Yesterday I wrote about the new way to view recurring contributions in your campaign or fundraising page reports on ActBlue. We hope this may inspire you to set up recurring donor programs to support your fundraising efforts!
Today I’d like to provide you with some examples of how campaigns and fundraisers are promoting recurring contributions through their ActBlue pages. Before I present those, let’s review a couple of reasons you should consider a recurring donor program to start with!
- Regularizes revenue: Recurring donations allow you to better manage your campaign finances with a predictable stream of funding.
- Increases potential giving: Recurring contributions encourage supporters to make a larger donation by spreading it out over time. For many contributors, giving a little each month is easier on the budget than one lump sum.
- Increases pledge fulfillment: Recurring credit card donations eliminate the need for donor follow-up on pledges and the risk that a donor might renege – increasing revenue and saving valuable staff time.
- Enhances relationships: Recurring contributions allow you to build long-term relationships with your donors. They are more likely to help your campaign in other ways besides money.
- Reduces donor attrition: Recurring donors tend to contribute for longer periods of time. A regular pattern of giving leads to a sense of investment.
Now let’s look at some real-world examples.
- Building Netroots Infrastructure- This fundraising page was a joint fundraising effort by BlogPAC and ActBlue. In an effort to fund progressive infrastructure, blog readers and Democratic donors were asked to give monthly to allow the two groups to generate a steady predictable stream of income to support long term growth. This is a very sensible ask given the nature of the donors as well as the two groups being supported.
You might also notice that embedded in the page are links preset with recurring amounts! Above is a quick image of what that looks like though you can see for yourself here.
Louisiana Blue Krewe- Linked from the front page of the Louisiana Democratic Party’s website, this page was set up for the state party’s recurring donor program.You may notice that the pitch focuses on the funds being used to build party infrastructure for all candidates for the next election and asks for a recurring contribution “at a level of $10, $15, or $25 a month”. You may also notice some of those snazzy buttons on this page as well.
“Club 26″- Jon Powers, a candidate for Congress in New York’s 26th Congressional district in 2008, uses ActBlue for all of his online contributions. But he hasn’t stopped there- on his contribution page he promotes his recurring donor program called “Club 26″.
He explains it as follows:
We are asking dedicated supporters to sign up as recurring donors at the minimum investment of $26 per month through our victory in
November. With your investment, we will expand our growing base of
support at home in the District and across the country.
campaign is about putting you – the people – back in charge of your
government and this is a great way to start. As a member of Club 26,
you will be listed on the website and included in monthly conference
calls with the campaign.
I highlight the last sentence because this is a great way to encourage donors to give monthly- give something back! Tying your recurring donors into other aspects of your campaign is a tactic we highly encourage at ActBlue.
Yamhill County Democrats Presidents Circle- Oregon’s Yamhill County Democrats are including recurring contributions as a way for supporters to fulfill any of half a dozen donor levels that are part of their “Presidents Circle”.Promoted on their website, each level is named for a different Democratic President and corresponds to a different monthly recurring total in order to “strengthen grassroots infrastructure in preparation for campaigns,
support our headquarters, communicate our values, and recruit
candidates for office.” They are making use of referral codes and URL commands to preset recurring contribution size as well.
One of the important options that modern campaigns need to offer their donors is the ability to give a recurring contribution. Recurring contributions are a great way to spread out a larger
contribution over a longer period of time. For families on limited or
fixed incomes, this allows for easier participation in the political
process, something that should not be limited to any one class of
people. ActBlue has enabled this from the beginning, helping candidates
and county parties set up steady revenue streams.
This week we’re happy to announce to all of our campaigns and individual fundraising page creators that they can now more easily identify and track their recurring donors in their downloadable contribution reports. Just follow these steps if you have access to a fundraising page or a campaign’s reports.
- Go to your usual contributions reports area or “view contributors” tab on a fundraising page.
- Download the CSV file for the date range you’re interested in.
- For recurring contributions:
- Column D indicates the total number of monthly contributions for which the donor signed up.
- Column E indicates which recurrence this specific contribution represents.
So, for example, if someone signs up to give $50/month for 12 months, their 3rd contribution will have a “12″ in Column D and a “3″ in Column E (For one-time contributions, both columns are blank.)
- If someone cancels their contribution, future contributions will simply not appear; the fourth column will not be changed retroactively as if to suggest they had originally signed up for a different number of contributions.
Here’s an example of how this might look.
In the case above, 2 recurrences have already passed for all four donors as noted in Column E.
That means that the first two donors still each have 4 monthly recurrences remaining (6-2=4), while the third donor has 10 months remaining (12-2=10) and the fourth has 22 months remaining (24-2=22). If you wanted to know how much in future recurring contributions that equals, simple multiply the number of recurrences remaining by the dollar amount for that donor.
$10 x (6-2) = $40
$25 x (6-2) = $100
$100 x (12-2) = $1,000
$50 x (24-2) = $1,100
Add those up and you get a grand total of $2,240 remaining for the lifetime of all four recurring donors.
The recurring contribution data is retroactive so you can look back
into your historical reports and now see which donations were actually
recurring donations. If you take all of your last month’s data, you can sort out your
recurring contributions and do some simple math to see your expected future totals. With a spreadsheet, you can easily manipulate this data using formulas for more robust calculations including how much you can expect for any given month into the future. I’d encourage you to do so!
One of the requests that we have received from both campaigns & fundraisers is to be notified of new contributions when they are made through ActBlue. That idea got our developers thinking so over the last couple of weeks they built that functionality and expanded upon it.
Last week we rolled out our Daily Notifications system.
Once a day an email will go out to every ActBlue user who a) has access to a campaign
report, b) has sent an appeal via the Spread the Word system, c) has ownership of a fundraising page, or d) has
access to a partnership so long as they have received a contribution through one of those four elements in the previous 24 hours. If someone has access to multiple elements (like a contribution report, a
fundraising page, and an appeal), the user will get just one email with each item’s activity separated out.
You will have an option to opt out of these Daily Notifications. I’ve provided a visual aid below to show you where you can manage these settings in your ActBlue account after you login.
First, click on your email address under Account Settings.
Second, select your “Site Activity Email Preference” to be either Nightly or None and click “update my account”.
Over on the political side of ActBlue, occasionally we come across a problem that cries out for an automated solution. One of these problems involved periodically updating the database with newly filed Federal Democrats. To help keep us up to date, I wrote this ruby script which queries the FEC and compares the current list of filed Candidate Committees to the list the last time the script was run. It then emails whatever address you specify in the code with the candidate name, address and committee ID.
This is released with the MIT software license so please use it to your heart’s content. Be sure to glance over the script before running it, as it does have some dependencies that may need to be installed and variables that need to be set.
This is released without any technical support from ActBlue. I am not a formally trained programmer and I assume there may be better ways of accomplishing the same thing. You can feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org but please don’t expect a speedy response as I spend the majority of my day helping state and local candidates use ActBlue effectively and successfully.