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The first quarter of the 2011-12 election cycle is on the books, and it’s a doozy. We saw a massive uptick in contributions relative to previous cycles, driven by the backlash against Gov. Walker’s union-busting in Wisconsin. That drove a precipitous drop in the average contribution size relative to 2009, which was made starker by a higher-than-usual contribution size in 2009 thanks to inaugural events. All in all, the trends are exactly what we want to see: more money, coming from more people and going to more Democrats.

Number of contributions 180,547
Total raised $8,715,611.77
Average Contribution size $48.27
Committees receiving money 881
Fundraising pages receiving money 974
Pages created 1,029

 

And here’s how those numbers stack up to the last few cycles. Remember that we offer 2007 as a benchmark for a pre-presidential off-year and 2009 to illustrate cycle over cycle growth:

Q1 2007 Q1 2009 Q1 2011 Change
Contributions 31,441 24,361 180,547 641%
Volume ($) $3,141,038.27 $5,343,772.70 $8,715,611.77 63%
Mean Donation $99.90 $219.36 $48.27 -78%
Committees 235 651 881 35%
Pages Created 346 1,026 1,029 .3%
Pages w/ Money 203 684 974 13%

 

 
And here are the five top committees, ranked by number of donors, for Q1 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 61,542 $691,584
Democracy for America Organization 44,767 $503,841
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Organization 43,595 $1,099,087
Wisconsin State Senate Democratic Committee Organization 30,726 $768,067
PCCC Recall Committee Organization 25,481 $267,919

 

Here, as everywhere else this quarter, we see organizations dominating the field as political campaigns have yet to ramp up. Those organizations, in turn, are laying the groundwork that will make them valuable allies when the horse race gets underway in earnest.

Five conservative justices on the Supreme Court appear poised once again to strike down a law favored by the campaign finance reform community. Late last month, the Court heard oral arguments in the case McComish v. Bennett, which involves the matching funds provision of Arizona’s public financing program, a measure intended to protect participating candidates from the threat of being outspent by privately funded opponents. The provision is in many ways similar to the federal Millionaire’s Amendment, which operated to increase contribution limits for publicly funded candidates facing an opponent who is self-financed, until it was struck down by the Court in 2008. And this case comes on the heels of the most notorious campaign finance case decided by the Supreme Court in recent memory, Citizens United v. FEC, in which the conservative majority struck down laws limiting corporate spending in elections, permitting them to spend unlimited amounts of money in support of candidates.

Campaign finance reform has been getting a substantial black eye at the hand of the Court lately, and the McComish case will most likely cause this trend to continue. The effect of these cases on public opinion hasn’t yet been definitively measured, but these cases have forced states such as Connecticut to rethink their approach to public financing. And if the Arizona law is struck down in McComish, a number of states around the country will be forced to take legislative action to replace or abandon similar provisions in their public financing schemes. With each change, political leaders are forced to resubmit their argument to the electorate for why public financing of campaigns is a worthy cause in an environment of increasingly high-profile criticism compounding severe budgetary concerns.

The particular variety of public financing at issue in McComish provides a grant of government funds to a candidate in exchange for a ban on private contributions to that candidate, effectively creating a spending limit as the candidate is not permitted any other source of campaign funds. For over thirty years, virtually all of our presidential campaigns have been funded this way. But President Obama opted out of the public financing system in the 2008 election, and is likely to opt out once again in 2012, because the amount of the grant has not kept pace with the cost of campaigning. The Arizona matching funds provision is one response to this problem: Rather than providing a larger grant, the government provides additional 1-to-1 matches for every dollar spent by an opponent over the amount of the initial grant. Like the Millionaire’s Amendment, this approach attempts to deal with the competitive limitations of public financing only in the event that an opponent takes advantage of this limitation. It is the reactive nature of these provisions which has led to all of the trouble public financing has had with the Constitution.

The prospect of being outspent by an opponent is a real threat to the attractiveness of a public financing program. And if participation is viewed as a disadvantage, that could mean the end public financing since it is a voluntary program (the Supreme Court has long held that spending limits are only constitutional if voluntary). But attempts at addressing this shortcoming on a candidate-by-candidate basis, rather than rethinking the system itself, have proven counterproductive. In the case of both the Millionaire’s Amendment and Arizona’s matching funds, the result has been unstable public financing regimes which ultimately cause embarrassment in the highest court in the land. It is becoming clear that selectively using government grants to compensate for the spending disadvantage inherent in such a public financing program will not pass constitutional muster. The answer lies in rethinking public financing systems entirely to bake competitiveness right in.

Mechanisms for financing campaigns which rely on public grants alone suffer from an additional infirmity: They do not promote participation in the political process among the citizenry. It is convenient, then, that there is (at least) one common solution to both problems. Permitting candidates to receive a mixture of both public and private funding prevents corruption and gives non-traditional candidates the boost they need in public grants — either in the form of a lump sum payment or as matching funds for small-dollar private contributions — while also avoiding the potential competitive disadvantage. Public matching funds for small-dollar contributions to a publicly funded candidate (as opposed to matching the spending of a privately funded opponent) gives all publicly funded candidates the means to be competitive, and leaves it to the candidate to decide whether to increasing her spending in the event of a well-funded challenger. The sponsors of the Fair Elections Now Act, which would provide for public financing of congressional campaigns, have embraced just such a solution, as have many states and municipalities around the country. And the Supreme Court has already given the constitutional stamp of approval to just such a matching funds provision in the presidential public financing program, so there is little likelihood that this approach is vulnerable to a court challenge.

Public funds used to match private small-dollar contributions increases the impact of private funding by ordinary citizens without any risk of corruption. This encourages more participation by those citizens and solves the competitiveness problem. More profoundly, this hybrid approach does not foreclose one of the most meaningful avenues citizens may employ to express their opinions on matters of public concern, such as collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, defending the legitimacy of our first African-American president, and marriage equality. Incorporating private campaign contributions into a system of public financing — or rather, not walling publicly funded candidates off entirely from non-corrupting forms of private financing is the best way to ensure that campaign finance reform will no longer be kicked around by the Supreme Court. Fortunately, it will also make public financing a more perfect system, incorporating the best of both worlds.

As I mentioned last month, Wisconsin is the story of 2011 so far. In late February, Republican Gov. Scott Walker attempted to undermine a core Democratic constituency by revoking the right of public workers to bargain collectively, ostensibly for budgetary reasons. When Democratic state senators fled the state to deny him the legislative quorum required to pass a budgetary measure, Wisconsin Republicans declared that it didn’t impact the budget and passed the law without warning in a five minute session. Recently, a Wisconsin judge blocked the law’s implementation. Talking Points Memo has a useful timeline of events.

The immediate result of Gov. Walker’s overreach was a huge surge in Democratic fundraising and the initiation of recall proceedings against vulnerable Wisconsin Republicans. As Greg Sargent noted, the first completed recall petition tied the record for the fastest recall petition in Wisconsin history. The momentum on the ground is more than matched by the fundraising numbers. In March alone, ActBlue processed $3.7 million worth of donations to Wisconsin Democrats and allied groups. Add in the numbers from February and the total climbs north of $4 million. That’s a lot of cheddar, and its impact is reflected in our March fundraising numbers:

Number of contributions 143,034
Total raised 5,854,848.89
Average Contribution size $40.93
Committees receiving money 673
Fundraising pages receiving money 731
Pages created 490

 

As you’ll see below, the donations in Wisconsin were primarily by grassroots donors, who drove huge growth in the number of contributions and lowered our average donation size.

Mar 2007 Mar 2009 Mar 2011 Change
Contributions 21,912 11,438 143,034 1150%
Volume ($) $1,998,288.74 $2,765,316.89 $5,854,848.89 113%
Mean Donation $91.20 $241.77 $40.93 -83%
Committees 189 440 673 53%
Pages Created 158 452 490 8%
Pages w/ Money 164 412 731 77%

 

 
And here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for March 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 54,371 $576,408
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Organization 43,598 $1,099,121
Democracy for America Organization 41,323 $462,030
PCCC Recall Committee (Wisconsin) Organization 25,483 $267,944
MoveOn.org Political Action Organization 24,191 $364,237

 

The fact that March fundraising was driven primarily by organizations is a reflection of how big the stakes are in Wisconsin. Gov. Walker’s attack on collective bargaining isn’t just about undermining a core Democratic constituency (though it’s about that too); it’s about redistributing wealth (and thus political power) upward, away from workers and public servants and thereby diminishing their voice in the political process. Organizing and funding resistance to that overriding Republican goal is too big a job for any one candidate, so state and national organizations stepped in to help shoulder the load.

At ActBlue, our mission is to give grassroots donors a powerful voice in our democracy, so we were happy to put our tools at their disposal. We’re about democratizing power, and this is how we do it.

Guest post by Steve Gold, General Counsel at ActBlue

Tie votes split 3-3 along party lines* have become par for the course at the Federal Election Comission (FEC), which requires a four vote majority to take any action. In the latest deadlock, the FEC failed to take up the task of making rules to comply with last year's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The result has been increasing uncertainty about campaign finance rules, as well as a Wild West environment where Sean Hannity is permitted to use his position as host of a radio program (paid for by Clear Channel Communications) to openly solicit contributions (.pdf) for a Republican candidate.

Following the Citizens United decision that struck down several campaign finance regulations related to corporate speech, the FEC needed to officially remove these regulations from the books through a formal rulemaking process. They attempted to begin that process late last month.

The Democratic commissioners offered a proposal (.pdf) suggesting that the public be allowed to weigh in on whether the FEC should also implement new regulations to fill in the gaps created by the Supreme Court's decision that corporations could run political ads. Should the public have a say as to whether current disclosure rules require something more than disclaimers like, "Paid for by Americans for Mom and Apple Pie" on political ads run by shell entities created by corporate interests? The Republican commissioners said no, accusing the Democratic commissioners of holding the process of eliminating the defunct regulations hostage to their quest for more regulation of speech.

Who is at fault? Observers of the FEC have long argued that the Republican commissioners are stonewalling any effort at enforcing the law. Republican commissioners and their supporters have begun firing back, saying that everyone agrees these old regulations must be taken off the books, and if the Democratic commissioners would leave it at that there would be no deadlock. After the old regulations are struck from the books, Republicans say the new regulations sought by the Democratic comissioners could be taken up in a separate rulemaking process.

It's an insincere position for many reasons, not the least of which is the Republican commissioners' deeply-held belief that there should be no such additional regulation; one GOP commissioner was quoted as saying, "The last thing we need is even more regulation." Even if the newly sought regulations were included in a separate rulemaking process, the Republican commissioners have signaled they would again vote as a bloc to prevent the process from going forward. The Republican commissioners are hiding behind their anti-regulatory ideology as an excuse to deny the public an opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights.

There is no harm in leaving the old regulations on the books. Eventually, the regulations need to be taken off of the books, but that's merely a housekeeping matter. When the Supreme Court overruled the regulations in question the FEC immediately (a year ago now) issued a statement saying it would not seek to enforce them, a position that they have abided by. The feigned urgency of removing these regulations is a symbol of the Republican commissioners' desire to deregulate our political system and nothing more; as the same GOP commissioner put it, this is a rare opportunity to shrink the Code of Federal Regulations, as though the existence of a regulation is reason enough to abolish it. In contrast, the Republican commissioners' vote to block necessary new regulations comes with a substantial cost: it leaves corporations free to game the system of existing disclosure requirements in order to clandestinely impact our elections. We saw Target attempt to do so in Minnesota last year, and other corporations that we haven't found out about yet (and maybe never will) surely did the same.

Disclosure is the lifeblood of our campaign finance laws. There is a clear need to adjust the campaign finance disclosure regime in response to the introduction of corporations into the campaign finance business, courtesy of the Supreme Court. The FEC, with three Republican commissioners dead set against any new regulation, appears unable to meet this challenge. What to do about their inability to act will be the topic of a panel I am planning to moderate entitled, "The FEC: Friend or Foe?" at this year's Netroots Nation convention June 16-19 in Minneapolis. A group of experts and practitioners before the FEC will discuss what's causing the deadlock and how to address it. If you'll be at Netroots Nation, keep an eye out for the panel; and if you aren't yet planning to attend, hopefully I've convinced you to stop by and find out the rest of the story.

*By law, the FEC is composed of three Democratic commissioners and three Republican commissioners.

Last week, Ben Smith linked to a study (.pdf) by the Wesleyan Media Project on political spending in the 2010 cycle. The major findings: Republican-leaning interest groups outspent similar Democratic groups by 9:1, and hold a 3:2 advantage in overall spending. Put another way, with a 9:1 advantage in interest group spending, Republicans were only able to eke out a 3:2 advantage in total spending.

ActBlue is a major part of that story. The $80M we've sent to 3,600 Democratic candidates and committees this cycle stands in stark contrast to the "dark money" funneled through GOP outside groups. Unlike the constellation of 501c4 organizations and "Super PACs" that have helped Republicans, ActBlue is transparent. Our donations are contributions from inviduals to campaigns, not PAC donations. We report those donations to the FEC. Our numbers update in real time. In fact, while outfits like American Crossroads have flourished, GOP attempts to duplicate ActBlue's success have languished.

Those failures highlight the ridiculousness of attempts to brand Crossroads and Crossroads GPS as "Republican infrastructure." American Crossroads GPS (GPS stands for "Grassroots Policy Strategies;" you can almost hear the cynicism) is a 501c4 organization that doesn't disclose its donors. Original recipe American Crossroads is filed as (.pdf) an independent expenditure PAC. It can accept unlimited amounts of money, but can't give any to campaigns. In short, the groups themselves direct the funds, not the donors, and these groups can't help campaigns beyond the air war; that's neither "grassroots" nor "infrastructure."

Both groups owe a lot of their success to the Citizens United v. FEC decision by the Supreme Court and an opportunistic filibuster of the DISCLOSE Act by Senate Republicans. Moreover, the Crossroads model of fundraising is toxic among the electorate. As a short-term gamble to pick up seats while the RNC flounders, it may work. As a long-term strategy, it's self-defeating. After 11/2/2010, these groups will lose much of their raison d'etre, becoming a tax liability and a target for Democrats. If they continue to serve any purpose, it will be to game the GOP presidential nomination in 2011-12, which is shaping up to be an establisment v. grassroots contest. Targeted in critical early states, huge contributions from anonymous billionaires could do a lot to help a Mitt Romney-style candidate beat out a more populist foe.

On August 24, the AK-Sen primary was a forgone conclusion. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), a 1.5 term incumbent–in 2002 her father appointed her to his Senate seat when he won the governorship, the very definition of nepotism–would win her primary battle against Joe Miller and cruise to victory in the general.

By August 25, 2010, the race had completely changed. Murkowski trailed the insurgent Miller by several thousand votes, and a recount looked imminent. There was talk of a libertarian ticket run for Murkowski, and then a write-in campaign. And while the GOP fumbled and fulminated, Scott McAdams, the Democratic nominee, quietly started fundraising. Two weeks later, McAdams has raised over $150k on ActBlue, and is halfway to Sen. Begich's 2008 total. Several members of Sen. Begich's staff have also joined the McAdams campaign, and the Senator told TPM he isn't bashful about helping McAdams raise money.

The point being, infrastructure matters, and it matters most when the calendar is compressed and the difference between victory and defeat lies in how quickly candidates adapt to unexpected events (See: Allen, George). Sen. Begich was considered a long shot to win as late as November 5, 2008–the day after election day–and today he's helping another dark horse make a competitive run at Alaska's other senate seat.

In short, ActBlue performs two crucial functions in the political world. First, we allow candidates to demonstrate their fundraising prowess to the powers-that-be in real time, helping them build legitimacy both inside and outside the Democratic Party.

But arguably more important in a world of 24-hour news cycles, we help candidates "win the morning," as it were. ActBlue enables candidates to capitalize on missteps by their opponents or changes in the political terrain at unmatched speed (Rob Miller's $800k+ "You Lie" haul, a year ago today). We do that by minimizing one of the less-covered aspects of political fundraising: transit time. Getting money from the donor to the campaign takes time, be it direct mail or online fundraising. Then, since political campaigns can rarely get anything on credit, it takes yet more time to pay the media buyers and film the advertisements. Cumulatively, that adds up to a significant delay between the donation and the realization of its political potential.

At ActBlue, we've reduced that delay to almost nothing by wiring major federal campaigns–McAdams among them–their ActBlue money. With ActBlue wires, the money that a campaign raises on ActBlue today is in their bank account and ready to be spent tomorrow. They can translate late money–or any money, for that matter–into media and ground presence almost instantaneously. That leads to more agile campaigns, timely advertisements, and eventually victory. It's another Democratic advantage that the GOP can't replicate, and in today's political climate we can use each and every one.

Guest post by Steve Gold, General Counsel, ActBlue

Commenting in a post on Facebook recently about Target shareholders' demands for a review of the company's political contributions policy, CREDO wrote:

This is really promising. If we can bring BOTH shareholder and consumer pressure on corporations that use their deep pockets to support right wing candidates, there is a chance to limit the damage of corporate influence in elections. And then we can pass a constitutional amendment making it clear that corporations do not have the rights of persons.

This is a great story, and there has been plenty of great work done on this issue, by CREDO as well as MoveOn.org and others. As everyone interested in politics knows by now, Target's contribution to an anti-gay Republican candidate for governor of Minnesota was made possible by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizen's United v. FEC. The Brennan Center in particular has done amazing work on the issue of corporate political speech and warned specifically about the dangers of corporations spending political money without shareholder approval.

CREDO is right on the money when they call for shareholder pressure
on top of the consumer pressure that has been making Target pay the
price for supporting an anti-gay right-wing candidate. There is a
divergence of opinion, however, with regard to the feasibility of
pushing for a constitutional amendment.* Drafting the right
constitutional amendment to address this problem and then getting it
passed in three quarters of the states is a monumental task.

Thankfully, it's not the only tool we have to fight back with.

We–individuals–can
speak out, too, and raise money for candidates and committees that are
speaking out. You raised over $18,000 on ActBlue to help elect Annise Parker the
first openly gay mayor of any U.S. city in 2009. And although the fight
continues, your contributions totaling over $1 million to Equality for
All
were a major factor in the battle for marriage equality in
California, just as they were in Maine and Kalamazoo, MI and
elsewhere. The scale of the fundraising around these issues on ActBlue
made the intangible quantifiable; because of those efforts, there is now
a national conversation taking place about gay rights.

We can do something similar about Target. Reducing Target's effect on elections—if it's possible—would no doubt
improve our democracy. Just as effective (and arguably more satisfying)
would be to make sure the pile of cash they're spending in Minnesota
not only gets them into hot water, but is entirely wasted to boot.
ActBlue makes it possible for every one of us to be a part of that.
Together, our voices are louder than Target's. The attention we've
brought to Target's donation, and a similar donation by News Corp., the
parent company of Fox News, has re-focused attention on Citizens United
and the effects it has on our political system. In short, we've already
beaten them on the airwaves; all that remains is to defeat the
candidates they're propping up.

More speech. More money. The right money. It's an imperfect
system our Founders created for us—as are all human institutions—but as
we at ActBlue have been showing for six years, it's a pretty good system
for fighting back against entrenched interests until we have a more
perfect system. We just have to be willing to use the rules to our
advantage.

*On a personal note, as a longtime CREDO member—from over a decade ago
when it was just Working Assets and they only sold long distance
service—I worry about curtailing the free speech rights of corporations.
CREDO is a corporation, and for years I've been signing their citizen
letters to protect the environment, stop the war, hold Dick Cheney
accountable, and myriad other public policy concerns that matter to me.
It would be a tragedy if the goverment could tell CREDO that it has no
first amendment right to free speech or to petition the government for a
redress of greivances.

Coming Soon: End of Quarter post for Q2/Q6 (depending on how you count). But first! Our monthly stats report for activity on ActBlue during the month of June.

Number of contributions 37,778
Total raised $4,178,381.23
Average contribution size $110.60
Committees receiving money 1,397
Fundraising pages receiving money 1,207
Pages created 822

 

As the last month of the federal fundraising quarter and the last month for mid-year fundraising reports in some states, June is an active month. That said, it’s also influenced by the usual fundraising downturn that occurs in the summertime. The total amount raised was slightly higher than May 2010, while the number of candidates & committees receiving ActBlue checks increased along with the total number of personal fundraising pages created and donated to.

Below is the comparison for June 2010 to June 2008.

June 2008 June 2010 Change
Contributions 32,412 37,778 17%
Volume ($) $7,970,202 $4,178,381 -48%
Mean Donation $245.90 $110.60 -55%
Committees 1,054 1,397 33%
Pages Created 942 822 -13%
Pages w/ Money 873 1,207 38%

 

NOTE: The major skew in these numbers comes from presidential fundraising. If you remove that from the totals, total volume is only down less than 4% from 2 years ago and the mean donation size is more in line with what we’ve seen in 2010. In any case, the number of Democratic committees fundraising through ActBlue was up by a third in a non-presidential year even as the number of fundraising pages created leveled off for the first time this year.

Next is our chart of the Top 10 Campaigns for June 2010 (by donors).

Name Race Donors Raised
Bill Halter AR-Sen, 2010 7317 $193,092.94
PCCC Organization 3571 $30,115.82
Ann McLane Kuster NH-02, 2010 2328 $21,887.09
Alan Grayson FL-08, 2010 2309 $56,919.52
David Segal RI-01, 2010 2252 $37,499.84
Anthony Weiner NY-09, 2010 2224 $49,557.92
Bill Hedrick CA-44, 2010 2202 $26,735.63
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 1287 $332,911.12
Democracy for America Organization 874 $7,657.35
Deval Patrick MA-Gov, 2010 588 $113,589.60

 

More analysis and explanation regarding the individual committees will be included in our quarterly stats report.

 

Name Donors Raised Average
pccchalterfield 3065 $49,335.58 $16.09
2010pccc 2075 $59,192.73 $28.52
graysonforweiner 1092 $37,286.29 $34.14
weinercdthc06242010 1059 $24,623.60 $23.25
halterpoll 1001 $19,624.55 $19.60
supportbillhalter 669 $14,306.52 $21.38
orangetoblue2010 541 $33,331.18 $61.61
supportelaine 421 $11,481.80 $27.27
pccc_main 387 $6,203.51 $16.02
whentheylie2 314 $9,838.00 $31.33

 

The most successful fundraising by donors (which anyone can create) was one created by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in the final days of AR-Sen candidate Bill Halter’s campaign. It contained an embedded video message, specific asks, and expressed urgency- all components of a successful fundraising ask. Another of the PCCC’s successful pages which raised the most money included suggested amounts, video, and images and allowed the PCCC to raise money for itself, 3 of their endorsed federal candidates, and another PAC. ActBlue allows fundraisers to mix and match candidates, committees, and jurisdictions so donors can split their contribution to multiple causes while we make sure no one every donates more than the legal maximum. Other successful techniques included fundraising asks for other candidates by incumbents, use of goal based thermometers, branded fundraising pages, and previews of TV ads that donors can help fund.   

Create an ActBlue account today and you too can start making effective fundraising pages like these!

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly stats reports. The summer months are filled with Democratic primaries, but before we get into them we’d like to take a look back at the month of May. With major Democratic contests taking place in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, it’s been a busy month on ActBlue. Let’s dig in:

First, the May 2010 Overview.

Number of contributions 40,130
Total raised $4,111,081.87
Average contribution size $102.44
Committees receiving money 1,304
Fundraising pages receiving money 1,080
Fundraising pages created 733

 

May 2008 May 2010 Change
Contributions 18,674 40,130 115%
Volume ($) $3,603,205 $4,111,081 14%
Mean Donation $192.95 $102.44 -47%
Committees 885 1,304 47%
Pages Created 516 733 42%
Pages w/ Money 611 1,080 77%

 

As in previous months, the number of contributions doubled relative to 2008, with impressive growth in dollar volume, fundraising page activity, and the number of individual candidates in committees receiving money through ActBlue.

Here are the Top 10 Campaigns & Committees for May 2010 (by donors).

Name Race Donors Raised
Bill Halter AR-Sen, 2010 12,947 $407,551.28
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 4,377 $256,022.07
PCCC Organization 2,106 $19,910.82
Democracy for America Organization 2,048 $17,670.50
Ann McLane Kuster NH-02, 2010 1,319 $17,986.56
David Segal RI-01, 2010 1,229 $51,818.80
Jack Conway KY-Sen, 2010 1,171 $49,504.13
Mark Critz PA-12, 2010 967 $107,807.95
Marcy Winograd CA-36, 2010 942 $19,397.19
Gavin Newsom CA-Lt Gov, 2010 741 $201,321.00

 

In May, AR-Sen. challenger Bill Halter was the top candidate on ActBlue by both total donors and dollars raised. Lifted by a contested primary with national attention, Halter was the focus of online fundraising from a multitude of sources which included the support of fellow Top 10 groups–the PCCC and Democracy for America. A major primary battle against Sen. Arlen Specter powered Rep. Joe Sestak into the #2 spot, and the special election for Rep. Murtha’s seat brought fellow PA candidate Mark Critz into the #7 berth. An engaged Netroots community pushed Kentucky senate hopeful Jack Conway up to #6. California’s early June primary saw Lt. Gov candidate Gavin Newsom and congressional candidate Marcy Winograd safely into the #9-10 slots. 

We’ll a number of these candidates again when we look at the Top 10 Fundraising Pages (by donors) for May 2010:

Name Donors Raised Average
pccchalterfield 3063 $51,707.57 $16.88
supportbillhalter 1780 $38,937.50 $21.87
orangetoblue2010 1263 $89,891.95 $71.17
halterpoll 989 $15,756.00 $15.93
supportjoesestak 752 $28,186.20 $37.48
davidsegalpccc 624 $10,122.51 $16.22
newsom0522 590 $141,244.00 $239.39
billhalter 572 $11,692.60 $20.44
2010pccc 563 $15,447.42 $27.43
critzdccc 555 $57,405.00 $103.43

 

Looking at these successful pages, all linked above, we see three that make use of our support for embedded video, four with ActBlue’s fundraising goal based thermometers, and three that have branded ActBlue pages. We can see how fundraising for candidates as a group can create a halo effect; organizations that include themselves on fundraising pages tend to earn funds of their own in conjunction with their supported candidates. 

To learn more about fundraising pages and how to start your own, click here.

Grab your coffee and make sure your laptop is fully charged, the end of the first quarter 2010 is upon us!

Why do we all fundraise at the End of the Quarter?  To people outside of the business it could seem like finance staffers are lazy… waiting until the last minute and then making up for it in a mad frenzy of fundraising reminiscent of cramming for that Biology 101 final your freshman year.  The truth is that donors respond to urgency and the end of the quarter finance disclosures provide a convenient urgent deadline four times a year.

At ActBlue we've seen plenty of EOQ deadlines come and go. The campaigns that consistently do the best are the ones who savvily use goals.  Here are a couple of tips for running a goal based EOQ fundraising campaign.

Set an attainable public goal

You should really have two goals. You already have an internal goal for how much you need to raise online to meet your quarterly numbers.  The other is the initial goal that you will make public for your EOQ push.

Goal Thermometer

The key to a good initial goal is making it reasonable enough that you can be confident you can hit it, but still challenging enough that it leads donors to believe that they need to chip in order to make the campaign a success.

You also should decide whether you want your public goal to be denominated in Dollars or Donors.  Many campaigns, knowing that their online givers tend towards a smaller donation amount average, like to go with a number of donors goal to publicize their grassroots support.

Make the goal visual

Donors love to see visuals and goals are no exception.  You could build a thermometer graphic by hand and update it constantly throughout the EOQ with new totals — but ActBlue has a much easier way.

Every Fundraising Page on ActBlue has a thermometer tool which allows you to set a goal denominated in dollars or donors.  Our system automatically updates the thermometer every five minutes with the current totals.  Once you pick your goal you can embed the thermometer anywhere on the internet and it will continue to auto-update from your live ActBlue numbers.

You can even embed the thermometer in an email, and it will pull the up-to-date numbers when it is opened by a potential donor.

Update your list on the goal's progress

One email isn't enough!  Once you have a goal, and people are donating, be sure to update your list on the goal's progress.  You should send an email to people who have already donated with an update on the goal and an ask for them to forward it to their friends and family.  People who haven't donated should get an email reiterating how important a donation is towards achieving the goal for the quarter and winning the race in the fall.

One good technique for a followup email to non-donors from the first solicitation is to get a quick quote from a recent donor.  Donors respond well to a message from other donors talking about how important it is to contribute to the cause, and how good it feels to be part of a movement.

As always, the ActBlue team is here to help your campaign succeed.  Please let us know if you have questions about EOQ fundraising or want help melding your fundraising ideas into into the online tools. 

Happy fundraising!

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