Millions of grassroots donors remained committed to fueling change and building movements throughout 2021. The numbers bear this out: 4.5 million unique donors gave 35.3 million contributions to 17,876 campaigns and organizations, totaling $1.3 billion. Compared to 2017, the start of the most recent midterm election cycle, donors gave twice as many contributions and dollars, and nearly 2 million more unique donors made contributions. 2021 was also the largest off-year ever, with more contributions and dollars raised than in 2019, the first year of a historic presidential cycle.
Many people got off the sidelines for the first time to invest in change in 2017. In 2021, the first year with Trump out of office, we saw not a backslide but a doubling down from donors. 2021 offered a clear look at the uphill battle that Democratic candidates and progressive movements face in 2022, with tough losses in Virginia and near-constant attacks on voting rights, our democracy and elections, abortion rights, and science. But our data offers clear evidence that small-dollar donors remain committed to driving long-term, systemic change.
One number we’re particularly excited about: 17,876 campaigns and organizations fundraised on ActBlue in 2021, more than double the number that raised in 2017, and a huge increase over 2019. At ActBlue, we believe in the power of grassroots fundraising to help sustain movements and win elections — and not just for major, headline-grabbing campaigns or national nonprofits — which is why we’ve been investing in building out our tools and teams to support more groups than ever before.
We pride ourselves on the fact that our tools are the same for everyone, from presidential campaigns to school board candidates, but we know that state and local campaigns have different needs and staff than large federal campaigns. We are focused on making sure more campaigns can use our tools effectively to build grassroots fundraising programs and win, and that we have the teams in place to help them make the most of our tools and understand how to engage small-dollar donors using digital fundraising best practices.
We also expanded our team dedicated to supporting nonprofits in 2021. This team — Movement, Issue, and Charitable Organizations (MICO) — serves nonprofits who want to build small-dollar programs. With historically underrepresented and underserved communities facing heightened discrimination, threats to voting rights, and attacks on bodily autonomy, we have focused on expanding our capacity to support the nonprofit fundraisers taking on these issues.
Read on to learn more about the fundraising trends across ActBlue in 2021 and how small-dollar donors showed up for candidates and organizations across the country.
|Average Contribution Size||$31.96||$30.50||$35.63|
|Unique Campaigns, Committees,
- Donors weren’t just motivated by federal candidates: 53.3% of first-time donors on ActBlue this year gave their first contribution to a nonprofit or non-federal campaign or organization.
- Donors stayed invested throughout the year: In 2021, donors gave an average of 7 contributions to an average of 3 distinct groups.
State and Local
- Local candidates offered a clear bright spot for Democrats in 2021: They made historic wins across the country — and small-dollar donors helped them get there. Together with local political organizations, they raised double the amount of money and contributions compared to 2019, and 6x the dollars and 5x the number of contributions compared to 2017.
- In-cycle candidates for secretary of state raised 6x more money compared to 2017, from 5x more unique donors, underscoring grassroots donors’ focus on the importance of these positions in ensuring that voting rights are protected.
- Small-dollar donors across the country continued to believe in making change at the state level and in the candidates running for office, and they gave twice as much to state legislature candidates compared to 2017.
- Donors made 5.8 million contributions to nonprofit organizations, more than double the 2.6 million made in 2019.
- Donors remained committed to investing long-term in the causes they care about: 18.5% of all nonprofit dollars in 2021 came from recurring contributions donors had started in 2020. Recurring contributions are an important way for nonprofits to build budgets and sustain their work, and encouraging donors to invest in recurring contributions paid off in a big way.
The ActBlue Advantage
- A massive 70.2% of contributions were made with a saved payment method or digital wallet option. That includes donors who have saved their credit card with ActBlue Express, which allows donors to give again with just a click, as well as newer payment methods like Venmo™, Google Pay™, and Apple Pay®. That’s up from 55% in 2017.
- 55% of contributions in 2021 were made via mobile, underscoring the need for frictionless ways to give, like ActBlue Express and digital wallet options.
- Many self-motivated donors use the search function in their ActBlue Express accounts to find candidates or organizations they want to give to. 60.2% of contributions made through this search function were from first-time donors to the recipient.
Q4 TOPLINE NUMBERS
2021 closed with a strong fourth quarter: Donors gave 8.6 million contributions for a total of $352 million, more than doubling the dollars raised in Q4 2017.
|Q4 ’17||Q4 ’19||Q4 ’21|
|Average Contribution Size||$38.18||$30.50||$41.15|
|Unique Campaigns, Committees,
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