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Note: This is the first in what we hope will be a regular series on the ActBlue blog sharing our lessons learned from our email program with our larger community of practitioners.

Have you ever wondered if you’d raise more money if you asked your email list for recurring contributions instead of a one-time ask? Yeah, us too.

We’ve tested this from time to time, and usually find for ActBlue and our community members that recurring asks perform better. But we know that the email copy can influence the results, so we decided to test it again. Last Thursday we sent out nearly identical emails to our members, but with two different asks. Here’s an example:

1-time ask

The only way we can do it is if we hit our big goal of raising $75,000 for ActBlue, by the end of the quarter on Sunday. Can you contribute $5, or whatever you can afford, right now to ActBlue, and ensure we’re prepared to help thousands of candidates and organizations raise millions of dollars next fall?

Recurring ask

The only way we can do it is if we hit our big goal of 1,000 donors to ActBlue giving $3 a month, or whatever they can afford, by the end of the quarter on Sunday. Can you contribute $3 a month right now to ActBlue, and ensure we’re prepared to help thousands of candidates and organizations raise millions of dollars next fall?

Each email was sent to 100k random members. We let the test roll for 24 hours before making a call on Friday morning, but it was pretty apparent early on that we were going to have a winner.

One critical piece of important information that we had was the ability to calculate with confidence how much money the recurring contributions would bring in. Recurring donors on ActBlue pick the amount of months they’d like to make their contribution – the maximum is 24 months and we set that as the default when people land on the page through the email parameters. ActBlue Page Dashboards (which are in beta) do the math for you and display exactly how much money your members have signed up to contribute. They’re a tad hidden at the moment due to the beta status, but just add /dashboard/list before your specific page name when you are logged in to see it. For example: https://secure.actblue.com/dashboard/list/offthecharts/. Here’s how it looks for this fundraising page:

But we know that for one reason or another some people don’t complete their pledge. Their credit cards expire and they never updated them with us (even though we ask) or they simply cancel their recurring contribution. That’s why we recently analyzed our pledge completion rate. Since November 2010 the percentage of money that was pledged to ActBlue’s own PAC and received is 88.97% for all recurring contribution pledges that have completed. We did not include people who are still contributing monthly.

Across all the different committees who use ActBlue, we find a sitewide completion rate of 80%, so ActBlue is a bit higher than the average. And our completion rate has grown from where it used to be. All-time we are at a 77.78% pledge completion rate, so clearly we’ve gotten better at getting our folks to finish out their pledges.

Since we had the pledge completion rate, we could calculate how much we could reasonably expect to get in from both the one-time contribution ask and the recurring contribution ask. And here are our results after 24 hours.

One time ask : $2,557 projected
Recurring ask: $4,365.70 projected

We had more contributions on the one-time page than the recurring page, but clearly we were going to end up bringing in more money if we asked the remaining portion of our list to make a recurring contribution. Thus on Friday we sent out the recurring contribution ask to the remaining members of our list, and followed it with a kicker on Sunday, the last day of the quarter.

Our assumption is that ActBlue is viewed by our members as long-term infrastructure that should be supported as such. We’re not a candidate that’s trying to post a great end-of-quarter number, and we’re not trying to raise funds for a specific project like other non-profits. So while our members dig the recurring contributions, your members may not. So test it and find out!

We know people often make different assumptions about recurring revenue, but as you see with this test, the recurring ask is worth significantly more even though fewer people participate. Plus, at this point – 18 months from election day – you’re building a recurring pool so that you’ll have all sorts of money coming in via recurring. That adds up! And it’s a chance to create a long-term bond with your contributors.

We’ll likely run this test again in the not too distant future to ensure that a) our member’s interests/behavior hasn’t changed b) the results were not due to the specific email copy being more suited for a recurring ask. But until then, you’re likely to just be getting recurring contribution asks from ActBlue.

You’d never know it was an off-year here at ActBlue!

Our office has been busier than ever working to develop the tools we’ll need for 2014 and beyond. Continuing to innovate is the best weapon we have against the Republicans’ SuperPAC money.

But we’re not the only ones who’ve been busy. We’ve helped raise $5.67 million in February this year for 802 different campaigns, committees and causes, beating our February 2012 numbers by $600,000! Yep, that’s right, we helped raise more money this past month in an off-year than we did last February before a presidential election.

February 2010 February 2011 February 2012 February 2013
Contributions 31,447 34,496 110,323 162,892
Volume ($) $2,330,706.45 $2,228,051.55 $5,076,973.2 $5,671,860.13
Mean Donation $74.12 $64.59 $46.02 $34.82
Committees 1,003 561 1,340 802

 

Donors are more committed than ever to victory at the ballot box and beyond. That $5.67 million came from an impressive 162,892 donors, with an average contribution size of $34.82, which is proof that grassroots fundraising can compete with big special interest money when you work hard at it.

We hit a huge milestone in February: we reached 500,000 Express users – who can contribute with just one click – after adding 23,525 in February alone and 429,597 since last year.

Why is that such a big deal? Well, our Express donors landing on a contribution form convert at a rate of 87.86% versus 12.67% for everyone else. That means more Express users = more money.

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We’re also looking ahead and envisioning what 2014 will look like. And we know it’ll involve a lot of mobile. We’re already seeing 8.54% of donations in March come in on mobile, compared to 4.27% at the same time last year, and that number grows each month. Our site is mobile optimized, rigorously tested and easy to use on any browser, because we want to help you meet your supporters where they are.

Guess what? Those Express users, yeah, they convert x4 the rate of other donors on mobile and make up 73% of total mobile donors. And that my friends is a pretty big deal.

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If February was this good, we can’t wait to see what March and the end-of-the-quarter brings!

As always, we’re here to help you get the most out of your online fundraising program. Just drop Patrick Frank a line: frank AT actblue DOT com.

Welcome to 2013! Barack Obama is still President of the United States. The U.S. Senate is still in Democratic hands. You could be forgiven for thinking not much has changed. You’d be wrong, as the numbers below show. Millions of Americans used ActBlue to show that their voice matters. While Mitt Romney was busy running down half of the country, many of them were busy ending his run. There are plenty of reasons why the election turned out the way it did, but you should never doubt your place among them.

Number of contributions 2,896,327
Total raised $136,497,244.45
Average Contribution size $47.13
Committees receiving money 3,895

 

Here’s what 2012 looks like compared to 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

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Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 1,127,706 $36,344,427
DSCC Party Committee 440,747 $18,644,200
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 98,331 $2,961,178
PCCC Organization 92,920 $1,160,340
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 81,780 $2,295,125

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for 2012.

On ActBlue, August pushed us north of $12 million for the month and put the Big Number within striking distance of $300 million. That’s huge. And while the top 5 committees for August raised more than $6m of that total, none of them had an average donation size larger than $40. The rest of the $12 million went to nearly 2,000 other committees. There are around 500 races that get you a seat in Washington D.C., which means that 1,500 other candidates and committees are raising money through ActBlue.

Across the aisle, the folks at the top of the organization decide to drop huge sums of money on a few races. Over here, hundreds of thousands of donors give what they can to support thousands of candidates across the country. I don’t know if you’ve seen the polls lately, but it looks like our way is working a little bit better. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 309,877
Total raised $12,785,110.61
Average Contribution size $41.26
Committees receiving money 1,981

 

Here’s what August 2012 looks like compared to August 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

August 2008 August 2011 August 2012 Change
Contributions 21,267 78,172 309,877 296%
Volume ($) $2,706,849.69 $3,051,815.13 $12,785,110.61 319%
Mean Donation $127.28 39.04 41.26 5%
Committees 1,068 916 1,981 116%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for August 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 129,318 $4,215,738
DSCC Party Committee 40,678 $1,585,605
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 16,120 $385,933
Democracy for America Organization 13,674 $274,859
Mazie Hirono HI-Sen 9,499 $227,671

Not only are the July numbers strong, they reflect how broad ActBlue has become. While the top 5 recipients make up a significant portion of July’s volume (~$4.5m) that leaves another ~$4m that flowing through ActBlue to smaller candidates, committees and causes. It’s evidence of the broad base of support that ActBlue represents, one that is changing the way people raise money. It couldn’t be more timely. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 200,247
Total raised $8,346,045.09
Average Contribution size $41.68
Committees receiving money 1,836

 

Here’s what July 2012 looks like compared to July 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

July 2008 July 2011 July 2012 Change
Contributions 19,906 66,746 200,247 200%
Volume ($) $2,565,814.49 $2,678,159.69 $8,346,045.09 212%
Mean Donation $128.90 $40.12 $41.68 4%
Committees 1,043 861 1,836 113%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for July 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 85,045 $2,695,553
DSCC Party Committee 31,359 $1,319,036
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 11,798 $241,687
Democracy for America Organization 8,575 $198,614
PCCC Organization 8,376 $119,989

Here’s the short version: $27 million sent to Democrats via ActBlue with an average donation under $50. That’s incredible. To put it in perspective, we tripled the amount of money we sent over the same period in 2011, and quadrupled the number of donations. We sent that money to twice as many campaigns. So when we talk about grassroots power, we’re talking 8 figures.

Number of contributions 582,951
Total raised $27,186,771.78
Average Contribution size $46.64
Committees receiving money 2,476

 

A for-profit company would love to take these numbers to their shareholders. Since we’re a non-profit, we’re bringing them to you. While 2012 is a presidential election year and that pushes the numbers upward, you can glance at our 2008 numbers to see how much we’ve grown over the interim.

Q2 2008 Q2 2011 Q2 2012 Change
Contributions 61,617 142,027 582,951 310%
Volume ($) $13,423,736.96 $9,110,160.70 $27,186,771.78 198%
Mean Donation $217.86 $64.14 $46.64 -27%
Committees 1,390 1,106 2,476 124%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for Q2 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 182,345 $5,343,811
Tom Barrett WI-Gov 26,827 $2,010,889
DSCC Party Committee 46,091 $1,875,056
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Party Committee 45,048 $1,105,153
PCCC Organization 24,270 $244,764
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