For ActBlue, 2013 went out with a bang. A $3 million bang. And that means a very happy new year for Democrats and progressives across the country. On the last two days of the year, we processed $1,174,688 (12/30) and $2,089,632 (12/31). That brought our 2-day total up to $3 million and gave us our second $2 million day of the year.

The supercharged final days brought our December total up to $11.2 million, our biggest month of the year. The quarter and year totals came in at $28.7 million and $89.5 million, respectively. That’s more than double our 2011 off-year total of $41 million. So, in other words, 2013 was big, and the work we did this past year is going to help pave the way for victory in 2014.

Here are a few other fun facts about the year:

1. The busiest minute: 12/04 at 10:11 PM EST, when we raised $5,171.54 from 176 donations (and yes, it’s totally random)
2. The biggest day of the year was 9/30 with $2.1 million, followed by 12/31, 2/28, and then 12/30
3. We went from 731 mobile contributions in 2010 to 293,934 in 2013
4. 7/10 of the busiest minutes were on 2/28 during the 5 PM hour (thanks impending government shutdown!)
5. October 12th had the highest percentage of mobile contributions (28.5%)

We broke down the numbers for December, Q4, and all of 2013, for this triple-the-data, triple-the-fun end of year recap, with the big moments, trends, and takeaways from the year in fundraising. Dig in below.

  Dec ’10 Dec ’11 Dec ’12 Dec ’13
Contributions 27,807 61,438 76,424 259,423
Volume ($) $1,185,162.85 $3,857,573.91 $2,344,501.66 $11,245,607.21
Mean Donation $42.62 $62.79 $30.68 $43.35
Committees 442 1,140 1,356 1,585

 

  Q4 ’10 Q4 ’11 Q4 ’12 Q4 ’13
Contributions 209,981 186,769 1,168,637 680,113
Volume ($) $19,122,770.37 $13,076,171.73 $48,273,858.28 $28,705,060.90
Mean Donation $91.07 $70.01 $41.31 $42.21
Committees 1,927 1,688 2,419 2,194

 

   2010  2011  2012 2013
Contributions 544,759 685,830 2,896,197 2,119,923
Volume ($) $56,927,561.68 $41,121,132.96 $136,467,283.62 $89,500,820.43
Mean Donation $104.50 $59.96 $47.12 $42.22
Committees 3,084 2,344 3,894 2,988

 

This year’s New Year’s Eve, the Q4 deadline, outpaced the last few by HUGE margins. In 2011, just a year out from a presidential election, we brought in $511,553.47, compared with the $2 million and change in 2013, a nearly 300% increase. Expect to see more monster fundraising deadlines next year. If you’re part of a campaign or organization that is fundraising, you might want to make sure you’ve got more than one email at the ready if you want to jump in the mix. Don’t get swallowed up by the inbox influx. And yeah, we can all see where this trend is heading.

We raised $15.7 million more in Q4 ‘13 than in Q4 ‘11, for a total of 2,194 different candidates, committees, and organizations. That’s a 30% increase in the number of committees from Q4 ‘11. Conversely, the average donation fell substantially, from $70.01 in 2011 to $42.22 in 2013, meaning that an army of small-dollar donors powered this huge jump. Early money is worth more to campaigns and organizations because it means they can build infrastructure, hire staff, and recruit volunteers. The successful Q4 will go a long way towards ensuring these groups are prepared for the upcoming election, and shows the GOP that Democrats are gearing up for a serious challenge next November.

This year we also launched Express Lane, our one-click donation system. We’ve been building up our pool of users for years, and now have a total of 714,519 Express users, shared across all candidates and committees. That makes it a whole lot easier for donors to give to all of their favorite candidates, and for candidates and organizations to increase conversion rates.

It had been pretty clear to us even before 2013 that mobile is the future of online donations, and we rolled out brand new mobile-responsive forms this year that made it easier than ever for donors to give on the go. Overall, the percentage of donations via mobile in 2013 was 14%, double the previous year’s mobile rate. Consider the fact that we introduced our mobile responsive forms late in the year—mid-September— and the results are even more incredible. With such a huge upward trend, we’re predicting that 2014 will be the Year of Mobile.

We had a hunch that the mobile numbers might have jumped during the holidays, when donors were away from their desks. We were right. Mobile contributions constituted 24% of all contributions on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the highest of the entire month. That number also stayed above 20% from 12/20 on. The beginning of the month, on the other hand, saw rates around 13%-17%. The takeaway? If you’re sending on a weekend, a holiday break, or a popular vacation time in the summer, be extra sure your content is mobile friendly. Then again, you should already be doing that.

So, 2013 was busy to put it lightly. But it will pale in comparison to the volume we’re going to see next year ahead of the midterm elections. We spent 2013 beefing up our tools so that we’ll be ready for a crazy busy 2014.

We are constantly testing and tweaking our system to optimize performance aka help thousands of candidates and organizations raise more money. Most of the time the improvements go unnoticed (except the extra $ ;). Not today!

Introducing multi-step! Anyone who doesn’t have Express cookied on their computer will see a brand-new four-step contribution form. Take a look at the new shiny-ness:

And yes, it’s bringing in a 25.86% increase in conversion rates with 99% significance. It’s a nice bump. We typically see the novelty effect in these sorts of changes to forms, so it probably will be less of an increase long-term as donors get used to the new form. Still, it should be a solid improvement. Oh, and it works on mobile to boot.

Express and Express Lane users will continue using ActBlue their usual way. This change is for new folks. If you’re a regular ActBlue user you probably have an Express account, but you can open any contribution form in an incognito browser to take a look at the new multi-step version.

Multi-step is now rolled out site-wide, so no need to do anything, just enjoy our holiday gift to you.

Here are a few more shots of the new layout:

November is the Big Show. At least it is when it’s a major election year. Off years are a trickier beast all together. For the die hards out there, it’s an exciting year filled with local election drama and good old fashioned campaigning (at ActBlue, we were engrossed in the ever-confusing and thrilling Cambridge City Council elections). For many in the media, November is a litmus test that determines where our country’s collective head is at.

The general consensus was that we’re split right down the middle–a Democrat (Terry McAuliffe) and a Republican (Chris Christie) won the two high profile gubernatorial elections–and that we’ve got a tough, but winnable, fight ahead of us in 2014. November is also important because a strong month for a campaign or organization now means more structure, funds, staff, and momentum in 2014. If we extend the litmus test to our own data (and boy do we have a lot of it), we’d say Democrats are in fighting shape, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it.

  Nov ’10 Nov ’11 Nov ’12 Nov ’13
Contributions 19,031 67,796 314,390 194,431
Volume ($) $1,162,664.25 $4,057,080.56 $10,874,238.34 $7,456,063.14
Mean Donation $61.09 $59.84 $34.59 $38.35
Committees 748 1,116 1,449 1,486

Over the past year, we’ve been preaching the importance of starting your fundraising efforts early to the campaigns and organizations who use our tools, and they’ve been listening. The same could be said for donors. Our community of supporters made 194,431 contributions in November. That’s more than triple the number who donated in November 2011.

Having a core group of dedicated donors and advocates is important, because it means more boots on the ground and more supporters who can activate their friends and their networks. The barrier to entry is low – our average donation is just $38.59 – but the results are big.

Other measures that have us convinced Democrats are on the right track? We set up 165 new campaigns and organizations in November alone. Sitewide, 858 new contribution forms were created, a whopping 4,655 contribution forms were updated, and more groups raised funds than in November 2012, a general election year (1,486 vs. 1,449). That’s a whole lot of fundraising going on! It also points to there being more savvy and digitally literate campaigns from top to bottom. In November 2011 for example, we saw just 136 forms updated. That’s an enormous spike in activity, and an indicator of a strong 2014 for Democrats.

Another great indicator of campaign readiness is the percentage of recurring contributions coming in. Recurring contributions are a great way for campaigns to have a steady and reliable source of funds, and they’re an important fundraising tool when you’re still a year out from your election. This month 18.8% of donations sitewide were recurring contributions, compared with 16.4% in November 2011. We’re happy that number has scaled and even grown as the number of campaigns and organizations using us–1,486 this month vs. 1,116 in 2011–has increased. One of our goals over the next year is to continue increasing that number. It’s one of the best ways to facilitate relationships between campaigns and supporters.

As the organization that makes these connections, it’s our job to remove any friction in the donation process in addition to ensuring campaigns and organizations are doing fundraising the right way. Mobile responsive contribution forms and Express Lane, our one-click donation feature, have gone a long way towards making the process easier for donors. The proof? Our mobile numbers are way up–19.3% overall and 22.9% for Express donations. That’s a huge change from last year. Check out the stats below. Can you tell which month we launched mobile responsive? Hint: it was a big deal.

December will likely bring a bigger month with end of quarter (and end of year!) fundraising pushes and donors in the giving mood. The hard work campaigns and organizations put in during the coming month will pay off big time come 2014. For us at ActBlue, December will be the calm before the election year storm–time we’re planning on using to sharpen our tools and roll out a few big-deal new ones. Don’t worry though, you’ll be the first to hear about them.

October.

It’s the month of costumes, leaf-peeping, and worst to first Sox victories (we are from Boston, after all). But mostly it’s the make-or-break month for countless campaigns. That means Saturday morning door knocking and Monday night phone banking and the last big fundraising pushes.

Unfortunately, this October was also tainted by a government shutdown. While we can’t say there’s a silver lining to it all, we did see some of the anger and frustration we all felt towards Republicans channeled into getting more Democrats and progressives elected in 2014.

Take a look at the September and October daily fundraising numbers. September was a typical month in that the daily totals build gradually. October, on the other hand, started with strong numbers due to the shutdown. The numbers mostly held steady for the rest of the month until the normal uptick during the end of month fundraising push.

sept 2013

oct 2013

In an odd twist of fate, we hit 6,666,666 contributors on Halloween. Spooky, but awesome! We’re happy to be seeing more people participate in democracy every day. Our witching hours on October 31st were spent guiding campaigns with their end of month fundraising and obsessively checking the ActBlue Dashboard, watching the contributions come in. We ended the month with a bang, raising $377,040 from 5pm-midnight on that last day, which put us over $10 million raised for October.

**We also may have spent some time looking at corgis in costumes.

corgi

Here’s how the numbers broke down compared with the past few years:

  Oct ’10 Oct ’11 Oct ’12 Oct ’13
Contributions 169,670 61,438 825,893 289,808
Volume ($) $16,774,943.27 $3,857,573.91 $35,055,118.28 $10,055,290.31
Mean Donation $98.87 $62.79 $42.45 $34.70
Committees 1,796 1,140 2,183 1,576

That $10 million total for October is huge when you compare it to the $3.8 million we raised in October ’11, the last off-year. What’s even better is that the number of people donating nearly quintupled (!), going from 61,438 to 289,808. That also means the average contribution size came way down–from $62.79 in 2011 to $34.70 last month. Even in October ’12, when we processed a whopping 825,893 donations, we still had an average contribution size of $42.24, almost $10 higher than in October ’13. Nothing makes us happier than to see that number free fall while the total amount of money coming in continues to go up.

We’re happy the $10 million we helped raise was powered by so many more people because it reflects our mission–to facilitate grassroots movements–but also because it means that campaigns are getting an early jump on fundraising. $4,656,448 of the total that we raised was for candidates with elections in 2014, and that’s not including committees or organizations who will put resources toward those campaigns. The money these candidates are raising now is going towards building field infrastructure, hiring great staff, and mobilizing supporters. Those tasks are all crucial to running a successful campaign, and they can’t be done in a day or a month.

Internally, we spent a lot of time working on new projects and infrastructure so we’ll be ready come next October (it’s poised to be a big one–we raised $35 million in October ’12, and we expect to beat that number). We launched the ActBlue Tutorial, where we teach you how to use all the ActBlue tools and how to do online fundraising the right way. We’re hoping it will be a great resource for campaigns in the coming year, especially when their fundraising efforts really ramp up.

mobile pie chart

Last month we told you about mobile responsive forms, and we’ve been checking the stats every day since. Sitewide, we saw 20% of contributions made on mobile devices, compared with 8.1% in October ’12. If it wasn’t already clear, mobile is most definitely the future of online fundraising, and we’re happy that we can make it easier for donors by adapting to where they are.

Finally, our compliance team has been working day in and day out to report all of your contributions (seriously, our end of quarter report was so big it broke the FEC servers), and to roll out Express Lane in even more states. That means up to 3x more money for campaigns across the country, and significantly less hassle for donors. We’ll give ourselves a pat on the back for that one.

red sox pat on back

At ActBlue, our goal is to help Democratic candidates, committees and non-profits raise more money, plain and simple. And one of the best ways we can do that is by making it easier to use our system and teaching the 10,345 (and counting!) candidates and groups who have used ActBlue how to be more effective fundraisers.

For years we’ve provided free one-on-one consultation for thousands of campaigns and groups, but we never had the time to sit down and write up our nearly 10 years of experience. We’ve always wanted to reach even more practitioners than those who pick up the phone and give us a call. The glory of an off-year meant we finally could document not just instructions on how to use the robust toolset we have here at ActBlue, but also best practices we’ve learned over the years.

The result is the ActBlue Tutorial, a comprehensive guide that shows activists and campaign admins how to do online fundraising the right way–from using the tools on ActBlue to devising testing plans to implementing advanced programs like tandem fundraising. That means you (yes, even you the solo online activist or small-town candidate running for your first election) can be a fundraising rockstar!

Learn how to create beautiful custom brandings with the ActBlue Tutorial

Running a great online fundraising program is about great planning–figuring out which tools, tactics, and messages will work for you, then testing them out on your list, revising, and trying again. That applies even if you’re working in an unofficial capacity, trying to mobilize support for your favorite candidate or cause among your family and friends. It’s also why we give everyone–from the largest senate campaigns to local school board elections–the same great tools for collecting donations, managing donors, and analyzing results, which can scale to each group’s size and needs.

It can be hard to know where to start with online fundraising, and we’re willing to bet there are a few great tools on our site that many admins and fundraisers have never taken advantage of, or maybe never even heard of. Our tutorial gives you the rundown on each one, with instructions on how and when to implement them, so there’s no reason not to try something new. Even the smallest of campaigns can learn to use the most sophisticated tools.

Of course, our strong and growing political team is always going to be there to answer questions and talk strategy, but we’re excited to be empowering all of our users, campaigns, committees, and organizations by giving them the tools they need to make the best decisions possible. We want to make sure no one’s leaving money on the table, so if you’re running a fundraising program, make a pledge to shake up your routine, and please, tell us about your results. Together, we’re building a movement!

Visit the ActBlue Tutorial here.

It was pretty clear that September 30th would be a monster fundraising day as the end of quarter deadline approached, with a government shutdown looming and our daily fundraising totals regularly reaching $500k.

The day did not disappoint – it was our third biggest day ever in terms of the number of donors who gave (61,414 – our favorite stat!) and sixth biggest in terms of overall dollars given ($2,173,118). The impending government shutdown and Republican obstructionism highlighted the reasons that we all need to work to put Democrats in office, and supporters channeled their anger and frustration into support and donations. We’re hoping for a speedy and reasonable resolution, but this mess is evidence of how important it is to ensure Democrats win in 2014.

Take a look at our September volume chart. You can see the huge spike on the last day of the month:

Last minute chaos aside, our campaigns, non-profits, and committees put up impressive third quarter fundraising numbers. We helped process $22,629,582.57 from 589,204 donors, which works out to an average donation of $38.40. That’s significantly lower than our 2011 and 2010 averages – $51.22 and $119.28, respectively. It was a true grassroots, groundswell effort.

The money went to 1,831 campaigns and committees, compared with just 1,388 in 2011. This is a testament to the fact that more campaigns are jump-starting their fundraising programs earlier this cycle. That fact, plus the dwindling average contribution amount, are important because they show that campaigns will have better organizational foundations and wider supporter bases, meaning they’ll be more prepared to take on Republicans next fall. You can dig into the numbers more here:

  Q3 ’10 Q3 ’11 Q3 ’12 Q3 ’13
Contributions 138,970 199,553 900,953 589,204
Volume ($) $16,576,728.52 $10,222,043.76 $42,997,590.05 $22,629,582.57
Mean Donation $119.28 $51.22 $47.72 $38.41
Committees 2,093 1,388 2,681 1,831

  Sept ’10 Sept ’11 Sept ’12 Sept ’13
Contributions 93,024 70,156 463,044 319,890
Volume ($) $9,892,076.04 $4,492,068.94 $21,881,384.20 $11,222,121,43
Mean Donation $106.34 $64.03 $47.26 $35.08
Committees 1,683 1,068 2,113 1,439

We’ve been working on a few of our own projects here in order to make the donation process easier. That’s great for campaigns, who see the benefits in their conversion rates and dollars raised. In the end though, it’s all of our donors who made this amazing end of quarter possible.

Our stellar tech team launched mobile-responsive forms this month (you can read more about that feature here) and saw a huge uptick in percentage of mobile contributions. A fifth – 20.5% of new contributions in September ’13 were made via mobile, compared to 9.6% in August ’13 and a meager 7.1% in September ’12. Keep in mind that we launched mobile responsive about halfway through the month, so we didn’t even get to see it’s full effect. We can’t wait to watch that number grow and help campaigns and groups raise more money on mobile.

This month we also released Express Lane, our one-click donation system for donors who have saved their payment information, to the first round of campaigns just in time for #eoqmadness. It’s a pretty big deal for us, and the fact that the number of donors in September ’13 (319,890) was more than triple the number in September ’11 (70,156) shows that we’ve made the donation process incredibly simple for supporters.

Express Lane has just started to roll out, but we know it’ll grow bigger and bigger going forward. We increased Express users by 36,639 in September alone, bringing our total to 644,910. As more campaigns use ActBlue for their fundraising, more users convert to Express accounts, meaning the Express donor pool increases for all Democrats and progressives. Together, we’re building a stronger movement.

The new and improved features, engaged campaigns and committees, and dramatically increased participation give us hope for 2014. It’s sure to be a tough electoral season – especially when we’re all dealing with Koch money and Republican stubbornness – but if this month was any indication, early planning is going to pay off.

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