Keeping your settings consistent just got a whole lot easier

The days of having one contribution form for your organization or campaign are long over.

Organizations and candidates often have dozens of forms created and maintained by several different people. It can be difficult to make sure all of your settings stay consistent across your forms, especially when you have a rigorous testing program that’s frequently settling on new best practices. For example, it’s time consuming to go and change all your old forms one-by-one if testing indicates you should use different pop-up recurring language.

That’s why we’re excited to roll out a new feature that allows you to create a default form with your best practices and tag pages that you want to have those universal settings. When you update the settings in the default form, all the other forms update automatically.

Here’s how it works:

You’ll now see a column that says “Use defaults” in your newly renamed Form Management tab in the left menu of your Dashboard:

See that contribution form at the top in grey? That’s your campaign or organization’s default form. It’s new and we’ve created it for everyone. It’ll always appear at the top of the Form Management tab.

Open up the default form and select all of the settings you typically apply to every contribution form, things like your pop-up recurring ask threshold or your preset contribution amounts. It looks just like a regular form, but it only has one purpose: to establish the defaults for other forms.

Once you’ve done that, go and click the “Use defaults” box for every form that ought to have those settings. That’s it! All your forms have the same settings, no matter who created them.

Keep in mind that the default form will override all of the settings except for Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. That means if you leave something like the Thank you text blank on your default form, none of the forms with default settings will have Thank you text. So be careful with your selections.

Further, if you’ve selected default settings for a form the only fields you’ll be able to edit are Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. Every other setting will be hidden. You can still run an A/B test or set a goal, however. And if you decide you’d like to make edits outside the default settings, just uncheck the “Use defaults” box for that form and make any edits you wish. Just keep in mind that the form won’t update the next time you edit your default form.

You can always go back and edit the default form at any time.

This new feature should save folks that use it a bunch of time and lead to a more consistent fundraising program. But it’s a totally optional feature, so use it at your own discretion.

Our dev team has a few more new features they’re working on right now, so stay tuned! And in the meantime enjoy the new default forms.

Custom Facebook and Twitter share content

Our tech team is on a roll. Now you can enter custom content for both Facebook and Twitter shares on your Contribution Forms.

If you’re in the edit tab on a form you’ll see a new section:

social share

Here’s what a Facebook share would look like:

facebook share

Custom text and images should help increase conversions, so we encourage you to spend the extra couple minutes filling this in when you’re creating a new form. But at the same time, don’t expect social donations to be a magic bullet.

The vast majority of contributions come in from email, with Facebook coming in far behind, followed by Twitter. Custom share content won’t change that, but it will help on the margins, especially when your campaign is in a rapid response situation.

Enjoy this new feature and don’t forget to go back and edit your default donation form you link to on your website. As always, just drop us an email at if you have any questions.

Mobile giving just got a whole lot better

Mobile giving just got a whole lot better

Introducing the ActBlue Express Pass. Built for a mobile-first world.

ActBlue Express Pass

We’re always trying to improve our Contribution Forms — that means eliminating inefficiencies and making them more user friendly on every device. And nothing has seemed more inefficient to us than typing in 16-digit credit card numbers with your thumbs on a mobile device.

That’s why we’re introducing ActBlue Express Pass, built with our 1.5 million Express user pool in mind. It lets Express users with a mobile phone number bypass the form by simply clicking a link in a text message to give. Express users are donors who have saved their payment information with ActBlue and can give in a single click.

Here’s how it works: If an Express user starts filling out a Contribution Form on a device that doesn’t have their information stored and they have a mobile number associated with their account, we’ll offer them an Express Pass. Users fill in an average of 111 characters on a form, but with Express Pass they only have to enter their email address.

Why this feature? Why now? Mobile is the way of the future for online fundraising. Over the last two years, the percentage of ActBlue donations made via a mobile device has jumped from 9.1% to 29.1%. That can spike to around 67.7% on nights and weekends when people are away from their computers.

We already knew that when we roll out features that improve on-the-go donations, we see astronomical gains. When we launched our mobile-responsive Contribution Forms back in September 2013, we saw mobile numbers jump from 9.6% to 20.5% over one month. Still, no matter how mobile-optimized your form is, it’s a pain to type in information on a mobile phone, so we decided to take that step out of the equation for Express users. It’s the next step toward our goal of making mobile donating as easy as desktop giving.

Donors are already coming to campaigns and organizations via mobile, but if it’s not an easy process, some will abandon that donation. We’re meeting users where they are, and tailoring the donation process to their devices. We’ve crunched the numbers and Express Pass was associated with a 4.7% increase in conversions for mobile Express users, a statistically significant result.

The benefits are two-fold: Users can donate quickly and easily with Express Pass, and the next time they donate on a mobile phone, they’ll already have their information stored right there, so they can give with just a single click. That’s going to a major investment as we get closer to the critical 2016 election.

But the best thing about ActBlue Express Pass? It feels intuitive, and it fades into the background in the best possible way. It just works like it should, while bringing in more conversions for every campaign and committee.

User Experience & Implementation

The gif above gives you an idea of how the Express Pass steps work, but we’ll break them down for you below.

The user selects a donation amount, types in their email address, and moves on to fill out the rest of the form. But before they can do that, we check and see if they’re an Express user, and if they have a mobile number associated with their account (half of all Express users do). If both of those things are true, we show them a popup that reminds them they’re an Express user and offers to send them a text message where they can finish their contribution.

Screenshot 1
Screenshot 2

Next, they click yes, because easy = awesome. Donors receive the text message, click the link, and their contribution goes straight through. If your campaign has chosen a post-contribution action like a pop-up recurring box or customized redirect, Express Pass users will enter that flow like any other user once their contribution processes. Otherwise, donors will see the thank you page like usual.

ActBlue Express Pass will significantly improve donors’ experience when giving on-the-go, and it makes it even easier for campaigns and organizations to collect donations at in-person events.

Express Pass is automatically turned on when Express Lane is enabled for a campaign or organization. Applicable donors will see Express Pass on single entity and tandem forms, but not on event and merchandise forms. Those require extra info and will still get the regular mobile treatment for the time being.

With ActBlue Express Pass, we’re not just looking to scale forms that were originally built for the desktop into mobile devices. We’re coming up with a whole new way to give. That’s what the future of fundraising tech will be about — solutions that work for every device, wherever your donors are.

The Multi-armed Bandit: New and much improved A/B testing tools

The A/B test tool on ActBlue, which allows you to test out Contribution Form titles and pitches, among other variables, has gotten a significant upgrade, just in time for campaign season.

The old A/B testing tool worked great, but it also forced you to wait around for both test variations to get enough traffic to gain statistical significance. If one version was performing way better than the second one, that meant you were losing out on potential contributions in order to gain valuable insight.

This is how most A/B testing tools work, and it’s a good system. But with the new ActBlue testing tools, which use a more advanced statistical algorithm than typical A/B testing, you can still achieve statistical significance without having to sacrifice a ton of traffic to a losing form.

As the test runs and one variation begins performing better, we’ll start sending more traffic to that form, roughly in proportion to how they’re trending. You can see the traffic allocation listed just above each variation on the “A/B Test” tab of your Contribution Form. The traffic allocation will change continuously as donations come in. It’s important to note that if a variation is receiving 75% of the traffic, that does not necessarily mean it’s conversion rate is 3X as high as the other variation(s). If you’re curious what it actually does mean and want to talk complicated stats, you can get in touch with us here.

If there was a false positive and the losing form starts doing better, the traffic allocation will begin to reverse. The test will continue to run indefinitely until you click “Make Winner.” The A/B testing tool will eventually send 100% of volume to the winner if you don’t make either version the winner manually.

The new A/B testing tool makes your tests more efficient, which means you can try out more of them. If you have radically different language you want to try on a form, alongside three more standard pitches, there’s little risk. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll send fewer and fewer people to that losing form.

We wanted to give special thanks to Jim Pugh from ShareProgress for sharing notes on the multi-armed bandit method used in their software and helping us out with building this tool (and for hanging out in the ActBlue office for a week)!

As always, let us know what tests you’re running and what’s working for you at!

Scott Brown donation page load time: Like a slug racing a Tesla

Scott Brown made some uh interesting design choices for his new Massachusetts New Hampshire Senate campaign website. But where he went really wrong was his contribution form.

We’ve been watching this video from WebPageTest on a loop today (spoiler alert: our entire form loads before their first response):

We’re obsessive here at ActBlue about page load time, going to great lengths to shave off hundredths of a second. It’s often the difference between someone giving a donation and just simply giving up, particularly when they are on a mobile device. And that’s why 20.3% of all contributions on ActBlue last month were made on mobile. If your numbers aren’t up there, you’re doing it wrong.

And none of that would have been possible without the support of thousands of ActBlue donors, so thank you.

Now let’s all stop laughing at Scott Brown (for the moment) and get back to work powering Democrats to victory this November.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Our mission is to increase participation and transparency in the fundraising process, and we work hard to make sure our features match that goal. No matter how you measure it–3,000,000 donors, more than a quarter billion dollars sent to Democrats–it’s been a success. Here’s one example:

A while back we noticed that mobile web traffic was exploding, so we built a mobile donation form that would make it easy for people to donate with their phone. We also realized that data entry, already a pain on a regular computer, would be even more difficult on a phone. Long story short, we made our mobile form play nice with ActBlue Express, a feature that allows donors to create a profile so they don’t have to retype their info every time they want to give.

The combination proved extremely potent. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of users with an ActBlue Express account, and the mobile conversion rate has grown steadily. ActBlue is hardly the only political entity out there with a quick donate option or a mobile form. But we’re different in one important respect: we provide these tools to every campaign that accepts donations through our site. They’re available to you whether you’re a state senator or a federal candidate, whether you’re a donor who gives $25 or $2,500.

Why does that matter? If you follow politics, you’ve probably seen something about Democratic discomfort with the Citizens United decision. As Republican SuperPACs ramp up for 2012, Democratic campaigns are worried that they won’t be able to keep up with the Adelsons. Donors, meanwhile, are concerned about entrenching a system they dislike. ActBlue is a way out of that dilemma. Candidates don’t have to put themselves at a competitive disadvantage vis a vis Republicans. Donors can give quickly and easily, without embracing GOP tactics.

By taking a settled piece of campaign finance–the ability of individuals to support campaigns–and updating it for the digital age, we’ve massively increased participation and transparency in fundraising. Oh, and sent nearly $100,000,000 to Democrats this cycle.

That’s what we’re here to do.

2012 Numbers: First Quarter Roundup

If you’ve read the last few monthly numbers posts you’re aware that it’s been a good year for Democrats on ActBlue. But looking at our Q1 numbers, you can see that a huge amount of money is flowing to candidates and committees that don’t make our top 5 for the quarter. While everyone else is consumed with the ups-and-downs of the presidential race, we’re quietly helping Democrats up and down the ballot get what they need to win.

Let’s take another angle on that: if every seat in Congress were constested, you’d have around 500 committees getting money. ActBlue has 2,050 recipients. That’s the best expression of the kind of work we do, and how it ripples out across the country. Now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 333,928
Total raised $18,070,391.02
Average Contribution size $54.11
Committees receiving money 2,050


So, these numbers are the gold standard for year-over-year growth. While 2012 is a presidential election year and that pushes the numbers upward, you can glance at our 2008 numbers to see how much we’ve grown over the interim.

Q1 2008 Q1 2011 Q1 2012 Change
Contributions 52,149 180,537 333,928 85%
Volume ($) $6,945,713.73 $8,712,756.77 $18,070,391.02 107%
Mean Donation $133.19 $48.26 $54.11 12%
Committees 992 881 2,050 133%


Here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for Q1 2012.

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 103,592 $3,036,757
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 26,827 $1,310,832
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Party Committee 20,974 $423,339
Democracy for America Organization 20,602 $468,190
PCCC Organization 16,566 $166,313

ActBlue In One Take: Sen. Al Franken

Our latest installment of "ActBlue in One Take" features Sen. Al Franken. The Senator from Minnesota understands the value of grassroots donors–he raised over $2M on ActBlue in 2008, funds that were crucial to both his election day victory and drawn-out struggle against Republican attempts to keep him from taking his seat in Washington. Click on the video below to see what Sen. Franken had to say about the role of grassroots donors–and ActBlue–in 2010

You can search for your favorite Democrat in our candidate directory, or visit our homepage and support the candidates that lead our hot candidates list.

Introducing ActBlue Mobile

At ActBlue, we're about helping campaigns meet donors where they are, and where they are is changing. Not that long ago, email and cellular phones were emerging technologies. Today, they're fully integrated, and an ever-growing number of Americans check their email on their cellular phones. In recognition of that fact, we've launched ActBlue Mobile–now you can support the Democratic candidates of your choice right from your smartphone. 

Donors: did your phone just buzz because you received a fundraising email from a candidate you like? Just click on the link and enter your information the way you would from your home computer or laptop and submit it. You could be on the bus, or taking in the game down at the bar; it doesn't matter. You can play a role in American politics without missing your stop. (Or a critical play!)

We built ActBlue Mobile because we think that American politics should reflect the patterns of  American life, and that the American people shouldn't have to be politicos to be political. It's that very same impulse that led us to build cutting-edge integrations with Twitter and Facebook, and it will continue fuel further innovation is the months and years to come.

Remember, Washington D.C. speaks the language of money and influence. At ActBlue, we're working every day to help you be part of the conversation. 

Monthly Stats Report, March 2010

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback about our monthly statistics posts, so we’ll be continuing them throughout the 2010 cycle. Today we’re looking at numbers from March 2010, and you should stop by late next week when we’ll release our end of quarter numbers. The purpose of these posts is to provide information, and nothing below should be construed as an endorsement of a particular candidate or committee.

The March 2010 overview:

Number of contributions 58,626
Total raised $5,228,392.83
Average contribution size $89.18
Distinct committees receiving money 1,250
Distinct fundraising pages receiving money 1,124
Fundraising pages created 1,002


Granted, every statistic is higher than it was in February, but March numbers are buoyed by the end of quarter (EOQ) fundraising push by federal candidates. To exempt that variable from our analysis, let’s compare March 2010 to March 2008. Keep in mind, though, that ’08 was a presidential cycle, and March was the last EOQ deadline before the decisive Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Nevertheless:

March 2008 March 2010 Change
Contributions 25,345 58,626 130%
Volume ($) $3,707,838.92 $5,228,392.83 41%
Mean Donation $146.29 $89.18 -39%
Committees 787 1,250 60%
Pages Created 564 1,002 78%
Pages w/ Money 654 1,124 72%


NB: “pages” here refers to fundraising pages, which are landing pages that make a specific fundraising ask. For an example page, click here.

The massive increase in volume and contributions, combined with decrease in average donation size, speak to the increasing power of grassroots fundraising generally, and, as we’ll see below, issue-oriented grassroots fundraising.

Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Campaigns & Committees for March 2010 (by donors).


Committee Name

Bill HalterType

AR-Sen, 2010Donors


$390,112.82 PCCC – Progressive Change Campaign CommitteeOrganization8,603$109,664.77 Democracy for AmericaOrganization5,692$52,880.09 Krystal BallVA-01, 20103,587$35,793.04 Ann McLane KusterNH-02, 20103,456$35,193.03 Anthony WeinerNY-09, 20103,071$64,608.18 Alan GraysonFL-08, 20102,494$57,163.94 Connie SaltonstallMI-01, 20102,188$92,463.60 Dennis KucinichOH-10, 20101,788$36,188.49 Betsy MarkeyCO-04, 20101,205$27,998.14

In March, the top 10 (as always, ranked by number of donors) includes some new faces. As was the case last month, the PCCC and DFA take their spots on the podium, eclipsed only by Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter, who is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Blanche Lincoln. Lt. Gov. Halter amassed over 10,000 ActBlue donors in a single month with the backing of labor unions, progressive advocacy organizations, and Netroots PACs. For a more complete listing of the groups fundraising for Halter on ActBlue, click here.

What’s particularly interesting about this month’s top 10 are the interconnections between candidates and both policy issues and advocacy groups. Krystal Ball and Anne McLane Kuster–#4 and #5, respectively–earned their berth thanks to a fundraising page set up by the PCCC. They are challenging “Blue Dog” Democrats who opposed the public option in the recent healthcare bill, an issue of concern to many PCCC donors. The candidates ranked 6-8 also structured their fundraising efforts around the recent healthcare bill.Reps. Grayson and Weiner saw their candor about GOP opposition to the bill rewarded by online donors, and Saltonstall is running against Rep. Bart Stupak in Michigan.

The larger point being that our volume in March reflected–in real time–the momentum and enthusiasm that was building behind healthcare reform.

You can see that firsthand in the list for Top 10 Fundraising Pages for March 2010

Name Donors Raised Average
dumplincoln 5006 $116,478.85 $23.26
pelosi-tv-ad 3577 $68,669.03 $19.19
2010pccc 3402 $66,266.55 $19.47
weinercdthc02242010 2909 $56,459.33 $19.40
pccc_main 2042 $41,152.28 $20.15
pccchalterfield 1968 $32,449.24 $16.48
orangetoblue2010 1850 $66,934.74 $36.18
standupkucinich 1124 $21,366.66 $19.00
conniesaltonstall 780 $35,644.27 $45.69
graysonboldprogressive 718 $13,211.30 $18.40


Quick points:

  • Three of the top 10 ActBlue fundraising pages benefited Arkansas Senate candidate Bill Halter.
  • Over half of the pages directly mention or motivate donors to give to candidates because of health care issues.
  • Six of March’s Top 10 fundraising pages by numbers of donors were created by the PCCC
  • Democracy for America, Daily Kos, and the Firedoglake Action PAC all had fundraising pages that made the list.

Some of the common features used on these 10 fundraising pages were the inclusion of embedded video and the use of ActBlue’s goal-based fundraising thermometers. Be sure to check out some of the other pages linked above as well as our recent post that covers some important tips to get some ideas of how to make your next fundraising page more successful.