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Monthly Recap

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.

We’ll forgive you for not noticing that anything big was happening (after all, your contribution forms loaded faster than ever), but this relatively calm February was the 10th biggest month in ActBlue history. What’s even bigger is the fact that this was the only month in the top 10 that wasn’t at the end of a quarter or during the fall of an election season. If a random February can make ActBlue history, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2014.

Our last day of the month was our biggest as usual. We helped bring in $1.38 million dollars on February 28th. That was our second biggest day between any election day and June 30th of the next year. And if February’s $10.2 million fundraising total (double our February ‘12 total of $5 million!) is any indication, it will be a very busy March indeed.

Check out the numbers below:

  Feb ’11 Feb ’12 Feb ’13 Feb ’14
Contributions 34,496 110,323 162,791 259,464
Volume ($) $2,228,051.55 $5,076,973.20 $5,661,971.23 $10,263,484.93
Mean Donation $64.59 $46.02 $34.78 $39.56
Committees 561 1,340 801 1,684


We had a quarter of a million contributions in February, more than double the number of contributions we saw in February 2012. Our average contribution size dropped from $46.02 in February ‘12 to $39.56 in February ‘14. That means that we’re scaling and even increasing participation from small-dollar donors as our candidates and organizations raise more money.

February’s fundraising was boosted by a few factors. The competitive special election race in Florida’s 13th District (Go Alex Sink!) and the rise of the Koch brothers as a foil to grassroots funded campaigns made fundraising appeals more urgent. But the biggest driver of growth was the sheer number of campaigns and organizations raising money early. We sent checks to 1,684 different candidates, committees, and organizations, which is up 26% from February ‘12. We also had 242 new committees sign up to fundraise on our site last month, which only means bigger fundraising totals and more donors to come.

On February 28th, we came in to the office and saw we’d raised over 200k already, which mostly came from the monthly contributions scheduled for the end of the month. 7.9% of all donations sitewide were recurring donations, compared with 5.91% in February ‘13. The number of recurring donors has grown substantially over the years, and we couldn’t be happier because recurring money helps campaigns and organizations make realistic plans for the future. Recurring donors also give more money over time than one-time donors, which means that recurring donors can be incredibly important to a group’s success.

It wouldn’t be a monthly numbers blog post if we didn’t remind you all just how important mobile donations have become. They accounted for 19.2% of all traffic sitewide for the month and 22.6% of all traffic on the last day of the month. Additionally, 23% of all Express contributions were made via mobile.

If you missed our recent Express blog post, we’ll catch you up on why Express users are so important. We’ve got over three quarters of a million Express users who give to an average of 2.57 entities. In addition, 40% of all unique donors on ActBlue (since we started back in 2004!) have signed up for Express accounts. If someone has made a donation via ActBlue, there’s a good chance they’ve saved their payment information with us. That translates to a streamlined experience for donors and more money for campaigns and organizations.

The fact that we’ve been doubling our 2012 totals this year (and our internal goals!) indicates that 2014 will be one heck of an election year. And when you think about the fact that we brought in $35 million in October ‘12, it becomes clear just how big 2014 will be. Since then, online fundraising has grown rapidly, and we’re already working on scaling our tools to handle the huge growth spurt we’re seeing. Will we see a $100 million month? It’s not out of the question. But no matter what our volume numbers are in October ‘14, we’ll be ready.

January just ended, which means Election Day 2014 is right around the corner. At least it feels that way in the fundraising world, where early money is key for structure, momentum, and success in November.

2012 was a breakout year for online fundraising, and had presidential election year with presidential-level media attention, but as you can see below, 2014 is poised to be much, much bigger. And that’s because more campaigns have started using ActBlue as their main fundraising platform, got an early jump on fundraising, and harnessed the power of grassroots donors.

  Jan ’11 Jan ’12 Jan ’13 Jan ’14
Contributions 10,120 87,370 98,953 223,334
Volume ($) $636,711.13 $4,001,392.93 $3,341,964.67 $7,780,137.87
Mean Donation $62.92 $45.80 $33.77 $34.84
Committees 460 1,206 764 1,604


We helped raise $7.8 million in January ‘14, nearly double the $4 million in January ‘12. The money we raised this past month came from 223,334 donors, who gave an average of $34.84. So: we doubled the amount of money while shaving $11 off of our average contribution size in January ’14. That’s the kind of grassroots power that we love to see in action, because those donors will likely give several times and it’ll add up to a big impact come Election Day.

Because of optimization testing and development work we’ve done in the offseason, we’ve got a ton of new folks gearing up to work with us in 2014. We set up 214 new campaigns and organizations this past month alone! (If you work for a campaign or organization and are interested in trying out our tools, please get in touch.) The combination of higher conversion rates and more campaigns and organizations means rapid growth.

So, what else did January tell us about the year to come? We’ve been saying it for a while, but 2014 will be the year of mobile, and January’s numbers confirmed our mantra. 19.7% of all contributions on ActBlue were made via a mobile device, with some days seeing that number rise to 25%.

Mobile contributions are even more popular when it comes to Express users, who made 22.8% of their donations via mobile devices. That’s key because we now have over 720,000 Express users, and they accounted for 55.2% of all donations made on ActBlue in January. They’re our power users, and the biggest supporters of Democratic candidates and causes. As the number of Express users grows, and mobile phones become the go-to way to check email for supporters around the country, all eyes will be on mobile conversion rates.

Taking a look at the past few election cycles, we can make some predictions about 2014 fundraising.

election year giving

election_year_dollars

We brought in $35 million dollars in October ‘12, almost 9x the amount that we helped raise in January ‘12. The beginning of the year, while strong, will pale in comparison to those big months. Predictably, fundraising spikes in March and June for the end of quarter fundraising pushes. However, fundraising growth continues at about the same rate after September’s crucial end of quarter, which means you can bet that October 1st won’t be a day for recovery. From July on, it’s likely to be non-stop fundraising.

January is one of the biggest months for political contribution reporting (our compliance team worked overtime and then some to get it all done). We sent reports on 380,311 contributions to 16 different federal and state agencies. For us, that’s just as important as the $7.8 million we raised. Our mission is to help supporters elect Democrats and progressives, but those grassroots victories would be meaningless without transparency and accountability.

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