Archive

Tag Archives: ActBlue

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.

Welcome to 2013! Barack Obama is still President of the United States. The U.S. Senate is still in Democratic hands. You could be forgiven for thinking not much has changed. You’d be wrong, as the numbers below show. Millions of Americans used ActBlue to show that their voice matters. While Mitt Romney was busy running down half of the country, many of them were busy ending his run. There are plenty of reasons why the election turned out the way it did, but you should never doubt your place among them.

Number of contributions 2,896,327
Total raised $136,497,244.45
Average Contribution size $47.13
Committees receiving money 3,895

 

Here’s what 2012 looks like compared to 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 4.54.13 PM

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 1,127,706 $36,344,427
DSCC Party Committee 440,747 $18,644,200
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 98,331 $2,961,178
PCCC Organization 92,920 $1,160,340
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 81,780 $2,295,125

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

On ActBlue, August pushed us north of $12 million for the month and put the Big Number within striking distance of $300 million. That’s huge. And while the top 5 committees for August raised more than $6m of that total, none of them had an average donation size larger than $40. The rest of the $12 million went to nearly 2,000 other committees. There are around 500 races that get you a seat in Washington D.C., which means that 1,500 other candidates and committees are raising money through ActBlue.

Across the aisle, the folks at the top of the organization decide to drop huge sums of money on a few races. Over here, hundreds of thousands of donors give what they can to support thousands of candidates across the country. I don’t know if you’ve seen the polls lately, but it looks like our way is working a little bit better. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 309,877
Total raised $12,785,110.61
Average Contribution size $41.26
Committees receiving money 1,981

 

Here’s what August 2012 looks like compared to August 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

August 2008 August 2011 August 2012 Change
Contributions 21,267 78,172 309,877 296%
Volume ($) $2,706,849.69 $3,051,815.13 $12,785,110.61 319%
Mean Donation $127.28 39.04 41.26 5%
Committees 1,068 916 1,981 116%

 

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

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 129,318 $4,215,738
DSCC Party Committee 40,678 $1,585,605
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 16,120 $385,933
Democracy for America Organization 13,674 $274,859
Mazie Hirono HI-Sen 9,499 $227,671

Not only are the July numbers strong, they reflect how broad ActBlue has become. While the top 5 recipients make up a significant portion of July’s volume (~$4.5m) that leaves another ~$4m that flowing through ActBlue to smaller candidates, committees and causes. It’s evidence of the broad base of support that ActBlue represents, one that is changing the way people raise money. It couldn’t be more timely. And now, the numbers:

Number of contributions 200,247
Total raised $8,346,045.09
Average Contribution size $41.68
Committees receiving money 1,836

 

Here’s what July 2012 looks like compared to July 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

July 2008 July 2011 July 2012 Change
Contributions 19,906 66,746 200,247 200%
Volume ($) $2,565,814.49 $2,678,159.69 $8,346,045.09 212%
Mean Donation $128.90 $40.12 $41.68 4%
Committees 1,043 861 1,836 113%

 

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

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 85,045 $2,695,553
DSCC Party Committee 31,359 $1,319,036
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 11,798 $241,687
Democracy for America Organization 8,575 $198,614
PCCC Organization 8,376 $119,989

The run up to the Wisconsin recall election pushed our May numbers skyward to over a quarter billion dollars (!!) by the end of the month. Sure, we would’ve preferred a rather different outcome, but there’s a lesson in Wisconsin that’s more than gloom and doom: small donors have the power to create a national political event.

From the protests through both rounds of elections, this has been a story driven by small donors, including those who sent millions to Wisconsin Democrats using ActBlue. The top five entities for May all come in with average donations under $40. That kind of engagement forced the GOP to commit astronomical sums of money to a race that wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

In short: grassroots donations sustained a state-level political struggle that lasted more than a year, and elevated it to national prominence. That’s a win, even if the returns didn’t go our way.

Number of contributions 208,071
Total raised $9,049,579.70
Average Contribution size $43.49
Committees receiving money 1,794

 

Here’s what May 2012 looks like compared to May 2011 and 2008 (last presidential election year). Percentage change is year over year:

May 2008 May 2011 May 2012 Change
Contributions 18,290 45,034 208,071 362%
Volume ($) $3,095,177.15 $2,627,655.58 $9,049,579.70 245%
Mean Donation $169.23 $58.35 $43.49 -25%
Committees 878 721 1,794 149%

 

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

Name Race Donors Dollars
Tom Barrett WI-Gov 43,137 $1,509,842
DCCC Party Committee 41,138 $963,184
Democratic Party of WI Party Committee 24,158 $657,544
DFA Recall Campaign Organization 12,887 $309,818
PCCC Organization 12,395 $121,737

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Forgive the title, but March was a pretty crazy month. When you look at the year by year comparisons below, consider that March 2011 was the height of the Wisconsin protests, which drove hundreds of thousands of dollars through ActBlue. Now, in March 2012, we’re a few months away from the final act: the recall election for Gov. Scott Walker (R). The real lesson of ActBlue in 2012 is this: Democrats up and down the ballot are benefitting from the work we’ve done since 2010. We’re thrilled to see it pay off.

Number of contributions 167,080
Total raised $8,987,964.89
Average Contribution size $53.79
Committees receiving money 1,629

 

Here’s what March 2012 looks like compared to 2011 (recall protests) and 2008 (last presidential election year):

Mar 2008 Mar 2011 Mar 2012 Change
Contributions 25,344 143,012 167,080 17%
Volume ($) $3,707,738.92 $5,847,994.09 $8,987,964.89 54%
Mean Donation $146.30 $40.89 $53.79 31%
Committees 787 673 1,629 142%

 

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

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 67,792 $1,942,038
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 10,526 $311,923
Democracy for America Organization 7,791 $127,177
PCCC Organization 7,454 $63,102
Alan Grayson FL-09 6,543 $146,564

A recent Seattle Times story on Maria Cantwell noted that, 

By far the biggest single source of Cantwell's fundraising last year was ActBlue, a political-action committee that acts as an online conduit for individuals who want to give to Democratic candidates. ActBlue "bundled" $365,000 for Cantwell.

Oh, hey scare quotes. If you check out Cantwell's ActBlue hub, you'll see she's received 7,333 donations through ActBlue totaling $750,000. That works out to about $100 a pop. Those donations were made by folks (real people!) who decided they wanted to support Cantwell's campaign and the money was disclosed to the FEC. So, we've got lots of people choosing to participate in a campaign, and doing so transparently. Terrifying. 

Let's return to those scare quotes. The author of the piece uses them to imply something inappropriate about small-dollar fundraising, as if totaling up grassroots donations were somehow the equivalent of, say, the K Street Project. It's ridiculous. Enabling small dollar donors to participate transparently and consequentially in the fundraising process only enhances democratic accountability. It's the opposite of the shadowy system of billionaire-financed campaigning that's kept the Republican nomination process going for so long. Bundling our "bundling" in with that sort of fundraising reflects a profound ignorance of what ActBlue actually does, and damages the credibility of the piece as a whole. 

It also reflects a real blindness about the role of money in politics. Money that comes from individuals and is disclosed in a way voters and reporters can access is hardly a corrupting influence. It's just another way for (actual) people to express themselves within the political process; the fact that ~$100 individual donations through ActBlue account for the lion's share of Maria Cantwell's fundraising is something to be celebrated, not scorned.

ActBlue doesn’t shut down after the election. We keep working to bring more and more people into the political fundraising process year in and year out. We get that a lot of our work is invisible during down times, but it pays off when the political cycle heats up.

February is a short month and it doesn’t bump up against an end of quarter deadline. Last year was bigger than expected because of the initial fundraising reaction to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) union-busting effort. But our slow-and-steady work has led to a February 2012 total more than twice the size of 2011, with nearly three times as many committees receiving money. That’s the sort of big, broad base that we’re trying to build, and we’re thrilled to see it working.

Number of contributions 110,354
Total raised $5,087,728.20
Average Contribution size $46.10
Committees receiving money 1,340

 

February in context:

Feb 2008 Feb 2011 Feb 2012 Change
Contributions 17,7538 34,496 110,354 220%
Volume ($) $1,879,868.94 $2,228,051.55 $5,087,728.20 128%
Mean Donation $107.19 $64.59 $46.10 -29%
Committees 600 561 1,340 140%

 

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

Name Race Donors Dollars
DCCC Party Committee 28,942 $763,847
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Party Committee 9,288 $166,872
Democracy for America Organization 7,688 $156,479
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 6,559 $344,854
PCCC Organization 6,237 $51,762

Here’s a rule about political fundraising: January is dead. People are feeling the pinch of their Christmas shopping, it’s cold, and the political cycle doesn’t really heat up for the non-primary-having party until later in the year. All in all, not a great time.

Not this January. This January was bananas. ActBlue sent over $4 million to Democratic candidates and committees this month, a nearly four-fold increase over January 2008. If you recall, in 2008 there was this little, kind of boring contest called the Democratic Presidential Nomination Fight–Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and so on. Still, 2012 is clocking in well ahead of those numbers, as you’ll see below:

Number of contributions 87,408
Total raised $4,021,352.93
Average Contribution size $46.01
Committees receiving money 1,207

 

You can’t really get a sense of how big January was until you see how it stacks up relative to 2011 and 2008:

Jan 2008 Jan 2011 Jan 2012 Change
Contributions 11,835 10,120 87,408(!) 764%
Volume ($) $1,358,105.87 $636,711.13 $4,021,352.93 532%
Mean Donation $114.75 $62.92 $46.01 -27%
Committees 535 460 1,207 162%

 

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

Name Race Donors Dollars
Elizabeth Warren MA-Sen 13,827 $658,329
DCCC Party Committee 11,906 $332,746
Democracy for America Organization 10,555 $187,149
Democratic Party of WI Party Committee 7,400 $152,406
CREDO SuperPAC SuperPAC 5,845 $133,896

 

There are a couple of big surprises in the data–the DCCC and the CREDO SuperPac make the leaderboard for the first time and buck expectations by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars with an average donation size under $30. We believe small donors and disclosure are the key to a healthy political system and it looks like folks are coming around.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26 other followers