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Earlier this month ActBlue was honored by our friends from Living Liberally at their 10th anniversary party in New York City, along with Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz. The party brought out local New York City advocates, progressives from around the country both young and old, and candidates, including mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio to the Downtown Community Television Firehouse, an industrial event space in Chinatown with a screen projecting live tweets from party guests using the hashtag #DL10.

ActBlue Executive Director Erin Hill accepting our award from Living Liberally co-founder Justin Krebs

Living Liberally was founded 10 years ago, about a year before we founded ActBlue (which, you guessed it, means our 10th anniversary is up next). It began simply as Drinking Liberally during the combative Bush years, when liberals were seeking like-minded individuals to drown their sorrows – and organize – with. Since then the plight of liberals has improved, but Living Liberally has still been able to expand to their social organizing program to include Eating Liberally, Laughing Liberally, Reading Liberally, and Screening Liberally events. An unexpected side effect of all this socializing, they joked, was dating liberally, marrying liberally, and procreating liberally.

Living Liberally

Living Liberally co-founders Justin Krebs, Katrina Baker and Matt O’Neill with Nobel Prize Winner Joseph Stiglitz (second from right)

When the founders took the stage for the speeches portion of the night, the crowd almost immediately broke out into a chant of “10 MORE YEARS.” It was a celebration that included chapter leaders from all over the country, many of whom don’t get to see each other on a regular basis. My favorite story came from Kathleen Thompson, a chapter leader from Grapevine, TX, who talked about how she felt like she was the only liberal in the area, and what a relief it was for her to find a place where she could meet others who shared her beliefs.

Kathleen Thompson and Joseph Stiglitz

Kathleen Thompson and Joseph Stiglitz

Greg Leding, the current Democratic Leader of the Arkansas House of Representatives, met the people who ended up encouraging him to run for his seemingly unwinnable House seat through Living Liberally. Now he works to foster Democratic talent, in the hopes of recruiting others to take the big step of running for office in a state that’s often hostile to liberals.

Erin Hill, our Executive Director, took the stage to accept our award for “Empowering Liberally” through our work to connect supporters with candidates and causes in order to build a stronger progressive movement. We were happy to accept the award amongst some of our newest partners in New York City. This is the first election year that we’re able to work with candidates for mayor and city council. Justin from Living Liberally helped introduce us to many of them, including Council Member Brad Landers, co-chair of the Progressive Caucus of the NYC Council and the rest of his team, which is using ActBlue for slate fundraising in order to help support all of their members. It was the power of social organizing and the work Living Liberally does in action.

A few weeks ago, Nick Confessore of the New York Times wrote a piece about the reluctance of small donors to return to the Obama fold. Shira Toeplitz of Roll Call recently examined the slowdown in traditional fundraising: major bundlers and PACs. For Confessore, the fact that President Obama has to work harder for small donors stems from his sagging popularity. For Toeplitz, it's a sign of the down economy that the deep-pocketed can't dole out the sort of financial largesse they used to.

Both of these theses have some real problems.

Confessore runs into the problem that conventional methods of reportage are a terrible fit for assessing as broad a category as grassroots donors. Dozens of interviews are a poor way to figure out what's going on in a population that numbers in the millions. Some people are undoubtedly disappointed in President Obama, but many more may not have tuned into the process yet. In 2007, Democrats were where Republicans are today: focused on a contested primary process to replace a President that was wildly unpopular with their base. It's no surprise that it's harder to engage the Democratic grassroots now; whether that will remain the case is anybody's guess. Finally, it's not as if the President has some special claim to these donors–they're a political constituency like any other. Even if there were reason to accept Confessore's thesis without question, we should be celebrating the fact that political actors have to work for their support, rather than ignoring it as irrelevant or taking it for granted. Today, there are lines of accountability and financial interdependence between legislators and grassroots donors that didn't exist ten years ago, and that's a good thing.

The Toeplitz piece is a bit harder to find bright spots in, as it takes the same basic error and adds a laundry-list of excuses for a poor fundraising quarter. Hurricane Irene, the debt ceiling melee, the (crippling!) impact of the economy on our nation's wealthiest donors, and even the Jewish New Year all come in for blame for the lower-than-average haul, as if that were the important aspect of those events.

I bring these articles up because ActBlue has access to a pretty good cross-section of small donor activity. Every day, we process contributions to state and federal candidates from across the country. That immunizes us to some extent from the problems these articles run in to. In the spirit of lending a little clarity to the debate, here are our numbers from Q3 2009, and Q3 2011:

'09: $9,368,191 from 105,266 donors to 1,160 committees. 

'11: $10,230,421 from 199,595 donors to 1,388 committees. 

Hardly the declines we'd expect to see if Confessore and Toeplitz are right. Grassroots donors are more engaged in the fundraising process than ever before. Even if the sources Toeplitz quotes are right, it may not be the case that fundraising has declined, rather that its character and the methods used to go it are changing and the political sector is lagging a bit in recognizing that trend. As political fundraising becomes increasingly digital and grassroots, the value of traditional methods may lose a little of their centrality. (They'll still be important!) That's not a bad thing–it will create a political system that's more dynamic and has fewer barriers to entry. There will be more voices and more choices for voters to listen to and weigh, and that's the essence of representative democracy. 

As I mentioned last month, Wisconsin is the story of 2011 so far. In late February, Republican Gov. Scott Walker attempted to undermine a core Democratic constituency by revoking the right of public workers to bargain collectively, ostensibly for budgetary reasons. When Democratic state senators fled the state to deny him the legislative quorum required to pass a budgetary measure, Wisconsin Republicans declared that it didn’t impact the budget and passed the law without warning in a five minute session. Recently, a Wisconsin judge blocked the law’s implementation. Talking Points Memo has a useful timeline of events.

The immediate result of Gov. Walker’s overreach was a huge surge in Democratic fundraising and the initiation of recall proceedings against vulnerable Wisconsin Republicans. As Greg Sargent noted, the first completed recall petition tied the record for the fastest recall petition in Wisconsin history. The momentum on the ground is more than matched by the fundraising numbers. In March alone, ActBlue processed $3.7 million worth of donations to Wisconsin Democrats and allied groups. Add in the numbers from February and the total climbs north of $4 million. That’s a lot of cheddar, and its impact is reflected in our March fundraising numbers:

Number of contributions 143,034
Total raised 5,854,848.89
Average Contribution size $40.93
Committees receiving money 673
Fundraising pages receiving money 731
Pages created 490

 

As you’ll see below, the donations in Wisconsin were primarily by grassroots donors, who drove huge growth in the number of contributions and lowered our average donation size.

Mar 2007 Mar 2009 Mar 2011 Change
Contributions 21,912 11,438 143,034 1150%
Volume ($) $1,998,288.74 $2,765,316.89 $5,854,848.89 113%
Mean Donation $91.20 $241.77 $40.93 -83%
Committees 189 440 673 53%
Pages Created 158 452 490 8%
Pages w/ Money 164 412 731 77%

 

 
And here are the five top committees, by number of donors, for March 2011.

Name Race Donors Dollars
PCCC Organization 54,371 $576,408
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Organization 43,598 $1,099,121
Democracy for America Organization 41,323 $462,030
PCCC Recall Committee (Wisconsin) Organization 25,483 $267,944
MoveOn.org Political Action Organization 24,191 $364,237

 

The fact that March fundraising was driven primarily by organizations is a reflection of how big the stakes are in Wisconsin. Gov. Walker’s attack on collective bargaining isn’t just about undermining a core Democratic constituency (though it’s about that too); it’s about redistributing wealth (and thus political power) upward, away from workers and public servants and thereby diminishing their voice in the political process. Organizing and funding resistance to that overriding Republican goal is too big a job for any one candidate, so state and national organizations stepped in to help shoulder the load.

At ActBlue, our mission is to give grassroots donors a powerful voice in our democracy, so we were happy to put our tools at their disposal. We’re about democratizing power, and this is how we do it.

June 15th has come and gone, and a slew of state and federal reports have been released in accordance with the EOQ/mid-year filing deadline. You read us at the end of Q1/2010, now relax for the first of three sequels planned for this year:

Number of contributions 100,137
Total Raised $11,056,887.41
Average contribution size $110.42
# of committees receiving money 1,871
# of fundraising pages receiving money 2,049
New fundraising pages created 2,586

 

Let’s compare the most recent Q2/2010 fundraising with the same period from 2008.

Q2 2008 Q2 2010 Change
Contributions 61,617 100,137 63%
Volume ($) $13,423,736* $11,056,887 -18%*
Mean Donation $217.86 $110.42 -49%
Committees 1,390 1,871 35%
Pages Created 1,854 2,586 39%
Pages w/ Money 1,320 2,049 55%

 

As I mentioned in my June post, these numbers are skewed by $3M+ of presidential fundraising that occurred in Q2/2008. That said, Q2/2010 is the fourth time ActBlue has seen over 100k contributions in a quarter, and the sixth time that we’ve sent more than $10M to Democratic candidates and committees.

But the biggest news is the increase in our reach, committee wise. The 1,871 committees that received money from ActBlue is a new record, the highest number in our history. Moreover, on June 30th, 2010, 563 committees received contributions through ActBlue, blowing out the previous record of 462, set on Sept. 30th, 2008. In other words, as of the 2010 midsummer filing deadline, usually affected by the summer fundraising doldrums, we have already eclipsed a record set during the homestretch of the 2008 election. Heck of a job, Blue-y.

Now let’s look at the Top 10 campaigns and committees of Q2/2010, ranked by total raised. It’s a mix of races including 4 US Senate, 3 Congressional, 1 Gubernatorial, 1 Lt. Governorship, and 1 State Assembly contest.

Name

 

Bill HalterRace

AR-Sen, 2010Contributions

27,497Raised

$819,084.02 Joe SestakPA-Sen, 20106,498$655,414.54 CA Senate 2010 650$565,901.00 Gavin NewsomCA-Lt Gov, 20101,110$393,419.31 Deval PatrickMA-Gov, 20101,566$306,988.80 Cal CunninghamNC-Sen, 20101,292$247,759.57 Mark CritzPA-12, 20102,231$196,409.89 Josh BeckerCA-HD-21, 2010431$149,326.00 Manan TrivediPA-06, 20101,184$142,420.63 Dan SealsIL-10, 2010517$140,994.73

When ranked by number of donors, the Top 10 list for the quarter looks a little different. 

 

Name Race Donors Raised
Bill Halter AR-Sen, 2010 27,497 $819,084.02
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 6,498 $655,414.54
PCCC 6,283 $68,943.60
Democracy for America 3,872 $39,739.67
Ann McLane Kuster NH-02, 2010 3,675 $43,046.58
David Segal RI-01, 2010 3,472 $94,568.64
Alan Grayson FL-08, 2010 2,832 $72,075.13
Bill Hedrick CA-44, 2010 2,588 $40,195.20
Anthony Weiner NY-09, 2010 2,272 $53,616.46
Mark Critz PA-12, 2010 2,231 $196,409.89

 

There are twice as many Congressional races in the Top 10 (6) when you rank them by donors, with no non-federal candidates. You also see the appearance of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America, both prolific and effective organizational users of ActBlue which frequently make the top 10 thanks to their energetic small-dollar donors. 

Finally, our list of the Top 10 ActBlue fundraising pages, ranked by number of donors. Many of these are familiar pages which we’ve previously discussed in our April, May, and June monthly reports which you should review for more detail. Of those listed below, the PCCC was responsible for 4 of the 10, bloggers for 2, DFA for 1, the DCCC for 1, and individual candidates for the remaining two. 

Name Raised Donors Average
pccchalterfield 9962 $162,415.15 $16.30
supportbillhalter 3133 $75,381.52 $24.06
2010pccc 2600 $76,133.15 $29.28
orangetoblue2010 2157 $141,581.63 $65.63
halterpoll 1990 $35,380.55 $17.77
critzdccc 1546 $92,915.19 $60.10
nelsonwallstreet 1151 $16,559.49 $14.38
graysonforweiner 1092 $37,286.29 $34.14
weinercdthc06242010 1059 $24,623.60 $23.25
blueamerica10 894 $65,119.96 $72.84

Coming Soon: End of Quarter post for Q2/Q6 (depending on how you count). But first! Our monthly stats report for activity on ActBlue during the month of June.

Number of contributions 37,778
Total raised $4,178,381.23
Average contribution size $110.60
Committees receiving money 1,397
Fundraising pages receiving money 1,207
Pages created 822

 

As the last month of the federal fundraising quarter and the last month for mid-year fundraising reports in some states, June is an active month. That said, it’s also influenced by the usual fundraising downturn that occurs in the summertime. The total amount raised was slightly higher than May 2010, while the number of candidates & committees receiving ActBlue checks increased along with the total number of personal fundraising pages created and donated to.

Below is the comparison for June 2010 to June 2008.

June 2008 June 2010 Change
Contributions 32,412 37,778 17%
Volume ($) $7,970,202 $4,178,381 -48%
Mean Donation $245.90 $110.60 -55%
Committees 1,054 1,397 33%
Pages Created 942 822 -13%
Pages w/ Money 873 1,207 38%

 

NOTE: The major skew in these numbers comes from presidential fundraising. If you remove that from the totals, total volume is only down less than 4% from 2 years ago and the mean donation size is more in line with what we’ve seen in 2010. In any case, the number of Democratic committees fundraising through ActBlue was up by a third in a non-presidential year even as the number of fundraising pages created leveled off for the first time this year.

Next is our chart of the Top 10 Campaigns for June 2010 (by donors).

Name Race Donors Raised
Bill Halter AR-Sen, 2010 7317 $193,092.94
PCCC Organization 3571 $30,115.82
Ann McLane Kuster NH-02, 2010 2328 $21,887.09
Alan Grayson FL-08, 2010 2309 $56,919.52
David Segal RI-01, 2010 2252 $37,499.84
Anthony Weiner NY-09, 2010 2224 $49,557.92
Bill Hedrick CA-44, 2010 2202 $26,735.63
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 1287 $332,911.12
Democracy for America Organization 874 $7,657.35
Deval Patrick MA-Gov, 2010 588 $113,589.60

 

More analysis and explanation regarding the individual committees will be included in our quarterly stats report.

 

Name Donors Raised Average
pccchalterfield 3065 $49,335.58 $16.09
2010pccc 2075 $59,192.73 $28.52
graysonforweiner 1092 $37,286.29 $34.14
weinercdthc06242010 1059 $24,623.60 $23.25
halterpoll 1001 $19,624.55 $19.60
supportbillhalter 669 $14,306.52 $21.38
orangetoblue2010 541 $33,331.18 $61.61
supportelaine 421 $11,481.80 $27.27
pccc_main 387 $6,203.51 $16.02
whentheylie2 314 $9,838.00 $31.33

 

The most successful fundraising by donors (which anyone can create) was one created by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee in the final days of AR-Sen candidate Bill Halter’s campaign. It contained an embedded video message, specific asks, and expressed urgency- all components of a successful fundraising ask. Another of the PCCC’s successful pages which raised the most money included suggested amounts, video, and images and allowed the PCCC to raise money for itself, 3 of their endorsed federal candidates, and another PAC. ActBlue allows fundraisers to mix and match candidates, committees, and jurisdictions so donors can split their contribution to multiple causes while we make sure no one every donates more than the legal maximum. Other successful techniques included fundraising asks for other candidates by incumbents, use of goal based thermometers, branded fundraising pages, and previews of TV ads that donors can help fund.   

Create an ActBlue account today and you too can start making effective fundraising pages like these!

Welcome to the latest installment of our monthly stats reports. The summer months are filled with Democratic primaries, but before we get into them we’d like to take a look back at the month of May. With major Democratic contests taking place in Arkansas and Pennsylvania, it’s been a busy month on ActBlue. Let’s dig in:

First, the May 2010 Overview.

Number of contributions 40,130
Total raised $4,111,081.87
Average contribution size $102.44
Committees receiving money 1,304
Fundraising pages receiving money 1,080
Fundraising pages created 733

 

May 2008 May 2010 Change
Contributions 18,674 40,130 115%
Volume ($) $3,603,205 $4,111,081 14%
Mean Donation $192.95 $102.44 -47%
Committees 885 1,304 47%
Pages Created 516 733 42%
Pages w/ Money 611 1,080 77%

 

As in previous months, the number of contributions doubled relative to 2008, with impressive growth in dollar volume, fundraising page activity, and the number of individual candidates in committees receiving money through ActBlue.

Here are the Top 10 Campaigns & Committees for May 2010 (by donors).

Name Race Donors Raised
Bill Halter AR-Sen, 2010 12,947 $407,551.28
Joe Sestak PA-Sen, 2010 4,377 $256,022.07
PCCC Organization 2,106 $19,910.82
Democracy for America Organization 2,048 $17,670.50
Ann McLane Kuster NH-02, 2010 1,319 $17,986.56
David Segal RI-01, 2010 1,229 $51,818.80
Jack Conway KY-Sen, 2010 1,171 $49,504.13
Mark Critz PA-12, 2010 967 $107,807.95
Marcy Winograd CA-36, 2010 942 $19,397.19
Gavin Newsom CA-Lt Gov, 2010 741 $201,321.00

 

In May, AR-Sen. challenger Bill Halter was the top candidate on ActBlue by both total donors and dollars raised. Lifted by a contested primary with national attention, Halter was the focus of online fundraising from a multitude of sources which included the support of fellow Top 10 groups–the PCCC and Democracy for America. A major primary battle against Sen. Arlen Specter powered Rep. Joe Sestak into the #2 spot, and the special election for Rep. Murtha’s seat brought fellow PA candidate Mark Critz into the #7 berth. An engaged Netroots community pushed Kentucky senate hopeful Jack Conway up to #6. California’s early June primary saw Lt. Gov candidate Gavin Newsom and congressional candidate Marcy Winograd safely into the #9-10 slots. 

We’ll a number of these candidates again when we look at the Top 10 Fundraising Pages (by donors) for May 2010:

Name Donors Raised Average
pccchalterfield 3063 $51,707.57 $16.88
supportbillhalter 1780 $38,937.50 $21.87
orangetoblue2010 1263 $89,891.95 $71.17
halterpoll 989 $15,756.00 $15.93
supportjoesestak 752 $28,186.20 $37.48
davidsegalpccc 624 $10,122.51 $16.22
newsom0522 590 $141,244.00 $239.39
billhalter 572 $11,692.60 $20.44
2010pccc 563 $15,447.42 $27.43
critzdccc 555 $57,405.00 $103.43

 

Looking at these successful pages, all linked above, we see three that make use of our support for embedded video, four with ActBlue’s fundraising goal based thermometers, and three that have branded ActBlue pages. We can see how fundraising for candidates as a group can create a halo effect; organizations that include themselves on fundraising pages tend to earn funds of their own in conjunction with their supported candidates. 

To learn more about fundraising pages and how to start your own, click here.

Above you’ll find the most recent monthly stats post covering May but we didn’t want to miss out on the April numbers so I have posted them below for the historical record. The March numbers are posted here.

The April 2010 overview:

Number of contributions 31,001
Total raised $2,768,055.98
Average contribution size $89.29
Distinct committees receiving money 1,236
Distinct fundraising pages receiving money 1,039
Fundraising pages created 1,031

 

Below we can see that even compared to April of 2008 in the midst of a presidential year, our 2010 numbers are way up across the board (other than a drop in the mean donation size which is a sign of stronger grassroots fundraising). 

April 2008 April 2010 Change
Contributions 13,795 31,001 125%
Volume ($) $1,850,329 $2,768,055 50%
Mean Donation $134.13 $89.29 -33%
Committees 808 1,236 53%
Pages Created 396 1,031 160%
Pages w/ Money 557 1,039 87%

 

Now let’s take a look at the Top 10 Campaigns & Committees for April 2010 (by donors).

Committee Race Donors Raised
Bill
Halter
AR-Sen, 2010 7,526 $218,439.80
PCCC Organization  1,986 $18,916.96
Jennifer
Brunner
OH-Sen, 2010 1,558 $48,060.73
Democracy
for America
Organization  1,402 $14,411.82
Mark
Critz
PA-12, 2010 1,205 $72,586.94
Joe
Sestak
PA-Sen, 2010 947 $66,481.35
Rob
Miller
SC-02, 2010 764 $27,116.23
Cal
Cunningham
NC-Sen, 2010 542 $64,109.34
Deval
Patrick
MA-Gov, 2010 476 $88,176.10
Marcy
Winograd
CA-36, 2010 448 $10,918.70

 

Below are the Top Fundraising Pages for April 2010 (by donors).

Page Name Donors Raised Average
pccchalterfield   3898 $61,372.00 $15.74      
nelsonwallstreet   1132 $15,825.99 $13.98      
critzdccc   999 $35,420.19 $35.45      
supportjennifer   868 $19,885.20 $22.90    
supportbillhalter   697 $22,137.50 $31.76      
helprobreachamillion   676 $22,472.33 $33.24    
jenniferbrunner   429 $23,473.22 $54.71      
pccc_main   390 $4,739.01 $12.15      
orangetoblue2010   379 $18,358.50 $48.43

 

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