Bring your board members into grassroots fundraising

Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday

There is no better time than giving season to get board members fundraising for you! They are some of your biggest advocates and have a clear personal connection to your cause, so invite them in to create contribution forms and make pitches to their networks about why your cause is so important! As your board members become grassroots organizers for your cause, they’ll help new donors build a strong relationship with your organization for the long term.

And we know your board members are busy: You can directly involve them in your important Giving Tuesday efforts without asking them to make a heavy lift. In fact, you have the tools to make fundraising actionable, accessible, and fun for them! Here are a few ways for you to make taking action easy.

1. Give folks peer-to-peer fundraising tools they can use in seconds

Your organization’s stakeholders can create their own fundraising pages on AB Charities in seconds to fundraise on your behalf. We call these pages community forms! Community forms put supporters in the driver’s seat and allow folks to mobilize their own networks to give.

Your board members can include personalized pitches on their community forms that explain in their own words why their friends, family, and professional networks should donate to your nonprofit this year-end. You can also encourage supporters to add a goal thermometer to the form that tracks either the number of donors or dollars raised, which adds urgency and excitement!

We know your board members juggle many priorities, so to make it as easy as possible for them to begin fundraising, consider customizing forms for them yourself. With AB Charities, you can send board members a link to create a community form that you’ve already set up with a design and donation pitch.

landingpage

All your board members have to do is create a custom web address and click the “Get Started” button. Then they’ll be brought to their personal form that they can customize and share with their networks!

Looking to make it even easier than a few clicks for your busiest board members? You can make the custom web addresses for your stakeholders and then send each one their specific community form link!

You can also make fundraising a friendly competition among your board. Check on who’s raising the most by heading to the “Contribution Forms” tab of your Dashboard menu. Then click the “Community Forms” tab, where you’ll see all the community forms raising on your behalf, along with their contributions and dollars raised. Update your board with the current standings to give them a motivational boost and keep the fundraising going!

contributionforms

You can access all of the donor data from these forms by following these instructions!

2. Pre-write fundraising emails your board members can quickly send off

Now it’s time for your board members to share their community forms with their networks! Doing as much prep work as possible lowers your board’s barrier to action.

Write fundraising emails that your board members can send to their networks to ask for donations! Following some guidelines for crafting a successful fundraising email, you can write an email from your stakeholders’ point of view that explains why they support your cause and asks people to invest in your important work by donating! Your board members can take this pre-written email, add their community form link and signature, and send it off to the personal inboxes of friends, family, and colleagues.

It’s go time!
There are a little under 30 days until Giving Tuesday, so it’s the perfect time to empower your biggest stakeholders to become digital organizers themselves! You have the tools and strategies to make peer-to-peer fundraising on your behalf so easy and motivating that any board member can begin introducing your cause to their communities. You’re ready to rally your supporters around year-end fundraising now to ensure your work continues far into the future.

P.S. If you need to discuss board engagement strategies or have questions, now’s the time to give our nonprofit fundraising experts a call! We’re always happy to talk digital tactics that work for you.

Small-dollar fundraising metrics: 3 things to look for

Congratulations! You’ve conquered the basics of digital fundraising, and you’re raising your first dollars. Now how do you measure success? Your fundraising data might seem intimidating, but you don’t need to be a data scientist to use it: All you need is a willingness to look at your fundraising critically and the follow-through to apply what you learn!

Data lets you work smarter rather than harder. It all begins by taking stock of your data and using it to evaluate if you’re running an efficient program that is on track to fuel your campaign or organization for the long fight. Then, you can figure out how to refine your fundraising practices to improve your numbers. From the groups just getting started to the experts building out their program, every digital fundraiser can look at the following three metrics to analyze their small-dollar program. You can find all three right at your fingertips in your ActBlue Dashboard, so you’ll be driving your fundraising forward in no time!

1. Toplines: Number of contributions, dollars raised, and average contribution size over time

What it tells you: Your topline numbers give you a basic, holistic overview of your fundraising and donor behavior. These toplines include your program’s two core numbers: contributions and dollars raised. Your third topline number is average contribution size, which is found by dividing dollars raised by the number of contributions. Average contribution size can give you an idea of how much your program is relying on many small-dollar donors chipping in or fewer donors giving larger amounts.

Where you can find it: At the very top of your Dashboard Overview are your campaign or organization’s topline fundraising numbers. Here to greet you all the time, you’ll find your number of contributions, dollars raised, and average contribution size over the last seven days. The best part is you can easily change the timeframe for these topline numbers (and the corresponding graph) so you can observe your fundraising for any timespan you want. And if you want an idea of how a specific form performed, you can find these topline numbers for each form on its Statistics page.

What to do with this: Check the number of contributions and dollars raised for the month and quarter to see if you are hitting your fundraising goals. You can use the graph to predict when your fundraising will peak and send more emails during those strong moments. When you know you’ll hit slower fundraising periods, be ready to get creative with your tactics for engaging small-dollar donors.

Next, compare your average contribution size to the sitewide average contribution size of $30 in 2019 so far. Is your average contribution size really large? Think about whether you’ve shown donors who give $5 that their contribution matters to you. And think about what donation ask amounts are right for your program — you want to bring in as many people as possible and let them give at the level they like.

2. Percent of contributions made via mobile device

What it tells you: With more and more people using their phone or tablet to take action and give (more than 50% of donations on ActBlue have been made on mobile so far in 2019), it’s important for you to remember to keep a mobile-first mindset and meet your donors where they are. You can check what percent of your contributions were made through mobile devices and compare it to the average percent of sitewide contributions made via mobile.

Where you can find it: You can find a few important pie charts under “About your contributions” in your Dashboard Overview. One of these is the percent of your contributions made via a mobile device, with a sitewide average in grey below as an easy comparison point. Another place you can find percent mobile is on each form’s Statistics page. This helps you see how specific emails are performing on mobile devices!

What to do with this: While you’re thinking mobile first, don’t forget your fundraising emails! If you’re going to focus on improving one thing in email, make it the mobile experience. Make sure your emails are easy to read and quick to load on mobile. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on connecting with all of your supporters. Your fail-proof check is testing your emails and forms on a variety of mobile devices to ensure they look good and perform fast for every grassroots supporter.

3. Recurring retention

What it tells you: Retention is a measure of your program’s sustainability. Building a strong recurring program by keeping your retention high paves the way for you to raise more money long term and gain the flexibility to budget ahead. With an eye on your recurring retention, you can understand how many recurring donors want to stay in your movement rather than cancel their monthly donations. And this will give you a good idea of how many resources you’ll have months from now to commit to organizing and other actions.

Where you can find it: Right in the “Recurring” tab of your Dashboard menu is your Retention Matrix, a chart showing you how many donors choose to continue their recurring contributions for how many months before cancelling.

Here’s how you read your Retention Matrix: This chart shows the percent of recurring contributions you retain over time, grouped by the month the contributions were started. You can read the chart from left to right to see the percent of recurring contributions started in a specific month that were still active one month later, all the way to 12 months after the initial contribution!

Retention matrix

What to do with this: Your goal is to keep the percentages in your Retention Matrix high, and keeping track of your most avid supporters is crucial to good retention! Make sure your monthly sustainers know the incredible impact their contributions have and send them the most important updates from your group rather than more fundraising asks. Above your Retention Matrix in the “Recurring” tab, you can download a list of current recurring donor email addresses in your “Active recurring contributions CSV.” Exclude this email list from your fundraising emails, and instead send your monthly donors a thank you or ask them to take the next step of volunteering or fundraising on your behalf. And if you have one or two critical moments in your work, you can ask them for a special one-time donation while acknowledging their ongoing support.

Now you’ve got data on your side

Even if you don’t have a dedicated data analyst on your team, you have the tools you need on ActBlue to better understand and grow your fundraising success. And remember that our digital experts are ready to help you meet any fundraising challenge, including getting a handle on your data! We’re a call away to help your campaign, organization, or nonprofit assess and build your program.

Grow your email list now for success later

Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday

When you have a passionate grassroots community and a fundraising strategy in place to engage folks, your fundraising success doesn’t have to depend on going viral on social media. This is where your email program is key. Through email, shift your focus for giving season to bringing more people into your movement and starting long-term relationships with supporters. To do this, you’ll need to put time and energy into growing your email list!

Adding new sign-ups to your list not only increases how many people will receive your Giving Tuesday fundraising asks — you’re also building a powerful grassroots base ready to support you on any Tuesday. Growing a healthy and engaged email list takes time, but our team has your back. We break down the basics, do’s, and beware’s of list building so you can get started now.

Tactics for building your email list

On your website:

  • The barebones: Make sure there’s an easy-to-find place to sign up for your email list on your website. All you need to collect is name and email to make signing up super easy!

  • To level up for giving season, add a pop-up on your website asking people to opt-in for updates.

  • Does your nonprofit have a blog for sharing your work? Place a subscription button at the bottom of your blog posts, asking “Do you want to receive important updates like this in your inbox?”

On social media:

  • Cultivate your social media presence and give followers different ways to engage! You can encourage followers to sign up for email updates, or host swag giveaways and ask folks for their email.

  • Try running ads on Twitter and Facebook asking folks to take an action, like signing a petition or joining your movement. When people click, you’ll ask them to provide some basic information like their first name and email to join your list.

In person:

  • For tablings and other year-end events, be prepared with a sign-in sheet to collect legible emails.

  • When people buy tickets online for your event, include a way to subscribe to your list for email updates. Better yet, when you sell tickets using AB Charities, your event’s contribution form automatically collects email addresses so you can communicate with them.

  • Use Entry Mode for in-person donation asks, so you can easily collect gifts one after another on a single tablet and automatically collect emails with each donation!

Through email:

  • Tandem Fundraising: Partner with an organization related to your cause to coalition-build and introduce each other’s work across your different lists.

  • Peer-to-peer power: When a supporter creates their own fundraising page and shares it with their network, you’re reaching people who may not already be involved with your nonprofit. You’re receiving new donations and adding more people to your email list!

Once you add new sign-ups to your list, send them welcome emails introducing your organization and work so they hear from you before you make your first fundraising ask. This way, you’re nurturing and engaging a community for the long haul! And as your list grows, make sure to keep your list clean. Fix easy typos like @gnail.com and let go of inactive subscribers, which affect whether your emails will land in spam or “Promotions.”

Quick takeaways:

Do: Start building your email list now for success much later!
Beware: Overlooking the time it takes to grow an online community that gives year-end and year-round.

Do: Promote signing up for your email list wherever you can. (Don’t be shy!)
Beware: Stopping at promoting — have a plan to welcome and engage new supporters on your list!

Do: Reach out to us for help! We love talking about digital strategy that fits your nonprofit and are excited to help you grassroots your Giving Tuesday so the momentum doesn’t end on December 3.

Celebrating 15 years of empowering small-dollar donors

ActBlue officially turned 15 years old this past summer! Since 2004, we’ve been driven by our mission to make it incredibly easy for people to give to candidates and causes on the left and make their voices heard. We sat down with our Executive Director Erin Hill to talk about Day One of democratizing power and how small-dollar donors have transformed how candidates run for office, how we elect our representatives, how movements take off, and how people effect change.

Erin


Why was ActBlue founded?

Erin: ActBlue was founded in 2004 by Matt DeBergalis and Ben Rahn, scientists who were not traditionally part of the political space. 2004 was another period of time in our country when folks were coming off of the sidelines and thinking about the way the country was going. George Bush was president, Hurricane Katrina would hit in 2005, and we were in wars we are still in today.

People were trying to think about how they could use their skills to make the country a better place, and I think our founders were canonical examples of that. They had these professional skills and thought: Could we use technology to make it as easy for people to participate in our politics and donate as it is to buy a book online? Something to remember is that there wasn’t a lot of online fundraising before 2004 — that time was still the rise of e-commerce! So Matt and Ben set out to democratize the least democratic part of the political process, with the simple idea of making it easy for more people to give.

How has ActBlue changed fundraising?

E: To get somebody to donate still takes the basics of making a very specific, urgent ask and inviting people to be part of your compelling ideas! But what technology does is make it possible for you to reach more people and to do it more efficiently. It lets us meet people where they are and lets them contribute in a meaningful way that fits in with their lifestyle.

The other thing this rise in small-dollar donors has done is help us compete in more places and help new candidates find their voice. People can build their own grassroots fundraising structure from the ground up, and that changes who can see themselves as a viable candidate.

Kitchen Origin Story

So many times, those campaigns are very small. It’s a candidate, a partner, and a neighbor over a kitchen table trying to think about how to make their community better. Our technology takes off some of the administrative burden so they can focus on connecting with supporters, which makes a big difference for these campaigns.

How will small-dollar donors impact 2020?

E: Small-dollar donors are going to elect the next president of the United States. They were the force behind the Democratic candidates who took back the House in the 2018 midterms, and they are going to fuel at least 50% of the Democratic presidential nominee’s fundraising. So they’re going to be really important in taking down Donald Trump.

Not only that: We are preparing to go more aggressively down-ballot this year than we’ve ever gone before. Small-dollar donors are giving to state and local candidates, causes, and charities that matter to them! So small-dollar donors are not only going to be important for powering the top of the ticket — they’re going to be important for powering the entire bench all the way down to make sure we’re going to fix our country.

Collective Power!

As someone who’s been with the organization since basically the beginning (ActBlue’s second team member ever!), what are you most proud to have witnessed and been a part of at ActBlue?

E: It’s such a privilege that our work at the end of the day gets to be about helping to empower other people. The thing that always surprises me the most is that in those early days, I was so used to talking about the ActBlue pitch. Now, to run into people who talk about what giving through our platform means to them, how that’s helped them have a voice in the democratic process in a way they didn’t have otherwise, who see us as an ally — that is so moving.

How are you making the giving process even easier for people who want to take action today?

E: We have a whole team of brilliant folks continuously running tests on our features and tools to learn about user behavior and use data to drive decisions! We like to say it’s our job to make giving as frictionless as possible. About 7.5 million people have saved their payment information in a single-click payment method we call ActBlue Express, which is especially important for the majority of donations made on mobile. There’s nothing worse than on your commute, reading an email and saying “Yes! I want to be in this,” and trying to type in 16 digits of your credit card number using your thumbs on a phone!

Subway Single Click

What does the future hold for ActBlue and the small-dollar donor movement?

E: I think this movement is going to keep growing! Small-dollar donors give little bits to lots of candidates and causes that matter to them. With the number of new folks we’re seeing come out this early in the election cycle, we’ll see millions of new small-dollar donors between now and Election Day in 2020. We hear a lot about the Koch brothers, big money, and dark money: I think small-dollar contributions are a positive and practical alternative to that. If corporate money and dark money are threats to our democracy, small-dollar donors will help save our democracy!

If you could say one thing for people to take away from our conversation, what would you want that to be?

E: I want small-dollar donors to know we wouldn’t be able to do any of this work if it were not for them. We’re a nonprofit, so the source of income for the entire organization is our own small-dollar donors! It means we work for the people who use us, which is a great privilege. It also means we’re all working together toward the same gains.

It’s amazing to see small-dollar donors become such an integral and effective part of how our democracy works right now. They change who is participating, who people are paying attention to, and who can run for office. At this particularly important time, we can put all of our brains together to change our country. And we get to be part of that! It’s just so awesome.


Thank you for 15 incredible years and many more to come! Since the beginning, it’s been grassroots movements changing our country for the better, and there’s no other place we’d rather be than in this small-dollar donor movement with you.

In other words, our story is your story! Are you a donor, supporter, or fundraiser who’s part of our 15 years? Leave us a message on our birthday wall letting us know when you first made a donation or used our tools!

Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday (December 3rd) is a little less than 90 days away — so now is the perfect time to buckle in and start thinking about your nonprofit’s plans to maximize your end-of-year fundraising. With $400 million raised online in the U.S. in 2018, Giving Tuesday is one of the largest days of global charitable giving.

But the grassroots momentum shouldn’t start and stop on December 3rd! As you focus on your year-end game plan, prioritize building a small-dollar fundraising program that will empower tens of thousands of people who want to support advocacy work and set you up for future success far after the end of the year. By taking the time to grow your network and grassroots your Giving Tuesday now, you’ll be ready to connect with passionate supporters this giving season and engage them in years to come as sustainers and vocal ambassadors of your cause.

Our team’s got you covered! We’re a nonprofit ourselves, and we’re excited to help you build a stronger fundraising program and have a more successful giving season with the help of small-dollar donors.

We’ve put together all the end-of-year advice and checklists you’ll need so you can easily follow along to grassroots your Giving Tuesday. For the rest of the year, our team’s focus is making sure you’re ready to encourage supporters to give and join your movement. Each week we’ll deliver the best strategies you need straight to your inbox, so you’ll have a toolbox full of concrete, specific tactics to use during giving season. By the time December 3rd arrives (and far after that), you’ll be ready to raise more money for your cause and reach more supporters.

Here’s your checklist to get your #GrassrootsYourGivingTuesday planning started (and a preview of the tips and tricks we’ll be sending over the next couple months!).


Grassroots Your Giving Tuesday Checklist:

1. Sketch out your organization’s theme for the giving season.
□ Choose a theme for your year-end fundraising campaign that reflects the mission of your organization and that you can weave into your communications this giving season.
□ Nail your theory of change: Explain the problem you are looking to solve, and tell donors how they can help be part of the solution. Your work is important, and you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to explain why when the time comes.

2. Plan your fundraising strategy and timeline.
□ Create a content calendar and establish your timeline for sending emails and posting social media ads.
□ Make sure your fundraising strategy hits multiple channels. You’ll want to run ads on Facebook and Twitter to boost your content, but the vast majority of online donations still comes from email.

3. Build your email list so you have a large network excited to see your future content!
□ Add a pop-up to your website asking people to join your email list and receive important updates from your nonprofit.
□ Prepare your social media ads that encourage supporters to sign up for your email list.
□ Make sure you’re ready to collect emails of attendees at your fall events!

4. Loop in your stakeholders.
□ Explain how your board members can help mobilize their own networks this giving season.
□ Utilize ActBlue community forms to engage your advocates as fundraising champions this end-of-year!

5. Polish your contribution forms and website.
□ Make sure you’ve optimized your site, so when people land on your homepage, they now see a pop-up encouraging them to pitch in this giving season. And if you do not use a pop-up, make sure your donate button is prominent on your website.
□ Do you have a branding on your contribution form? Take some time to clean up your form’s design so it encourages people to give, but isn’t distracting. A couple quick changes can make a huge difference!
□ Make sure your contribution form is optimized for mobile (our forms are mobile-optimized and accept Apple Pay and PayPal!).

6. At last, prepare for post-Giving Tuesday!
□ Pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath, and treat yourself!
□ Come up with a plan to thank your amazing donors and involve them in your organization’s work for the next year.
□ Establish an email series that welcomes new donors who pitched in during end-of-year fundraising to your movement. You can keep your new donors engaged and build a community of excited advocates for your cause!


We’re excited to meet you in your inbox each week with the best practices you can rely on, and we’ll be posting our top tips for fundraisers on Twitter (so give us a wave!). And we’re always just a call away to talk digital strategy that fits your nonprofit — hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us if you have any questions or need a good joke to keep you moving this giving season.

Tips from our digital experts for state and local campaigns and organizations

Our team of organizers at ActBlue has already worked with 5,744 (and counting) different state and local campaigns and organizations in the first half of 2019! We’re passionate about making sure thousands of state and local-level campaigns win, including state legislature seats that will determine our voting maps for the next decade. Our grassroots fundraising platform gives all candidates and causes on the left access to powerful tools like seamless, mobile-optimized contribution forms and a saved payment universe of over 7 million ActBlue Express users who can give to groups on ActBlue with a single click. It’s important for us to back our easy fundraising tools with the tips, knowledge, and resources all levels of campaigns and organizations can implement to build strong, people-powered movements. You can catch us year-round traveling across the country to do in-person trainings and answer any questions folks have about technology or strategy. But it doesn’t stop there: We’re bringing our experts’ tips directly to you right here!


Zoë

Zoë

Senior State Outreach Manager
Midwest Region

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
Speak honestly and candidly with your donors. You’re raising money, but you’re also building relationships and creating a community of invested supporters. Don’t be afraid to be honest in your email communication — talk to your people like they’re people!

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Find out — either through your ActBlue contact or through your independent testing — how to not just use ActBlue’s tools, but how to utilize them most effectively. For example, use social share on all your forms — but go the extra step and investigate which images perform the best with your list and will ultimately yield maximum results.


Graeme

Graeme

State Outreach Assistant
West Region

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
Be genuine — digital communication is how you are going to reach the most voters and potential donors, so use it to help people understand who you are, what you stand for, and why they should support your campaign.

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Experiment! Our tools make it easy to analyze your fundraising and make specific, tested improvements to your forms, so try new things and find out what works best in your community.


Nisa

Nisa

Senior State and Local Outreach Associate
South Region

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
What works in a big city won’t work in a rural area — use the tools and messaging that actually address the needs of your community, rather than focusing on tools and messaging that are out of touch.

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Spend time customizing your form to show your supporters that you are as invested in this victory as they are: Why are you running? What is this money being spent on? How do your supporters fit into your strategic vision?


Kathleen

Kathleen

State Outreach Research Associate

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
Use ActBlue’s tools to create a data-driven campaign. Look at your donors’ fundraising histories in order to determine whether you should encourage them to create a recurring contribution. Look at your most successful forms and replicate them. Figure out whether you are getting the bulk of your contributions through your very active Facebook page or through your email program with refcodes (hint: it’s probably your email list). By understanding who is supporting you, how they are supporting you, and what your successes are, you can build upon those wins in the future!

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Use the data tools available to you! Your Dashboard Overview has a lot of valuable information, but the most important information and insights are found in the CSV files available under the “Reporting,” “Donor Segments,” and “Recurring,” tabs of your Dashboard. Also, take the time to set up refcodes! They can help you find insights about your donors and fundraising program that you wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.


Small-dollar donors from coast to coast are fueling down-ballot candidates and causes and making winning grassroots movements possible. It’s our mission to make sure all people can make their voices heard in our country, and this means strengthening our democracy at all levels of government. Our digital experts come to work every day excited to help everyone — from first-time school board candidates to activists trying to flip state legislatures — make the most of ActBlue’s tools. Have questions about our tips above or want to talk digital strategy that works best for your specific group? Hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us!

Tips from our nonprofit fundraising experts

At AB Charities, we love helping other nonprofits fundraise better by building small-dollar donor bases to sustain their work. Who exactly are we? We’re a team of fundraising experts passionate about talking nonprofit digital strategy and answering any technical questions about making the most of AB Charities accounts and our platform. Our grassroots fundraising platform gives nonprofits of all sizes access to easy, modern tools like mobile-optimized contribution forms and a saved payment universe of over 7 million ActBlue Express users who can give to you with a single click. And as a nonprofit ourselves, we know the stresses that come with raising funds for important advocacy work. It’s a huge reason why we’re usually on the road doing face-to-face trainings and making small-dollar fundraising less intimidating (and less lonely). And we don’t want to stop there: We’re bringing our top digital fundraising tips to you right here!


Adri

Adri

Nonprofit Outreach Manager
Gemini

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Focus on building your recurring donor base! Recurring donors will be more invested in your organization and mission and are more likely to take other actions like signing petitions, volunteering, and encouraging their networks to donate to your organization. Having a strong recurring program also helps organizations budget, and this additional source of revenue allows for more flexibility to run programs and cover things like overhead costs!

Top tip for using AB Charities
Don’t be afraid to ask us for help! Our team is happy to help you create brandings for your forms, help you access donor information, and give demos to teach your team how to get the most out of your AB Charities account. We’re all passionate about empowering organizations to run strong, successful digital fundraising programs, because we understand how important your work is. We want you to have all the tools and skills you need in order to not only sustain but grow your organizations and expand your impact.


Kiersten

Kiersten

Nonprofit Outreach Director
Virgo

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Mobile is becoming extremely common as a way for supporters to engage with your nonprofit and donate! Make sure your donation forms are optimized for mobile (we have Apple Pay and PayPal on our forms!) so supporters can donate via mobile no matter where they are. This is especially true for supporters who may not have internet access or who have mobile networks like 3G with slower page load times. Big picture, make it easy for a supporter to give no matter their device! They already want to support you, and you’ve empowered them to take action — so you’ll want your fundraising platform to make it as easy as possible for them to give.

Top tip for using AB Charities
Chat with us! We’re here, and we want to help. There are a ton of optimizations that you can make to your contribution form to help increase your one-time and recurring donations.


Selah

Selah

Nonprofit Outreach Associate
Aries

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Take some time to nail a theory of change in your fundraising emails! Your donors will always be asking themselves “Why give now? What will my contribution do?” So it’s critical to: highlight the problem your nonprofit is looking to solve, explain what the solution is, and emphasize that donors are a key part of the solution — in this case, a specific sum of small-dollar donations. A (simplified) example might look like: “Our organization works hard every day to improve road safety here in our community, and we need your help. Our free brake light clinic is all set to reduce the chance of car accidents on Main Street: but we still need to get the word out! Just $50.00 will cover the costs of printing flyers that we’ll be posting up around town. Can you pitch in $5.00 today to close this gap and make a change? If 10 people chip in, we’ll be ready to hit the streets!”

A clearly articulated theory of change that answers the right questions goes further than you might imagine in composing an effective ask. Not only will you add an honest sense of urgency to your emails, but you’ll make it clear that donors are part of your team, and you’re getting things done together! It also goes a long way in developing a healthy relationship with your small-dollar donors, building trust, and displaying your nonprofit’s accountability and transparency.

Top tip for using AB Charities
Once you’ve built trust and rapport with your donors through your fantastic emails (featuring your well-written theory of change, of course), AB Charities features some excellent tools for building a sustainers program of recurring donors. Our unlimited, customizable forms have features that encourage supporters to commit to feasible, long-lasting gifts, and we make it easy to pull donor data and build a cohort of engaged supporters who give regularly.

You can also use AB Charities to send a personalized contribution form to your most committed donors to build and steward long-term donor relationships that much more effectively!


We’re a team of dedicated nonprofit fundraising experts who love brainstorming digital strategy that fits your nonprofit and making fundraising all about big numbers and big laughs! You can always give us a wave on Twitter. And if you have any questions about our tips above or making the most of AB Charities, hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us!

Making summer matter as a nonprofit fundraiser

Summer is an incredible time for your nonprofit to sharpen all parts of your online fundraising program so you’re keeping up with best practices and setting yourself up for a strong end-of-year. The pace of life might seem to slow down with the warmth, but small-dollar donors are ready to take action for causes and organizations in need no matter the time of year. This summer is only halfway over, and small-dollar donors have already raised $1.3 million for groups helping parents and children separated at the border. And you can see in our 2018 cycle in review that the number of new donors has skyrocketed at critical moments throughout the summer months.

August is traditionally thought of as sleepy, but there are strategies you can implement now to make the most of summer. Keep reading for high-impact steps to build a robust, streamlined program before the fall and set yourself up for big fundraising rewards.

Build:

1. Your email list.

Summer’s the perfect season for taking your organizing outside and adding emails to your list. With the warmer days finally here, think about hosting events that bring supporters together for your cause and build a sense of community that can translate into a strong base of grassroots donors. From a house party to a rally, cook-out competition to a bike-a-thon, outdoor events are great opportunities to collect emails on paper or digitally. You can sell tickets, collect free RSVPs, or do a combination of both using event forms on AB Charities. And just because you’re hosting an event doesn’t mean you can’t make a face-to-face donation ask! AB Charities makes it easy for you to collect donations at events with our Entry Mode feature, so multiple people can easily make secure donations on the same device. We’ve also made sure our contribution forms are optimized for mobile — it’s why this past quarter, over 50% of contributions made through our platform came from mobile devices!

Rural Utah Project Event

2. Your recurring donor base.

Invest time into building a strong recurring program while Giving Tuesday and other deadlines are still months away. Recurring gifts give you the amazing flexibility to budget for the future! And by nurturing a solid community of monthly supporters now, you’ll gain the superpower to plan for the big events and campaigns for your cause later in the year. You can begin by asking for monthly gifts of *smaller* amounts than one-time donations. You can also turn on our Smart Recurring feature, which encourages donors making a one-time contribution to make an additional, lower monthly gift.

Here’s a pro-tip: If you have inexpensive gifts like stickers to give supporters, you can ask people to make a monthly donation to receive a sticker. A simple email that says “Where should we send your sticker?” and includes a donation ask can build your recurring program!

Polish:

1. Your open rates.

Let go of inactive subscribers in your email list to boost your open and donation rates. Your emails are some of your most important communications with your supporters, and creative and authentic emails can build meaningful relationships with your base that raise more money in the long term. Metrics like open rates also affect whether your emails end up in Gmail’s Promotions tab or spam, so you’ll want to take your open rates seriously!

2. Your email targeting.

If you haven’t yet, segment your email list into groups of supporters organized by donor behavior. It’s easier than ever to group people by previous donation sizes using AB Charities’ tools for data on donor segments. Once you clean up your list and prepare your targeting, you can send more intentional, personalized emails that meet your donors where they’re at. And it’s this kind of detail in knowing your donors’ behavior that improves your fundraising results!

3. Your forms with A/B testing.

A/B tests are a great way for you to identify the most successful parts of your contribution form so you can make optimized forms that raise the most money. Our A/B Test Tool makes it super easy for you to run head-to-head tests on your forms, including comparing different form titles and ask language. Does a simple branding or fancier one connect with your supporters more? After testing various form versions, you’ll be left with a powerful baseline for all future forms you make!

Nourish!

While the sun’s shining, grow your relationships with your supporters through cultivation emails that aim to engage (and not just fundraise). Whether surveys, newsletters, or updates on your nonprofit’s work, sending compelling content builds trust and engagement with your list. Do you have swag and merchandise that are perfect for your supporters to sport in the summer? Try hosting a giveaway where you ask supporters to enter a contest to win sunglasses, hats, totes, or water bottles that show their grassroots pride!

Summer’s the perfect time to take big actions that can build up your grassroots fundraising. Don’t let the slow pace of these months fool you, and get started on strengthening all parts of your digital program with our tips. Still wondering where to begin? One of your first high-impact actions can be hopping on a one-on-one call with our team to talk through strategies that work for your nonprofit. We’re always happy to chat and answer any questions you have!

The automation on ActBlue giving your fundraising a boost

Every campaign and organization on ActBlue has access to powerful automated tools. Our mission has always been to make fundraising incredibly easy for grassroots groups and the donors who support them, and automation plays a huge role in taking care of the small stuff so you can focus on the hard work of organizing, winning, and building strong movements. Automation can help you cultivate closer relationships with your supporters and raise more money, and with just a little extra customization, you can make these automated functions work even harder for you! Because our team of engineers is constantly focused on finding ways to make your fundraising better (and your life easier), we’ve made sure automation is baked into our platform. Check out the automation that’s giving your fundraising a boost on ActBlue and how you can take it to the next level.

Email Receipts + Thank You Messages

We automatically send email receipts to donors who give to you through our platform. These automated receipts let you recognize and value every single one of your donors!

How to level up: You can celebrate your donors even more by customizing the text in these automated receipts with a heartfelt thank you. Customized email receipts leave supporters with a meaningful message about the key role of small-dollar donors in your work and motivate your supporter base to stay in this movement with you. While you’re here, add a custom branding to your receipt to match your campaign or organization. You can use ActBlue’s easy design tools to spiff up your receipts with your logo (and a background color if you’re feeling artistic!).

Customized Receipt Example

Remarketing

Sometimes people navigate away from a form before completing their donation and need a nudge to finish it. Our remarketing feature encourages supporters to finish their incomplete contributions by automatically sending a follow-up email thirty minutes after an unfinished donation. Remarketing, a common and impactful feature in e-commerce, increases conversion rates and lets you get the most out of each and every ask!

How to level up: Customize your remarketing email text to remind supporters one last time why it’s so important for them to give to you and finish filling out the contribution form right now. (If you’ve used a branding on your email receipts, it will carry over to remarketing emails!)

Pop-up Recurring and Smart Recurring

Building a healthy recurring program sustains your work for the long term, and our pop-up recurring feature on our forms helps you get started. Pop-up recurring asks people who make a one-time donation to you if they’d like to turn that one-time donation into a monthly one. This feature is automatically on for all of our forms because it’s an easy way for groups on ActBlue to begin growing their recurring contributions. While pop-up recurring is turned on by default, groups can also turn on our Smart Recurring feature to automatically ask donors who make a one-time contribution to start an additional and smaller recurring donation to your campaign.

How to level up: We have default language for these pop-ups, but it makes all the difference for you to add your own title and ask. Whether pop-up recurring or Smart Recurring, this is a great opportunity for you to explain in your own voice how important recurring donations are for you. Even better? You can add an image or GIF to the pop-up to really make an impression. Another great strategy is letting donors know you’re sending a sticker to people who sign up to be monthly sustainers of your work!

PopUp Example 1

PopUp Example 1

Account Updater

After doing the hard work of growing your recurring program, you don’t want old and lost credit cards to be the reason you lose donations. We launched an integration with Account Updater in late 2016 that automatically updates lost and expired credit cards used for recurring contributions, saving you and your donors time and effort. It’s a really impactful integration that benefits all campaigns and organizations, so we make sure it comes standard for every single group on our platform (no extra charge!).

Account Updater Graph

These automated features are already running on our platform to give campaigns and organizations the fundraising advantage they need to build people-powered movements. When fundraising’s stressful for you, our goal is taking care of the technology so your digital work is easier and more successful. Curious to know more or need some help customizing these features? You can reach out to us at support@actblue.com.

How to retain (and love) your grassroots donors

One of the smartest and most exciting strategies your organization can implement right now is prioritizing existing donors! Reaching fundraising goals can be much more than finding *new* donors. Making donor retention a key part of your fundraising program helps you build strong, lasting relationships with your incredible supporters that lead to more money raised over the long term. Your small-dollar donors are your most passionate advocates and investors in your mission, so treat them as the valued stakeholders they are! And donor retention doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips for showing your supporters some love and motivating them to stay in this movement with you.

Start off on the right foot with a welcome email series

Welcome emails are a great way to show people who are new to your email list that they’re part of something bigger! These emails are the foundation on which you’ll build relationships with grassroots supporters, so you’ll want to put in the time to craft content that makes people want to stick around and take action.

What’s the anatomy of a strong welcome email series? From the get go, the content of your welcome emails should reiterate that by joining your list, supporters are joining a community of critical participants for your cause, like this welcome email from Sunrise does:

Sunrise Welcome Email

Let your supporters know how they can begin taking specific actions, whether it’s donating, signing a petition, volunteering, or sharing on social media. Sunrise provides links for action steps to make participating as easy as possible.

You can set a precedent for honest, respectful communication by laying out to subscribers what kinds of emails you’ll send their way, like Grist does below. Additionally, think about giving supporters an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list or linking to subscription preferences like Grist does. (Giving an easy opt-out from the start also keeps your list healthy and clean from inactive subscribers, and your future self might just thank you later).

Grist Welcome Email

Make appreciation your bread and butter

Make it a point to say “thank you!” Appreciate your small-dollar donors by letting them know they’re an irreplaceable part of your larger mission. You can immediately begin showing donors your appreciation by automating donation receipts that acknowledge gifts. AB Charities already sends automated receipts to donors for you, but you can (and should) customize the “thank you” text in these receipts. With automated, customized receipts, you ensure every grassroots gift is acknowledged and every donor leaves the giving process feeling special and important to your cause.

Saying “thank you” after someone donates is important, but appreciating your supporters in all pieces of communication for sticking with you is just as important. Keep gratitude and respect at the crux of your fundraising program by thanking supporters in every email you send. Whether a fundraising email or a newsletter, a line at the end saying “thank you” shows people they’re part of your work — and your organization knows it!

Go beyond asking for money

When a big goal of your program is building lasting relationships with donors, send non-fundraising emails that share high-quality, approachable, and timely content with your supporters. Your emails should aim to engage people so they want to stay on your list, hear from you, and invest in your cause for the long term. Many of your emails can be cultivation emails — non-fundraising emails meant to share compelling content — so you’re not only sending hard fundraising asks. With thoughtful cultivation emails, you can engage folks as partners in the fight for your cause rather than solely as piggy banks.

Try sending cultivation emails entirely dedicated to saying “thank you.” Do you have exciting numbers and accomplishments to share? You can use a thank you email as a moment to emphasize the impact of gifts and express appreciation for your donors’ actions. And you don’t have to sacrifice fundraising, either — leave an easy donate button at the bottom of the email for people who are compelled to give. Here’s an example of a great thank you email from United We Dream:

United We Dream Thank You Email

Another possible way to engage supporters is asking for their input and opinions to let them know their voices are central to your movement. Many organizations send surveys, but Friends of the Earth checked in with their list by asking people if they could make a special volunteer call to discuss advancing climate change legislation:

Friends of the Earth Volunteer Call Email

Be ready to support donors who need help

An enjoyable giving process also means having the donor support to quickly solve donation problems. Make sure you have the infrastructure to address the needs and concerns of donors. That’s why AB Charities has a dedicated donor support team that spends one-on-one time with donors having trouble. Your fundraising platform should also offer tools for frictionless donations. For example, AB Charities has a free integration with Account Updater to automatically update credit card numbers so recurring donations don’t stop even when cards are lost or expired!

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to begin building lasting relationships with small-dollar donors passionate about powering your work and sustaining your movement for the long haul. Relationship management can feel intimidating, so our team is always happy to jump on a one-on-one call with you to help your organization retain (and love) your donors!