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Monthly Recap

The third quarter of 2014 — our biggest ever — went out with a bang!

On the last day of September 2014, we handled over 130k contributions and helped raise $5.8M. It was a record-shattering final fundraising deadline before Election Day.

September 30 was the biggest day in ActBlue history (our first $5 million day!) and bested June 30, 2014, the now-number-2 biggest day, by 52k contributions and $2.1M. In a word, it was massive! Just for some context, it took us a full 2 years to reach 100k contributions. On September 30, we passed that 100k mark by 8PM.

We also established a few other impressive records:

  • most contributions in an hour (16,249 on 9/30 between 5 and 6 AM EST), a month (893,682 in September 2014), and a quarter (1,992,863 in Q3 2014).
  • highest dollar amount in an hour ($460,432 on 9/30 between 10 and 11 PM EST), a month ($39,245,312 in September 2014), and a quarter ($80,805,304.60 in Q3 2014).

Those records wouldn’t have happened without a seriously strong push from Democratic campaigns and organizations!

They’ve been hard at work throughout the election cycle engaging small-dollar donors to sign up for recurring contributions. These sustaining contributions give donors a chance to make a regular investment in the causes they care about. Though they averaged just $24.65 in size, they totaled $5,459,265 in September 2014. And it’s clear that these small-but-mighty contributions are adding up and making a huge difference.

It was a busy fundraising period for a significant number of campaigns and organizations. We sent checks or wires to 2,499 distinct entities, an increase of 18% over 2012’s total. At the same time, we had a nearly 100% increase in donations and dollars. That means these groups are raising a lot more grassroots money.

For the entire month of September, we averaged over $1.3M and 30k contributions each day. And the pace was simply blistering during the last week. We processed 44% of the month’s total dollar amount in the final seven days and 24% of the month’s total in the final two days.

We handled almost double the dollar amount and number of contributions as we did in September 2012, a presidential election year. At the same time, the mean contribution size decreased by 10%. It’s proof that with ActBlue’s help, Democratic campaigns and organizations are expanding the world of small-dollar donors.

You can dig into the rest of the month’s numbers here:

September ’11 September ’12 September ’13 September ’14
Contributions 70,156 463,044 319,890 893,631
Volume ($) $4,492,068 $21,881,384 $11,222,121 $38,211,396
Mean Donation $64.03 $47.26 $35.08 $42.76
Committees 1,068 2,113 1,439 2,499

Our Express universe continues to grow: 65,427 Express users signed up last month. The total number of people who have saved their payment information with us now sits at over 1.1M users. This community is shared across our platform, so if you’re an admin, make sure you’re contacting us to take advantage!

Express users are engaged, reliable donors. In September 2014, Express users were responsible for 64% of this month’s newly-made contributions, which added up to more than $20.7M. That’s more than half of the month’s total volume! And it demonstrates how campaigns and organizations are using the Express toolset to fundraise from small-dollar donors. We believe that more people engaged in the political process and having their voices heard strengthens our party and small-d democracy.

Express users continue to set the bar for mobile numbers…for a simple reason: they’ve saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. Express-users don’t have to go through the trouble of entering their info. Instead, they can just click a link. The proof is in the pudding. Last month they outpaced non-Express donors on a mobile device 27.2% to 21.7%.

There are fewer than five weeks until Election Day, and we don’t expect this pace to slow down. The stakes are too high to step off the gas pedal now. Campaigns across the country are relying on small-dollar donations to fuel them to victory. That’s why they’re using ActBlue. But rest assured we’ll be busy preparing for an intense rest of the campaign season.

Labor Day has historically marked the start of campaign season. Somebody forgot to tell this cycle’s campaigns: we’ve already passed the $200M mark!

In August 2014 we handled $22,982,206 from 690,488 contributions, placing it in our top-3 with October 2012 and July 2014 for most contributions in a single month. Both this month’s incredible number of contributions and the low average donation size (just $32.88) demonstrate how hard campaigns and organizations are working to mobilize a grassroots movement.

August ’11 August ’12 August ’13 August ’14
Contributions 78,172 309,877 155,524 690,488
Volume ($) $3,051,815 $12,785,110 $5,674,068 $22,982,206
Mean Donation $39.04 $41.26 $36.48 $32.88
Committees 916 1,981 1,305 2,251

August 2014 was more than $10M larger than August 2012, while the number of contributions has increased by 122%. That’s causing the average contribution size to decrease by 20%. And that means more small-dollar donors are supporting the causes and candidates they care about.

We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the percentage of recurring contributions compared to previous cycles. 15.4% of August 2014’s total volume of money — a sum of $3,523,237 — came from sustaining donations. The chart below shows the growth of recurring volume in the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election cycles:

So far this election cycle, we’ve handled $17.8M of recurring contributions. That’s an increase of 170% from the same point in the 2012 cycle and more than ten times where at the end of August 2010.

Building a base of recurring donors can have a huge impact on the sustainability of a campaign or organization. A predictive, steady stream of money helps them better manage their finances. And for organizations, which will continue their important work long after November, a pool of recurring donations can help with the post-election donor-fatigue. Recurring donations help donors stay engaged by letting them make regular, small dollar investments in the causes they care about.

To cap off another massive month, we passed the 10 million contributions mark on August 30th! We were too preoccupied with a crazy amount of donations over the holiday weekend to properly celebrate. Over the last 3 days of the month, we handled 22.7% of August’s total volume of money. For those wondering, we did manage to take a screenshot of our internal metrics page and share it with the team.

It wouldn’t be an ActBlue monthly recap if we didn’t point out some impressive Express and mobile stats. Over 54k Express users signed up this past month to join our million-plus individuals strong community of supporters who can donate in an instant. Express users made 63.7% of all contributions in August 2014, which totaled more than $12M. That’s more than half of this month’s total volume, and a testament to how many campaigns are working with the Express tools.

Express users have saved their payment information with us, which increases mobile conversions. They give with mobile devices at a higher rate than non-Express users: 29.6% to 23.9%. Mobile donations continue to increase sitewide. This month saw 26.2% of all contributions made with a mobile device.

Campaigns and organizations are fundraising at a blistering pace. In the past two months, we’ve handled more than 1.3M contributions. And we’re prepared to handle the massive load of small-dollar contributions that are predicted to come between now and November. It’s going to be a crazy ride!

Democrats are fired up.

This month we handled a total volume of $19,812,843 from 694,625 contributions, second only to October ‘12 for the most contributions in a month. To put that in perspective, we handled 685,830 contributions in all of 2011.

Clearly, election years no longer have any dog days of summer. That’s especially true when Republicans’ antics include threatening to sue President Obama, actually suing him, and refusing to rule out impeachment.

In the wake of the GOP’s outrageous actions, major Democratic committees and organizations sent out hundreds of emails. And it worked. They raised millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands grassroots supporters.

July’s average contribution size was just $28.52. That’s the lowest we’ve seen in the history of ActBlue.

And we couldn’t be more thrilled! A month like this exemplifies ActBlue’s mission: to democratize power by putting fundraising tools in the hands of grassroots donors across the USA. It’s evident that small-dollar donations are increasingly powering the left’s campaigns and organizations.

July ’11 July ’12 July ’13 July ’14
Contributions 66,746 200,193 162,935 694,625
Volume ($) $2,424,679 $8,342,134 $5,750,964 $19,812,843
Mean Donation $40.12 $41.67 $35.30 $28.52
Committees 862 1,866 1,219 2,153

This month’s total volume was more than twice July ‘12’s total of $8,342,124. This year’s trend of doubling our fundraising numbers from 2012 is impressive in its own right, but it’s even more exciting to see the number of contributions increase by 3.5 times, while the average donation size continues to decrease. And we’re working with even more candidates, organizations, and committees: 2,153 this month, compared with 1,866 in July ‘12.

Recurring contributions continue to play a major role as more and more organizations and campaigns are realizing the value of a reliable stream of money. Last month we introduced infinite recurring to make it easier for campaigns and organizations to raise long-term, sustaining contributions. Recurring contributions accounted for 13.7% of this month’s total number of contributions.

Like we mentioned in last month’s recap, we process all of the recurring contributions early in the morning when most people are asleep. We do this for two reasons: campaigns and organizations wake up to a surplus of cash and and our system is ready to handle the rest of the day’s contributions.

The number of recurring contributions has grown and grown throughout this election cycle, a result of the hard work people put in to get sustaining supporters signed up. Recurring contributions are a convenient way for people to remain engaged with entities. And on July 30, we handled 8,453 contributions from 4-5AM, which is the new record. Because the number of people signed up for recurring contributions continues to increase, we don’t expect this record to last long!

Despite the incredible volume we saw in the final week of July (one $2M day, five days over $1M, and one day over $900K), it was smooth sailing for the ActBlue technical team. This is a true testament to the work that our tech team does on a daily basis to prepare for surges in volume like these.

Here’s a look at the month’s daily volume of money and number of contributions:

As you can see, the final push to the end of the month was massive: 50.1% of the month’s total volume of money came in the last 7 days. And over one-third of July’s total contributions (35.4%) were made in the final 4 days. Over the course of this month, 29% of the contributions were made with a mobile device. That’s due in large part to Express users: 31% of their contributions were made via mobile.

In case you missed our earlier blog post, the number of Express users climbed to more than one million! What makes this community a game changer for the left? Express users have securely saved their payment information with us, so they can donate to a Democratic campaign or organization in an instant.

In July alone, Express users contributed $10,465,812 (or 52.8% of the month’s total volume of money) and accounted for 61.5% of the total number of contributions. And 16.7% of all newly made contributions were made via Express Lane, our one-click contribution system.

Campaigns and organizations have set a blistering pace for emails sent and money raised in order to win this fall. And at this point in time, it’s safe to say that this cycle’s not slowing down anytime soon. There’s too much at stake not to.

The biggest day in ActBlue history…by over half a million dollars!

The last day of June started off a bit slow compared to other monster end of quarter days. The question—is $3 million possible?—loomed in the office.

But then in a 3 hour period, from 1 to 4 PM EDT, we handled almost a quarter (23.5%) of the day’s total volume of $3.7 million(!!). Campaigns were waiting on the two major Supreme Court decisions to be announced before sending emails. The day’s narrative switched from a typical, EoQ rush to the deadline to a more politicized one.

That $3.7 million came from over 85K contributions. On a single, gigantic last day of Q2 2014, we broke our own records for total dollar amount and number of contributions!

And those aren’t the only record shattering numbers from yesterday:

  • Of our all-time 15 busiest hours, 10 were on 6/30/14
  • Most contributions in an hour (7,046) from 10 to 11 PM
  • Most contributions in a minute (153) at 10:30 PM

We’re constantly upgrading our powerful tools to handle a ton of traffic, which makes days like these possible. At one point, we handled 655 contributions in 5 minutes! Our technical team works incredibly hard so we can offer Democrats the most reliable and secure software available. We’re ready for the surge of donations this fall.

You’ll notice in the graph above that there’s a massive spike in contributions at 4AM for each day. As you’d expect, it’s not because lots of people check their emails at that time. We get recurring contributions processed during the morning’s quiet hours, so campaigns wake up to bigger balances, ready to start the day. Overall, the number of recurring contributions has steadily increased as organizations are realizing the value of a steady stream of money.

June’s final tally? $20,513,475, our third biggest month ever. 541,427 contributions were made to 2,153 candidates, committees, and organizations, with an average donation of $37.89. Impressively, mobile donations accounted for more than a quarter (25.2%) of contributions this month.

June ’11 June ’12 June ’13 June ’14
Contributions 57,664 268,794 186,139 541,431
Volume ($) $3,850,081 $11,624,120 $9,052,454 $20,513,558
Mean Donation $66.77 $43.25 $48.63 $37.89
Committees 862 1,866 1,219 2,153

Compared to June 2012, the total number of contributions more than doubled, while the volume increased by more than 40%. The difference there is the decrease in the average donation size ($43.25 in 2012 to $37.89 in 2014). Chalk that up to growth in small dollar donations, which means campaigns and organizations are expanding their base. Nothing like an increase in grassroots support for Democrats!

Just a quick glance at a graph of this month’s contributions day by day shows how productive the final days of a quarter can be. Five out of the last seven days of June were over $1 million. Even the significant fundraising bump from Cantor’s defeat on June 10 could not compare to the high-stakes pressure of an EoQ week.


This was an important quarter for candidates and organizations gearing up for November, and the ActBlue donor community came out in full force: they gave over 1.1M contributions, totaling $46M, to 2,810 different candidates, committees, and organizations. Despite the busiest months of the election cycle lying ahead of us, we’ve already raised more money than any previous cycle! There’s still 4 months and 2 days left until the November elections, and all signs are pointing to a massive final push.

Part of what’s driving the push is that more and more campaigns and organizations are using ActBlue’s Express Lane program, our one-click donation system. They’re already seeing results: Express users were responsible for 59.9% of June’s contributions.

We’ve now got over 933K Express users. And thanks to the madness of EoQ, there were 45K new sign ups over this past week alone.

Looking at our numbers from June and 2014’s second quarter, it’s clear that this election year is going to get even busier. What dog days of summer? This cycle doesn’t look like it’ll slow down.

Last month we focused on how the culture of fundraising deadlines, even in non-EOQ months, has led to crazy-busy closes to each month. May was no exception. 29% of the $13.9 million fundraising total was raised during just the last 4 days of the month.

We’ve gotten used to doubling our 2012 fundraising numbers each month, and we were surprised when we only came in about $4 million ahead of our May ‘12 total of $10 million. And yes, we know it sounds crazy to be saying “only $4 million.” Even weirder: we only raised a million more in June ‘12 than in May ‘12.

We jumped in the way-back machine to investigate and realized that two years ago our May fundraising numbers were driven up because of the Wisconsin recall elections. This year, we had a solid but not stand-out month, which is what we’d expect when the country isn’t focused on one very unusual recall election. Campaigns are planning huge fundraising pushes for June, and May is just the (relative) calm before the end of quarter storm.

You can dig into the rest of the numbers here:

May ’11 May ’12 May ’13 May ’14
Contributions 45,783 234.065 173,541 353,386
Volume ($) $2,679,279 $10,041,334 $6,343,977 $13,891,935
Mean Donation $58.52 $42.90 $36.56 $39.31
Committees 728 1,854 1,068 2,099

It’s been a month of shuffling, with new campaigns joining and others dropping off due to primaries. We had 215 new campaigns and organizations sign up in May, and a total of 2,099 groups actively fundraising, compared with 2,001 last month.

Mobile donations continued to be hugely important and accounted for a full 23% of donations sitewide this month, and 25% of all Express contributions.

Our Express user base grew to 871k. The growth was partially driven by more and more campaigns switching over to ActBlue and using Express Lane. They’re getting to see just how big of a boost one-click payments provide. 14% of all contributions in May were made with Express Lane. Check out the growth here:

That’s a whole lot of clicks, and we only expect the numbers to rise as we move into June, which is sure to be a monster month for fundraising.

Looking at your inbox on April 30th, you might have thought that it was the end of the quarter again, given the flood of fundraising emails. Nope, it’s just the end of the month, the little brother of EoQ.

Campaign and committee list managers have been teaching their list to respond to end of the month asks, despite the ahem…kinda made up deadline.

You see this sort of stuff in business sales. Everyone needs to hit their monthly sales numbers, so they start sweetening offers to clients at the end of the month. Clients learn to wait until the end of the month to put in their orders. All of a sudden, you’ve created an entire culture around the end of the month, making your workload crazy at the end. But you know what? It’s effective and that’s why they do it.

In this case, there is no legal reporting deadline at the end of each month, but the month by month numbers are often released as a show of strength. The campaigns really do have an internal goal for each month that the need to raise, so they hype the end of the month and that helps them reach their goal. And now lists are conditioned to respond to it.

Here’s our day-by-day breakdown of fundraising in April:

april day chart

This is actually pretty typical of how most months look. You see dips during the weekends, when people are sending fewer emails, and peaks during the week. Then the whole thing builds dramatically during the last week with a huge spike on the last day.

It’s important to note that this actually was a very good month over all–the highest month of the year outside of the actual end of quarter in March. It’s not that campaigns had to play catch-up at the end of the month, but rather that sending multiple emails and using the “deadline” as part of the pitch pulls in a lot of money.

This is how April ’14 stacked up against the previous three Aprils:

Apr ’11 Apr ’12 Apr ’13 Apr ’14
Contributions 51,727 122,619 169,922 321,771
Volume ($) $2,580,800 $5,485,860 $6,358,786 $11,975,308
Mean Donation $49.89 $44.74 $37.42 $37.22
Committees 677 1,651 1,010 2,003

2,003!! candidates, orgs, and committees using ActBlue. That’s the third highest month all time. #1 and 2 were October and September ’12. Yep, some candidates really do wait until the final hours to fundraise. But we strongly, strongly encourage people to start much earlier.

Our Express membership continues to grow like a weed! We’re up over 800,000 users…actually 831,630 when I hit “publish” on this post! Here’s our fun growth chart:

express growth chart

It’s just a matter of time till we hit 1 million. Given all this growth, you Express Lane users can’t forget to match your lists regularly to pick up new folks for your targeting.

A blockbuster $3 million dollar day.

That’s how we finished up the first quarter of this Election Year. It was the second biggest day in ActBlue history and only our second day over $3 million. Our team was up late watching the numbers roll in and making sure everything was running smoothly. We collectively cheered when we hit the $3 million mark at 11:59 PM EST. Definitely a photo finish!

All that money came from 56,065 donors, making it our 7th largest day by number of contributions. It’s no wonder that 99 of our 100 busiest minutes of the month were on 3/31. The top time of the day was 9:24 PM with 114 contributions.

The grand total for March? $18,123,793 million. That’s more than our entire Q1 2012 total of $18,044,520. This year we raised $36.1 million in the first quarter, buoyed in part by a competitive special election in Florida and lots of high-profile Senate candidates like Jeanne Shaheen using our tools.

Check out the year-by-year numbers below:

  Mar ’11 Mar ’12 Mar ’13 Mar ’14
Contributions 143,012 167,030 204,232 405,802
Volume ($) $5,847,994.09 $8,966,153.88 $7,446,487.35 $18,123,793.44
Mean Donation $40.89 $53.68 $36.46 $44.66
Committees 673 1,628 951 1,967

 

As you can see, we doubled our March ‘12 fundraising totals and far more than doubled the number of contributions we brought in (167,030 to 405,802). The average contribution amount also fell from $53.68 in 2012 to $44.66 in 2014. The average contribution amount on our site has been declining over time, but contributions tend to be slightly larger during election years.

We’ve got an internal staff metrics page that we check rather obsessively, but never more so than on EOQ nights. We grabbed a screenshot for you today — check out the huge spike in donations during the end of the quarter. The five days ending up to the end of the quarter all had donation totals over $900k. And as usual, there was a sharp dropoff in fundraising as soon as midnight hit, making the first day of April relatively slow (though we wouldn’t call $529,811 too shabby).

sizeadjustedmetrics

A big winner for us has been our Express program and one-click donation system, Express Lane. We’ve got 794,000 Express users (it was only a month ago that we were so excited to hit 750k!), and dozens of campaigns using Express Lane to fundraise. 13% of all contributions in March were made with just one click of an Express link! That’s a huge number and we’re only expecting it to grow as more campaigns use the service and we continue to grow our Express user pool.

One of the other big factors contributing to our strong numbers is the number of candidates, committees, and organizations fundraising with us. We cut, printed, sealed, and sent checks to 1,967 candidates (our interns had to carry quite a big bag to the post office on Tuesday.), up from 951 in 2013 and 1,628 in 2012. And we had a particularly busy month with new campaign setups. We added 350 entities to the site in March alone.

Mobile donations continued to play a huge role in fundraising. 22% of all donations sitewide and 24% of Express donations were made via a mobile device. The total percent of mobile donations predictably jumps on the weekends. Some days, including end of quarter weekend, saw a full 25% of all donations made on mobile. The average mobile donation is $27.97, which indicates that mobile devices are a great way to reach a huge group of small-dollar donors.

It’s going to be a big, big year — and we’re taking bets on how huge the next EOQ deadline we’ll be. Got a prediction? Throw it in the comments.

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