Our 2015 report is here!

We just launched our 2015 report. It has all the graphs and (moving!) charts you could want, plus insights into the world of small-dollar fundraising.

At ActBlue, we have an amazing group of supporters who chip in to help us build our tools, plus a great community of campaigns and organizations putting our tools to the test with their fundraising prowess, so we wanted to take the time to thank every one of those people and report back on our work in 2015.

Check out the report.

Oh, and big things are coming in 2016!

November ’15 Recap

Three million-dollar days in November propelled the month to a total of $17.8M. So far this cycle, we’ve mailed checks and sent wires to over 3,399 campaigns, organizations, and causes.

Check out the tables and charts below for a more detailed breakdown of this past month, including customer service statistics:

Topline Numbers

Nov. ’12 Nov. ’13 Nov. ’14 Nov. ’15
Contributions 321,149 194,243 495,138 631,709
Total Amount $10,874,188 $7,396,503 $13,036,382 $17,753,019
Average Contribution Size $33.86 $38.08 $26.33 $28.10
Committees 1,449 1,484 1,626 1,842

Mobile

Nov. ’12 Nov. ’13 Nov. ’14 Nov. ’15
% Mobile 11.1% 19.3% 27.8% 31.8%
% Mobile for
Express Users
14.2% 22.9% 29.4% 34.7%

Customer Service

If you’ve ever been a part of the more than 13,000 campaigns, organizations, and causes that have used ActBlue to fundraise, then you know first-hand how helpful and adept our customer service team is. Day in and day out our team is answering calls, responding to emails, and making sure every donor’s needs are met in a timely, friendly fashion.

For November 2015, our customer service team handled an average of 387 email conversations a day.

Nov. ’15
Total Incoming Calls 14,321
Email Conversations 11,628

Recurring

Nov. ’12 Nov. ’13 Nov. ’14 Nov. ’15
Total Recurring Volume $828,708 $594,749 $4,863,036 $5,477,565
% of Total Volume 7.6% 8.0% 37.3% 30.9%

Express

We’re up to 1,863,876 Express users! These are some of our most engaged donors, who choose to save their payment information with ActBlue.

Nov. ’12 Nov. ’13 Nov. ’14 Nov. ’15
New Express Users 25,035 14,813 17,053 51,225
% of Total Volume
via Express Users
49.3% 41.1% 61.0% 59.8%
% of Contributions
via Express Users
54.8% 51.0% 65.0% 67.0%

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out at info@actblue.com.

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.

October ’15 Recap

With back-to-back million-dollar days to finish the month, October 2015 turned out to be a $21M month, which is more than double last cycle’s total for the month. We’re also past the $150M mark for the cycle (and well on our way to half a billion dollars), with 3,227 different campaigns and organizations raising money on ActBlue.

Check out the tables and charts below for a more detailed breakdown of this past month.

Topline Numbers

Oct. ’12 Oct. ’13 Oct. ’14 Oct. ’15
Contributions 867,733 289,612 1,449,907 673,921
Total Amount $35,053,113 $10,035,243 $55,595,241 $21,309,912
Average Contribution Size $40.40 $34.65 $38.34 $31.62
Committees 2,183 1,574 2,503 1,941

Recurring

Oct. ’12 Oct. ’13 Oct. ’14 Oct. ’15
Total Recurring Volume $2,053,473 $585,778 $9,992,221 $5,572,589
% of Total Volume 5.9% 5.8% 18.0% 26.2%

Express

We’re up to 1,812,513 Express users! These are some of our most engaged donors, who choose to save their payment information with ActBlue. The chart below illustrates the growth in the share of contributions made by Express users:

Oct. ’12 Oct. ’13 Oct. ’14 Oct. ’15
New Express Users 80,302 29,290 73,413 78,807
% of Total Volume
via Express Users
47.2% 44.4% 59.3% 60.7%
% of Contributions
via Express Users
53.3% 54.4% 65.0% 68.4%

Mobile

Oct. ’12 Oct. ’13 Oct. ’14 Oct. ’15
% Mobile 7.9% 19.1% 25.2% 31.5%
% Mobile for
Express Users
10.2% 22.4% 26.8% 34.4%

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out at info@actblue.com.

Q3: The most donors in a day, ever.

As you read this, keep reminding yourself that we’re talking about the third quarter of an off-year. An off-year!

We broke the record for most contributions in a single day: 147k on September 30th. It was also our second biggest day ever in terms of money raised, a total of $5.5M. What’s #1 all time? Well, that was September 30, 2014, in the run-up to the mid-terms.

Here’s how we got there: We started off the morning strong with a peak of 400 contributions a minute (a new record) when we ran recurring contributions as a batch while everyone was sleeping. Later in the evening we were flying at 250 contributions per minute — all new, organic contributions (also a record).

In moments like these, infrastructure matters. Our engineers have been working for years to increase the volume we can handle per minute and everything ran as smooth as butter (or your favorite non-dairy substitute).

Meanwhile, people are no longer chained to their laptops — mobile giving was a powerful force this past quarter, especially in the evening hours, when people are more likely to be checking email on their phones. Between 9 and 10 PM on September 30, we saw mobile contributions spike to an unbelievable 50% at one point (another new record) and finish at an average of 44.3% for the hour.

The chart below details newly made contributions on September 30. You can see the incredible hourly volume we handled and the breakdown of mobile vs. desktop contributions:

That figure — 44.3% mobile contributions in an hour —is unheard of in this space. For a little context, just two years ago our mobile average was just 15.5% for the month. This leap was only possible because our tech team has focused on improving mobile conversion rates with notable features like Express Pass and Express Lane and on constant, small iterative changes to our contribution form that make it load faster.

There is no way that we would have broken so many records without thousands of hours of developer time going into mobile optimization and sheer processing infrastructure.

The chart below details the pace of the day compared to the other top EOQ days. We know fundraising picks up later in the day, so we process all of the scheduled recurring contributions early in the morning (note the massive number of contributions that start in the 4AM hour).

And it’s not all just west coasters giving in the last few hours. It’s folks checking their email on their phones before bed, reading an urgent appeal, and responding. And it’s a beautiful sight to see, for those of us who care about our democracy being for and by the people — not just those who can cut checks for thousands (or millions) of dollars.

But this quarter was about more than just the EOQ deadline. Here’s what we wrote to recap the first quarter of this cycle:

If current trends hold, ActBlue could process half a billion dollars in small-dollar contributions this cycle.

Well…it’s been nine months and we’re already well past the $130M mark. It’s fair to say we’re well on our way to hitting that target. And $56M of that money came in this quarter alone (scroll down to see how this quarter compares to previous years).

Campaigns, organizations, and committees are coming out in full force this year. So far this cycle, almost three thousand different campaigns and committees have raised money using ActBlue.

It’s all a sharp contrast to the massive checks the Republican super PACs have been cashing.

The bigger the pool of active, engaged donors, the stronger the party. That’s why we place such a strong value on our whopping 1.7 million Express users, who have saved their payment information with ActBlue. What’s important is not just the sheer size, but how recent and active these donors are. We’ve added more Express users (267k) this quarter than in any other. And we added an incredible 24k on EOQ day alone (new record)!

One reason why that’s the case: high Express conversion rates. This past month, 38% of donors eligible for an Express account signed up for one. Last cycle, we were averaging just over 20%. It’s an indication that more and more new donors are coming in and immediately thinking ahead to their next donations. That’s a huge strength for the party right now.

A bigger Express donor base is in the interest of Democratic organizations and campaigns of all sizes. As our Executive Director Erin Hill said in the Washington Post on Wednesday:

“Small[-dollar] donors are becoming the backbone of Democratic giving.” And the Republicans have nothing like it.

The chart below shows both the number of new Express sign-ups and the rate at which non-Express donors are signing up as Express users over the past 12 quarters.

Below we break down this quarter compared to previous quarters.

TOPLINE NUMBERS

2012 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3
Dollar Amount $42,997,505 $22,600,373 $80,391,630 $55,836,968
Contributions 973,909 637,924 2,304,190 1,791,040
Average Contribution Size $44.15 $35.43 $34.89 $31.18
Distinct Entities 2,681 1,827 3,064 2,263

MOBILE

2012 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3
% Mobile 7.0% 15.1% 27.2% 29.8%
% Mobile
for Express users
9.3% 18.7% 29.3% 32.4%

RECURRING

2012 Q3 2013 Q3 2014 Q3 2015 Q3
% Recurring Volume 7.2% 6.6% 13.7% 23.9%
Recurring Volume $3,107,154 $1,490,781 $11,021,894 $13,319,997

Some interesting nuggets from this data: We processed more than double the dollar amount we saw in our last off-year, Q3 of 2013. And there was an even bigger growth in the number of contributions from two years ago. We jumped up from 637,924 to a massive 1,643,083 contributions this quarter. That’s a 259% increase.

Recurring contributions remain the best way to sustain a campaign or organization in the long-term. And we’re continuing to see huge strides forward with recurring. On the morning of September 30th, we processed our biggest recurring haul ever: about $700k in recurring donations, from 37k contributions.

Look at the huge jump in the overall recurring numbers for the quarter. A full 23.9% of all the money that came in this quarter was from recurring contributions. That’s phenomenal!

This doesn’t all just happen. We’ve spent a lot of time extolling the virtues of a strong recurring program and helping campaigns and organizations increase their conversion rates. At the same time, Americans are starting to get more comfortable with giving monthly. Recurring is a huge percentage of the money raised by international NGOs. They’ll spend up to $175 on acquisition per person, because of the lifetime expected value of a recurring contribution.

Campaigns don’t value recurring contributions quite that highly yet, but it’s exciting to see the tide turning. It’ll lead to much more stability for campaigns and organizations. And they’ll be able to focus more on core work beyond fundraising. Plus, donors love being able to easily give on a regular basis to the candidates and organizations they care about.

To all the hardworking digital campaigners out there who made this quarter such a success, congrats! We’re proud to help you fuel your campaigns and organizations. Drop us a line any time if you want to talk strategy, or just have a question: info@actblue.com.

——

co-authored by: Kim Niedermaier

September ’15 Recap

With a massive end-of-quarter to close out the month of September, this turned out to be a monster $27M month (during an off-year, by the way). Most notably, we added more Express users in the past month than in any month prior — a whopping 124,824.

Check out the tables and charts below for a more detailed breakdown of this past month.

Topline Numbers

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
Contributions 463,901 319,785 925,261 795,853
Total Amount $21,881,359 $11,198,520 $37,921,801 $27,557,907
Average Contribution Size $47.17 $35.02 $40.98 $34.63
Committees 2,113 1,436 2,489 1,856

Recurring

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
Total Recurring Volume $1,240,618 $531,163 $4,869,166 $5,131,616
% of Total Volume 5.7% 4.7% 12.8% 18.6%

Express

We’re up to 1,738,816 Express users. These are some of our most engaged donors, who choose to save their payment information with ActBlue. As supporters continue to look for the fastest, most convenient way to contribute, we continue to see the number of Express users grow by leaps and bounds.

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
New Express Users 57,739 36,614 65,354 124,824
% of Total Volume
via Express Users
45.2% 42.9% 58.4% 59.4%
% of Contributions
via Express Users
49.6% 50.0% 63.9% 66.0%

Mobile

Sept. ’12 Sept. ’13 Sept. ’14 Sept. ’15
% Mobile 7.1% 20.5% 25.3% 32.2%
% Mobile for
Express Users
9.4% 24.3% 27.3% 34.9%

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out at info@actblue.com.

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 info@actblue.com if you have any questions.

Testing those beautiful brandings

This is the one you’ve all been asking for. We just added the ability to A/B test your brandings!

Now there’s no need to guess whether a giant photo of your candidate or a simple branding will fare better. And with our awesome multi-armed bandit A/B testing suite, you’ll get results as fast as possible.

To set up a branding test, create or open up a contribution form. Navigate to the A/B test tab and give your test a name. Next, check off “Branded layout.” Your first variation will be the branding your form is currently set to (or your default branding). You can choose your variation to test from the dropdown menu. You can also test having no branding by selecting “ActBlue default.” If you need a refresher on creating a branding, check out our guide.

Once you’ve made your selection, click “Create test.” You can monitor the results of your test once you start sending it out to donors.

Unlike a regular A/B test, our multi-armed bandit system of A/B testing will start sending more traffic to the winning version of the test as results come in, so you’ll get results faster and won’t lose money on a subpar variation. And there’s no need to pick a winner — the multi-armed bandit will take care of it for you!

If you have questions about setting up a beautiful branding or an A/B test, let us know at info@actblue.com.

One-stop shop: Visualize your data and create targeted lists

At ActBlue we’re committed to dreaming up new ways for you to visualize all of your data. In that spirit, our tech team just rolled out a new way for campaigns and organizations to analyze contributor data by tracking HPCs (highest previous contributions) and total contribution amounts by individual donors.

This new visualization provides amazing insight not just for technically skilled data people, but also for smaller campaigns and organizations. The chart allows users to select groups of donors based on their donation history and download their email address and contributor information. That means teams that don’t currently have the ability to segment and target donors can now instantaneously create a segmented email list!

Here’s how it works:

If you navigate to the “Donors” tab of your Dashboard (previously called the “Uniques” tab), you’ll see a graph that looks something like this:

You can also select “Total Contribution Amount” in the “Show your donors by” menu to see this:

You can toggle between the HPC and total contribution views of the graphed data at the top. This chart has a log scale for both its x and y axis. A log scale increases by an order of magnitude, rather than a fixed amount, which allows us to present a clearer picture of your data. What does that mean? If you look at the x-scale, you’ll see there’s more space between 1 contribution and 2 contributions than there is between 8 and 9.  There are far more people who gave just 1 contribution, but on a regular graph all those dots would be stacked on top of each other. So, by choosing a log scale, we’re able to show you more of your actual data.  

The x-axis shows the total number of contributions a donor has made to your campaign or organization in their lifetime on ActBlue. The y-axis shows the donor’s highest previous contribution, or the total amount that they’ve donated, depending on which view of the chart you are looking at.

Values on the y-axis are rounded. For values from $1 to $5, amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar. For $5 to $25, they are rounded to the nearest $5, and from there on, tens are rounded to tens, hundreds to hundreds, and so on.*

For values on the x-axis, contribution numbers above ten are rounded to the nearest ten. It’s unlikely that you have contributions ranging in the hundreds, but in that case they are rounded to the nearest hundred.

The graph itself gives an insight to highest previous contributions for your entire donor base, along with information on how many donations people have made. But it doesn’t end there. Click a dollar value or a number of donations to highlight a row or column. You can switch to the other visualization to see how their total volume corresponds.

More importantly, you can download a CSV of the email addresses and the corresponding contribution data from a column, row, or selected range of the graph. To select a column or row, just click on the corresponding value and click “Download selected” in the upper right hand corner. 

To select a custom set of data, you can drag your mouse to draw a box around your desired values and then download the data.

This allows you to do some pretty sophisticated targeting without needing to do the backend work. You can easily target donors based on their highest previous contribution and frequency of donating without knowing a line of SQL.

For example, we’ve seen a lot of success in our program by targeting donors based on their HPC. For low-dollar donors, we’ll ask them for $5, while higher-dollar donors are asked for $10 or $15. With this chart, you could download a list of $3 and $5 donors and then send a personalized ask to that group. If you have a big enough email list, you could try sending a $5 ask and a $7 ask, to see if donors would be willing to give just a bit more.

You can also toggle the graph to show outliers (people who fall outside the scale of the graph), if you’re interested in targeting those donors.

We hope that this new tool will allow you to get to know your donors in a more nuanced way and run an even better email program.

If you have questions about applications or how to read the graph, we’re happy to answer them. Just drop us a line at info@actblue.com


*We chose this rounding scheme to simultaneously maximize the granularity of useful information and minimize unimportant visual clutter.

August ’15 Recap

On August 26, 2015 — just 238 days since the 2016 election cycle began — ActBlue passed the $100M mark for the cycle. And we’ve sent checks or wired funds to more than 2,750 different campaigns, committees, and organizations across the country. The chart below shows the incredible fundraising pace we’ve seen this cycle compared to the previous two:

Topline Numbers

Aug. ’12 Aug. ’13 Aug. ’14 Aug. ’15
Contributions 309,826 155,552 686,476 529,324
Total Amount $12,774,047 $5,673,931 $22,766,476 $15,013,856
Average Contribution Size $41.23 $36.48 $33.16 $28.36
Committees 1,980 1,305 2,244 1,636

Recurring

Aug. ’12 Aug. ’13 Aug. ’14 Aug. ’15
Total Recurring Volume $1,044,821 $482,101 $3,459,814 $4,469,346
% of Total Volume 8.2% 8.5% 15.2% 29.8%

Express

We’re up to 1,610,413 Express Users — people who have saved their payment information with ActBlue.

Aug. ’12 Aug. ’13 Aug. ’14 Aug. ’15
New Express Users 50,377 12,972 59,465 74,288
% of Total Volume
via Express Users
42.3% 44.6% 57.4% 59.4%
% of Contributions
via Express Users
46.2% 51.4% 64.0% 64.3%

Mobile

Aug. ’12 Aug. ’13 Aug. ’14 Aug. ’15
% Mobile 7.0% 9.6% 27.5% 29.8%
% Mobile for
Express Users
9.4% 13.1% 29.6% 32.5%

If you have questions or comments, feel free to reach out at info@actblue.com.