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Fulfilling the $100 Revolution

This week on the ActBlue Blog, we're taking some time to review the 2008 election in terms of what it means for online fundraising. We'll wrap up some final numbers from the past cycle on ActBlue, see how that growth compares to past years, and explain what that means looking forward.


It's an astonishing number to say the least and it's the most money raised online by a political campaign in American history. We're talking about President Elect Barack Obama, of course, and thanks to the reporting of Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post we can at take a look at what that number means for the democratization of campaign fundraising.

Obama's online operation broke down the numbers: 3 million donors made
a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500
million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments
of $100 or less
. The average online donation was $80, and the average
Obama donor gave more than once.

Reading that paragraph we can see the realization of what 4 years ago was called the $100 Revolution by then presidential candidate Howard Dean. In short, if 2 million Americans would give $100 each they could compete with then President Bush. The $100 Revolution was about more than just competing financially, though, it was about fundamentally shifting power and redefining who had influence in our political system.

As Liberal Oasis wrote in March of 2004…

In turn, the "$100 Revolution" should not end with Howard Dean, and does not need to.

But [corporate special interest] influence can be significantly mitigated.

A powerful message about what the Democratic party should represent, and who the party should answer to, will be delivered if the grassroots band together and give in small amounts.

Every grassroots dollar devalues the power of a special interest dollar.

That reduces special interest influence, and increases the chance for legislation that benefits the people and not the powerful.

Four years later, Barack Obama's campaign realized that vision with a campaign that focused on changing the relationship between lobbyists and legislation. In the end, that message was so powerful online that it turned the $100 Revolution into the $80 Revolution.

Related ActBlue Stats: From January 1, 2007 through November 24th (today), the average contribution size across ActBlue.com for all candidates was $144. But, because donors can give to multiple candidates or groups per contribution through a fundraising page, the average contribution size per recipient campaign was just $89.82. To take it a step further, the median contribution size through ActBlue was just $50.

Also to note, in the midst of record breaking Presidential fundraising by Obama, less than 15% of all funds raised through ActBlue this cycle during the primaries and general election were for presidential candidates, meaning 85% of funds raised were for other record setting "revolutions" down ballot in the Senate, House, and state legislatures across the country.

Now that's change we can believe in!

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