Q3 2018: Biggest quarter ever

Topline Numbers

Q3 ’14 Q3 ’16 Q3 ’18
Contributions 2,304,231 3,342,271 7,782,934
Total Amount $82,656,488 $131,086,484 $385,176,557
Average Contribution Size $35.87 $39.22 $49.48
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 3,064 4,098 9,335


Small-dollar donors pushing for a sea change in November made Q3 2018 the biggest quarter in terms of dollars raised in ActBlue’s history. Grassroots donors raised $385,176,557 for 9,335 Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits on ActBlue in Q3, more than double the amount raised in Q3 2016 before the presidential election. Q3 2018 also includes our three biggest dollar days ever: September 28th, 29th, and 30th.

Small-dollar donors raised over $11 million (crossing the $10 million threshold for the first time ever) on September 28th, the day after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified in front of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. The momentum continued over the weekend, with donors raising a staggering $16,853,013 on September 30th. And the records didn’t end there: Grassroots donors also made more donations in a single day than ever before on the 30th (307,320 contributions). All of this energy at the end of the month helped make September the biggest dollar month in ActBlue’s history, with $184,841,230 raised by passionate small-dollar donors.

This money is coming at a critical point in the 2018 election cycle. Sixty-eight percent of the money we disbursed to campaigns and organizations on October 1st was sent via wire transfer, which meant campaigns and organizations could start to use it that day. This unprecedented small-dollar support is empowering Democrats to compete with Republicans bankrolled by mega-donors in the final weeks before Election Day, when GOTV efforts and ad buys can make all the difference. And the GOP is beginning to realize its super PACs can’t keep up with Democrats’ people power.

Cycle-to-Cycle Comparison

2014 Cycle through Q3 2014 2016 Cycle through Q3 2016 2018 Cycle through Q3 2018
Contributions 6,795,206 19,206,237 33,665,261
Total Amount $258,734,705 $634,133,519 $1,297,262,888
Average Contribution Size $38.07 $33.01 $38.53
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 4,828 6,196 14,039


We’re in the home stretch now, and there’s no telling how big the rest of this cycle will be — small-dollar donors raised more in Q3 2018 ($385,176,557) than in the entirety of the 2014 election cycle ($335 million)! With $1.3 billion already raised on ActBlue this election cycle by 4.3 million grassroots donors and counting, it’s clear more people than ever before are participating in our democracy and making their voices heard.

Total ActBlue Volume by Election Cycle

If you have questions about this post, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com. And if you’re looking to set up an ActBlue account for your group, contact support@actblue.com!

Reintroducing the ActBlue Pinger

EOQ can be a stressful time for emailers, but there’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after clicking the big red send button on a fundraising email and watching your fundraising total climb towards your goal. You can make that moment even more exciting by bringing what we call a “pinger” sound into the mix!

Just head to your group’s Overview on your Dashboard and scroll all the way to the bottom. You’ll see a blue bar across the page and a dropdown like the one you see below.

dropdown menu

You can choose any sound from the dropdown menu and then if you leave the page up, the sound you’ve chosen will play each time your group receives a donation. And any group on ActBlue can take advantage of this feature!

Even more fun? Our team has the ability to create new sounds on the fly (as we have the time and capacity), so if you have suggestions, you should let us know! Email us at support@actblue.com or find us on Twitter and let us know your idea (@actblue).

Here are some additional sounds we’ve created that you can try out. You’ll just need to attach the URL parameter to the end of your ActBlue Dashboard link, like this: https://secure.actblue.com/entities/33605/dashboard/?ping_url=https://s3.amazonaws.com/actblue-img/2018/gooooooooooal.mp3

“Goal”

?ping_url=https://s3.amazonaws.com/actblue-img/2018/gooooooooooal.mp3

“A Star is Born”

?ping_url=https://s3.amazonaws.com/actblue-img/2018/A+STAR+IS+BORN+Pinger+Edit.mp3

“Baby Shark”

?ping_url=https://s3.amazonaws.com/actblue-img/baby_shark.m4a

“Thanks Obama”

?ping_url=https://s3.amazonaws.com/actblue-img/thanks_obama.mp3

 

To turn off a pinger sound that you selected in the dropdown, simply refresh your Dashboard. To stop a custom pinger sound that you added via a URL parameter, delete everything after “dashboard/” in your Dashboard’s URL.

We hope this provides you with an extra jolt of excitement every time someone chips in to support your work. Happy Fundraising!

3 strategies to leverage technology creatively in raising money

This is a guest post written by Janice Chan, who often writes for our friends at Wethos over at The Wethos Collective blog. In over a decade in the nonprofit sector, Janice has written fundraising appeals and grant proposals, led social media outreach, managed volunteers, executed rollout plans, managed donor and program databases, and learned the hard way that changing to a new website host means you’d better make sure that donation form still works!

wethos

When you don’t have the resources of a large organization behind you, being creative and adapting quickly is even more critical to making the most of what you have. Good news is that technology keeps making it easier to fail fast and pivot quickly without risking huge investments of time or money. Regardless of where your organization is in terms of technological maturity (or how aligned your use of technology is with your mission), there are strategies you can implement at any stage.

One: Choose platforms that provide a solid start.

If you want to leverage technology creatively, choose an online fundraising platform that provides a solid default along with the ability to customize the look and feel on your own. What does this look like for online fundraising? It means the product is designed with thoughtful consideration for the defaults — both how they support your mission-driven organization and a delightful donor experience.

Most of the time, we don’t give a ton of consideration to our defaults. Like when we reach out to our social networks (and only our social networks) when we need to staff up for a project and miss out on great talent who never knew there was an opportunity.

So take time when choosing a platform because that will be your launch pad. As a nonprofit organization, particularly if you’re a small to mid-sized organization, it is probably important that…

  • Your systems can talk to each other so you can work efficiently.

  • You have control over a donor’s giving experience and your branding.

  • You can customize, manage, and maintain this without having a full IT team in-house.

  • You can test and evaluate your efforts.

  • And, if you don’t have the time to, you know the system was designed based on rigorous testing of what is most effective.

Even if you are not looking for a new system right now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t look for new opportunities to optimize your current platforms or try new approaches.

Companies release updates and enhance functionality all the time. Even if you unsubscribed from the product updates, your vendor probably has a blog where you can check out any helpful new features you might have missed and get ideas for using them. Maybe you can even reach out to the vendor’s team and discuss what current features could help you accomplish X better! Or, if you’re looking to strategize across multiple channels (and potentially multiple platforms or systems), consider if it’s worth brainstorming with an outside team of strategy and design experts to figure out how to leverage them together to advance your mission.

Two: Test, test, test.

You know what they say about assumptions. So, how do you know that something is a terrible idea? Okay, maybe some you can recognize right as they exit your mouth, but you still need to throw some spaghetti at the wall before you can tell what sticks.

Technology makes it easier to know what’s working and what’s not. Make use of tracking, reference codes, or features that support A/B testing. If you’re wondering what A/B testing is, it is a basic science experiment: take two similar groups of people; give one group version A and the second group version B. Ideally, there would only be one difference between versions A and B – otherwise it gets very difficult to tell which difference is leading to different results (if they are different).

Platforms like AB Charities make it really easy to test different form titles, blurbs, brandings, videos, and more. However, you can test in any channel. Maybe you’re an elephant sanctuary and you want to see whether you get more clicks on a donation link via social media when you share photos vs. videos. While some platforms may allow you to set up different referral links, you can also compare the stats for the different kinds of posts. You’ll want to know which version they clicked on and you’ll need a way to measure the result (e.g. clicking a link, shares, etc.) depending on what outcome you’re hoping to achieve.

How do you decide what to test?

If data isn’t one of your love languages, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. But you know what? Using data to make decisions is something you’re already doing in your daily life. Ever looked at the fuel gauge on your car before getting on the highway and pulled over at the nearest gas station? Congratulations! You’ve made a data-informed decision!

Start with knowing what you would do differently. If one version performs better, what will you keep doing? What would you adjust or stop doing? If it’s not something you could or would change, then find something else to test!

Visualize your data for faster decision-making. Whether your system has dashboards, or you’re making a quick and simple Excel chart, you want to be able to look at your data and immediately know whether action is needed or if you should keep doing what you’re doing because it’s headed in the right direction.

Make adjustments based on what you learn. Dashboards are super useful for checking in to see if you need to change course, but only if you actually make those adjustments. If you’re wondering how you’ll do this on top of everything your team already does, consider adding some temporary capacity. Just as technology allows you to test and pivot quickly without a major investment, bringing on a freelance team allows you to benefit from the insights of specialists without having to add a permanent position (or search for a unicorn!) when you’re trying out new things.

Start small. Start light. Just start. It will be easier to keep the testing and learning and experimenting momentum going once you’ve gotten started and it becomes part of the way you do things.

Three: Remember that it is about the people.

Just because you haven’t met your donors in person doesn’t mean you can’t build a relationship with them. From the updates and acknowledgements you communicate to using social media to empower your supporters to advocate for your cause online, take advantage of the ways in which technology can help us (and our work) transcend borders.

Try out new or unexpected ways to engage with your supporters (and potential supporters).

Grow your network and deepen your connection with current donors.

  • Your supporters are proud to support you! Make it easy for them to spread the word with social share graphics.

  • Speaking of empowering your donors to share the amazing work you’re doing, have you tried peer to peer fundraising yet?

Customize your appeals for different audiences so that they have a great experience.

  • You probably have different versions of thank you letters based on how the gift came in or what it was for, right? If you have very different types of fundraising campaigns, or very varied types of supporters, consider creating different donation forms specific to each audience or appeal for a cohesive experience.

  • Provide more options when people sign up for your email lists. Giving your supporters more control over the content they receive means they’re more likely to hear about what they’re already interested in, and you can better tailor your emails.

Take advantage of viral moments and hot topics.

  • Whether it’s the next ice bucket challenge or current events that suddenly make your work top of mind, you’ll want to be able to take advantage of it. In addition to creating a topical donation form, consider setting up a landing page for new website visitors.

  • Consider whether to add ads (promoted posts on social media, Google AdWords, etc.) to the mix.

And for as much as we’ve talked about people being donors, don’t forget about other people! This includes volunteers who might be able to help you identify great stories to share, non-development colleagues who might have a new idea for you to test out, vendors who want to support your organization with even better tools, or a platform like Wethos, which will match you with a freelance team best suited to help your nonprofit strategize and think creatively about testing ideas or executing what you’ve already learned by leveraging the latest technology.

Just as the future of fundraising relies on getting everyone aboard, the future of work means finding a way to grow your team’s capacity sustainably.

This post was written for AB Charities in partnership with Wethos and also appears on The Wethos Collective blog.

It’s weekly recurring season!

We’re seven weeks out from Election Day! It’s crunch time, especially for ActBlue admins who are trying to hit their campaign fundraising goals in the run-up to Election Day. And honestly, it’s the busiest crunch time we’ve ever seen. The good news is there’s an ActBlue feature that can help fundraisers out a lot during this final push: weekly recurring. It’s a great tool that helps campaigns and committees bring in more donations during these crucial weeks when the pressure is really on.

Just as it sounds, weekly recurring gives donors the option to sign up and make a recurring contribution that processes on the same day of the week, every week, until November 6th. After Election Day, the recurring contribution automatically ends.

Asking donors for weekly recurring contributions is a great way to build on the connection you’ve already made in the final weeks before the polls open. You should take this opportunity to let your donors know just how much their contributions will make a difference seven, six, or five weeks out from Election Day. Let them know how you’ll be spending the money and what their contributions could mean for the results of your race. Get them excited about helping you out through Election Day and make them feel like a part of your movement!

There are two important things to note about weekly recurring contributions: Someone from our team will need to enable the feature on one of your group’s contribution forms. And we can only turn weekly recurring on for your forms if you’re using ActBlue to fundraise for both your emails and website.

Here’s what your donors will see when you’ve got weekly recurring turned on for a form:

 
weekly-preset
 

So if a donor signed up for a recurring contribution on Tuesday, September 25th, they’d be making seven contributions, one scheduled to process each Tuesday (including Election Day). If you’re interested in turning on weekly recurring, shoot us an email at support@actblue.com with the forms you want it turned on for. If you decide to expand your weekly asks and you want to use it on more forms before Election Day, you can just clone a form that already has weekly enabled.

Don’t forget that you can use pop-up recurring asks for weekly contributions! But make sure you change the ask language and note that it’s a weekly recurring contribution.

Be sure to update your receipt text for weekly contribution forms. You’ll find the space to do that in the “Thanks & Receipt” tab of the form editor:

 
thanks-receipt
 

One weekly recurring test we had great success with was our ‘7 for 7’ ask, where we asked donors to give $7 for the last 7 weeks before the election. But it’s important to remember that every list is different.

Weekly recurring is a great way to keep your donor base engaged right up until Election Day. We’re thrilled to bring you this option again and would love to hear about any tests you run that are particularly successful. Are you ready to get set up with weekly recurring? Let us know at support@actblue.com and we’ll turn it on for you.

August ’18 Recap

August wrapped up an unparalleled summer, with the small-dollar donor movement breaking multiple fundraising records from beginning to end. Grassroots donors started the month off strong by hitting a huge milestone on August 2nd: $1 billion raised on ActBlue in the 2018 election cycle! By the end of the month, small-dollar donors gave over $117 million (compared to $40 million in August ‘16) and made over 2.6 million contributions to 7,567 candidates, organizations, and nonprofits. This astounding level of participation not only made August our first $100 million month, but also our biggest month ever in terms of dollar volume and number of contributions.

So just how big was this summer? Our three biggest months ever in terms of volume are now June, July, and August of 2018. This is especially astounding because summer tends to be a relatively slow time for fundraising, even in an election year, as you can see in the graph below.

August cycle graph

 

Cycle-to-Cycle Comparison

2014 Cycle through Aug.’14 2016 Cycle through Aug.’16 2018 Cycle through Aug.’18
Contributions 6,154,524 18,354,388 31,831,516
Total Amount $219,805,324 $576,052,891 $1,112,900,791
Average Contribution Size $35.71 $31.38 $34.95
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
4,631 5,950 13,457

So far in the 2018 election cycle small-dollar donors have raised nearly double the amount they had raised at the same point in the 2016 cycle, with an average contribution size of just $35.  The huge totals from this election cycle so far are a testament to the collective energy coming from the left to get Democrats into office this November.

Check out all the highlights from August below.

 

Topline Numbers

August ’14 August ’16 August ’18
Contributions 713,298 1,063,228 2,686,159
Total Amount $23,427,025 $39,724,145 $117,641,612
Avg. Contribution Size $32.84 $37.36 $43.72
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
2,244 3,109 7,567

The number of campaigns and organizations using our platform to raise money from small-dollar donors more than doubled from August 2016, reaching 7,567 groups this August! We’ve seen an outpouring of new candidates and organizations as people decide to change our country and run for office themselves.

August ‘18 also saw a big increase in the number of contributions when compared to August 2014 and 2016. Small-dollar donors are excited to be taking an active part in our democracy this year and are making more contributions than ever to a larger and more diverse set of campaigns and organizations.

August cycle dot chart

 

ActBlue Express

August ’14 August ’16 August ’18
New ActBlue Express Users 59,628 50,476 149,979
% of Total Volume via ActBlue Express 57.6% 59.8% 62.2%
% of Contributions via ActBlue Express 63.6% 66.2% 64.7%

August was the biggest month in 2018 for new ActBlue Express users! The number of donors choosing to join ActBlue Express keeps growing, with an incredible 149,979 people signing up in August. These donors are able to save their payment information with us and give with a single click to any group using ActBlue. As small-dollar donors feel the urgency of the midterms and want to stand up to Republicans bankrolled by mega-donors, they are looking to make multiple donations to Democrats with fewer clicks.

 

Mobile

August ’14 August ’16 August ’18
% of Contributions via Mobile 26.9% 35.9% 45.8%
% Mobile for ActBlue Express 28.9% 38.6% 46.1%

Mobile contributions made up 45.8% of all contributions on ActBlue last month. Mobile giving continues to steadily make up almost half of all giving on our platform, especially as more rapid-fire news churns out leading up to the elections. That’s why we make sure our contribution forms are easy to give through on desktop and mobile interfaces so donors can participate wherever they are located.

 

Recurring Contributions

August ’14 August ’16 August ’18
Total Recurring Volume $3,607,682 $9,623,822 $19,567,407
% of Total Volume 15.4% 24.2% 16.6%

Recurring donations totalled over $19.5 million this August, more than double the volume in August 2016. With the midterm elections just around the corner, grassroots donors are meeting the call to mobilize and backing candidates on the left with people-powered campaigns.

 

Customer Service

August ’18
Total Incoming Calls 12,599
Email Conversations 39,265

We’ve never seen a summer of giving like this past one. Small-dollar donors are building and growing a movement to turn Congress, state houses, and city councils blue this November. With primary elections quickly coming to an end and the anticipation of midterms reaching a high, grassroots donors aren’t showing any signs of stopping. If you want help fundraising for your favorite candidate or if you have questions about this post, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com. And if you’re looking to set up an ActBlue account for your group, contact support@actblue.com!

Our biggest month ever: $100 million raised in August

As of today, small-dollar donors have raised $100 million on ActBlue in August alone, making it the biggest month in our history!!

This milestone comes on the heels of an absolutely incredible summer for the small-dollar donor movement — June, July, and August of this year are now the top three biggest months we’ve ever had on the platform. For comparison, we handled about $40 million in August 2016 during the height of the presidential election. This is ActBlue’s first $100 million month, and we’ve seen 2.2 million grassroots supporters donate to 7,350 different campaigns and organizations across the country so far this August.

Below you can check out how August 2018 stacks up against the other biggest months.

top five biggest days

How to find the right fundraising platform for your nonprofit

Being a nonprofit fundraiser is hard enough without being hampered by clunky, expensive tools. But finding the right fundraising platform for your organization takes work, especially if you’re looking to expand your small-dollar donations. You need time to research and test the options, and you might have to convince stakeholders with different priorities to trust you (hello, board members!) — all while keeping up your current fundraising numbers. To help nonprofit fundraisers everywhere, we’ve put together a list of questions you should ask when researching a new fundraising platform.

1. When was the last time you did a deep dive into your online fundraising?

Tech-native millennials are now 20-40 years old and will only become a larger part of your donor base as time passes, so in order to create sustainable fundraising programs most nonprofits today need to prioritize online grassroots donations. You probably know off the top of your head which big grants you’ve been awarded so far this year and which ones you’re waiting to hear about, but tracking online giving can be a lot more complicated. From dollar volume to donor retention, there’s a lot to look at! If you haven’t analyzed your online fundraising recently, take stock before you start researching new tools so you know what you need in a platform.

If it’s hard to get a good picture of your online giving with your current platform, then you know to look for a platform with easy access to reports and analysis. With AB Charities your reporting and refund data is front and center on your Dashboard, we make it easy to download CSVs for any time period or donation type, and we also have integrations with various CRMs. Your Dashboard is also home to multiple graphs, pie charts, and maps that are constantly updated to help you analyze everything from donation bands to geographic interest in your cause.

2. Will the new platform help your staff grow their digital skills and give you capacity you didn’t have before?

If you’re switching platforms, look for something that will help you raise more money and learn more. A transition is the perfect time to expand the scope of your team’s work and start building new skills. At AB Charities, we love to talk digital strategy and give advice to folks using our platform! Our fundraising experts can help you with the basics of a good digital program, from building email lists to writing effective fundraising emails, or help you implement more advanced strategies and tools for growing your small-dollar donor base. We love helping nonprofits fundraise better because we know that money will help them power more good work.

3. Does the fundraising platform have the right (money-making) features?

Don’t pick a platform because it has the most features — pick a platform that has the right features! Look for specific tools that will actually raise more money, not take up space or be so complicated that setting them up is a waste of time.

Any platform worth considering should make it easy for you to customize the look and feel of your contribution forms so they fit with your brand, but don’t stop there. AB Charities comes with an ever-expanding suite of intuitive tools that both novice and veteran fundraisers can use to connect with more grassroots donors and raise more money. With our smart recurring feature, you can easily customize a pop-up that will ask donors to make a smaller sustaining donation after giving a one-time contribution. And with our remarketing feature you can write a follow-up email to donors who visited your page but didn’t finish their contribution, and we’ll send it for you — no CRM required!

4. Will the platform make it easier for your donors to give?

Your fundraising platform should not only make your life easier — it should also positively impact your supporters. After all, if you switch to a platform that hurts your donors’ giving experience, what was the point? Online contribution forms that are easy for donors to use will increase your conversion rates in a real way, which is why all AB Charities forms are automatically mobile-optimized and constantly being tested and redesigned by our engineers for even better results.

Another common barrier for online donors is keeping track of which donations need to be updated when credit cards change. That’s why we’re proud to have a (free!) integration with Account Updater that automatically updates lost and expired credit cards used for recurring contributions made on AB Charities. Not only does this save time for your donors, it also helps you raise more money without having to lift a finger.

We’ve also seen that donors like being able to save their payment info so they can give easily in the future, which is why we built ActBlue Express. Five million small-dollar donors (and counting) have saved their credit card information with us and can give to any group using our platform with a single click. We offer Apple Pay for the same reason!

5. Will the tools be obsolete in a few years?

We all know it takes a while to get comfortable with even the most user-friendly fundraising software, so make sure you invest in tools that you can depend on for the long run. Look for platforms that try to stay one step ahead of trends, have the resources and staff to innovate, and don’t require you to pay to upgrade to the latest version or get new features.

AB Charities is a nonprofit first but a tech organization second, so we’re always working on something new. We have an entire team of engineers constantly running A/B tests on our contribution forms, and when their tests lead to higher conversion rates they apply the results sitewide so everyone benefits. We already offer integrations with many CRMs and platforms, and we also have open webhooks for you to make your own. And as a mission-driven organization, we love to hear from our users about new features you’d like to see!

6. Can you actually count on the platform’s support services?

Even the most experienced fundraisers need help at some point, and when it’s crunch time you might not have hours to sift through complicated online guides. Make sure there is a real person you can contact who wants you to succeed, not just a support email. In addition to giving you strategic fundraising advice, our team is available to answer questions at any time of the day.

7. Can you afford the fundraising platform?

There’s nothing worse than getting excited about new tools only to learn you’ll have to pay exorbitant fees and sign a years-long contract. As a nonprofit ourselves, we don’t use contracts or charge anything to use our tools. There’s a 3.95% credit card processing fee on all donations, and that’s it. All of the features and customer support we’ve mentioned in this post come standard — the smallest community nonprofits get access to the same tools national charities use. We believe in the potential of small-dollar donors to revolutionize the way nonprofits run, so we want to help as many organizations as possible!

We hope these questions will make your quest for a new fundraising platform easier and help you come away with the best tools for your team’s long-term needs. If you’re looking to make a change now or simply want to test AB Charities, email us at support@actblue.com and we’ll help you set up an A/B test with your current platform!

Social share graphics for contribution forms: Designing your own with our new, easy-to-use template

We frequently hear from donors who are extremely proud of their donations and excited to share that they’ve chipped in, which is why we’ve built social share features right into our contribution forms. It’s easy to add images or text to your forms that will be included with your link every time someone shares it on Twitter or Facebook.

And now we’ve built a brand-new, easy-to-use template for folks to use to create their own social share images to add to their contribution forms. Keep reading for all the details.

What does social share look like?

If you customize your social share on ActBlue (and we highly recommend doing so for every form), it can look something like this:

 

example

Every time someone shares a link to your contribution form on social media they’ll be sharing a relevant image along with the link to donate. In the example above, we were tweeting out a form where folks could donate to Democratic nominee funds — funds we built at ActBlue to raise money for the Democrats who win primaries and go on to challenge Republicans in general elections. The social share graphic we included was attention-grabbing and helped explain a slightly wonky topic. That’s the kind of thing that can make a big difference when sharing forms this way.

And social share doesn’t have to be limited to just text-based graphics. Groups have seen success with all different types of images on their contribution forms. Here’s an example:

 

photo-social-share

 

Photos can add a human touch to your campaign or cause and catch the eye of people scrolling through their social media feeds. That’s why campaign photos are often a great choice for social share images.

Using our template to design a social share image

You’ll find our brand new social share graphic template here here.

To start using the template to design your own custom social share image, first make a copy of the document when you are prompted. You’ll notice that the template is a Google Drive file, so once you’ve made a copy you’ll be able to find it in your own Google Drive from that point forward. (If you don’t have a Google account, you should create a free account in order to use the template.)

Here’s what the template will look like before you make your own changes:

 

template

 

The area in the pink rectangle is where you should put design elements you want to be displayed on your social share graphic. The area within the pink box is 1200 x 675 pixels (with a 2:1 ratio) — specs that will fit the standard Facebook and Twitter image sizes for sharing links.

You can make changes to the text on the template by adding in your own copy and changing the font and color of the text to fit your brand. You can also add images and logos, and/or change the background color of your graphic.

To replace the sample text on the template just highlight the text and begin typing.

 

typing-gif

 

To upload a logo or an image to the template, just select the Image box within the top menu and upload your image.

 

upload-image

 

You can replace the LoremIpsum logo with your own, like you can see in the example below. But you should also remember that this is just a template! Feel free to move things around within the template to make sure your graphic best fits your brand.

 
logo
 

After you’ve got your images and text in place, you can also change the background of your social share image, by using the bucket tool in the top menu.

 
background-color
 

Now that you’ve got the bones of your design, you can add some style to your text if you’d like. You can easily add some depth to your design simply by highlighting some of your text, as you can see in the gif below.

 

highlight-text

 

Feeling good about your design? Now you just need to download it! Note that you shouldn’t change the size of your image before downloading. Just head up to the top menu and choose the File dropdown menu. Then you’ll want to choose “Download as…” and download the image as a PNG file.

 

download

 

Once you’ve downloaded your image there’s one final step you should take to make sure your image will display in clear, high quality. Due to Twitter and Facebook’s image compression process, sometimes images will appear blurry on social shares. If your image is looking a little blurry, you can try this tool. Just drag your image into the box on the page. This will tweak your image so that it will bypass Twitter and Facebook’s compression tools (but won’t change the way your image looks). Once you’ve dragged your image on to the page, a new version will download to your computer and will include “TWITSAFE” in the file name. This will work for both Twitter and Facebook.

Adding your image to a contribution form

So, how do you set up your shiny, newly designed social share image on a contribution form? It’s easy! Once you’ve created a contribution form, select the “Edit” button in the contribution form editor.

 

form-editor

 

Next, you’ll want to choose “Social share” from the menu.

Here you’ll be able to customize the title and description of your links as they’ll appear on both Facebook and Twitter. You can also include your campaign or organization’s Twitter handle if you’d like to be tagged every time someone shares your form. Below you can see just what you can change for your links on Facebook and Twitter.

 
social-share-ActBlue
 

Lastly, you’ll be able to upload your new, custom image using the “Upload new file” option which you can see below.

 

upload-graphic

 

To double check that your image and text look how you want them to, head to https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator and drop the link to your form in the Card URL box. It will show you a preview of what folks on Twitter will see in their feeds. You can do the same for Facebook at this link: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/.

Social share can make all the difference in social media fundraising, which is why we’ve made it so easy to build right into your fundraising program. If you’re a donor or activist creating contribution forms for causes you care about and you have questions about social share, you can reach out at info@actblue.com.

And if you’re working for a campaign or organization using ActBlue and you have questions or comments about creating social share graphics using our template, or customizing your social share text, just drop us a line at support@actblue.com!

Creating community forms to raise money for candidates and causes you care about

We’re seeing more energy and participation right now from small-dollar donors than we ever have before. It’s amazing. But even more amazing is that we’re seeing donors taking matters into their own hands — they’re not just donating to campaigns and organizations when they’re asked, they’re organizing and connecting with their communities to raise money for campaigns and causes they care about. How exactly are they doing this? They’re creating community forms on ActBlue — forms that are not created by a campaign or organization, but by members of their community of supporters. They’re raising money for individual campaigns and organizations, and they’re creating forms where folks can give to lists of candidates supporting legislation they’re passionate about, or lists of nonprofits doing critical work on the ground in our communities. And they’re raising millions for campaigns and organizations on ActBlue!

Creating forms is an easy way to take your activism one step further. And it’s free to do using ActBlue’s tools! That’s why we wanted to walk you through creating community forms and raising money from your friends, families, and extended networks. Keep reading for all the info you need to create your own forms and get fundraising!

Creating your form

If you’ve used ActBlue before you’ll want to get started by logging in to your account here. If you’ve never made an account with us before, you can create an account here. Once you’re all logged in, you’ll want to select the My Fundraising tab.

my-fundraising

Look for the blue box titled “Create a new fundraising form” and click the orange button to search our directory of organizations that use ActBlue.

search-directory

Alternatively, you can open the Recent menu in the navigation bar at the top of your screen and follow the link at the bottom to the directory.

 

recent-menu

Type the name of the candidate or organization you want to fundraise for in the search box.

directory

You must click the blue magnifying glass button to see the correct results, not the names that appear in the dropdown. You can also find groups by selecting one of the links in the gray box.

search-directory

 

At this point, you’ll be brought to a list of groups, with options (in orange) to create a community form to fundraise for each of them. Once you’ve found the group you want to fundraise for, click the group’s “Create contribution form” button to start making your community form.

list

A pop-up will open where you can fill out your form’s basic information.

pop-up

First, give your form a title. You’ll be able to edit your form’s title later, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

Then finish the web address for your form by typing a short, simple, memorable word in the “Web address” box, which will be part of the unique web address for your form. Pick a short word or phrase and make a note of it so you can locate your form easily at a later time.

When you click “Create and continue,” you will be taken to a live preview of your form and you’ll see the form editor open on the left.

Fundraising for more than one candidate or organization

One way to make a big impact by fundraising on ActBlue is to raise for a group of candidates or organizations doing work you care about via Tandem Fundraising (using one single form). For example, you can add all the candidates who are running against Republicans who take money from the NRA, or you can add multiple organizations working on the immigration fight to support their efforts to reunite families.

It’s easy to add more than one group to your form! Just head to the “Recipients” tab of the form editor, where you can easily add different campaigns or organizations. When a donor lands on a Tandem Form, they can then split one contribution between all of the groups listed on the form.

Add details to your form

Now you can use the form editor to add important information to your form. You’ll be able to preview the changes you make to your form here in real time! Click here for tips on using the form editor.

The first thing you should do is add a donation ask. Go to the “Title, ask, and URL” tab in the form editor. In the “Donation ask” box, write a short blurb explaining why a supporter should donate. Since you’re creating a form specifically to raise for candidates you believe in or causes you’re passionate about, you should use this space to explain why. Drawing a personal connection to the work will help motivate your friends and family to give. And don’t forget to actually ask for money! You should make a point to specifically include a line of text that says something like “Will you chip in $3?”

 

form-editor

You can add basic formatting, like bullet points and bolding, and images to your ask.

Another great feature in the form editor that we encourage folks to take advantage of is social share. This lets you customize the content that will be shared on a donor’s Facebook and Twitter account when they choose to share that they’ve made a contribution on social media. It’s a simple way to catch the eye of potential supporters! To do this, open the “Social share” tab in the form editor and then fill in the fields.

 

social-share

Here’s an example of what customized social share can look like:

social-share-example

It can be difficult to raise money via social media, since folks are often scrolling quickly through their feeds and aren’t super likely to actually stop, read a fundraising pitch, and click out of Facebook or Twitter to donate. Social share can grab people’s attention and help motivate them to donate, so we encourage customizing your social share text and/or image if you can.

We also have a handy social share image template available for folks to use to create simple graphics to include in their social share. You can find it here: https://docs.google.com/drawings/u/1/d/1qEILgxbIBFr5Sjgpx3a9S9Uxl7DU7dDat5EksOF1Pzo/copy.

Sharing your form

After publishing all of your changes, close the form editor and head to the “Promote” button to start sharing your form!

 

promote

To send your form out to the world, just copy the link that’s generated on the top of the Promote pop-up and paste it in an email, a social media post, or anywhere else you’d like to fundraise.

promote-link

There are lots of further customizations that can be made to contribution forms, but we wanted to highlight the basic, easy ways to get started with fundraising to help folks get the ball rolling. You can also do things like set your form to accept recurring contributions for a specified length of time or choose specific contribution amount buttons to be displayed on your page. You can also add a goal thermometer and customize the text your supporters will receive after they donate. We’re always happy to help folks take advantage of our tools and organize their networks, so if you have questions about building forms feel free to reach out to our team at info@actblue.com. You can also find even more detailed instructions on our support site.

And if you’re seeing success using ActBlue forms to fundraise from your community, we’d love to hear about your work. Drop us a line at info@actblue.com or tweet at us @actblue to tell us about it!

July ’18 Recap

The summer of small-dollar donors continued in July as folks across the country ramped up their organizing for the midterms. Grassroots donors on ActBlue raised $83,743,916 for 7,229 candidates, organizations, and nonprofits — $50 million more than was raised in July 2016 during a presidential year! This is especially impressive because giving typically slows during the summer. Small-dollar donors are clearly more motivated than ever, and all of their energy last month led to an incredible milestone on August 1: $1 BILLION raised by small-dollar donors using ActBlue so far in the 2018 election cycle! For comparison, $781 million was raised on ActBlue over the entire 2016 presidential election cycle.

A big reason why we were able to reach this milestone is all of the new donors who are excited to get Democrats elected to Congress in November and make change in their communities. 59.3% of all people who have given on ActBlue since January 1, 2017 are first-time givers. We took a closer look and found that 77.6% of new donors this election cycle who have given twice or more have an average contribution size of $35 or less! People are truly embracing small-dollar donations as a way to fight back and make their voices heard, just in time for the midterms.

new-repeat-donors-by-avg-donation-size

Check out all of the highlights from July below.

Topline Numbers

July ’14 July ‘16 July ‘18
Contributions 692,478 1,005,855 2,083,356
Total Amount $20,300,081 $33,281,979 $83,743,916
Average Contribution Size $29.31 $33.08 $40.20
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
2,175 3,002 7,229

Grassroots donors made 2,083,356 contributions in July, more than double what was made in July 2016! The number of groups using our tools also more than doubled from 2016. Nearly half of the groups using our tools last month were state-level campaigns, which is incredibly exciting. State legislatures have passed some of the most conservative policies at the state level and are in control of redistricting for Congress, making it essential for Democrats to win back state houses in November if we want to make long-term change.

Many folks were moved to give when Trump announced Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court at 9 p.m. ET on July 9. We saw contributions more than double in the hours after the announcement. Online grassroots donations give people a positive way to channel their frustrations and combat feelings of helplessness in situations like this.

contributions-by-hour-july-ninth

ActBlue Express

July ‘14 July ‘16 July ‘18
New ActBlue Express Users 75,753 60,391 117,781
% of Total Volume via ActBlue Express 57.1% 60.6% 61.5%
% of Contributions via ActBlue Express 61.4% 66.4% 64.4%

The ActBlue Express universe of donors continues to grow as more people realize the power of small-dollar donations and want to give multiple times. 117,781 people signed up for ActBlue Express in July, and 64.4% of all contributions came from ActBlue Express users!

Mobile

July ‘14 July ‘16 July ‘18
% of Contributions via Mobile 28.5% 38.2% 45.2%
% Mobile for ActBlue Express 30.7% 41.0% 45.2%

45.2% of all contributions in July were made on mobile, up from 38.2% in 2016. Fundraising programs that don’t prioritize mobile giving will miss out on a lot of money. That’s why all ActBlue contribution forms are automatically optimized for mobile. Donors can give just as easily from their phone at the beach as they can from their laptop in the air conditioning.

Recurring Contributions

July ’14 July ’16 July ’18
Total Recurring Volume $2,811,282 $9,131,642 $18,038,185
% of Total Volume 13.1% 27.4% 21.5%

Monthly donations allow campaigns to plan for the future. Democrats are in a strong position going into the fall as recurring donations totaled $18,038,185 on ActBlue in July, nearly double the recurring volume in 2016. That’s a whole lot of money for knocking on doors and get-out-the-vote efforts!

Customer Service

July ‘18
Total Incoming Calls 10,681
Email Conversations 32,728

Grassroots donors are donating at unprecedented rates and making it possible for Democrats to get their message in front of more voters ahead of November. With only 89 days until Election Day, this participation and energy is really making a blue wave possible and laying a foundation for long-term change. If you have questions about this post or want help fundraising, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com!