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From the States

Last month ActBlue created Democratic Nominee funds for all federal offices.  At the time I wrote:

We recognize that it’s early in the 2008 cycle and many candidates
are not anywhere close to announcing a run for federal office, be that
a U.S. Senate seat or Congress.  It’s natural that during this time,
potential candidates are testing the waters, talking to friends, and
contemplating the financial needs of any campaign they may choose to
embark upon.

As of today we’re going to help make that last decision a little easier to encourage Democrats to run for office. We’ve created "Democratic Nominee Funds"
for every Republican-held Senate and House seat.   All of the money
raised for these funds will be held until after a state’s primary
election and then transferred to the Democratic Nominee to help them
with their general election campaign against Republicans.

In the past month we’ve seen more states adopt this strategy to help create buzz and attention around senate races. Texans have raised ~$1000 amidst the ongoing chatter about potential candidates. Now with the talk about Oregon’s Peter DeFazio mulling a bid against Sen. Gordon Smith, draft pages are popping up in the form of OR-Sen Nominee Funds. In addition, Blue New Hampshire is starting to raise funds for the nominee against Sen. Senunu.

While you may not raise millions for the eventual nominee, Democratic Nominee Funds can be a helpful tool to raise awareness, buzz, media, and some helpful cash for Democratic candidates at the federal level.

UPDATE: I just noticed that http://defazioforsenate.blogspot.com has launched using the ActBlue as part of their ‘draft’ effort. Very cool!

Now that the New Mexico legislature is out of session for 2007, we’re happy to inform everyone that donating to New Mexico state candidates is now re-activated on ActBlue.

We’ve updated the directory, adding in all the Senators while updating websites and pictures for many candidates. So take a look through the New Mexico directory, add candidates to your fundraising pages (or create one), and donate at will!

If you know of any new candidates or have more current information, let us know.


picture_1 On Monday I posted a tip for spicing up ActBlue fundraising pages by embedding video into ‘asks’. This is a very powerful fundraising tactic–especially when the asker and audience have an existing relationship.

Over at Calitics, a great community blog in California, they’ve taken that suggestion and run with it. I’ve included a screenshot of their pitch to the right (click on it to view a bigger version in a new window). Besides the video, Calitics’ blogger Brian uses several of the principles of fundraising to make a really compelling plea for his candidates.  Some of the successful elements they have included:

  1. Create Urgency- The pitch is for end-of-quarter donations.  Brian clearly states that there’s a deadline before which donors need to fundraise.  And he timed his pitch just a couple of days away from the end of quarter.
  2. Be Specific- Rather than overloading their page with a dozen candidates, Brian stuck with three candidates that have a common theme.  The majority of ActBlue donors give to an entire page’s slate of candidates…remember that when choosing your slate of candidates.
  3. Make it Personal- Brian, a Calitics blogger, is asking his own blog readers to donate. They have an existing relationship and a degree of trust built up. Potential donors are more likely to give when asked by someone they know and the pitch is personal.  They’re less likely to donate when spammed by someone they don’t know.
  4. Think Longterm- The Calitics’ ask offers the option of giveing once or of setting up a recurring contribution. Recurring donations are growing in popularity on ActBlue, with over 1000 users having chosen that option for a variety of candidates.   If a donor can’t contribute a lump sum amount at once, recurring contributions allow them to invest in the page in installments.

Most of these elements are included in their Calitics ActBlue fundraising page as well. To improve the impact, some ideas might be to include the text from the Calitics post next to the video on their ActBlue fundraising page itself or add the recurring contribution buttons below the embedded video. If that happened, their ActBlue fundraising page could be e-mailed around to additional friends or registered users of the Calitics blog extending the end-of-Quarter ask into a new medium.


picture_2
One other thing that might help the effort is to set a goal, similar to what the bloggers at Raising Kaine have done (screen shot at left again, click to enlarge). They are shooting for $20,000 to all their endorsed candidates by the end of the state quarter on Saturday, giving a real sense of momentum to their efforts. Adding some text about that immediate goal on their fundraising page would be perfect to tie it together with their blog posts.

While it is early in the cycle, bloggers can build upon their early adopters to make effective asks in creative ways that fit their audience. What ideas might you add?

We recognize that it’s early in the 2008 cycle and many candidates are not anywhere close to announcing a run for federal office, be that a U.S. Senate seat or Congress.  It’s natural that during this time, potential candidates are testing the waters, talking to friends, and contemplating the financial needs of any campaign they may choose to embark upon.

As of today we’re going to help make that last decision a little easier to encourage Democrats to run for office. We’ve created "Democratic Nominee Funds" for every Republican-held Senate and House seat.   All of the money raised for these funds will be held until after a state’s primary election and then transferred to the Democratic Nominee to help them with their general election campaign against Republicans.

So if you are a blogger or grassroots activist and want to raise money to aid Democratic candidates in the future, making use of Democratic Nominee Funds is a great way to encourage new candidates to run and not take sides in a primary. For example, Texas bloggers are raising money for a Democratic challenger to Sen. John Cornyn while discussions go on about potential candidates.

(Just look through our directory (i.e. Florida) to see seats where no one has filed and a Nominee Fund exists instead! It works for any state search.)

As ActBlue continues to expand our operations on the state level into new states we continuously see great examples of using ActBlue for different purposes.  This week I would like to highlight the San Diego County Democratic Party. 

While many campaigns use ActBlue to process contributions, the SDCDP is using ActBlue to process contributions and create a guest list for events.  They created a page for their event and added invitation text and sponsorship levels for their donors.  Then, they circulated this link anywhere they advertised the event.

Accepting contributions through an ActBlue page made specifically for an event makes several aspects of event management easy:

  • Today’s donors enjoy the convenience of donating online for events.  By having an online option for event ticket payment, donors can immediately pay online after receiving advertising for the event.
  • Having a special page with the invitation text reduces the potential for donor confusion.  While a normal contribution page would work, a page just for the event makes it very clear what the donation is for.
  • ActBlue’s CSV data export is perfect for creating a guest list and nametags.  From that file you can mail merge the data into whatever format you would like.

Even though technology can make these processes easier, it is no substitute for the hard work that you already put into making events a success.  Your emails, phone calls and mailings are what drive your donors to the page and compel them to contribute.

As always, feel free to email me (campaigns@actblue.com) if you would like assistance with setting up a page or exporting data.

Ever since ActBlue was founded in 2004, we’ve aggressively expanded from helping federal candidates for U.S. Senate and Congress to aiding state executive and legislative candidates across the county. By the end of the ’05-’06 election cycle, ActBlue was set up to operate in 20 states, raising nearly a million dollars for state candidates and PACs.

We’ve increased that number to 22- having just become active in Mississippi and Virginia- both states with legislative elections in 2007. You can now scan the candidates in the candidate directories I just linked to and donate or create new fundraising pages for these states or even add their candidates to your existing fundraising pages.

A number of Virginia candidates have already embraced ActBlue and are using our system for their online fundraising- candidates like Chap Peterson, Carlos Del Torro, Bruce Roemmelt, Connie Brennan, and Susie Garner. In addition, Virgina bloggers have already raised over $4,000 for various candidates in less than two weeks but we’ll have more about them in a future post.

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