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Since 2004, ActBlue has helped Democrats raise over $22 million in online contributions.  We are a Political Action Committee, not a business, so our motivation is getting Democrats elected instead of padding profit margins.  We know how much of a hassle accepting credit card donations on the Internet can be, and we want to help.

One of the areas that ActBlue can now help in is with your local County Democratic Party.

If your local county party or committee is in one of the 22 states where ActBlue is already active (minus some clean-elections states like Arizona), you can have all the ActBlue fundraising tools utilized by top tier House and Senate campaigns at the disposal of your county party.  Several county parties are already using those tools to achieve success!

In Oregon, the Yamhill County Democratic Party uses ActBlue to accept monthly recurring contributions:

http://www.actblue.com/page/ycd_presidents_circle

Instead of soliciting your membership for a one-time donation, recurring contributions allow you to ask them for $10 a month (or more) for the next year.  This helps you budget and helps your members by spreading out their contribution over an entire year.

The San Diego County Democratic Party used ActBlue to accept RSVPs and payments for their annual fundraising dinner:

http://www.actblue.com/page/rd

Using ActBlue for event management allows you to see your rsvps in real time (no waiting for a check in the mail!).  Online invitations help circulate event details while collecting contributions. Contributor data in spreadsheet form provides you with an instant guest list and useful template for nametags and thank you notes.

The Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley used ActBlue earlier this year to collect registration costs for their General Assembly meeting.

http://www.actblue.com/page/dpsfvregistration

So how cost effective is this for local parties?  There is no setup fee, no maintenance fee, no check fee, no check re-issue fee and no customer service fees.  We deduct a processing fee of around 3.95% which covers what we are charged by our credit card processor.  This fee comes out of your contributions so there are never any bills to pay.

Every Monday we mail checks to all campaigns and committees that received contributions through ActBlue during the past week.  All of the information about the individual contributors is available online and can be imported to your existing campaign finance software.

You can see that there are a number of ways that County Parties can use ActBlue. In the most basic sense, parties can use ActBlue to process their general donations and ease their reporting burden. At any time they can take advantage of these more creative and advanced options to enhance their fundraising, none of which even requires a county party to have a website!

This is just another way we are hoping to make ActBlue useful to you in building a more Democratic America. Please contact us at info@actblue.com to discuss how we can help your county party. We’ll be happy to get you started!

ActBlue helps Democrats- this may not come as a shock to you, but I wanted to point this out in a way that you might not have thought of it before.

ActBlue is there for ALL Democrats.

  • Regardless of Ideology
  • Regardless of Incumbency
  • Regardless of Election

Since we don’t take sides on any of these fronts, it’s not impossible for Democrats running in the same primary to be using the same ActBlue platform to collect contributions and empower donors. In fact, we are seeing multiple candidates in Special Elections for the U.S. House this year all using ActBlue!

For example, in the Massachusetts 5th, there is a special election to succeed Rep. Marty Meehan. All five of the Democrats running have used ActBlue to fundraise in their campaigns and four of them currently continue to do so including…

There is nothing stopping anyone from creating an ActBlue fundraising page for any candidate, regardless if that campaign has officially embraced ActBlue as part of their online efforts. We’re here for all of them at any time!

So you may have noticed that we’re running some new code here on ActBlue as of yesterday evening. I’ll tour you through some of these features in upcoming posts.

As part of this upgrade, we’ve removed the page that gave recognition to all the groups that helped make ActBlue active on the state level. I’ve posted this archive for historical purposes in the extended entry as their support should be noted for all to see.

We’re looking forward to expanding to even more states after our successful launch of Virginia and Mississippi a few months ago. Thanks to some conversations this past week we might have an extra state or two to add to this list soon. If you’d like to discuss getting ActBlue active in your state and have some ideas, suggestions, or funding don’t hesitate to contact us.

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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.)

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