Thank Your Supporters (with E-Mail!)

Earlier this week I wrote on the topic of thanking your supporters while introducing video as a medium to do so. Today, I’d like to follow up on that subject with e-mail as an example. Following the same basic practices I pointed out, look how Illinois House candidate Daniel Biss has leveraged his e-mail thank you note into a larger narrative (while asking for continued donations!).

Well, it’s official.  I just got an email from one of ActBlue’s amazing staffers confirming that our campaign is now the state-level campaign with the largest number of individual donors on ActBlue in all of 2007!

Thank you so much for making this happen!

The last surge that pushed us over the top took place mostly at the Yearly Kos convention.  The ActBlue page we set up specially for the convention now has 34 donors and and $1,072 raised.  You can see for yourself here:

When we tell local media and political insiders about this, it will show them that this is a new kind of campaign, built on a new base of supporters.  They will always understand, not just during the campaign, but even more importantly after I’m elected, that we represent a new force in progressive politics, a new partnership between political candidates and a nationwide network of activists.

We are a part of a movement that is changing the face of politics in America.  We are building — and funding — this campaign with the energy and hard work of ordinary people who have for way, way too long been shut out of the process.  I can’t tell you how proud and honored I am to have your support.

Candidates are supposed to like receiving lots of small donations because when someone gives you a small amount, you can go back and ask them for more later.  I like having lots of supporters because it means lots of people want a part of our campaign, because it means lots of people will be giving me feedback, and it means lots of people will be telling their friends about the campaign.

And I hope you will tell your friends about the campaign, to keep this remarkable momentum going. Whether it’s directing them to that same ActBlue page to prolong this amazing run of donations:

or asking them to join us at our campaign kick-off event

or sending them to our web page to learn more:

or just telling them that this is a pretty interesting campaign they should keep their eyes open about, I’d appreciate if you could keep spreading the word.  Your work is making all the difference in the world.

Again, thank you.  You’re truly amazing.

Warmest regards,

Shift in the Top 10 Pages

It’s not often that the list of the Lifetime Top 10 pages (by # of donors) changes this far out from an election, but this weekend the longstanding page in the 10th spot got knocked out by the recent Burn Bush for Darcy Burner effort.

With 2,422 donors, it’s now #10, just behind John Kerry, replacing the longstanding Kos Dozen page from 2004. Both are great examples of thousands of small donors coming together to change the way we fund campaigns.

Thank Your Supporters (with Video!)

You may want to check out the follow up to this piece regarding e-mail.

Candidates and campaigns spend a lot of time figuring out how to communicate with their supporters and solicit them for contributions. That is important as campaigns can’t run without funding, but we should not forget another equally important step- thanking your donors!

When individuals make a contribution to a campaign, they become invested in the outcome of the election. Candidates and campaigns should always thanks donors for making this investment.

At the most basic level, (and let me stress this is the bare minimum) a campaign should be sure that the donor gets a receipt or confirmation that their contribution was successfully processed.  Leaving a donor without the knowledge that their contribution was properly received will work against your efforts to solicit a contribution from them in the future. Plus, it will create general confusion and distrust- don’t leave them hanging! (For contributions made via ActBlue, a receipt is automatically generated and emailed to the individual.)

The accepted campaign practice is to send a thank you note in addition to the receipt. This can be done via e-mail, postcard, or stationary but be sure to tell your donors what their contribution is going towards.  What value does their contribution have? Will it help the campaign mail 50 swing voters or pay for training volunteers? Donors are more likely to give again in the future when you ask if they know their contribution is being put to good use. Including some ‘inside’ information about the campaign can make contributors feel more invested and included so consider that option as well.

Regardless of what a campaign or committee chooses to write, with ActBlue, you’ll have access to all of the donor data (in real time) in downloadable formats making it easy to prepare those thank yous. You can make use of mail-merge tools to integrate any of the fields in the download to customize your thank you responses. It’s like micro-targeting your conversation with your donors to make your follow up as personal as possible- increasing the likelihood that they will donate again!

But you can take all of this a step further. Last week I talked about Fundraising with Online Video. As a follow up to that, I’d like to present three great YouTube videos where candidates themselves thank their donors- a new concept in replying to donors. There is no confusion here that the candidate is indeed the one sending along their thanks as they appear in person to deliver the message. It’s practices like this which are shifting the concept of funding campaigns. We’re moving towards a more communal effort where candidates and their supporters are in it together and away from the one-way ATM fundraising machine which disassociates the act of giving from being a part of campaigns.

Watch the videos in the extended entry.

Keep reading →

Activity Report: August 19th-25th, 2007

This is our second installment of our new Weekly ActBlue Activity Reports. Last week’s is posted here. (Week over week changes in parentheses).

One note: I have recalculated the total # of contributions and average contribution size and corrected last week’s entry to match. The new method counts each separate line-item as a contribution when one donor gives to multiple candidates on a page during a transaction. This will increase the total # of contributions and decrease the average contribution size compared to the old method but is more accurate.

Total Amount Contributed last week: $289,414.07 (+ $63,151.77)
Total # of Contributions: 4285 (+ 2,101)
Avg. Contribution size: $67.54 (- $36.06)

Total # of Recipient Campaigns & Committees: 212 (+ 25)

Here are the Top 5 Recipients on ActBlue last week by number of donors.

Rank Name District Donors
1 Darcy Burner WA-08 1627
2 John Edwards President 809
3 Al Franken MN-Sen 201
4 Rick Noriega TX-Sen 129
5 San Diego Democratic Party CA-County 126

Here are the Top 5 Candidate Recipients on ActBlue last week by total amount raised.

Rank Name District Raised
1 Darcy Burner WA-08 $55,435.14
2 John Edwards President $54,678.07
3 Niki Tsongas MA-05 $18,297.00
4 Rick Noriega TX-Sen $16,464.30
5 Jared Polis CO-02 $12,410.00

Here are the Top 5 ActBlue Fundraising Pages last week by number of donors.

Rank Name Donors Raised Average
1 Burn Bush for Burner 1449 $49,401.19 $34.09
2 John Edwards 768 $53,320.42 $68.12
3 Blue Majority 262 $11,994.31 $23.84
4 Netroots for Rick Noriega 117 $15,451.01 $132.05
5 The People’s Email Network 62 $2,135.00 $34.43

For ActBlue, this past week’s most notable activity is the Netroots effort to raise $100,000 for Darcy Burner in Washington’s 8th Congressional District as a counter to a visit by President Bush to fundraise for the Republican Incumbent. That effort has been great example of blogs using referral codes to track which contributions they were responsible for driving towards the effort. That way, the campaign can see how much the DailyKos community, readers of Atrios, or other blogs have given towards the effort.

Fundraising With Online Video

One of the fundraising methods that I have explored before here on the ActBlue Blog is integrating online video into your fundraising appeals. This works best with a pre-existing community with whom you have a relationship, but is by no means the only way in which the medium can be used to leverage an appeal for campaign contributions.

Today, I’d like to promote the work of Hank and John Green who have quite the following on the Internet with their Brotherhood 2.0 website in which John and Hank swore off all textual communication with each other for 2007. Instead, they are making public video blogs back and forth every weekday for the entire year. You can read their FAQ to learn more but to really get a flavor of their style and their devoted community of viewers I’d suggest viewing a few shows.

Below, I’ve provided a condensed 2 minute version of one of the shows where John makes his pitch for their friend Daniel Biss who is running for the 17th State House District in Illinois. It’s quite humorous so watch it below.

Pretty cool right? Here are some things this video ask does right.


  1. Present the Problem– John introduces the segment talking about the current state of affairs in Illinois and certain problems that exist which need fixing.
  2. Present a Solution– He then goes on to talk about how supporting Daniel Biss will help solve this problem. Electing him will install someone with progressive values which would improve Illinois.
  3. Be Specific– John focuses on one candidate to support as part of this effort. By narrowing the focus, he’s able to increase the power of his ask. The more direct the solution to the problem, the more effective the fundraising effort will be. (This is not to say that multi-candidate asks are bad- some of them are highly effective- but the slate of candidates must have a specific point of commonality to encourage donors to give to an entire slate.)
  4. Make it Personal– John is asking his own readers to donate as part of a very humorous challenge. There is an existing relationship and a degree of trust built up. Potential donors are more likely to give when asked by someone they know.
  5. Make it a Narrative– Through the week, John followed up on this initial post with this spot and this one where he carried through some of the actions as a result of the number of donors.

This is a perfect case of leveraging existing personal connections to make a fundraising ask and because the medium of communication for the ask (video) is the same medium through which readers are used to being entertained, it’s that much more effective.

By the way, the brothers have raised $3,273 from 213 donors which puts John in the "find a cat, lick it, wax two limbs of your choice, while drinking a throughly blenderized happy meal from McDonald’s category" level.

ActBlue Now Acting Green

082307141600As a partisan Democratic outfit, we at ActBlue are aware of the science behind Global Climate Change. We also recognize that as we grow as an organization, we’ll naturally consume more resources and energy.

As such, we’re trying to do our part as we fix up our office to reduce our consumption. Today, we got in our first shipment of dimmable CFL bulbs. Running at 23 watts (equivalent to a 90 watt incandescent bulb) these new lights have six time the lifespan with one fourth of the energy usage and will pay themselves off in energy savings in just under a year.

We’re not changing our name to ActGreen but at least we can do so in practice around the office.

Above, ActBlue’s President Benjamin Rahn inspecting the latest CFL shipment.

Activity Report: August 12th-18th, 2007

A new blog series that we’re going to start up here is a weekly activity report each Monday. In it, we’ll look to feature the most active campaigns and fundraising pages at ActBlue for the prior week. It’s a scaled down version of our Monthly or Quarterly activity reports but if something neat or creative sticks out we’ll try to highlight it here.

Total Contributions last week: $226,262.30
Total Donors: 1794 2184
Avg. Contribution size: $128.33 $103.60

Total # of Recipient Campaigns & Committees: 187

Here are the Top 5 Recipients on ActBlue last week by number of donors.

Name District Raised Donors
John Edwards President $36,870.80 520
Rick Noriega TX-Sen $12,332.61 154
Steven L. Beshear KY-Gov $2,433.02 106
Democracy for America Organization $1,722.70 88
Tom Allen ME-Sen $2,601.03 84

Here are the Top 5 Candidate Recipients on ActBlue last week by total amount raised.

Name District Raised
John Edwards President $36,870.80
Rick Noriega TX-Sen $12,332.61
Gary Trauner WY-AL $11,200.00
Jamie Eldridge MA-05 $10,004.61
Russ Warner CA-26 $9,196.60

Here are the Top 5 ActBlue Fundraising Pages last week by number of donors.

Name Donors Raised Average
John Edwards 494 $36,031.66 $72.93
DFA for Steve Beshear 132 $4,135.65 $21.42
Blue America ’08 127 $11,533.12 $32.30
Netroots for Rick Noriega 91 $10,444.00 $114.76
SoCal Grassroots 42 $1,095.00 $26.07


Introducing Daily ActBlue Activity E-Mails

One of the requests that we have received from both campaigns & fundraisers is to be notified of new contributions when they are made through ActBlue. That idea got our developers thinking so over the last couple of weeks they built that functionality and expanded upon it.

Last week we rolled out our Daily Notifications system.

Once a day an email will go out to every ActBlue user who a) has access to a campaign
report, b) has sent an appeal via the Spread the Word system, c) has ownership of a fundraising page, or d) has
access to a partnership so long as they have received a contribution through one of those four elements in the previous 24 hours. If someone has access to multiple elements (like a contribution report, a
fundraising page, and an appeal), the user will get just one email with each item’s activity separated out.

You will have an option to opt out of these Daily Notifications. I’ve provided a visual aid below to show you where you can manage these settings in your ActBlue account after you login.

First, click on your email address under Account Settings.


Second, select your “Site Activity Email Preference” to be either Nightly or None and click “update my account”.


Discover New Federal Candidates With Ruby

Over on the political side of ActBlue, occasionally we come across a problem that cries out for an automated solution.  One of these problems involved periodically updating the database with newly filed Federal Democrats.  To help keep us up to date, I wrote this ruby script which queries the FEC and compares the current list of filed Candidate Committees to the list the last time the script was run.  It then emails whatever address you specify in the code with the candidate name, address and committee ID.

Download FEC_Check.rb

This is released with the MIT software license so please use it to your heart’s content.  Be sure to glance over the script before running it, as it does have some dependencies that may need to be installed and variables that need to be set.

This is released without any technical support from ActBlue.  I am not a formally trained programmer and I assume there may be better ways of accomplishing the same thing.  You can feel free to contact me at but please don’t expect a speedy response as I spend the majority of my day helping state and local candidates use ActBlue effectively and successfully.