Archive

Uncategorized

Last week we were a bit of a tease. We announced to a million members that we had a super secret new feature that brings in 3x as much money for candidates, committees and non-profits. And then we never told them what it was. Well, we were saving it for you, our dear blog readers.

Today we’re proud to unveil ActBlue Express Lane! It allows donors to give immediately from a link in an email, no landing page needed. Donors just need to have an Express account with us. Over 618,000 donors (and growing!) have already saved their payment information and have Express accounts. With most federal lists we’ve seen about 40% of donors already in our system. And like all the features on ActBlue, it’s absolutely free.

So how does the magic happen? Express Lane works with special donation links tied to a specific dollar amount in combination with an ActBlue cookie on a donor’s computer or phone. When someone with an Express account clicks on that link, their card automatically gets charged, and they land on a thank you page. It makes the process effortless for donors, and you’ll see the results.

The conversion rate on Express Lane is dramatically higher. It’s clear that Express Lane is a winner for campaigns and donors alike. While results have varied list to list in our tests, all tests have shown eye-popping increases…some even up to 224.6%! The goal of Express Lane is to make it as easy as possible for activists to become donors. By making donating virtually frictionless, we’re ensuring more people will give and participate more often.

The best part is that the over 618,000 ActBlue Express users are shared across the whole platform. That means if a donor on your list saved their information while giving to say, Elizabeth Warren, they can use Express Lane to make a donation to your campaign or organization. There’s no need for them to re-enter their information. (Read all about ActBlue Express users here, they’re awesome.) The Express user base is growing in leaps and bounds, with over 13,000 new users this month alone.

We’ll match your list to our Express user database for free, and as we mentioned there are often huge overlaps among lists. Plus, once you start sending blasts to your lists using ActBlue, more of your donors will convert to Express. As your list continues to grow, so does our Express pool. You can match at your anytime so you’re always sending optimized emails and your performance keeps getting better.

Express Lane works for both one-time and recurring asks. We’ve been having a ton of success here at ActBlue using it for recurring asks. We’re also seeing higher percentage of donations come in off of mobile, due in large part to Express Lane. Increasing mobile conversions is a big organizational focus here at ActBlue, and Express Lane makes our great mobile system even better. It’s easier than ever for a donor to give via an email.

Express Lane isn’t available for everyone yet, but we are offering it for free to large federal campaigns using ActBlue for all their online fundraising. (We’re working on expanding it to more jurisdictions.) And you should keep in mind that you’ll need a decent size list, and a sophisticated email program.

Deploying Express Lane means you need to send two different emails on every fundraiser: one to Express users with the Express Lane ask links and then a “normal” one to the rest of your supporters. It’s very easy to create the links, we’ve got a link builder tool all set up for ya.

Here’s how an Express Lane ask structure looks:

Because you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

Express Donate: $10
Express Donate: $25
Express Donate: $50
Or donate another amount

You may have seen us and a few groups beta testing this before we rolled it out to more people. We couldn’t have opened this powerful tool to so many campaigns and organizations without the help of over a thousand donors who contributed to this project. All of us here at ActBlue really can’t thank them enough.

If you are interested in Express Lane, drop us a line at info [at] actblue [dot] com. And don’t worry, our staff is happy to provide all the training you need to optimize Express Lane, for free of course.

July is typically the slowest month in politics with donors and staffers alike heading out of town. But this month was anything but dull. We processed $5.75 million in contributions from 162,935 donations, which helped us top $400 million and six million contributions!

Check out our how July stacked up against the last few years:


  July ’10 July ’11 July ’12 July ’13
Contributions 21,078 66,746 200,193 162,935
Volume ($) $2,424,679.54 $2,678,159.69 $8,342,134.24 $5,750,964.28
Mean Donation $115.03 $40.12 $41.67 $35.30
Committees 1,376 861 1,836 1,232


That money went to 1,232 candidates and organizations this month, and about 10,181 since we founded ActBlue in 2004. That’s a pretty big increase over 2011, the last off year, which means incumbents and organizations that were around last cycle are getting an earlier and stronger start to their fundraising.

The average donation size was down to just $35.30, compared with $40.12 in 2011 and $115.03 in 2010, meaning more and more small dollar donors are becoming part of the political process. ActBlue’s volume – the total amount donors like you gave – was up 115% from 2011, while the number of committees raising was up 43%. As we mentioned in May, this is a really good sign for Democratic candidates in 2014 and shows the strength of progressive non-profits.

We’re always trying to foster more community between donors and organizations, which is why we’ve been advising campaigns to ask for recurring donations for years. Despite the fact that recurring contributions raise a whole lot more money (you can check out this blog post for details), they also help campaigns build a relationship with donors and provide a steady income. That means smarter budgeting and strategic planning for campaigns and organizations.

We checked out the numbers across ActBlue and found out that 497,411, or 8.54% of all donations this past month were part of a recurring commitment, compared with just 6.66% in 2011. While that’s really good progress, our goal is to see that number grow even more!





When we hit big milestones here we get pretty excited, and sometimes break out the bubbly for oh about a minute, and then rush to share the news with you. While we put in a lot of work to make the system function, it’s really you – our donors, campaigns, and organizations – who have built ActBlue. That’s why we want to give a shootout to the person who gave the 400 millionth dollar via ActBlue.

Turns out it was a pretty typical ActBlue donor; someone who uses ActBlue to connect with and support the candidates and causes that are meaningful to them through small dollar donations. Her name is Joan and she’s given between $3 and $25 to Democratic committees every couple of months since the beginning of 2012. Her latest donation, $10 to Democracy for America (DFA), was in support of a campaign to expand Social Security. While we’ve been counting down the days until we hit $400 million, we’re equally excited the fact that it came from over 6 million contributions. That’s a lot of democratic participation!

The best part about hitting that $400 million dollar mark is that half a billion dollars for Democratic candidates and progressive causes is now in our sights. The only question is when. We’re taking bets on it at our office, but as donors you’ll be determining the answer with your dollars. I’d say it’ll happen early next October…followed by a resounding victory for Democrats.

We set internal goals for ourselves here – just like we encourage campaigns to do with our fundraising thermometers – and we take a lot of pride in beating them. But this month we didn’t just beat them, we crushed them. Seriously. Kate from our compliance team tried to run some models to predict our future growth pattern, and she couldn’t find one because our growth is literally off the charts.

But this isn’t some kind of humble brag. We may have put in some work behind the scenes, but it’s all of you – our donors – that made it possible.

Take a look at the top line numbers below.

  May ’10 May ’11 May ’12 May ’13
Contributions 40,124 45,783 234,065 173,665
Volume ($) $4,110,305.20 $2,679,278.73 $10,041,334.35 $6,355,241.33
Mean Donation $102.44 $58.52 $42.90 $36.59
Committees 1,303 728 1,854 1,072

The month started off with the tail end of the Sandford vs. Colbert-Busch election, and although Democrats didn’t pull ahead this time, we saw a huge uptick in donations. Organizations and candidates helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars every day before the election. As a result, we more than doubled our volume goal for the month. Our other big spike came at the end of the month, which is typical since that’s when many of our candidates and committees make a big fundraising push. May was no exception, with a string of four strong days culminating in $584,502 in contributions on the final day.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 4.34.35 PM

Our other major goal was to bring in 52,651 contributions by the end of the month. We surpassed that number before the SC special election was laid to rest on May 7th, which was great. But things only got better from there – we more than tripled our goal for the month.

One of the biggest reasons that number is increasing at such a crazy pace? Express users. 55.1% of our site wide donors used Express Accounts to give this month. That means that over half of the people donating were repeat donors. We make it easier for them to give (just one click!), but they choose to keep coming back. They’re more dedicated than ever, and they’re not just single candidate supporters. If you’re working on a campaign, give us a call, because they’re likely on your supporter list too.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 4.33.35 PM

All of those contributions went to 1,072 different candidates, committees, and causes. So while there may have been a tabloid worthy special election, we certainly saw a  lot of activity from folks across the country, giving to candidates up and down the ballot.

We’re particularly proud that the average donation size was just $36.59 this month. That amount is $65.85 lower than it was just 3 years ago. It shows that while our numbers have been growing (right off the charts) in these past three years, we’re still committed to – and succeeding at – the mission we started with. And that’s to help make fundraising more democratic by opening it up to all and breaking down the technology barriers.

We know you want your fundraising data to be accessible, digestible, and shown to you in real-time. That’s why we spend so much time developing and enhancing our campaign dashboards to fit your needs. But you can’t always be monitoring your dashboard.

That’s why we’re introducing our new contribution email alerts. Now you can sign up to receive an email every time your candidate, committee or cause receives a donation over an amount of your choosing. That means you can follow up with a high dollar donor right away and work on building a good relationship.

The average contribution size for most groups is pretty low – it was $34.82 on ActBlue last month – and these donations make up the backbone of most online fundraising program. Everyone knows we love donors of all sizes, but high dollar donors are often very important to organizations, helping them fund new projects or reach quarterly goals. And they’re investing a significant amount of money because they believe in what you’re doing, so you want to be able to keep an eye on them.

To sign up, go to your committee’s page and click on the “User Access” tab. There you’ll see everyone with access to the committee. Click on “create a contribution alert” under your name or a team member’s name and enter an amount for the threshold. You’ll receive an email alert for any donation over this amount. If you want to edit the amount, you can come back to this page at any time.

6a00d834564b8869e2017ee9323fee970d

 

And we’re always looking to make our tools work better for you, so if there’s something you’d like to see on ActBlue, feel free to drop us a line at info AT actblue DOT com.

Special thanks to Molly Ritner and Greg Berlin (both at the DCCC) for working with ActBlue to design this feature. We love our power users!

Welcome to 2013! Barack Obama is still President of the United States. The U.S. Senate is still in Democratic hands. You could be forgiven for thinking not much has changed. You’d be wrong, as the numbers below show. Millions of Americans used ActBlue to show that their voice matters. While Mitt Romney was busy running down half of the country, many of them were busy ending his run. There are plenty of reasons why the election turned out the way it did, but you should never doubt your place among them.

Number of contributions 2,896,327
Total raised $136,497,244.45
Average Contribution size $47.13
Committees receiving money 3,895

 

Here’s what 2012 looks like compared to 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 4.54.13 PM

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 1,127,706 $36,344,427
DSCC Party Committee 440,747 $18,644,200
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 98,331 $2,961,178
PCCC Organization 92,920 $1,160,340
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 81,780 $2,295,125

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for 2012.

In November, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg will be term-limited out of office, and will no longer hold the title of “Hizzoner.” For the first time in 12 years, the mayoralty will once again be up for grabs, along with at least 22 city council seats, and 4 out of 5 borough presidencies. That’s why we’re excited to announce that after months of work with our partner, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, we are offering our fundraising tools to the city’s municipal candidates–from the mayoral candidates on down–including those who will receive public matching funds.

Here at ActBlue, we’ve always been about making your voice heard, helping you pool the resources of your supporters to increase your impact, and making sure that no donation, no candidate, no vision is too small.

The Board is proactive when it comes to regulating money in politics, and their efforts have created one of the country’s best public financing systems. Naturally, the system comes with strict regulations, especially for credit cards processed online. This means that smaller campaigns don’t always have the opportunity to fundraise online because of time constraints and prohibitive costs–which translates into lost opportunities and fewer connections with supporters. However, since ActBlue shifts much of the resulting burden of compliance and legal work from local campaigns to our staff, even the smallest NYC campaign can now raise money online using our tools.

When candidates sign up for ActBlue, they’re also getting a chance to tap into our community of 500,000 registered ActBlue Express users. They are our most dedicated donors, who make most of their political contributions through ActBlue and convert at a significantly higher rate due to our one-click donation process. This gives candidates a higher return on their fundraising initiatives, making the program a great resource for our campaigns. We’re excited to share it with NYC candidates so they can benefit as well.

Most of the money raised through ActBlue comes in the form of small dollar donations – $50.27 was the average donation during the last election cycle. That’s important for New York City, where candidates can receive matching funds of up to $6 per dollar donated on contributions under $175. ActBlue was built specifically for grassroots fundraising, and we couldn’t pass on a chance to team up with a city that supports our vision.

We hope you’ll take a look around the site, search for your favorite New York City candidates, spread the word or sign up here. No campaign is too small–or too big–to start putting power in the hands of supporters.

Forgive the title, but March was a pretty crazy month. When you look at the year by year comparisons below, consider that March 2011 was the height of the Wisconsin protests, which drove hundreds of thousands of dollars through ActBlue. Now, in March 2012, we’re a few months away from the final act: the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker (R). The real lesson of ActBlue in 2012 is this: Democrats up and down the ballot are benefitting from the work we’ve done since 2010. We’re thrilled to see it pay off.

Number of contributions 167,080
Total raised $8,987,964.89
Average Contribution size $53.79
Committees receiving money 1,629

 

Here’s what March 2012 looks like compared to 2011 (recall protests) and 2008 (last presidential election year):

Mar 2008 Mar 2011 Mar 2012 Change
Contributions 25,344 143,012 167,080 17%
Volume ($) $3,707,738.92 $5,847,994.09 $8,987,964.89 54%
Mean Donation $146.30 $40.89 $53.79 31%
Committees 787 673 1,629 142%

 

Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for March 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 67,792 $1,942,038
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 10,526 $311,923
Democracy for America Organization 7,791 $127,177
PCCC Organization 7,454 $63,102
Alan Grayson FL-09 6,543 $146,564

We have another milestone to celebrate around the office: 2 million donations! And we got there only a year and a half after we hit 1 million. Averaged out over that period, we're talking 55,000 donations a month during some of slowest months of the election cycle.

Here's why it matters: our infrastructure is what turns grassroots passion into political results. While the "enthusiasm gap" was making headlines across the country, Democratic donors flocked to ActBlue to connect with their chosen candidates. Our infrastructure enabled the Wisconsin Recall efforts to demonstrate their fundraising oomph in real time, and helped labor issues find their way back into national discourse. Today that conversation is in a dramatically different place than it was a few months ago.

But 2012 is where the rubber meets the road. It's our transparent, participatory architecture against the small and increasingly shadowy world of Republican fundraising unleashed by Citizen's United.

2 million grassroots donations or five guys writing blank checks: which system would you rather have?

Sam Stein of the Huffington Post has a well-reported item up on mobile giving and campaigns. The takeaway is that everyone knows mobile giving is the next big thing but the actual "how" of the process as it relates to political donations is still unclear. As I've mentioned before, what we're dealing with is fundamentally an infrastructure problem. Amazon's one-click model works for two reasons: you can buy almost anything on Amazon and people are now broadly comfortable with the idea of purchasing things on the internet (in no small part due to Amazon's work in that area).

In the political world, neither of those conditions hold. For starters, the environment is far more fractured, with most candidates pursuing a la carte solutions. If you take a random sample of 25 campaigns, you'll find ten different vendors are responsible for processing donations, each with a particular set of technical constraints that means they can't play nice with one another. That means that each campaign would have to set up their own mobile donation platform, which in turn would require donors to create a mobile profile for each and every candidate they want to give to. Surprisingly, most people aren't up for that. 

Second, online political donations are a fairly new phenomenon and people's comfort zones are still adjusting. A few years ago, an online fundraising program was an optional part of your campaign plan. Today, it's essential. That change happened very fast, and it's why we regularly receive calls from folks who want to give to a candidate but aren't comfortable doing so over the internet. That's not unusual in circumstances like these. In 1998, Newsweek ran an editorial questioning whether anyone would ever buy books–much less other things–using internet retailers like Amazon. Today, the questions are somewhat different: will Amazon kill off book publishers, for example.

The reason ActBlue Express has succeeded relative to many other approaches to mobile giving is that we provide the same clearinghouse advantages that Amazon enjoys. You can create a single profile and give to every Democrat listed on our site (which is to say: almost every Democrat). Instead of campaigns pursuing endlessly duplicative infrastructure and trying to lure donors to this website or that website, they can come to a single place and connect with a pre-existing community of users. Crucially, the fact that these users have ActBlue Express accounts means they're donors and they have a pretty high level of engagement with politics. 

The fact that we've been around for a while and people know and trust us doesn't hurt either.

But the single greatest advantage we enjoy in here is the fact that we're a political committee, not a business. That means we can innovate in ways that for-profit vendors can't match. Simply put, they have to look after their bottom line. Because margins in this business are thin, if something isn't going to be immediately profitable it tends to land on the back burner. At ActBlue, we're able to get out in front of things like mobile giving because we're not as constrained in that regard. Our constituency of interest is our userbase, not our shareholders. If we can provide value to our users, that's the metric we're interested in.

ActBlue Express is simply one expression of that core tenet. 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers