Stats Week: Wednesday

Yesterday we looked at some of the big picture numbers at ActBlue. Today, we’re going to take a look at candidates and campaigns behind those numbers, both for the 2nd Quarter and for ActBlue’s history.

Top 10 entities by # donors (Lifetime)

count   |   candidate
41,236 | John Edwards
16,363 | James Webb
12,420 | Ned Lamont
11,090 | Claire McCaskill
10,709 | Jon Tester
10,627 | Paul Hackett
  9,300 | Joseph Sestak Jr
  7,378 | Harold Ford, Jr 
  7,187 | Eric Massa
  6,584 | Darcy Burner

Top 10 entities by # donors (Q2)

count   |   candidate
13,028 | John Edwards
  1,725 | Tim Johnson
     859 | Charlie Brown
     852 | KY-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     830 | MN-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     763 | NH-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     755 | ME-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     664 | Keeping America’s Promise
     591 | Tom Allen
     548 | BlogPAC

Top candidates by $ raised (Lifetime)

amount     |  candidate
3,437,887 | John Edwards
   894,042 | James Webb
   868,287 | Joseph Sestak Jr
 528664 | Paul Hackettu003cbr />  507553 | Tim Mahoneyu003cbr />  453027 | Ned Lamontu003cbr />  415751 | Eric Massau003cbr />  395795 | John Morrisonu003cbr />u003cbr /> amount |   displaynameu003cbr />——–+——————u003cbr /> 883656 | John Edwardsu003cbr /> 134904 | John Kerryu003cbr /> 128215 | Jared Polisu003cbr /> 107483 | Joseph Sestak Jru003cbr /> 103264 | Tim Johnsonu003cbr /> 101689 | Steve Novicku003cbr />  97000 | Chellie Pingreeu003cbr />  77677 | Niki Tsongasu003cbr />  74254 | Mark Lenou003cbr />  70377 | Jamie Eldridgeu003cbr />u003cbr />And then just for Q2u003cbr />* For state candidates and parties, breakdown by state:u003cbr />  * Total $u003cbr />u003cbr />Top state candidates $ raiseu003cbr />u003cbr /> amount |     displaynameu003cbr />——–+———————u003cbr />  74254 | Mark Lenou003cbr />  31136 | Joe Alioto Veroneseu003cbr />  28267 | Karen Schultzu003cbr />  23739 | Daniel Bissu003cbr />  15540 | Carlos Del Torou003cbr />  12295 | Donald McEachinu003cbr />  11745 | Steve Bullocku003cbr />  11325 | Jay Donahueu003cbr />   8668 | Rick Gonzalesu003cbr />   8175 | Connie Brennanu003cbr />u003cbr />Top states $ non-federal raised.u003cbr />u003cbr /> amount | stateu003cbr />——–+——-u003cbr /> 148856 | CAu003cbr /> 120308 | VAu003cbr />  23774 | ILu003cbr />  16990 | MTu003cbr />   6877 | MOu003cbr />   2705 | PAu003cbr />   1840 | WIu003cbr />   1210 | MSu003cbr />    375 | NMu003cbr />    220 | OHu003cbr />    185 | NHu003cbr />    150 | IAu003cbr />    120 | TXu003cbr />     25 | INu003cbr />      3 | NVu003cbr />u003cbr />  * Total donorsu003cbr />u003cbr />  ——-+——-u003cbr />     650 | VAu003cbr />     551 | CAu003cbr />     145 | ILu003cbr />     122 | MTu003cbr />      43 | PAu003cbr />      35 | MOu003cbr />      17 | WIu003cbr />      16 | OHu003cbr />       9 | TXu003cbr />       7 | MSu003cbr />”,1]
//–>   538,659 | Dan Seals
   528,664 | Paul Hackett
   507,553 | Tim Mahoney
   453,027 | Ned Lamont
   415,751 | Eric Massa
   395,795 | John Morrison

Top candidates by $ raised (Q2)

amount  |  candidate
883,656 | John Edwards
134,904 | John Kerry
128,215 | Jared Polis
107,483 | Joseph Sestak Jr
103,264 | Tim Johnson
101,689 | Steve Novick
  97,000 | Chellie Pingree
  77,677 | Niki Tsongas
  74,254 | Mark Leno
  70,377 | Jamie Eldridge

Join us tomorrow when we look at fundraising pages on ActBlue.

Stats Week: Tuesday

Let’s spend some time looking at our ActBlue totals, donors, and contributions. I’ll be breaking these apart for 2nd Quarter data compared to that for the lifetime of ActBlue.

Total Contributions
Life:   $24,790,988.32
Q2:      $3,460,609.75

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents 14% of all contributions made on ActBlue over the least 3 years. To put this in perspective, it took ActBlue over five fundraising quarters in ’05-’06 to raise the same amount as was raised in this past quarter alone. By November of 2006, ActBlue had raised a lifetime total of about $17 million with 40% of that coming in during the last 6 weeks of the campaign cycle. When you consider that Q2 2007 is already outpacing Q2 2005 by a factor of 10 and that this is a Presidential Cycle…well, you get the picture. It’s one of the reasons why investment in ActBlue is so critical– we’ll need to expand our six member staff and move out of our 600 sq ft office sooner than later.

Total Number of donors
Life: 217,998
Q2:     28,925

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents 13.2% of the number of individual donors on ActBlue.

Average contribution size to all entities
Life:  $60.38
Q2:    $99.65

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents a 65% increase in the average contribution size to all candidates, committees, and organizations when compared to the ActBlue lifetime average. This is explained by the activity of campaigns. Monies raised earlier in an election cycle tend to be weighted more heavily by maxed out or large donors. In campaigns, these larger donations are often gathered to generate early momentum and viability as candidates reach out to their personal friends and most steadfast supporters. As individual fundraisers and grassroots communities grow we expect this average contribution size to naturally fall later in the cycle.

Average contribution size made to ActBlue Pages
Life:  $112.28
Q2:    $119.64

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents only a 6.5% increase in the average contribution size made to ActBlue fundraising pages. Overall, contributions to pages are higher than those to entities since pages often contain multiple candidates. The slight increase is within the normal parameters, although the use by some campaigns of single, one-candidates ActBlue pages to collect contributions for their sites has some effect in increasing the average. Compared to the rather large increase in average contributions to "entities" explained above, we can see that pages are less effected by the campaign cycle since they are more grassroots in nature.

Median contribution
Life: $50.00
Q2:   $45.00

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents a 10% decline in the median contribution size. While the average contribution size has increased, the decline in the median contribution is evidence that small dollar grassroots contributions are healthy and abundant on ActBlue. This means a cluster of high dollar donations is responsible for bringing up the site’s average for the quarter rather than a more general trend of larger contribution sizes.

Join us again tomorrow when we explore the topic of top candidates on the ActBlue Blog.

Stats Week on the ActBlue Blog

With the end of the Federal 2nd Quarter fundraising period, we’ve taken some time to look through the data we’ve collected here at ActBlue. Each day this week we’ll release some data regarding the activity across ActBlue, both for the quarter and how that compares to our lifetime statistics for the past 3 years. I’ll be analyzing it for trends and patterns that may shed light into the giving habits of Democratic donors at the early phase of campaigns.

Here’s the schedule for this week.

Totals, donors, and contributions-
find out info on the raw numbers system wide.

Candidates- find out who’s hot by the number of donors and dollars.

Fundraising Pages- find out the top 10 pages on ActBlue by donors and dollars.

State Level Activity- find out what’s up in non-federal races and who’s leading.

Built to Last

We’ve talked a lot about how you can use ActBlue effectively, where you can run into us at trainings and events, and what’s coming next.  Today’s topic is a little different, but no less important.

I want to start talking about how it all works.  In particular, I want to talk about sustainability: how we built ActBlue to last forever.

Some quick history to start.  Ben and I launched ActBlue in June 2004 and shepherded just shy of $1 million to 150 Democrats that year — a success in its own right.  We always treated 2004 as a two-front experiment, though: one, will the ActBlue model for funding candidates work (yes!); and two, can we build the organization itself in a sustainable fashion.

Raising funds for infrastructure like ActBlue instead of campaigns is always a challenge.  Some of the best advice Ben and I got in the early going was to create a *sustainable* organization — one whose operations provide all the necessary internal funding.  (Companies that aren’t sustainable go bankrupt and are considered failures or Internet startups, and yet this is all too common in the political world.)  Our answer was the tip request that we ask of each contributor using the website.  What excited us about 2004 is that over half our donors left a tip for ActBlue.  We thought we were on to something.

There was only one problem.  We were still broke.


I suspect every new organization goes through a rough period.  Ours was the start of 2005.  With so little happening on the website at that time of year, we didn’t have any operating capital.  And yet, bursts of activity around Howard Dean’s election to the DNC and Paul Hackett’s run in Ohio stressed our system to the breaking point.  Without a bigger technology budget, we were on the verge of collapse.

Prodded by some excellent advice from many advisors, we adopted a novel solution to the challenge.

Friends, meet Auburn Quad.

Those of you who work with campaigns have seen AQ on your finance reports for a while, but we’re probably news to most of our readers.  In 2005, Ben and I formed a company called Auburn Quad to develop and operate the technology that powers the ActBlue service and established an independent ActBlue board to eliminate conflicts of interest.

AQ’s product is called "Indigo" — it’s the software you employ as you contribute and fundraise with ActBlue.  Indigo processes online contributions, bills credit cards, tracks progress on fundraising pages, prints each week’s checks, provides financial statements to campaigns and fundraisers, and reports every last penny to Uncle Sam.  It may sound simple, but the story becomes interesting when millions of dollars flow to thousands of candidates in 22 states, each governed by a different set of rules.

Ben and I had two motivations for forming Auburn Quad.  First, ActBlue’s focus lies squarely in our political mission.  We empower individuals, informal groups, and established organizations to raise money for Democrats.  We have already helped to raise over $24 million online and aided in Democratic gains both in the House and Senate as well as in state chambers across the country.  In short, ActBlue’s staff is dedicated to political matters.  Under ActBlue’s roof, technology priorities would compete with political priorities, and usually lose. Auburn Quad can do a far better job running technology than ActBlue can in-house.

I know you saw it coming: the second reason is sustainability.

Moving political money properly takes a lot of gear ($) and staff ($$).  As ActBlue grows into the premier fundraising platform for Democrats up and down the ballot, Auburn Quad’s responsiblity to maintain and scale the system grows as well.  These things are anything but cheap.

Here’s how it all works.  Auburn Quad charges a service fee of 3.95% against gross contributions.  Most of that fee ends up going to the credit card companies; about 1.5% stays at AQ.  That 1 1/2 cents on the dollar pays for pretty much everything behind the website: computers, the programmers, and the coffee; or in specific terms, all the additional transactional costs borne by AQ to receive and remit contributions on your behalf.

Meanwhile, the real action still lies inside ActBlue.  Your tips and other generous contributions to the PAC allow us to extend our operations into new states, assist thousands of campaigns with their online fundraising, hold training events across the country, share best practices with our partners, and most importantly, offer these tools and top-flight customer service *for free to everyone*.  ActBlue is working to empower a new class of active Democrats who can reshape the country’s political dynamic and grow our party for generations to come.  Every last bit of this work is funded with your contributions.  Freed from the financial responsibilities of the payment platform, ActBlue spends every last political dollar on politics.


There’s one more reason to talk about our structure, though.  We believe *this model itself* is a strategic advantage to our political movement, and we offer it as a template for how to build a future generation of Democratic organizations.  We want to promote the model in its own right, and indeed you’ll see me and others call out its benefits here on this blog.

Our approach isn’t without its challenges.  There can be a real tension between ActBlue and AQ, whose goals are certainly similar but not precisely the same.  This is good.  It keeps us moving forward and honest to our mission.  ActBlue has a phenomenal Board of Directors (a majority of whom have no role in Auburn Quad) who help us negotiate the natural conflicts of interest and make sure that ActBlue’s political goals are never compromised.

As I said, we’ll be writing much more about ActBlue and Auburn Quad over the next months.  In the meantime, there’s more information in ActBlue’s FAQ, and don’t shy away from asking questions here.