Why our team hits the road and trains all over

It’s important to us as a mission-driven nonprofit to ensure people have all the knowledge they need to build strong, people-powered movements. While day-to-day we’re focused on building powerful fundraising tools that help candidates and organizations run small-dollar fundraising programs, we know that if we want to empower people who are new to the world of organizing or the political process, we need to back those tools up with training and resources on how to do fundraising right. That’s why dozens of folks at ActBlue travel around the country to connect with all types of audiences — candidates running in local races, nonprofit organizations, and budding activists — to talk about how to best leverage our tools for people-powered change.

With our mission to democratize power packed in our carry-on luggage, we put in the time (and miles) to go over the best practices of small-dollar digital fundraising. These trainings happen because we partner with incredible organizations and conferences who are creating spaces for people to learn how to build movements, run for office, and make change. Through these partnerships, we invest in the critical work of other groups and are able to show up in all types of organizing spaces to help folks use our fundraising tools and learn about building a small-dollar program. We’re serious about leading these trainings because we know that when we provide people with both the knowledge and the tools to start grassroots fundraising programs, more folks are able to play active roles in our democracy.

These trainings have become even more important in recent years: After the 2016 elections, thousands of people wanted to run for office for the first time, and we knew there would be an urgent need to provide training and resources to these candidates. Just look at the graph below to see the incredible growth in the number of groups raising money on ActBlue from the 2016 election cycle to the 2018 cycle (and visit our 2018 Election Cycle in Review to toggle this graph and see specific counts):

Groups fundraising on ActBlue

We view our trainings as irreplaceable opportunities to help people realize they can run for office, win, and lead people-powered change without having wealthy connections or an established network of donors. Common training topics include the basics of grassroots digital fundraising, best practices for building an email fundraising program that empowers small-dollar donors, organizing personal networks to give with community forms, and raising money in a rapid response moment. We travel year-round because organizing work never stops, and elections happen all the time — including now! We’re especially looking forward to helping more state and local campaigns build powerful small-dollar programs that help them win in tough races.

Where have we been in the past? In 2017 and 2018, we traveled to 181 events and trainings across the country. From the West Coast to the South, from the Midwest back home to the Northeast, we were so excited to help campaigns and organizations build stronger digital fundraising programs and power stronger movements. Check out the map below to see where we went:

ActBlue trainings in the 2018 election cycle

And we have our sights set on expanding our reach even more from coast to coast. Already in 2019, we’ve been hitting the road to share the power of small-dollar donors! Here are a few places we’ve been this year to train.

We partnered with BLUE Institute in Houston, TX to give a rundown of small-dollar digital fundraising to future leaders of color so they have the tools to build people-powered campaigns:

We flew all the way to Portland, OR for the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference, where nonprofits of all missions and sizes learned how to prioritize grassroots donors in their fundraising strategy:

We traveled to Philadelphia, PA for the Granger Leadership Academy and shared with activists the magic of grassroots online fundraising in fueling change:

When we’re not traveling, we also host webinars on small-dollar digital fundraising! Whether you’re interested in in-person trainings or webinars, follow ActBlue on Twitter to keep up to date on our latest moves.

Small-dollar donors make it possible for groups to build people-powered movements that don’t have to rely on big money. That’s why we’re passionate about training all over and helping campaigns, organizations, and individuals drive big change with small dollars. Can we help empower your organization or community? Let us know if you could use a training! Drop us a line at support@actblue.com.

The numbers are in: Check out ActBlue’s election cycle review

The 2018 election cycle was truly one for the history books. Over the course of the last two years, the grassroots built a nationwide movement that helped Democrats win big, and our cycle review takes a close look at all the small-dollar fundraising that made it happen.

From raising $1.6 BILLION on ActBlue to electing more women to Congress than ever before, small-dollar donors created the kind of change that will have a lasting impact on our country and our politics. And this is just the beginning! Check out our 2018 election cycle review for all of the stats and visualizations you could want: report.actblue.com


2018 cycle in review

Ted Cruz thinks we’re big money

Last night, Ted Cruz mentioned us in a debate about the tax code on CNN with Bernie Sanders. Perhaps not surprisingly, Cruz got his facts wrong. When talking about big money in politics, he compared us to the Koch brothers — some of the biggest Republican mega-donors in the business.

As a nonprofit fundraising platform for the left dedicated to helping small-dollar donors speak truth to power, we were caught off guard by his mistake — and so were the people in our community.

 

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It was actually kind of funny how wrong he was:

 

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In case Ted Cruz is still confused, here are some tweets that explain what we do from some of the amazing small-dollar donors and grassroots activists who use ActBlue:

 

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Better luck next time, Ted.

 

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In the meantime, we’ll be actively empowering small-dollar donors so they can fuel the organizations and causes they care about and power Democrats to victory in 2018, 2020, and beyond.

ActBlue interns weigh in on their experience

We hire a team of paid interns every semester at ActBlue, who are interested in everything from politics to law to writing and marketing. They come to us from varying college majors, hometowns, and backgrounds, and they bring unique perspectives and ideas to the ActBlue team. It’s our goal to help them learn the ins and outs of ActBlue and show them what it’s like to work in politics, as well as within the larger grassroots movement. Perhaps most importantly, they’re able to explore how their own interests and skills can play a role in their political work.

I can speak to the intern experience first-hand, since I myself started interning at ActBlue in 2014. The work I did was extremely rewarding — I knew that every task I completed played a part in the larger mission of ActBlue, and I also knew that I was gaining some great experience to take with me after college. I started as an intern during the summer before my senior year of college as a writing and literature major. I knew I wanted to write, but I also had a passion for politics and I had no idea those interests could intersect so perfectly. Before I started with ActBlue, I didn’t know that the job I’m currently doing existed. When I thought about working in politics, I only thought about actually running for office or working on a campaign. I didn’t realize the scope of the work being done, or how fulfilling that work could be, but my internship introduced me to a host of new opportunities and ways I could make a difference.

Since I graduated, I’ve been a full-time staffer, working with our Marketing Team and building a career in digital organizing. That means I’m now on the other side of the internship program, and it’s been amazing to see how excited our interns are about Democratic politics and how inspired they are by the strength of the small-dollar donor movement. They’re the kind of enthusiastic, passionate activists that are going to play a big role in all the work we’ll be doing on the left in the coming years and we’re grateful we can be a part of their stories.

Jess, Deb, and Monika worked on our Customer Service, Marketing, and Outreach teams. They’re moving on from ActBlue to new adventures in the fall, so we chatted with each of them to hear about their experiences.

 

 

Jess:

It’s been extremely rewarding to see the incredible ways ActBlue’s platform has been able to support the resistance. I’ve seen first-hand that people are not sitting by and letting this country fall at the hands of Trump and the GOP. They’re running for office. They’re donating to really great candidates. They’re starting PACs and advocacy organizations, and they’re building powerful networks of small-dollar donors who can respond to attacks on things like our healthcare within hours. It’s been really eye-opening to see the power of grassroots organizing and it reminds me that all hope is not lost.

Deb:

During my internship, I had to juggle multiple projects with different demands and time commitments. I got to expand on my abilities to prioritize and multitask, while also learning how to design projects on my own. But my favorite part of being an ActBlue intern was the exposure I got to the national political landscape from right here in Somerville, Mass. Each team at ActBlue plays a unique part in the political process, and I’m so grateful to have been able to see things from different angles throughout my time here.

Monika:

When I started interning last year, I wanted to find a workplace where I could play an active role in Democratic politics in the months leading up to the election, while still being able to develop my personal and professional interests. I’ve been exposed to so many different organizations and individuals who are doing really great advocacy work throughout the country. I’ve been able to expand my view of nonprofits who work in this space, but I’ve also been able to develop my own intentions and ambitions as I move forward in my career.


The energy and drive we see in our interns every semester is inspiring to all of us, and a sure sign of all the great activism and work that’s going to be done in the upcoming years.

We’ve already completed the intern hiring process for the fall, but should be accepting applications for spring interns in mid-to-late October. If you’re interested in applying, we encourage you to check back. Aside from all the great experience they receive, our interns are paid, provided with a transportation subsidy, and all the snacks and coffee they need to get them through interning and taking classes. If you have questions about our internship program, drop us a line at internships@actblue.com.

 

ActBlue integration with Action Network

We believe it’s essential that the campaigns and organizations using our tools have access to their fundraising data where and when they need it.

That’s why we’re excited to announce a brand new API integration with Action Network, a fellow member of the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI).

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If you’re using ActBlue to fundraise, but using Action Network as your CRM, you can now send your donor and contribution info from ActBlue to Action Network automatically.

The best part? It’s totally free, and it’s a quick and easy setup process. All our team needs from you is your Action Network API key to get things rolling.

If you’re interested in integrating with Action Network, just drop us a line at info@actblue.com and a member of our team will be in touch.

For those of you using other CRMs, we’ve already got an existing suite of integrations in place — including BSD, Salsa, and ActionKit.

We also offer open webhooks, which can provide more flexibility in the way your campaign or organization retrieves data, and ultimately works with that data. Implementing webhooks will require some technical work on your end, so if your campaign or organization wants to hear more about using webhooks, you should reach out to our team and we can provide you with the details.

It’s important to us that our users are able to push their data exactly where they want it, so we’re thrilled to be integrating with other platforms in the progressive space to help make that process as seamless as possible. And we’re happy to continue integrating with new platforms — if there’s a specific integration you’re interested in, you should let us know.

As always, if you’ve got any questions or comments about integrations, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com.

One. Billion. Dollars.

Get the confetti cannons out — we’ve officially crossed over A BILLION DOLLARS. That’s one billion dollars raised for Democrats, progressives, and nonprofits leading the fight for change.

one billion

This is by far our biggest milestone yet, but this isn’t just a celebration for us, this is a celebration (and a win) for small-dollar donors everywhere. They prove day in and day out that there is unbelievable strength in the grassroots movement.

This celebration is about saying thank you to the 14,308 campaigns, committees, and organizations who have used ActBlue’s platform, and the 24,200,973 individual contributions from millions of donors across the country who got us here. There are an amazing 4,032,813 donors that have used our platform to make their voices heard in the last 12 years, and they’ve showed people everywhere how powerful grassroots donors can be.

Small-dollar donors, campaigns, committees, and nonprofits have helped us build an amazing movement over the last 12 years, so we wanted to build something that allows you all to look back on the big moments that we created together, and that got us to this huge milestone.

The best part? This is just the beginning.

Check out billion.actblue.com to read about the #roadto1B, and join us in this celebration!

ActBlue Charities is HERE

*drumroll please* We’re excited to announce that charitable organizations can now fundraise using the same great platform that ActBlue has built over the last 11 years!

Organizations with a 501(c)3 designation are now able to get set up with our tools in just minutes. Contributions will be run through ActBlue Charities, the newest arm of the ActBlue family, but everything else stays the same. Charities both big and small, national and local, will be able to take advantage of our entire set of industry-leading fundraising tools, including the existing (and growing) 2.4M-strong Express user universe — that’s people who have saved their donor and credit card information and can give in an instant. By bringing our innovative tools to a whole new set of organizations, we’re hoping to add to revenue models for charitable organizations by working with them to build a new stream of small-dollar donors.

If you’re interested, you can start the setup process here.

So, why did we spend years (yes, years) working to make it possible for charities to use our fundraising tools?

ActBlue’s mission has always been to help connect grassroots donors with the causes and campaigns that they support, so they can effect change in the world. Through technology, we help break down barriers, and make it easier for Americans to chip in what they can afford to fuel change in this country. Just think of what can be accomplished if we can help thousands of charitable organizations build their grassroots fundraising base, much like we’ve done with political giving.

We’ve seen firsthand how powerful grassroots, people-powered movements can be, and we want to help charities create those kinds of movements and bring in more donations, so they can expand their capacity to do good works. And as a nonprofit, ActBlue is committed to offering those tools for free, so organizations at every level have access to the best technology possible.

There are certainly already a lot of platforms charities can use to fundraise online. Here’s what makes ActBlue a better choice:

ActBlue isn’t just a way to take in money. We’re a platform built specifically to support grassroots fundraising and the organizations doing that work. From our tools to our Express universe to our trainings, we draw from the experiences of thousands of groups fundraising with us.

How does that happen? Well, the huge volume of contributions we handle enables us to constantly improve our contribution forms with tiny optimizations that benefit the entire platform at once and immediately bring in more dollars. Donors are at the core of what we do, and we’re constantly looking for ways to make it easier and faster for them to give. The design of buttons, small layout changes, and user experience alterations can make big differences when it comes to conversion rates.

We do one thing — build grassroots fundraising software that raises organizations more money and helps them increase their capacity to do powerful work — and we do it really well. We’ve never lost a head-to-head A/B test against another donation platform.

ActBlue’s toolset is designed to scale for organizations both big and small. Everyone has access to the same features, data visualizations, and tools no matter their size. That means your small (but mighty) charity has access to the same fundraising tools as presidential candidates like Bernie Sanders.

And the other important thing to know is that we’re a mission-driven nonprofit. We partner with our clients, working together to help them reach their fundraising goals. We’re not just another vendor looking to profit off of you. We’ve been around for 11 years, helped raise over $960 million in grassroots contributions for thousands of campaigns and organizations, and built a reputation for being helpful, reliable, and innovative. There are some huge charities that are doing cutting-edge work right now, and we can’t wait to partner with them to make charitable grassroots fundraising even better.

We’re excited to be working with organizations in a space where there is room for small-dollar donor growth, and the potential to build powerful movements of all kinds. ActBlue Charities is open to any c3 organization that is willing to engage in grassroots fundraising, and whose activity doesn’t contradict ActBlue Charities’ policies and values. Those values include (but aren’t limited to) social equality, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, diversity, freedom of speech, and respect for scientific inquiry, discovery, and data.

Charitable organizations will pay our standard 3.95% processing fee on contributions, but other than that, every single one of our tools — including training and support — is free. We’re usually able to set charities up in a single day. No contracts, no hidden costs.

If you’re an organization that meets the criteria above, and are interested in getting set up, let us know here. If you have questions, or want to learn more about our tools you can email us at info@actblue.com.

This launch is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long learning process, and we’re excited to start working with some amazing new organizations. Together, we can make big things happen.

What’s it like to intern at ActBlue?

Our (paid) interns are an integral part of our operations here at ActBlue. They’re given significant pieces of work and an opportunity to learn from every department.

Every summer and semester we have a new group come in to answer donors’ questions, assist staff with various projects, and just observe/ask questions from the staff. It’s even served as a talent pipeline, with three people on our staff who are former interns.

Obviously, we’re pretty proud of the program and are honored to give several of this summer’s interns an opportunity to share a bit from their experiences.

Tyler:

So what’s an internship at ActBlue actually going to look like? What are you really going to take away from your time here professionally? ActBlue is a startup and a non-profit that has had such success that it now has the resources and benefits of working at a larger organization with the fun upbeat nature of a smaller organization.

What does this mean? You know basically everyone in the office, the staff is small enough to have weekly meetings, and interns are much more involved than the coffee runs they might otherwise be doing at a large firm. However, ActBlue’s size affords departments the resources for no shortage of projects, presentations and wisdom on a variety of topics including but in no way limited to: marketing, outreach, technical services, security, operations, compliance, business, how to be a person 101, etc. What this meant for me personally was a variety of interesting presentations and projects on what it takes for an organization to run smoothly.

Part of why I took this job to begin with was to learn about working at a non-profit. In pairing me with projects, my intern supervisor was extremely attentive to this. In general, the intern supervisors at ActBlue are very accommodating and supportive and actively work to make sure that when you walk away from your time here, you do so satisfied, with relevant experience under your belt.

Tim:

Having the opportunity to work somewhere that is a major force for the causes I’m passionate about and genuinely cares about its employees has been amazing, and the fact that it’s paid is the icing on top.

At ActBlue, I’ve been able to make a real impact supporting progressive politics. ActBlue is a small organization, and as a result interns play an integral part in day to day work. Whether it’s by interacting with donors and campaigns, researching potential candidates, or collaborating with the marketing team, I saw the direct results of my work constantly.

Since day one, ActBlue has made interns’ professional growth a main concern, and developing an understanding of how each team functions is just a part of that. They have pressured me to hone my career aspirations, and challenged me to become a better employee.

Anastasia:

Having had past internships with campaigns and a state political party, I felt that interning for ActBlue would give me that third perspective that I was missing: who is behind the success of a campaign? We constantly hear about the innovation that the internet has brought to political campaigns (cough Obama 2008 cough) but what is the structure behind the success of democratic campaigns across the country? I discovered that the structure behind a large portion of the success is a 40 person-staff office in Davis Square.

Of the many positive attributes of this internship, one that I especially appreciated was the reminder of the role that the interns play in the organization as a whole. Each staff member of ActBlue constantly sought feedback from the interns on the projects that we were working on and the experience that we were having with ActBlue. They also asked about my interests and what I found interesting in this field.

The office culture of ActBlue has set the standard for my future careers fairly high: A comfortable workplace with coffee (critical), an open concept workspace for conversations, and an appreciation of current affairs. This office space is inhabited by young, progressively minded individuals, all working to improve the current political sphere. ActBlue brings the same friendly, helpful attitude they have with donors to their staffers (including interns!)

In the end, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at ActBlue. I was able to work with a revolutionary non-profit that is changing the landscape of online political fundraising, build valuable working relationships, live in Davis Square for the summer, expand my LinkedIn network, and most importantly, discover more about myself and my desired work environment for the ever daunting and quickly approaching “real world.”

We look for new interns year-round. For more information, email opportunities@actblue.com.

Three quarters of a billion dollars

ActBlue has now processed $750 million in grassroots donations in 11 years, from over 16 million donations at an average of $46.47. It’s incredible.

We’re on an amazing tear. Look at this growth chart:

31% of our total amount raised has come in the past year alone. And here’s why:

ActBlue is now the fundraising software of choice for nearly all Senate and House Democratic candidates, along with the DCCC, DSCC and the DLCC. And an increasing number of c4 non-profits use us. But one of the biggest factors for our meteoric growth? Organizations and campaigns are simply raising more grassroots donations.

And we can take a little credit for that. With 1.4 million Express users and counting, constant optimization testing, and ridiculously good uptime and load times, we’ve been working hard to ensure our clients raise as much grassroots money as possible.

Together, we’ve built a powerful force in fundraising that has propelled thousands of Democrats and advocacy groups to victory.

Who wants to take bets on when we hit ONE BILLION DOLLARS? And yes, quite a few Dr. Evil impressions have been heard around the office this week, given that we’re in a presidential cycle and the trajectory of our growth it won’t be long!

You know what’s pretty cool?

Yep, that’s right. The community that we started building in 2008 has grown to include one million supporters.

What’s so special about Express users? They’ve securely saved their payment information with us, which means they can give in an instant to any candidate, committee, or organization using ActBlue. Whenever you make it easier for people to donate wherever they are, whenever they want, they’re more apt to give and conversion rates go up. That means our work is directly benefitting Democrats and progressives across the country.

In other words, Express users are power donors. But not the Koch-brother type. The small-dollar kind. Check out how many dollars ActBlue Express users have been giving:

Express users also power Express Lane, ActBlue’s one-click payment system. Express Lane increases donation rates anywhere from 40% to 200%. The more Express users an organization has, the more likely they are to bring in those Express Lane donations. The best way to increase your Express user pool? We’ve found that sending Express Lane links to all your users increases donation rates and helps you convert more of your list to Express users. We wrote a post about it here.

The community has been growing rapidly, but we’re really happy to see the current monthly growth rate at about the same level as October 2012. If you remember, there were some big things going on.

As we get further into the election cycle, more and more new donors are emerging and joining the Express Lane community. Every campaign out there is organizing and growing their ranks, all the major campaigns in the country are using ActBlue and adding their donors to this pool, and together the entire left is raising more money. And if we’re seeing this many new donors signing up during summer vacation months….well, we can only imagine what this fall will bring!