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November is the Big Show. At least it is when it’s a major election year. Off years are a trickier beast all together. For the die hards out there, it’s an exciting year filled with local election drama and good old fashioned campaigning (at ActBlue, we were engrossed in the ever-confusing and thrilling Cambridge City Council elections). For many in the media, November is a litmus test that determines where our country’s collective head is at.

The general consensus was that we’re split right down the middle–a Democrat (Terry McAuliffe) and a Republican (Chris Christie) won the two high profile gubernatorial elections–and that we’ve got a tough, but winnable, fight ahead of us in 2014. November is also important because a strong month for a campaign or organization now means more structure, funds, staff, and momentum in 2014. If we extend the litmus test to our own data (and boy do we have a lot of it), we’d say Democrats are in fighting shape, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it.

  Nov ’10 Nov ’11 Nov ’12 Nov ’13
Contributions 19,031 67,796 314,390 194,431
Volume ($) $1,162,664.25 $4,057,080.56 $10,874,238.34 $7,456,063.14
Mean Donation $61.09 $59.84 $34.59 $38.35
Committees 748 1,116 1,449 1,486

Over the past year, we’ve been preaching the importance of starting your fundraising efforts early to the campaigns and organizations who use our tools, and they’ve been listening. The same could be said for donors. Our community of supporters made 194,431 contributions in November. That’s more than triple the number who donated in November 2011.

Having a core group of dedicated donors and advocates is important, because it means more boots on the ground and more supporters who can activate their friends and their networks. The barrier to entry is low – our average donation is just $38.59 – but the results are big.

Other measures that have us convinced Democrats are on the right track? We set up 165 new campaigns and organizations in November alone. Sitewide, 858 new contribution forms were created, a whopping 4,655 contribution forms were updated, and more groups raised funds than in November 2012, a general election year (1,486 vs. 1,449). That’s a whole lot of fundraising going on! It also points to there being more savvy and digitally literate campaigns from top to bottom. In November 2011 for example, we saw just 136 forms updated. That’s an enormous spike in activity, and an indicator of a strong 2014 for Democrats.

Another great indicator of campaign readiness is the percentage of recurring contributions coming in. Recurring contributions are a great way for campaigns to have a steady and reliable source of funds, and they’re an important fundraising tool when you’re still a year out from your election. This month 18.8% of donations sitewide were recurring contributions, compared with 16.4% in November 2011. We’re happy that number has scaled and even grown as the number of campaigns and organizations using us–1,486 this month vs. 1,116 in 2011–has increased. One of our goals over the next year is to continue increasing that number. It’s one of the best ways to facilitate relationships between campaigns and supporters.

As the organization that makes these connections, it’s our job to remove any friction in the donation process in addition to ensuring campaigns and organizations are doing fundraising the right way. Mobile responsive contribution forms and Express Lane, our one-click donation feature, have gone a long way towards making the process easier for donors. The proof? Our mobile numbers are way up–19.3% overall and 22.9% for Express donations. That’s a huge change from last year. Check out the stats below. Can you tell which month we launched mobile responsive? Hint: it was a big deal.

December will likely bring a bigger month with end of quarter (and end of year!) fundraising pushes and donors in the giving mood. The hard work campaigns and organizations put in during the coming month will pay off big time come 2014. For us at ActBlue, December will be the calm before the election year storm–time we’re planning on using to sharpen our tools and roll out a few big-deal new ones. Don’t worry though, you’ll be the first to hear about them.

October.

It’s the month of costumes, leaf-peeping, and worst to first Sox victories (we are from Boston, after all). But mostly it’s the make-or-break month for countless campaigns. That means Saturday morning door knocking and Monday night phone banking and the last big fundraising pushes.

Unfortunately, this October was also tainted by a government shutdown. While we can’t say there’s a silver lining to it all, we did see some of the anger and frustration we all felt towards Republicans channeled into getting more Democrats and progressives elected in 2014.

Take a look at the September and October daily fundraising numbers. September was a typical month in that the daily totals build gradually. October, on the other hand, started with strong numbers due to the shutdown. The numbers mostly held steady for the rest of the month until the normal uptick during the end of month fundraising push.

sept 2013

oct 2013

In an odd twist of fate, we hit 6,666,666 contributors on Halloween. Spooky, but awesome! We’re happy to be seeing more people participate in democracy every day. Our witching hours on October 31st were spent guiding campaigns with their end of month fundraising and obsessively checking the ActBlue Dashboard, watching the contributions come in. We ended the month with a bang, raising $377,040 from 5pm-midnight on that last day, which put us over $10 million raised for October.

**We also may have spent some time looking at corgis in costumes.

corgi

Here’s how the numbers broke down compared with the past few years:

  Oct ’10 Oct ’11 Oct ’12 Oct ’13
Contributions 169,670 61,438 825,893 289,808
Volume ($) $16,774,943.27 $3,857,573.91 $35,055,118.28 $10,055,290.31
Mean Donation $98.87 $62.79 $42.45 $34.70
Committees 1,796 1,140 2,183 1,576

That $10 million total for October is huge when you compare it to the $3.8 million we raised in October ’11, the last off-year. What’s even better is that the number of people donating nearly quintupled (!), going from 61,438 to 289,808. That also means the average contribution size came way down–from $62.79 in 2011 to $34.70 last month. Even in October ’12, when we processed a whopping 825,893 donations, we still had an average contribution size of $42.24, almost $10 higher than in October ’13. Nothing makes us happier than to see that number free fall while the total amount of money coming in continues to go up.

We’re happy the $10 million we helped raise was powered by so many more people because it reflects our mission–to facilitate grassroots movements–but also because it means that campaigns are getting an early jump on fundraising. $4,656,448 of the total that we raised was for candidates with elections in 2014, and that’s not including committees or organizations who will put resources toward those campaigns. The money these candidates are raising now is going towards building field infrastructure, hiring great staff, and mobilizing supporters. Those tasks are all crucial to running a successful campaign, and they can’t be done in a day or a month.

Internally, we spent a lot of time working on new projects and infrastructure so we’ll be ready come next October (it’s poised to be a big one–we raised $35 million in October ’12, and we expect to beat that number). We launched the ActBlue Tutorial, where we teach you how to use all the ActBlue tools and how to do online fundraising the right way. We’re hoping it will be a great resource for campaigns in the coming year, especially when their fundraising efforts really ramp up.

mobile pie chart

Last month we told you about mobile responsive forms, and we’ve been checking the stats every day since. Sitewide, we saw 20% of contributions made on mobile devices, compared with 8.1% in October ’12. If it wasn’t already clear, mobile is most definitely the future of online fundraising, and we’re happy that we can make it easier for donors by adapting to where they are.

Finally, our compliance team has been working day in and day out to report all of your contributions (seriously, our end of quarter report was so big it broke the FEC servers), and to roll out Express Lane in even more states. That means up to 3x more money for campaigns across the country, and significantly less hassle for donors. We’ll give ourselves a pat on the back for that one.

red sox pat on back

It was pretty clear that September 30th would be a monster fundraising day as the end of quarter deadline approached, with a government shutdown looming and our daily fundraising totals regularly reaching $500k.

The day did not disappoint – it was our third biggest day ever in terms of the number of donors who gave (61,414 – our favorite stat!) and sixth biggest in terms of overall dollars given ($2,173,118). The impending government shutdown and Republican obstructionism highlighted the reasons that we all need to work to put Democrats in office, and supporters channeled their anger and frustration into support and donations. We’re hoping for a speedy and reasonable resolution, but this mess is evidence of how important it is to ensure Democrats win in 2014.

Take a look at our September volume chart. You can see the huge spike on the last day of the month:

Last minute chaos aside, our campaigns, non-profits, and committees put up impressive third quarter fundraising numbers. We helped process $22,629,582.57 from 589,204 donors, which works out to an average donation of $38.40. That’s significantly lower than our 2011 and 2010 averages – $51.22 and $119.28, respectively. It was a true grassroots, groundswell effort.

The money went to 1,831 campaigns and committees, compared with just 1,388 in 2011. This is a testament to the fact that more campaigns are jump-starting their fundraising programs earlier this cycle. That fact, plus the dwindling average contribution amount, are important because they show that campaigns will have better organizational foundations and wider supporter bases, meaning they’ll be more prepared to take on Republicans next fall. You can dig into the numbers more here:

  Q3 ’10 Q3 ’11 Q3 ’12 Q3 ’13
Contributions 138,970 199,553 900,953 589,204
Volume ($) $16,576,728.52 $10,222,043.76 $42,997,590.05 $22,629,582.57
Mean Donation $119.28 $51.22 $47.72 $38.41
Committees 2,093 1,388 2,681 1,831

  Sept ’10 Sept ’11 Sept ’12 Sept ’13
Contributions 93,024 70,156 463,044 319,890
Volume ($) $9,892,076.04 $4,492,068.94 $21,881,384.20 $11,222,121,43
Mean Donation $106.34 $64.03 $47.26 $35.08
Committees 1,683 1,068 2,113 1,439

We’ve been working on a few of our own projects here in order to make the donation process easier. That’s great for campaigns, who see the benefits in their conversion rates and dollars raised. In the end though, it’s all of our donors who made this amazing end of quarter possible.

Our stellar tech team launched mobile-responsive forms this month (you can read more about that feature here) and saw a huge uptick in percentage of mobile contributions. A fifth – 20.5% of new contributions in September ’13 were made via mobile, compared to 9.6% in August ’13 and a meager 7.1% in September ’12. Keep in mind that we launched mobile responsive about halfway through the month, so we didn’t even get to see it’s full effect. We can’t wait to watch that number grow and help campaigns and groups raise more money on mobile.

This month we also released Express Lane, our one-click donation system for donors who have saved their payment information, to the first round of campaigns just in time for #eoqmadness. It’s a pretty big deal for us, and the fact that the number of donors in September ’13 (319,890) was more than triple the number in September ’11 (70,156) shows that we’ve made the donation process incredibly simple for supporters.

Express Lane has just started to roll out, but we know it’ll grow bigger and bigger going forward. We increased Express users by 36,639 in September alone, bringing our total to 644,910. As more campaigns use ActBlue for their fundraising, more users convert to Express accounts, meaning the Express donor pool increases for all Democrats and progressives. Together, we’re building a stronger movement.

The new and improved features, engaged campaigns and committees, and dramatically increased participation give us hope for 2014. It’s sure to be a tough electoral season – especially when we’re all dealing with Koch money and Republican stubbornness – but if this month was any indication, early planning is going to pay off.

A couple of weeks ago, Julia unveiled our new mobile-responsive contribution forms to the world. Since we’ve rolled out mobile-responsive forms, our mobile contribution numbers have been through the roof, so we’re really excited to share them with you.

Check out this graph, in which the red line represents the release date. Notice anything?

ActBlue mobile donation trends

ActBlue mobile donation trends

As we’ve mentioned, our initial A/B test yielded some excellent results: our new mobile-responsive forms led to a 49% boost in conversions (a statistically significant improvement at p< .01). And these forms are already making a marked difference.

Since the release, 21.9% of sitewide donations have been made by supporters using a mobile device. For ActBlue Express users– those who have saved their credit card information with us– the number’s even higher at a full 25.9% mobile. According to the stats textbooks I keep on my desk for reference, that number is “insanely high”.1 Seriously though, from the beginning of the year to the day our mobile-responsive contribution forms were released, 9.0% of donations were made via mobile devices (12.3% for Express users). It’s pretty tough to exaggerate how prodigious this jump is, and there’s clearly more growth to come.

The importance of mobile donations is increasing inexorably; we all know that. But, on one of the busiest days of the year, we topped over 30% mobile donations among ActBlue Express users. It’s a whole new world.

Footnotes:
1Just kidding, of course :-)

We’ve been crossing milestones left and right this summer. Earlier this month we topped 600,000 ActBlue Express donors. These are folks who have saved their credit card information with us, and let me tell you these people are awesome.

Keep in mind that when a donor signs up for ActBlue Express and gives to one entity (our word for a candidate, committee or non-profit listed on ActBlue), they can use their account to give to any other entity listed on ActBlue. It’s one of the biggest examples of ActBlue’s strength as a fundraising platform. We’re growing the pie, not eating it.

If you manage a sizable email list, a healthy percentage of your list members will be ActBlue Express donors, whether you’ve used ActBlue in the past or not. We’ve even seen groups start out fundraising on ActBlue receiving 40% of their donations from Express users.

Here’s why ActBlue Express donors are so incredible. They give 72.9% more frequently than non-Express donors. Yeah, that’s a pretty eye-popping number. These donors also give more money than other donors. The median amount of their lifetime giving is $84 (mean $284). Our site wide median is $50 (mean $237).

50.3% of Express donors have donated to more than one entity. That’s significantly more than the 39.3% of average donors. ActBlue Express donors can and indeed do save their credit card information while donating to one entity and then are able to donate to another group or candidate with fewer clicks.

Not surprisingly, these folks convert at a much better rate: 5.7 times higher on regular forms. It’s even better on mobile, where they convert 14.5 times higher than non-Express visitors. That makes a lot of sense: who really wants to pull out their credit card and type it into phone? With more and more emails being read on some sort of mobile device it’s crucial that we remove the barriers to donating on mobile. (Stay tuned for some new exciting new info about our mobile optimization efforts!)

The growth of Express users has been fairly cyclical–check out that huge spike around the election last year.

express growth chart

Still, we’ve seen solid growth each month, even this off year, as candidates reach out to donors early in the cycle. Plus, more and more organizations are using ActBlue these days and building a base of Express donors.

For a little fun, go into the way back machine and look at this post from 2011, when we changed the sign-up process for Express. Removing one click caused a five-fold conversion rate increase.

And that’s sorta the whole point. The easier it is for donors to give, the more likely they are to contribute to you and all of the other candidates, non-profits and committees listed on ActBlue.

Here’s a crazy fact for you: 70.37% of the money raised on ActBlue has come from donors who give to more than one candidate or committee. Yep, you read that right (and we triple checked it).

We’ve long known that one of the greatest strengths of ActBlue is a huge community of grassroots donors that give not just to their local representative, but to organizations and candidates across the country. But that stat really brings it home. And here’s some more:

Over 1.6 million distinct donors have contributed via ActBlue, but 39.33% have donated to more than one Democratic committee, candidate or non-profit, which we call entities for short. In fact, those who have donated to more than one committee or candidate on ActBlue average over six distinct entities overall. That’s why we’ve ended up with a large percentage of money coming from a core group of donors. There are a large number of donors that give to lots of different candidates, committees and non-profit organizations, big and small. These donors are the lifeblood of the left.

Here’s the breakdown of how many entities these donors gave to.

multiple entity pie chart

(Yep, you’re seeing a bit of a difference between mean and median in terms of number of entities these multiple entity donors are giving to.)

ActBlue donors tend not to be transient, but rather long-term community members who come together on ActBlue to connect with organizations and causes which they support. And 600,000 of them have saved their credit card information with us to become ActBlue Express donors.

ActBlue donors who give to multiple entities don’t just contribute more money, they also contribute at the most important times. The percentage of dollars given by supporters who donate to multiple candidates/organizations/committees increases in election years, meaning that these ActBlue users turn out to support candidates and committees with even greater commitment when it really counts.

Now, just because these dedicated ActBlue donors give more money doesn’t mean that they are just max-out donors who crowd out the grassroots. The most common donation amount (median) among multiple-entity donors is exactly the same as single-entity donors: $25. This pattern of donating perfectly reflects our ethos here at ActBlue — a community of grassroots donors who will be there to chip in to support a recall election in Wisconsin and support a campaign to expand Social Security a year later.

These folks are positive proof that fundraising is not a zero-sum game, and the biggest reason why the left keeps outpacing the Republicans online.

But these donors didn’t manifest overnight. They’re part of this community because of the commitment thousands of campaigns and organizations have made to reaching out to donors via email and social media. At ActBlue, we’ve made it easier for donors to give by streamlining and centralizing the contribution process with projects like ActBlue Express and mobile forms. And nothing would make us happier than seeing these numbers grow every single year.

July is typically the slowest month in politics with donors and staffers alike heading out of town. But this month was anything but dull. We processed $5.75 million in contributions from 162,935 donations, which helped us top $400 million and six million contributions!

Check out our how July stacked up against the last few years:


  July ’10 July ’11 July ’12 July ’13
Contributions 21,078 66,746 200,193 162,935
Volume ($) $2,424,679.54 $2,678,159.69 $8,342,134.24 $5,750,964.28
Mean Donation $115.03 $40.12 $41.67 $35.30
Committees 1,376 861 1,836 1,232


That money went to 1,232 candidates and organizations this month, and about 10,181 since we founded ActBlue in 2004. That’s a pretty big increase over 2011, the last off year, which means incumbents and organizations that were around last cycle are getting an earlier and stronger start to their fundraising.

The average donation size was down to just $35.30, compared with $40.12 in 2011 and $115.03 in 2010, meaning more and more small dollar donors are becoming part of the political process. ActBlue’s volume – the total amount donors like you gave – was up 115% from 2011, while the number of committees raising was up 43%. As we mentioned in May, this is a really good sign for Democratic candidates in 2014 and shows the strength of progressive non-profits.

We’re always trying to foster more community between donors and organizations, which is why we’ve been advising campaigns to ask for recurring donations for years. Despite the fact that recurring contributions raise a whole lot more money (you can check out this blog post for details), they also help campaigns build a relationship with donors and provide a steady income. That means smarter budgeting and strategic planning for campaigns and organizations.

We checked out the numbers across ActBlue and found out that 497,411, or 8.54% of all donations this past month were part of a recurring commitment, compared with just 6.66% in 2011. While that’s really good progress, our goal is to see that number grow even more!





When we hit big milestones here we get pretty excited, and sometimes break out the bubbly for oh about a minute, and then rush to share the news with you. While we put in a lot of work to make the system function, it’s really you – our donors, campaigns, and organizations – who have built ActBlue. That’s why we want to give a shootout to the person who gave the 400 millionth dollar via ActBlue.

Turns out it was a pretty typical ActBlue donor; someone who uses ActBlue to connect with and support the candidates and causes that are meaningful to them through small dollar donations. Her name is Joan and she’s given between $3 and $25 to Democratic committees every couple of months since the beginning of 2012. Her latest donation, $10 to Democracy for America (DFA), was in support of a campaign to expand Social Security. While we’ve been counting down the days until we hit $400 million, we’re equally excited the fact that it came from over 6 million contributions. That’s a lot of democratic participation!

The best part about hitting that $400 million dollar mark is that half a billion dollars for Democratic candidates and progressive causes is now in our sights. The only question is when. We’re taking bets on it at our office, but as donors you’ll be determining the answer with your dollars. I’d say it’ll happen early next October…followed by a resounding victory for Democrats.

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