growth, with the major growth happening in the last two or three quarters. That’s not happening this cycle. We’re seeing consistent increases quarter over quarter.

And yes, given this crazy growth pattern we’re busting our tails right now to make sure our underlying technology infrastructure continues to be rock solid. Not for nothing, while there were major enterprise-grade tech problems at the end of the year, ActBlue stayed up and processing contributions like it was any normal day.

It’s also worth pointing out that we’re past the $200M mark for the cycle. To put that in context, that’s $20M more than we handled in the entire 2012 election cycle, the last presidential cycle. And we’re nearly two-thirds of the way to 2014’s $320M benchmark (our biggest cycle).

So yeah, we’re well ahead of schedule to surpass half a billion dollars this cycle.

Off-year fundraising totals on ActBlue since the 2012 election cycle

On the above chart, you can also see a huge uptick leading up to 2015’s fourth end-of-quarter (EOQ). That spike is the $13M we handled from December 28, 2015 to December 31, 2015.

It’s proof that donors are in the giving mood (or at least still checking email!) at the end of the year — even if those donations aren’t tax deductible, like political contributions. Email is an evolving art, but it’s a good idea to keep this in the back of your head for planning out your send calendar for the end of the year.

But let’s focus on our biggest donor day ever — because December 31, 2015 was big and mobile-intensive. Here’s what the hour-by-hour looked like for contributions made on New Year’s Eve:

Mobile and desktop contributions made on December 31, 2015 by hour

A full 12,805 contributions came in between 9 to 10 PM (that’s the most newly made contributions in a single hour) with 57.7% (!!!!) of those being made via mobile devices. That’s by far the highest number of mobile contributions made in a single hour and it’s also the highest we’ve ever seen the mobile donation rate. Last EOQ we saw mobile rates spike above 50% for a few short minutes, but on December 31, 2015 there were three straight hours with more contributions coming in via a mobile device than a laptop or desktop.

It won’t be long now until >50% mobile is standard stuff, but right now this is new and exciting. And it’s also a reminder of how important it is for sites to load quickly during big traffic moments, especially when people should be enjoying a party and not fiddling with their phones.

And for those that are wondering how December 31, 2015 shaped up to the other three biggest donor days in our history, look no further than the following chart:

Contributions by hour on the biggest end-of-quarter days in ActBlue history

Just three months ago on September 30, 2015 we handled 147k contributions. The final tallies for September 30, 2014 and June 30, 2015 were 136k and 106k, respectively. What makes December 31, 2015 unique is the smaller bump at 4AM, which is when we process queued recurring contributions in a batch. We run this in the early morning to make sure our platform isn’t clogged up when the hourly volume picks up later in the day. For months that end in “30” we process recurring contributions made on both the 30th and 31st of a month, which is one reason why you see those huge upticks between 4 and 5AM for the other three biggest EOQs. There was just that much more organic traffic on December 31, 2015 to set the record for biggest donor day.

Below we break down this quarter compared to previous quarters.

TOPLINE NUMBERS

Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015
Contributions 208,812 1,265,339 743,110 2,177,164 2,401,748
Total Amount $13,076,152 $48,271,803 $28,642,254 $74,208,413 $72,361,085
Avg. Contribution Size $62.62 $38.15 $38.54 $34.08 $30.13
Campaigns and organizations 1,688 2,419 2,189 2,800 2,618

We’re out-pacing where we were last election cycle by more than three times the number of contributions and more than twice the total volume. More committees, campaigns, and organizations are fundraising at this point in the cycle than last cycle, too. And we’re actually not that far off from the number that were fundraising over the last few days before Election Day in 2014.

EXPRESS

Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015
New Express Users 14,049 114,799 69,600 99,821 302,993
Express User conversion rate 8.1% 17.3% 17.7% 15.6% 34.8%
Percent Express contributions 17.7% 53.4% 52.5% 64.5% 67.4%

Express users are our power users: Two out of three contributions made this quarter were from Express users (compared to a little more than one in two during the last off-year). Donors are also signing up at a fast clip: we added 816k new Express users this year, which is more than we signed up for Express throughout the entire 2014 election cycle.

The Express universe is huge, new, and active — donors consistently use their accounts to make contributions. It’s a big reason why we had such a monster Q4.

MOBILE

Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015
Percent mobile 2.3% 8.9% 19.% 25.3% 34.8%
Percent mobile for Express users 1.7% 11.6% 23.3% 27.0% 37.6%

We’ve already talked about the huge spikes we saw during the last day of the year, but more than one in three contributions made this quarter were made on a mobile device. That’s the highest rate in our history. And it’s even higher for Express users because they’ve already saved their credit cards with ActBlue, which means they can give with a single-click using Express Lane.

RECURRING

Q4 2011 Q4 2012 Q4 2013 Q4 2014 Q4 2015
Recurring volume $769,101 $3,163,684 $1,835,802 $17,639,613 $17,242,658
Percent recurring volume 5.9% 6.6% 6.4% 23.8% 23.8%

Recurring volume continues to represent a significant portion of the quarter’s total dollar amount. Almost one in four dollars we handled were recurring. And in terms of total dollar amount, the recurring volume we saw in Q4 2015 was more than nine times(!) as much as in Q4 2013.

We couldn’t possibly talk about all of these insane numbers without mentioning our rockstar Customer Service team. They spent December 31st handling 2,791 email conversations and fielding 941 phone calls from donors across the country.

Over the course of the entire quarter, the team had 38,671 email conversations and answered 46,297 incoming phone calls from donors, making it possible for the campaigns and organizations using ActBlue to focus in on their fundraising programs and have a successful end to 2015. We work relentlessly to support donors in a timely manner, because it’s the right thing to do and because it makes them more likely to come back and give again.

All in all, this was a massive, record-breaking quarter, bigger than the last record-breaking quarter (noticing a pattern?). Stay tuned for more crazy totals and sky-high percentage increases.

But wait, one more! We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that we just passed the $900M mark for the total raised in our eleven-year history!!! That big B (billion!) word is in sight! #roadto1B

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of our fantastic year: report.actblue.com. As always, we like email and would love to get one from you, email info@actblue.com and a real, live human will respond.

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.

TOPLINE NUMBERS

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

MOBILE

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%

RECURRING

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: info@actblue.com.

——

co-authored by: Kim Niedermaier

September ’15 Recap

With a massive end-of-quarter to close out the month of September, this turned out to be a monster $27M month (during an off-year, by the way). Most notably, we added more Express users in the past month than in any month prior — a whopping 124,824.

Check out the tables and charts below for a more detailed breakdown of this past month.

Topline Numbers

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
Contributions 463,901 319,785 925,261 795,853
Total Amount $21,881,359 $11,198,520 $37,921,801 $27,557,907
Average Contribution Size $47.17 $35.02 $40.98 $34.63
Committees 2,113 1,436 2,489 1,856

Recurring

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
Total Recurring Volume $1,240,618 $531,163 $4,869,166 $5,131,616
% of Total Volume 5.7% 4.7% 12.8% 18.6%

Express

We’re up to 1,738,816 Express users. These are some of our most engaged donors, who choose to save their payment information with ActBlue. As supporters continue to look for the fastest, most convenient way to contribute, we continue to see the number of Express users grow by leaps and bounds.

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
New Express Users 57,739 36,614 65,354 124,824
% of Total Volume
via Express Users
45.2% 42.9% 58.4% 59.4%
% of Contributions
via Express Users
49.6% 50.0% 63.9% 66.0%

Mobile

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
% Mobile 7.1% 20.5% 25.3% 32.2%
% Mobile for
Express Users
9.4% 24.3% 27.3% 34.9%

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out at info@actblue.com.