Finding your active recurring donors just became really easy

Recurring fundraising programs are important because they allow groups using ActBlue to budget, plan, and build for the future, so they can do more (and better!) organizing work.

Recurring fundraising benefits donors, as well, because they can commit to supporting your work for the long haul and really feel like they’re investing in the movements and causes they care about.

To make the most of a recurring program, campaigns and organizations need to be able to figure out how much recurring money is slated to come in. And a part of that process is being able to answer the question, “who are my recurring donors?” That’s why we now have a CSV available to every group using ActBlue that provides them with the data they’ll need.

How to download a CSV of active recurring contributions:

Navigate to the Recurring tab of your Dashboard menu, where you’ll see an option to “Download active recurring contributions CSV report.”

download-csv

Our system will generate a CSV with a detailed look at your currently active recurring contributions, including info like the date of the initial contribution, the date of the most recent recurrence, and the amount. Please note that for most groups, we expect the spreadsheet will download quickly, but if a group has a lot of active recurring contributions, it could take a few minutes to download (and it could take ~30 minutes for an especially large recurring program).

There are a lot of potential use cases for the data you’ll find in this CSV. You can use the CSV to help target future fundraising asks, like excluding donors who already have recurring contributions running. You can also use the CSV to keep track of your active recurring contributions over time to help make projections and plan ahead. Or, you can use the list of email addresses to send recurring donors updates, keeping them engaged and excited about the work they’re helping you do.

We’d love to hear about how you’re using the active recurring CSV to better your fundraising program, and as always, we’re happy to answer any questions that come up. You can reach out to a member of our team at info@actblue.com.


 

Randomize your Tandem Fundraising

One of the most beloved features on ActBlue is Tandem Fundraising, and lately it’s been hugely popular. It’s a feature that is exclusive to our platform and allows folks to raise money for multiple groups on a single form. Organizations and small-dollar donors alike have been hard at work in recent weeks, building forms with multiple Democratic nominee funds or candidates they’d like to support, and giving millions of dollars to Tandem forms to help oust House GOPers in 2018.

Meanwhile, campaigns and organizations have been using ActBlue’s Tandem Fundraising feature to raise money for multiple candidates running in elections across the country. And as the election cycle heats up, Tandem forms will be a great way for campaigns using our tools to team up and raise money together.

We just introduced a new feature to make Tandem Fundraising forms even better. Now, when you’re raising for multiple groups on a single form, you can opt to have us randomize the order of the groups on the form each time it reloads.

When a donor lands on the form, they’ll be able to pick one contribution amount to split evenly among all the groups listed on the page. If they want to give individual amounts to certain groups, they can do that by clicking the linked text on the form.

default

 

The list will expand and donors will be able to see every group on the page. At that point, they can enter an amount in the “Split it!” box to divvy their contribution up evenly, or enter individual amounts next to the groups they want to support.

In that case, it can turn out that the first couple of groups on a form will receive more funds, simply because that’s where the donor lands first. But we know it’s important that each group on a form gets exposure to donors, so this new feature will shuffle the list that donors see each time the form is loaded.

list

 

What this means for campaigns, organizations, and donors creating contribution forms:

Randomizing the order in which different groups display on your contribution form is easy! Once you’ve created your form just head to the Edit tab:

edit-tab

Click on Options to see a dropdown menu with customizations and edits you can make to the form. Check off “Randomize the order of the groups on your contribution form.” Scroll down and hit save. It’s that simple!

check-box

With the box checked, every time the form is loaded, the groups on the form will randomize in a different order.

If you don’t want to randomize the groups on your form, just leave the box unchecked and the groups will appear in the same order in which you added them.

You can also scroll to the bottom of your form’s Edit tab and manually drag and drop the groups you’re working with to shuffle them in a different order.

reorder

Tandem Fundraising is proving to be a key tool in the resistance movement. With tandem forms, donors can give quickly to multiple candidates and organizations they care about, or they can build their own contribution forms listing groups they want to support and rally their networks to give. And it’s also a great way for candidates and organizations working toward the same goals to work together and maximize their fundraising.

We hope this will help make the Tandem Fundraising process even easier and more effective, especially in these unpredictable times. If you have questions or comments about this new feature just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

Introducing the AB Events app: Just swipe right

One of our biggest priorities at ActBlue is to help folks carry out every aspect of fundraising as easily as possible. That includes putting on successful events, which can involve a lot of moving parts for campaigns and organizations and their staff or volunteers. That’s why our tech team built out our latest feature, the AB Events app for iPhone, which allows event organizers to manage the guest list right from their iPhones.

The AB Events app upgrades the event planning process in a lot of ways for campaigns and organizations, but it makes ticketing and attendance easier for donors, too. Event volunteers or staffers can use the AB Events app to check people in at events just by knowing the guest’s name, or they can scan the ticket barcode right from a guest’s mobile device, or printed ticket. In addition, we’ve added a free ticket option to the ActBlue Events form, so guests can easily RSVP to events that do not require a ticket purchase. Keep reading to get all the info you need about using the AB Events app.

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

With the AB Events app, volunteers and staffers are able to keep track of guest lists worry-free — no more printing lists and cross-referencing them at the door, or losing track of who has been checked in already and who hasn’t. Multiple event organizers can check people in at once, and view attendees’ ticket levels and special requirements. Guest lists update in real time, and sync across iPhones, iPads, and your ActBlue Dashboard. Campaigns and organizations can also decide if they want to scan tickets from a printed copy or a mobile device at the door, or simply take down guest names and check them in using their app. Plus, volunteers or staffers can use their own iPhones or iPads to get the job done.

If you’re hosting an event, you’ll get started planning and selling tickets like you always have. You’ll want to set up an event form with ticket levels and customizations to get the word out to your supporters.

After folks have started purchasing or reserving tickets for your event, you should download the AB Events app to your mobile device. Note: The app is only available in the Apple app store.

 

event-code

 

Once you’ve got the app loaded and opened up on your iPhone or iPad, you should see a screen like above that will prompt you to enter the event code, which you can find in your form’s Guests tab (see below). You can also use your iPhone’s camera to scan the event’s QR code and load your guest list.

QR-code

You’ll be brought to your event page with a complete guest list. The list will update as more folks buy tickets to your event, so when it comes time for you to check supporters in, you’ll have a completely up-to-date attendance list.

Ready to check people in? Just swipe right on the guest’s name — it’s that easy!

 

swipe-right

 

The best part is that once someone is checked in on your device, they’ll be marked as checked in across every volunteer or staffer’s device. Every ticket taker will see a green bar to the left of the guest’s name, so there’s no room for confusion.

Do you want to see tickets from your guests before checking them in? We also email a ticket to donors, so you can scan their ticket from their mobile device, or from a printed ticket. Just choose the orange button at the bottom of the guest list and scan the barcode on their ticket (which you can see in the screenshot below) to check them in.

e-ticket

Do you want to add volunteers or staffers who can check guests in? They just need to download the app and enter the event code or scan the event QR code with their camera. You can easily share your event code with a new ticket taker by clicking on the menu in the top right corner of your app. That will bring you to a page with the event code, like in the screenshot below.

 

ticket taker

 

Once the new ticket taker has entered the code, they’ll be all set to help you check guests in right away.

Hosting an event where guests will be coming and going throughout? You can also check folks out of the event. Just swipe to the left on someone you’ve already checked in if you need to check them out.

 

check-out

 

As your event starts to fill up you’ll be able to track in real time how many supporters have actually shown up.

 

big-event

 

Are you hosting an event, but not charging guests for tickets? As we mentioned, you can now also add a free ticket option to event forms going forward. If you’re hosting an event like a rally, where you’d like to offer tickets at no cost, supporters can sign up for a free ticket, so they’re on the guest list. You’ll be able to plan for the number of people committed to showing up, and your attendees will have all the info they need emailed to them.

We hope the AB Events app will help you execute your events in the most efficient way possible, and that you’ll let us know how it’s working for you once you get a chance to try it out. As always, you can reach out to us at info@actblue.com.

Meet our newest recurring tool: Smart Recurring

Recurring contributions are a popular feature on ActBlue because they help donors contribute to the long-term stability of organizations and campaigns. With a recurring contribution, donors have the opportunity to contribute a small amount on a monthly or weekly basis, rather than a large, upfront contribution. Meanwhile, campaigns and organizations can use recurring pledges to help budget and plan for the future, and at the same time build a community of committed supporters who become a real part of their work.

Our pop-up recurring feature allows campaigns to set up a pop-up that asks donors who have just completed a one-time contribution if they’d like to make their donation recurring. It’s been a useful feature because it offers donors another action to take to support the causes they care about, and it helps campaigns, organizations, and nonprofits build a pool of recurring donors that they count on to fuel their work.

We know that all recurring programs are different, and we want the groups fundraising with our tools to have options that suit their particular program’s needs. With that in mind, our tech team built Smart Recurring, a pop-up feature similar to the original pop-up recurring tool. Smart Recurring takes a donor’s initial contribution into account and offers up a smaller monthly contribution amount that makes sense for the donor based on their original one-time donation.

So what does it look like in practice? Say you just made a $25 contribution. With Smart Recurring turned on, your contribution would go through and you would see a pop-up similar to the one below, asking you to commit to a smaller amount every month.

pop-up

If you do decide to make a monthly recurring contribution, you’ll still give your original donation of $25 immediately, and starting the next month your $6 monthly recurring donation will be taken out each month on the same day.

You’ll receive a receipt with the details of the contribution and a note letting you know that a donation will be processed each month going forward.

receipt

You will also see a note indicating that the donation will recur when visiting your contribution history on ActBlue.

receipt-note

Overall, Smart Recurring makes the donation process more flexible by providing a great additional option for campaigns and organizations. It also takes donors into account, and recognizes that the amount someone wants to give once might not be what they’re willing to give every month. And ultimately, it helps fuel the long-term work of campaigns and organizations that donors care about.

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

We know that every campaign and organization’s donors respond differently, which is why we’re excited to add another recurring feature to your toolbox. Smart Recurring is great because it can help move your donors up another step on the engagement ladder while they’re already motivated to support your work. We recommend experimenting with it and seeing how it works for your program. And, like pop-up recurring, even if a donor doesn’t choose to commit to a recurring contribution, the original one-time donation still stands, so you don’t lose out on any money.

To enable Smart Recurring, just head to the Edit tab of your contribution form and choose “Use unlimited monthly contributions + smart pop-up recurring” under “Recurring Contribution options.” Right now, Smart Recurring only works for unlimited monthly contributions.

If you’d like this feature enabled on every form you’re using, you can update your default form settings. In that case, every form with default settings will have Smart Recurring enabled. You can read more about default settings here.

 

enable

 

As with the original pop-up recurring feature, campaigns and organizations can write a customized ask for the pop-up. We recommend making it short, and talking specifically about why a recurring contribution will make a difference in your work. You can also use a gif or an image as a way to show your donors why you need their support.

It’s important to note that if a donor makes a one-time contribution of $210 or more they won’t see any pop-up asking them to make a recurring contribution on top of their initial contribution.We’ve set that as a limit, because we know that oftentimes campaigns and organizations don’t want to ask donors giving a higher amount for an additional contribution right away. With traditional pop-up recurring, you can choose your own amount threshold for the pop-up your donors see.

The chart below outlines how Smart Recurring upsell amounts correspond with one-time contribution amounts.

upsell

When you export contribution data from ActBlue there will be a column on the CSV specifying whether or not the contribution was made via Smart Recurring, and a separate column noting the amount the contribution will recur for.

If you give Smart Recurring a try, we’d love to hear from your team about how it works for you. Just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

Our new integration with Account Updater makes recurring donations even easier

Over the past year, we’ve been working to integrate with Account Updater, a tool from the credit card industry that reduces disruption any time you get a new credit card number (i.e. when you receive a chip card or lose your card). Now that we’ve integrated with Account Updater, if we try your recurring contribution and learn that your credit card number has changed, we’ll try to seamlessly update your contribution with the new number, so your donation can go on uninterrupted.

We know how much of a pain it is to receive a new credit card number and have to find and update every recurring payment you’ve set up online. We wanted to eliminate that hassle for small-dollar donors. And, as an added bonus, if a recurring donor has their credit card stored on their ActBlue Express account, their stored card will also be updated automatically. That way the donor can continue giving in the future with a single click, without needing to go through the trouble of updating it on their own.

Account Updater has been gaining popularity in the e-commerce space — you might have noticed it’s a little less frustrating to update your Netflix subscription. It’s a courtesy for consumers and we are very excited to build this out across ActBlue to make the donation process as frictionless as possible. We want people to be able to give to the candidates and causes they support just as easily as they can buy concert tickets online or shop on Amazon. So far, recurring donors with automatically updated credit cards have given $6,190,367!

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

You don’t have to do anything to enable this feature. It’s available to every campaign and organization using our platform, and we don’t charge you any extra for the feature.

If your organization is running a recurring program, and you have a donor that lapses because their credit card is no longer valid, we’ll automatically attempt to update the donor’s card through their credit card company and retry the contribution three days later. If that works, their recurring contribution will carry on with the new card number.

We hope that this will make your lives easier — no more tracking down donors and asking them to update their information. To see what percentage of your donors have been able to seamlessly continue their contributions thanks to the integrated Account Updater, you can navigate to the Metrics page of your Dashboard, and scroll to the pie chart section.

pie-chart

If you have questions about the integration with Account Updater, let us know at info@actblue.com.

Apple Pay is now available on ActBlue forms

Improving the user experience is always our priority at ActBlue. We try to make it easier for donors to give to the causes they believe in, wherever they are. And in turn, that helps campaigns and organizations increase their conversion rate.

One of the biggest points of friction for donors has always been typing in their credit card number on a mobile device, and with mobile now representing 40% of our contributions, we are always trying to improve that experience. That’s why our tech team worked hard to roll out our newest feature: Apple Pay on ActBlue forms!

Apple Pay has been around for a few years at physical merchants, where you might have used it to buy coffee or movie tickets. But in September, Apple updated its iOS on iPhones to be able to accept Apple Pay in browsers. We were excited to be a very early adopter of Apple Pay, and to be able to get it set up during crunch time, when it made a big difference to campaigns and committees.

Here’s how it works:

applepaygif-inf-275

Apple Pay will only show up as a payment option on a contribution form when a donor has Apple Pay set up with a credit card on their device (the vast majority of the time this will be users on phones, but there are some ways to enable Apple Pay on your laptop, like with the new MacBook Pro that comes with a touch bar).

We tested having the Apple Pay option available during the contribution flow and saw a 6.5% increase in conversion rates among users with Apple Pay active. After that we quietly rolled it out to every federal campaign and committee in the fall. We rushed to give access to as many people as possible before the election, and a million dollars (!!) ran through Apple Pay from the initial roll-out through Election Day.

Our developers have been working to expand Apple Pay’s availability since then. Right now, Apple Pay is available for all federal campaigns, federal PACs, 527s, and c3 and c4 nonprofits. Our team is working hard to clear state and local jurisdictions one by one in the coming months, so candidates at every level of the electoral process will have access to this tool.

This is just another way that ActBlue’s infrastructure is a shared resource for Democrats, progressives, and nonprofits across the country, and for the donors who want to support them.

What this means for campaigns and organizations using ActBlue:

You don’t have to do anything to enable access to Apple Pay on your contribution forms, because we’ve done that automatically. In fact, your donors may have been using it for months already. We’ve already helped raise $2,532,776 from 82,904 donations through Apple Pay! 

You’ll notice a new pie chart on your Dashboard, which shows you what percentage of donations are coming in via Apple Pay. And when you download a .csv of your contributions, you’ll be able to see which donors are using Apple Pay, just like with PayPal.

Your Apple Pay percentage might look small now, but as more folks adopt Apple Pay, we expect that to grow. And most importantly, Apple Pay will play a big role in giving donors another easy, fast way to chip in and make an impact on the critical progressive work taking place right now.

If you have any questions about Apple Pay leave a comment or shoot us an email at info@actblue.com.

A big mobile boost from one simple test

We run optimization tests on our forms constantly, but it’s rare that we see winners as big as our recent mobile test.

At this point we’re running around 40% of all donations made on mobile devices. Anything we can do to keep that number going up, the better, given the massive transition in traffic from desktop to mobile.

In this test, when donors landed on a form, some were moved directly to the point on a form where they’d choose an amount to give — skipping past the contribution blurb they would normally read first, as you can see below. Others got the normal form with the headline and blurb up top.

form

 

The forms that skipped over the blurb won by a landslide. The result was a statistically significant increase of 5.2% conversions on the variation (p < 0.05). It was such a big winner that we automatically rolled it out sitewide.

Most of our tests see a tiny bump, but any increase in conversions makes a big difference when we’re running tens of millions of contributions through our forms each month. And a 5.2% bump? That’s real money.

There were more than 250k new mobile contributions made sitewide in July, with an average contribution size of about $30. That means our mobile form test resulted in about 400k extra dollars. Like I said, real money.

We previously tested a contribution form without a blurb on both desktop and mobile versions to our email list. The results were abysmal, which is why we ran this sitewide test to mobile donors specifically.

By nature, our mobile users are seeking ways to save them time and enhance their convenience when they’re making contributions. And that’s what this switch gives them.

ActBlue integration with Action Network

We believe it’s essential that the campaigns and organizations using our tools have access to their fundraising data where and when they need it.

That’s why we’re excited to announce a brand new API integration with Action Network, a fellow member of the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI).

action-network

If you’re using ActBlue to fundraise, but using Action Network as your CRM, you can now send your donor and contribution info from ActBlue to Action Network automatically.

The best part? It’s totally free, and it’s a quick and easy setup process. All our team needs from you is your Action Network API key to get things rolling.

If you’re interested in integrating with Action Network, just drop us a line at info@actblue.com and a member of our team will be in touch.

For those of you using other CRMs, we’ve already got an existing suite of integrations in place — including BSD, Salsa, and ActionKit.

We also offer open webhooks, which can provide more flexibility in the way your campaign or organization retrieves data, and ultimately works with that data. Implementing webhooks will require some technical work on your end, so if your campaign or organization wants to hear more about using webhooks, you should reach out to our team and we can provide you with the details.

It’s important to us that our users are able to push their data exactly where they want it, so we’re thrilled to be integrating with other platforms in the progressive space to help make that process as seamless as possible. And we’re happy to continue integrating with new platforms — if there’s a specific integration you’re interested in, you should let us know.

As always, if you’ve got any questions or comments about integrations, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com.

More funds, no extra heavy lifting

We’re rolling out a brand new remarketing feature to help you follow up with donors who started to contribute but didn’t finish. Now you can send your donors a quick, friendly email to remind them why they wanted to give and ask them to complete their contribution.

If you’ve ever placed something in your cart while shopping online, clicked away, and received an email politely nudging you to finish up your purchase, you’ve gotten a remarketing email.

Here’s how it works: Once you’ve turned on the feature and customized your email with your own text and branding, donors who abandon your form before completing it will automatically receive an email thirty minutes following their incomplete donation.

This is what ours looks like:

 

remarketing

What counts as an incomplete donation? A donor selects a contribution amount and fills in their email address, but leaves the page before going on to fill in their credit card info. In that case, we’ll make sure they get a reminder with a link to your form asking them to complete their contribution.

This is available to campaigns, committees, and organizations across the board, but you must enable it on a form-by-form basis, as the feature is turned off by default.

If you’d like to enable the feature just head over to the Edit tab of your contribution form. Scroll down and toggle the “Remarketing Options” drop-down menu.

Check off the “Enable Remarketing” box.

Next you’ll need to write up some custom text. We have an automated response (which you can see in the sample above) set up to accompany the link your donors will receive, but we highly recommend filling it out with text specific to your cause or campaign.

You should view this as your chance to make the case to donors for why it’s so important that they finish the form and complete their donation. See below for an example of how to customize your text to get that message across to donors.

 

remarketing

 

If you have branded receipts enabled, that branding will be included on this email. The example email in this post include’s ActBlue’s branding. An unbranded email won’t include any logo.

If your campaign or organization is using default forms and you would like to enable remarketing for all of those contribution forms, simply follow the steps listed above for your default form (found at the top of your list of forms within your Dashboard’s Form Management tab).

In the short time since this feature was released, we’ve already seen it increase conversion rates and bring in more dollars for campaigns and organizations using it. It’s a great way to generate more funds from your asks without any extra heavy lifting.

As always, if you’ve got any questions or comments about this new feature just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

What a spontaneous online fundraiser looks like

I’d say last night was YUUUUGE, but others have done the Donald impression much better than I could. Suffice it to say, it was a historic night for ActBlue’s infrastructure.

Yesterday evening, during a 15 minute span, ActBlue processed over 26,000 contributions. That’s equivalent to 104,000 contributions / hour. For context, the biggest hour up to last night saw 13,981 contributions created. That’s how big of a surge it was.

We’re always prepping for the biggest moments, those are our bread and butter. And one of the best parts about a big night like last night is we get to see how our tools hold up to a heavy load, and how we can improve in the future. We processed every contribution that came our way last night, and we’re confident we could have handled 150k / hour (and we’ll be able to handle 200k by later tonight).

We did hit one bump late yesterday though. Last night’s spontaneous fundraiser (the one that raised $5.2 million in less than a day) broke our external processor’s response systems. That’s some amazing grassroots power. Like we said, we over-prepare, so we were ready for that. But the vendor started giving us a previously undocumented error message, which temporarily caused some donors to not move from the “please wait” page to the confirmation page…even though their contributions were already fully processed

It’s not ideal, and it’s not the exceptional donor experience we want to provide people with. And we were sorry for that. We worked quickly to get the issue remedied and to get the donor user flow back to what it should be. In addition to technical solutions, our customer service team was answering donor questions in real-time last night and they’re working hard to talk to every donor today.

And we’re happy to say that we didn’t drop a single contribution, and we didn’t go down. If you saw an error message last night, that was because you were trying to access a non-essential page. We triage those during our busiest times, so we can put all our resources behind handling contributions. That part worked exactly as it should, and it paid off with some pretty eye-popping statistics:

Numbers are fun, but pictures are more fun, so let’s start with a graph:

Want to guess what time Senator Sanders told a national TV audience to go to BernieSanders.com and donate $27?

Those are requests / minute as recorded by our (fabulous) CDN, Fastly. And for the briefest moment in time, we hit 333,000 rpm. Prior to last night, we’d never seen that number go above 40,000 rpm. So it was, in a word, unprecedented.

Internally, we could see those donors giving at a similarly rapid pace:

Isn’t it beautiful how nicely those graphs match up? And yes, this means we topped out at more than 2000 contributions / minute. Our previous record was 781. Here’s the breakdown of our new contribution records:

Minute: 2,689
5 minutes: 11,218
10 minutes: 19,822

But the best part of the contributions per minute graph is the natural decay in rate. By that I mean the gradual downslope as the wave passed. Why is this important? Because if our infrastructure was actually in trouble the graph wouldn’t look as natural — you would be seeing some sharp drop-offs.

Last night was a huge win for small-dollar donors. They once again showed that they are a powerful force to be reckoned with, and we’re committed to providing them with the best experience possible. We know that rock-solid and innovative infrastructure is key to helping Democrats up and down the ballot raise the most money online. But we also know that respecting donors and making sure they have a good experience both technology and customer service-wise is key to growing small-dollar donor participation. We’re expecting a lot more big nights, and we’re ready and excited to empower donors and help candidates build winning campaigns.

If you have questions about a contribution, or want to talk shop, email us at info@actblue.com and a real person will respond, as always.