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Analysis

Not only was last Tuesday the fourth largest quarter in ActBlue’s history, the last day of the quarter was the second biggest day in ActBlue history, clocking in at $4.6 million and 106k contributions!!

And Democrats and progressives weren’t the only ones taking notice that day — we tweeted that we were already at 42k contributions before noon (thanks mostly to all the recurring donations that ran that morning!), and the NRSC seized on it and sent an email to their list claiming we were “flaunting it.”

Bragging about the power of small-dollar donors using ActBlue? Absolutely. Heck, we even sent out an email about it.

Here’s a breakdown of topline numbers for Q2 2015. Keep in mind, the best comparison here will be to 2013, since it’s our most recent off-year…it’s easy to forget we don’t have an election coming up when you see numbers like these.

Topline Numbers

Q2 ’12 Q2 ’13 Q2 ’14 Q2 ’15
Contributions 625,485 529,607 1,215,395 1,281,922
Total Amount $27,151,235 $21,740,509 $46,245,990 $47,296,765
Average Contribution Size $43.41 $41.05 $38.05 $36.90
Committees 2,472 1,610 2,807 1,976

Yep, that’s right. We still raised more this quarter than we did in Q2 last year, a mid-term election year.

We also hit a major milestone this quarter — we’ve raised more than $750M online over the last 11 years. At this pace, we’re well on our way to one. billion. dollars.

But it’s not just that big number that’s growing so quickly. In the last quarter alone we saw a jump from 1,731 committees raising money to 1,976 committees.

Here are some fun stats for you: 7PM on June 30th was our fifth biggest hour for newly created contributions (i.e. not an hour when recurring contributions were running), clocking in at 7,288 contributions. How much credit can we give the leap second? Unfortunately, not much. And we followed that up with our ninth biggest hour at 8PM with 6,926 contributions.

With Republican presidential candidates flooding the airwaves with campaign announcements and Democrats at all levels jumping into races, it became clear during this past quarter that the 2016 cycle is well underway.

People are paying attention to politics again and we’re seeing an increase in participation across the board. With $47.3 million raised this quarter, the growth over past cycles is astounding. That’s the power of small-dollar donors in action.

Compared to Q2 2013, when the average contribution size was $41.05, Q2 2015 saw an average size of $36.90. We love to see that, but we were also excited to see more than double the number of contributions. In Q2 2013 we processed 529,607 contributions, but this past quarter we handled an amazing 1,281,922 contributions. This just goes to show that there’s more power in (small-dollar) numbers. It’s more apparent than ever that the grassroots movement is in full swing!

Recurring

We had our biggest hour ever thanks to recurring donations. It was June 30th during the 4AM hour, and we raised $355,410 from 20,300 contributions. We run all of our recurring contributions at 4AM, so the website doesn’t have to handle all of that traffic during our busiest hours.

With almost $10M from recurring contributions, Q2 2015 was the third quarter in a row that recurring donations represented more than 20% of the total volume.

Recurring donations help campaigns build strong infrastructures that will power them to victory in 2016. And since we’re still 16 months out from Election Day, those are going to bring in tons of money. Right now, we’ve got over $53 million pledged to campaigns and organizations site-wide.

Express and Mobile

There are now 1.5 million donors using ActBlue Express. We added 196,452 new Express users this quarter alone (that’s the second most in our history), compared to Q2 2013 when we gained 43,242.

Express users are donors that have chosen to save their payment information, so they can contribute with just the click of a button.

And the power these donors wield is no joke — Express contributions made up 57.1% of the total dollars raised this quarter. That translates to almost $27M.

It’s numbers like these that prove small-dollar donors are recognizing the importance of their participation this cycle. They’re not only making more individual contributions than ever, but they’re committing to the candidates and causes they support like never before.

We’re also continuing to see mobile giving increase. Last quarter the percentage of contributions made on mobile devices was 24.7% and this quarter we’re up to 27.2%. And that’s up from 8.8% during Q2 2013, our most recent off-year.

The number of contributions made on mobile devices has tripled in the last two years. And Express user growth and mobile contributions go hand in hand. The percentage of contributions via mobile jumps to 29.2% for Express users. That’s because they can skip the mobile form altogether and just give via a link or button in an email.

While our forms are already mobile-optimized, it’s important to always be thinking of ways to optimize your program. Pay attention to the readability of Contribution Forms on all devices, work toward increasing numbers of Express Users, and build a recurring donor program as early as possible. You’ll see a huge payoff next November.

And when you do, we’ll be ready to handle all of those contributions, no matter how big these end of quarter deadline days become.

Any questions? Leave us a comment or reach out at info@actblue.com.

2016 is shaping up to be an absolutely massive cycle based on what we saw last Tuesday, our first end-of-quarter (EOQ) deadline day. We processed $2.1M, making March 31st the biggest start to a cycle in our history. It was a 200% increase over the first EOQ deadline day of the 2014 cycle.

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

We’re seeing more and more campaigns, organizations, and committees getting started fundraising early. And, ActBlue is now the default choice for large campaigns. Every major Senate campaign launched this year has launched with ActBlue and is using our platform.

Here’s a look at the topline numbers for Q1 2015 and how they compare to the previous four Q1s. The best comparison is to 2013, because it’s the most recent off-year.

Q1 2011 Q1 2012 Q1 2013 Q1 2014 Q1 2015
Contributions 143,012 364,733 467,138 897,890 791,908
Total Volume $8.7M $18.0M $16.4M $36.0M $26.6M
Mean Donation $46.44 $49.47 $35.21 $40.13 $33.54
Committees 881 2,050 1,243 2,478 1,731

The last election cycle started with a $16.4M first quarter and ended with $315M in total. Meanwhile, we just posted a $26.6M quarter. So, 2015-2016 is gonna be big.

Compared to the most recent presidential cycle’s first quarter (Q1 2011), we handled 5.5x as many contributions and 3x as many dollars. Overall, there were 39.2% more campaigns and organizations fundraising during this cycle’s Q1 than the first quarter of the 2014 cycle. But, we’ve also handled 69.5% more contributions and 61.5% more volume.

Recurring

We’ve been talking about how great recurring donations are for a quite a while now. They’re increasingly becoming a critical piece of the fundraising strategy for the thousands of campaigns and organizations that are building pools of sustaining donors. Recurring volume has never been this big.

In fact, 28.4% of the total dollar volume for this past quarter was recurring, which is the highest ever.

Here’s a table that looks at Q1 2013 and Q1 2015 (both are the first quarters in their respective election cycles.):

Q1 2013 Q1 2015 Growth Rate
One-time $15,473,353 $19,025,735 23.0%
Recurring $976,479 $7,533,511 671.5%
Total $16,449,833 $26,559,247 61.5%

These quarters have similar dollar volumes from one-time contributions, but there was a massive change in the recurring volume. The $10.1M difference in total volume is primarily a result of the 7.7x increase in recurring dollars from Q1 2013 to Q1 2015.

Recurring sign-ups from previous months are already paying dividends and will continue to throughout this cycle.

This trend isn’t isolated to Q1; we’ve been seeing a significant trend toward recurring contributions over the past year. In the chart below you can see the growth of recurring dollar volume as a percent of the total volume on a quarterly basis:

Plenty of new campaigns are focused on building their pool of recurring donors early in the cycle. In addition to helping campaigns and organizations hit their goals, these recurring contributions ultimately give early supporters a sense of investment that will continue to increase as we get closer to Election Day.

Express and Mobile

The number of ActBlue Express users grew to 1.27M, and these users are powering Democratic organizations and campaigns across the country. They have saved their payment information with us and can donate in a single click with Express Lane. This quarter we added 45,295 new Express users.

Express users accounted for 55.4% of the total dollars raised and 58.4% of all contributions this past quarter, part of a steady growth trend we’ve been seeing for years.

During Q1 2015, the Express sign-up conversion rate was 22.0%. That’s up from 18.5% during the last quarter of 2014. One of our big goals this cycle is to increase the number of Express sign-ups because, quite simply, they are our power users.

Here’s a tip for campaigns and organizations: If you’re not already sending Express Lane links to everyone on your list, now’s a good time to start. Doing so will likely increase the number of Express users on your list, which will go a long way toward increasing overall conversion rates for your program. You can read more here.

Donors love the convenience of not having to re-enter their credit card information each time they give. And that makes an especially big difference for mobile conversion rates. The percentage of contributions made on mobile devices was 24.7% for this past quarter, but that figure bumps up to 26.7% for Express users.

The chart below shows newly made contributions on March 31, 2015 broken down by the hour and device used. You can see that the share of mobile donations picked up outside of typical work hours.

The 2016 election cycle is just beginning, so now is the time to hone in on your program’s effectiveness. Two quick reminders: it’s the start of a new month, which means now is a good time to check-in on your recurring retention rates for the month of March. And don’t forget that you can also monitor conversion rates by refcode on your form’s statistics pages.

November’s always a weird month around here. We have a handful of our biggest days of the year leading up to Election Day, and then there is a sharp drop off. We affectionately refer to this transition as Sad Graph™:

This pattern is to be expected: campaigns’ fundraising pushes end on Election Day. We raised $13 million for 1,634 candidates and organizations from 490,327 contributions (51.89% of that money came in during the first four days). That’s a big drop off from the previous months, but in line with past Novembers. The average donation size was just $27.22, and more than a quarter of contributions (27.8%) were made via a mobile device.

You can check out how those numbers stack up against past years below. Keep in mind that November top line figures can vary a little more year-to-year than other months, depending on when Election Day falls, and whether there are a lot of recounts and runoffs.

  Nov ’11 Nov ’12 Nov ’13 Nov ’14
Contributions 67,796 314,389 194,238 490,327
Volume ($) $4,057,080 $10,822,821 $7,397,575 $13,348,723
Mean Donation $59.84 $34.59 $38.09 $27.22
Committees 1,116 1,449 1,484 1,634

 

Despite the decline in contributions and the close of the election cycle, we continued to bring in a ton of new Express users. 17,171 people signed up for Express accounts, bringing our total up to 1,223,587. Those are our power users, and they accounted for 66% of all contributions in November.

Growing that Express user base and keeping them engaged is going to be a main focus for us going forward, because we know these users are going to play a crucial role in the 2016 elections.

Another main focus for the next election cycle will be recurring contributions. We’ve been championing recurring programs in this space for a while, and it’s paying off. Recurring contributions accounted for a full 39% of all dollars in November and caused that spike at the end of the month. That recurring money is a huge boon to campaigns and organizations, who were slammed during November. And it’ll keep paying off during the winter, when fundraising is tougher for most organizations.

Slower months don’t translate to a quieter time over at ActBlue. Now that the election has come and gone, we’re looking ahead to 2016 and planning out the tools and upgrades we’ll need to be ready. And we’ll be at Rootscamp in a few weeks if you want to talk about the future with us!

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.

Express

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.

Mobile

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.

Recurring

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.

With just one day until the election, we squeezed in some time to reflect on our monster October. There was no real “October surprise,” just a whole lot of grassroots fundraising, and a whole lot of work from campaigns and organizations across the country.

ActBlue handled a total of $56 million from 1.2 million contributions. Donations averaged $45.59 and went to 2,514 different campaigns, committees, and organizations. It was our biggest month by far, both in terms of dollars and donations. The runner up? Last month (September 2014), when we raised $38 million from 890,915 donations.

If you’re curious, the biggest hour of the month was on 10/31 at 3 PM EST ($222,965) and the biggest day was 10/15, the pre-general reporting deadline ($3.3 million). That’s a deviation from our typical month; fundraising totals usually build steadily, and the last day of the month is almost always the biggest. With Election Day looming, October was crazy from beginning to end. And that meant a massive, steady stream of contributions to handle, customer service emails to return, and campaigns to assist.

Check out how October ‘14 stacks up to past years:

  Oct ’11 Oct ’12 Oct ’13 Oct ’14
Contributions 61,438 825,893 289,808 1,229,502
Volume ($) $3,857,573.91 $35,055,118.28 $10,055,290.31 $56,051,590.11
Mean Donation $62.79 $42.45 $34.70 $45.59
Committees 1,140 2,183 1,576 2,514

 

Express users accounted for a huge chunk of that money — $33 million to be exact or 59%. With tens of thousands of new donors tuning into politics in October, our Express user community also grew significantly. We added 73,679 Express users last month, bringing the total up to 1,206,416!

Mobile donations continue to be a huge factor. 24.9% of contributions sitewide were made via a mobile device.

One of our most popular election season features is weekly recurring — and for good reason. It accounted for 10.7% of total volume in October and 315,281 contributions. More importantly, that money, combined with built-up monthly recurring (7.8% of total volume), provided a steady source of income for campaigns, so they could plan ad buys and GOTV efforts effectively.

Check out how this month stacked up against September, when we debuted weekly recurring and saw fundraising rising to a crescendo, rather than steadily marching towards Election Day.

(Click above to expand)

The narrative of the 2014 election has been that voters aren’t paying attention. But these numbers prove one thing: small-dollar donors are engaged and getting involved at a higher rate than ever before. And amongst all the Koch brother headlines, that’s an encouraging sign.

The third quarter of 2014 — our biggest ever — went out with a bang!

On the last day of September 2014, we handled over 130k contributions and helped raise $5.8M. It was a record-shattering final fundraising deadline before Election Day.

September 30 was the biggest day in ActBlue history (our first $5 million day!) and bested June 30, 2014, the now-number-2 biggest day, by 52k contributions and $2.1M. In a word, it was massive! Just for some context, it took us a full 2 years to reach 100k contributions. On September 30, we passed that 100k mark by 8PM.

We also established a few other impressive records:

  • most contributions in an hour (16,249 on 9/30 between 5 and 6 AM EST), a month (893,682 in September 2014), and a quarter (1,992,863 in Q3 2014).
  • highest dollar amount in an hour ($460,432 on 9/30 between 10 and 11 PM EST), a month ($39,245,312 in September 2014), and a quarter ($80,805,304.60 in Q3 2014).

Those records wouldn’t have happened without a seriously strong push from Democratic campaigns and organizations!

They’ve been hard at work throughout the election cycle engaging small-dollar donors to sign up for recurring contributions. These sustaining contributions give donors a chance to make a regular investment in the causes they care about. Though they averaged just $24.65 in size, they totaled $5,459,265 in September 2014. And it’s clear that these small-but-mighty contributions are adding up and making a huge difference.

It was a busy fundraising period for a significant number of campaigns and organizations. We sent checks or wires to 2,499 distinct entities, an increase of 18% over 2012’s total. At the same time, we had a nearly 100% increase in donations and dollars. That means these groups are raising a lot more grassroots money.

For the entire month of September, we averaged over $1.3M and 30k contributions each day. And the pace was simply blistering during the last week. We processed 44% of the month’s total dollar amount in the final seven days and 24% of the month’s total in the final two days.

We handled almost double the dollar amount and number of contributions as we did in September 2012, a presidential election year. At the same time, the mean contribution size decreased by 10%. It’s proof that with ActBlue’s help, Democratic campaigns and organizations are expanding the world of small-dollar donors.

You can dig into the rest of the month’s numbers here:

September ’11 September ’12 September ’13 September ’14
Contributions 70,156 463,044 319,890 893,631
Volume ($) $4,492,068 $21,881,384 $11,222,121 $38,211,396
Mean Donation $64.03 $47.26 $35.08 $42.76
Committees 1,068 2,113 1,439 2,499

Our Express universe continues to grow: 65,427 Express users signed up last month. The total number of people who have saved their payment information with us now sits at over 1.1M users. This community is shared across our platform, so if you’re an admin, make sure you’re contacting us to take advantage!

Express users are engaged, reliable donors. In September 2014, Express users were responsible for 64% of this month’s newly-made contributions, which added up to more than $20.7M. That’s more than half of the month’s total volume! And it demonstrates how campaigns and organizations are using the Express toolset to fundraise from small-dollar donors. We believe that more people engaged in the political process and having their voices heard strengthens our party and small-d democracy.

Express users continue to set the bar for mobile numbers…for a simple reason: they’ve saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. Express-users don’t have to go through the trouble of entering their info. Instead, they can just click a link. The proof is in the pudding. Last month they outpaced non-Express donors on a mobile device 27.2% to 21.7%.

There are fewer than five weeks until Election Day, and we don’t expect this pace to slow down. The stakes are too high to step off the gas pedal now. Campaigns across the country are relying on small-dollar donations to fuel them to victory. That’s why they’re using ActBlue. But rest assured we’ll be busy preparing for an intense rest of the campaign season.

Labor Day has historically marked the start of campaign season. Somebody forgot to tell this cycle’s campaigns: we’ve already passed the $200M mark!

In August 2014 we handled $22,982,206 from 690,488 contributions, placing it in our top-3 with October 2012 and July 2014 for most contributions in a single month. Both this month’s incredible number of contributions and the low average donation size (just $32.88) demonstrate how hard campaigns and organizations are working to mobilize a grassroots movement.

August ’11 August ’12 August ’13 August ’14
Contributions 78,172 309,877 155,524 690,488
Volume ($) $3,051,815 $12,785,110 $5,674,068 $22,982,206
Mean Donation $39.04 $41.26 $36.48 $32.88
Committees 916 1,981 1,305 2,251

August 2014 was more than $10M larger than August 2012, while the number of contributions has increased by 122%. That’s causing the average contribution size to decrease by 20%. And that means more small-dollar donors are supporting the causes and candidates they care about.

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of recurring contributions compared to previous cycles. 15.4% of August 2014’s total volume of money — a sum of $3,523,237 — came from sustaining donations. The chart below shows the growth of recurring volume in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles:

So far this election cycle, we’ve handled $17.8M of recurring contributions. That’s an increase of 170% from the same point in the 2012 cycle and more than ten times where at the end of August 2010.

Building a base of recurring donors can have a huge impact on the sustainability of a campaign or organization. A predictive, steady stream of money helps them better manage their finances. And for organizations, which will continue their important work long after November, a pool of recurring donations can help with the post-election donor-fatigue. Recurring donations help donors stay engaged by letting them make regular, small dollar investments in the causes they care about.

To cap off another massive month, we passed the 10 million contributions mark on August 30th! We were too preoccupied with a crazy amount of donations over the holiday weekend to properly celebrate. Over the last 3 days of the month, we handled 22.7% of August’s total volume of money. For those wondering, we did manage to take a screenshot of our internal metrics page and share it with the team.

It wouldn’t be an ActBlue monthly recap if we didn’t point out some impressive Express and mobile stats. Over 54k Express users signed up this past month to join our million-plus individuals strong community of supporters who can donate in an instant. Express users made 63.7% of all contributions in August 2014, which totaled more than $12M. That’s more than half of this month’s total volume, and a testament to how many campaigns are working with the Express tools.

Express users have saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. They give with mobile devices at a higher rate than non-Express users: 29.6% to 23.9%. Mobile donations continue to increase sitewide. This month saw 26.2% of all contributions made with a mobile device.

Campaigns and organizations are fundraising at a blistering pace. In the past two months, we’ve handled more than 1.3M contributions. And we’re prepared to handle the massive load of small-dollar contributions that are predicted to come between now and November. It’s going to be a crazy ride!

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