Introducing “Small Dollars. Big Change: The Webinar Series”

Introducing 'Small Dollars. Big Change: The Webinar Series'

At ActBlue, we work hard every day to make sure that our grassroots fundraising tools are as accessible as possible and that campaigns and organizations have all of the strategy and expertise they need to create winning small-dollar donor fundraising programs. Why? Because we know that digital fundraising tools enable anyone to build a people-powered campaign and make it easy for millions of people to donate to their favorite candidates or causes!

That’s why our team travels across the country, connecting with folks who are working hard to transform our democracy and giving them in-person trainings on digital fundraising strategies and how to best use ActBlue’s tools to engage with small-dollar donors. In 2019, our trainings helped hundreds of first-time candidates and growing organizations understand the power of small-dollar donors and how to sustain their fundraising for the long term. To continue that momentum into 2020, we’re doing something big!

Introducing Small Dollars. Big Change: The Webinar Series! This series takes a dive into the most frequently asked questions we receive from fundraisers, giving your campaign or organization all the strategies and tools it needs to run a strong grassroots fundraising program!

Each month, our online fundraising experts will show you how campaigns and organizations of any size and digital skill level can use ActBlue’s fundraising platform to build people-powered movements. From learning how to write smart, effective fundraising emails to creating polished, professional contribution forms that attract more supporters, this webinar series will help your campaign or organization hit the ground running from the moment it announces all the way through Election Day and beyond!

We’ll be holding our first webinar for Democratic candidates and progressive political organizations, Digital Fundraising 101, on Wednesday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m. EST. During this session, ActBlue’s digital fundraising experts will teach you about the power of small-dollar donors and the best practices for starting and running your digital fundraising program. Sign up here to attend!

ActBlue's webinar begins on January 29, 7pm EST

If you’re interested in learning more about Small Dollars. Big Change: The Webinar Series, check our Twitter account for updates or reach out to our training experts at training@actblue.com!

This webinar series is just one of the many ways we’re working to meet our users where they’re at and spread the tips and tricks we’ve learned since 2004 with the folks that are working to democratize power. If you’re interested in more resources, check out our support site and the rest of our blog!

Introducing the ActBlue Glossary!

Welcome to the ActBlue glossary! Whether you recently started using ActBlue as an admin or you’re new to digital fundraising altogether, this is a helpful list of technical terms you’ll see all over our platform.

This blog will focus on basic ActBlue terms that you’ll find across our platform. If you’re looking for more detailed instructions or an answer to a specific question, check out our support site!

Our tools and features:

  • Dashboard: The hub for all of your admin needs on ActBlue, including your contribution forms, donor data, account settings, and more.

  • Contribution forms: The building blocks of ActBlue’s platform: Our forms are where small-dollar donors give to you! You can find all of your forms in your Dashboard menu under the “Contribution Forms” tab.

  • Community form: Contribution forms that anyone can create to fundraise for their favorite group! As an admin, you have access to the donor data for all community forms fundraising on your behalf.

  • Tandem form: A contribution form that allows donors to split one contribution between multiple groups with a single click. Make a contribution form Tandem by adding recipients in the form editor!

  • Form editor: Where you’ll find all of the options for customizing your contribution form! When you click “Edit” on a contribution form, either while viewing the form itself or in the “Contribution Forms” tab of the Dashboard, you will see the form editor pop up on the left.

  • Branding: A custom design you create for your forms and receipts using our form editor.

  • Social share: The text and image people see when your contribution form link is posted on social media! You can customize this in the form editor. Here’s an example:socialshare

  • Refcode: Short for “reference code,” a refcode is a short word or phrase you add to the end of your contribution form link as a reference, so you can easily track where your donations are coming from on the form’s Stats page!

  • ActBlue Express: Our saved payment feature for donors that enables them to give to any group on ActBlue with a single click.

Other helpful terms for fundraising on ActBlue:

  • Topline numbers: These stats, which you can find in your Dashboard Overview, give you a basic rundown of how your digital fundraising program is doing. The big three at the top are contributions, dollars raised, and average contribution size, and we break them all down here. 

  • CSV: CSVs are a popular and universal document format that work with all donor tracking software. You can download all sorts of donor and contribution form data in this format on ActBlue, including the data you’ll need for compliance.

  • Conversion rate: A term that refers to the percentage of people who take some sort of action on a form, email, ad, or other media. On a form’s Stats page, your conversion rate shows you what percentage of people who landed on your form ended up making a donation!

  • Merchant account: A merchant account is required by some state and local jurisdictions for campaigns raising money online. We have an easy system for getting groups with merchant accounts set up on ActBlue, and you can still use all of our tools seamlessly! If you have questions about reconciliation for your merchant account, check out this support article.

And a little bit about us:

  • ActBlue: We are a nonprofit dedicated to empowering small-dollar donors. Our tools make it easy for grassroots supporters to chip in to their favorite Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits, creating people-powered movements and transforming power structures across the country.

  • Small-dollar donors: What we call donors who engage with their favorite candidates and causes at the grassroots level by chipping in! Together, they’ve contributed over $4 billion to groups on ActBlue since we opened our doors in 2004. Read why small-dollar donors give in their own words here.

Still have questions? Schedule a one-on-one strategy call with us! Our experts are always available to help with a specific feature or talk about what digital fundraising strategy will work best for your group.

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.

The power of recurring contributions

Asking for monthly donations is one of the most impactful strategies available for engaging with small-dollar donors and building a sustainable grassroots movement. A successful recurring program allows campaigns and organizations to raise more money and budget more effectively, but that’s not all — asking people to invest in your cause over the long term helps you build meaningful relationships with donors. And ActBlue users are excited to give on a regular basis: During the 2018 election cycle, 41% of all donations on ActBlue came from recurring contributions. That added up to over $324 million given to progressive campaigns and organizations creating a better future as a result of both monthly and weekly donations!

Recurring contributions powered small-dollar donors’ record-breaking fundraising on ActBlue in 2018, and we know they’ll be even more important moving forward. Keep reading to learn more about engaging with small-dollar donors using smart grassroots strategies and ActBlue’s easy recurring tools.

First, why focus on recurring contributions instead of only sending one-time asks?

1. Long-lasting relationships.
Here at ActBlue, empowering small-dollar donors is our bread and butter. That’s why we think recurring contributions are so important: When people choose to give money to a group on a regular basis, they are investing fully in change and cementing themselves as an essential part of your campaign or organization. It’s conventional wisdom that early money makes a huge difference in politics, so asking early donors in particular to sign up for recurring contributions ensures that you have dedicated supporters from the very beginning and more contributions coming in as your campaign heats up. The same advice applies to nonprofits launching a new fundraising push! In addition to giving monthly, recurring donors are more likely to be vocal, action-oriented advocates who will support you over and over again: In 2017 and 2018, 35% of recurring donors on ActBlue gave a one-time contribution to the same group after their initial recurring contribution. In other words, these grassroots donors will help you spread the word, raise money, and achieve your goals!

2. More money: period.
Receiving small-dollar donations every month brings in more money than receiving larger one-time donations. The 2018 election cycle, which produced huge wins for Democrats and progressive causes, is a great example of this. A $10 recurring contribution started in the 2018 cycle now has a total worth, on average, of $61.94 — over 6 times the worth of a $10 one-time contribution (some of these contributions finished in the 2018 cycle, and some are continuing into 2019). And the momentum isn’t slowing down any time soon! ActBlue has already processed over $100 million in recurring contributions so far this year.

total recurring graph

3. Budgets for the win!
It goes without saying that budgets are absolutely essential to a well-organized campaign or organization. Recurring contributions make budgeting easier and more accurate — if you’re receiving a consistent amount of money every month, you can look forward and plan ahead. Recurring contributions created on ActBlue in the 2018 cycle lasted, on average, around 5 months, giving you plenty of time to schedule ads, hire organizers, or pay for whatever else your group may need. For small campaigns and organizations, having a reliable grassroots donor base and a regular number of recurring contributions will also allow staffers to spend less time finding one-time donors. A strong recurring contribution program is not only a proven fundraising strategy, it’s a time saver!

Asking for recurring contributions is intimidating — we get it! But grassroots donors want to invest in your campaign or organization long term, so it’s important to integrate recurring asks into your existing digital fundraising program. Plus, ActBlue makes it easy! Here are some tips and tricks:

1. Smart Recurring: The ultimate recurring tool!
When you create a contribution form on ActBlue, the pop-up recurring feature, which asks donors giving $100 or less to make their one-time donation a recurring one after they hit “Contribute,” is automatically on. Our Smart Recurring feature works similarly, but it asks donors for a smaller recurring donation after they’ve contributed. By asking people for a recurring contribution that is smaller than what they just gave as a one-time donation, you can help meet people where they are and raise more money in the long run!

2. Don’t forget rapid response.
When there is a crisis or event that thrusts your campaign or cause into the spotlight, people are much more likely to be tuned in to your group and give a donation right in that moment. Although it is easy (and understandable!) to focus on handling the immediate situation, some longer-term thinking can help extend your momentum. Asking for recurring contributions over email or social media is a powerful way to meet the moment and implement real change through small-dollar donations.

NARAL

A strong recurring program will ensure that when the media moves on to cover other news, your group will still have a dedicated cohort of monthly donors that enable you to do the important work you want to focus on.

3. Always say thank you!

Everytown Email

Last but not least, make sure to specifically thank your sustainers! You don’t want to send too many fundraising emails to your recurring donors, because they’re already making a big contribution to your work. Save those emails for key moments or rapid response situations (and only ask them for a one-time gift). Instead, focus on sending emails to this group of donors that recognize their vital support and highlight what their money is doing for your work. Read this article if you need a reminder on how to access your recurring donor information!

In many ways, recurring contributions are at the heart of the small-dollar donor movement: By giving a small amount of money on a monthly basis, individuals can make their voices heard and fully invest in causes and campaigns they care about without giving a large one-time donation. And by building these relationships with donors, you can budget more effectively and have a reliable base of active supporters. That’s what we call a win-win!

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!

Make an impression with strategic social share settings

A fundraising campaign doesn’t end once a supporter makes a donation: It’s important to set up a really great action for donors to take after they’ve given! Chipping in makes folks more connected to a cause, so they’re eager to spread the word by posting about their donations on Twitter and Facebook. Make the most of this energy by creating custom social share settings that show up whenever a link to your contribution form is posted online!

Custom social share settings will make the donors sharing your forms feel like a part of your movement and will help make your brand more recognizable. While your own social media presence is crucial to your success, you have an opportunity to reach an even wider community when your small-dollar donors post about your work. And donors don’t just help you reach a wider audience — they often share their personal connection to the cause, which helps move others to action! Getting your social share perfect isn’t always easy, so here are some tips on how to get the most out of your social share.

First, check out how to use ActBlue’s tools to customize the images, titles, and descriptions for your Twitter and Facebook social shares here (including how to make reusable and default settings!). Once you’re familiar with the basics of social share settings, think critically about your goals. Beyond getting the word out to new audiences about why your mission matters and giving supporters an action to take after donating, you are promoting your professional brand. Your social share is a representation of your campaign or organization that will be seen by many. Your image and text should reflect your values and goals, while empowering people to join you.

1. Keep in mind who your audience is on each of these platforms. Are you targeting the same supporters on both networks? For example, according to Sprout Social, more women than men use Facebook, whereas men and women use Twitter equally. While Facebook is generally used by people of all ages, Twitter is generally used by a younger audience, with 40% of users ranging from 18-29 years old. Once you have an idea of the audiences you might be reaching on each platform, it’s easier to craft your message.

2. Just as Twitter and Facebook’s audiences are different, so are the dimensions for images and graphics. Check this handy guide to ensure that you are uploading the correct size! Make sure the graphic you choose to include is as compelling and thoughtful as your message. Think carefully about whether or not you want the graphic to depict an image, text, a donation button, or a combination of all three. What is most important is that your image reflects your brand. Using the same colors, fonts, logos, and images as your form branding is a great way to build your brand and create continuity across platforms. You can use our easy template to make a simple, professional graphic that matches the rest of your online presence.

3. Keep the custom titles and descriptions for your social shares short, so they don’t get cut off! You can check to see how your text (and graphics) will look on Twitter using this resource and on Facebook using this resource. Always remember to use inclusive language that builds authentic, horizontal relationships with your supporters — this can be as simple as writing “We can win, but only if we do it together” instead of “We have the solution, and we need you to help.”

4. Twitter is all about keeping things short and sweet. Keep your custom tweet text to 71-100 characters for the most retweets. You only have a couple seconds to make an impression while potential supporters are scrolling through their feed. Using action-oriented language that motivates and empowers readers is a great way to engage with people whose values align with yours. Instead of explaining why people should care about your mission, explain why they should act!

5. There are additional best practices to keep in mind when posting links to contribution forms from your own accounts! You can explicitly ask supporters to retweet a post from your Twitter account that features your social share for an increase in retweets. For peak engagement on Facebook posts, you can use up to 100-119 characters. While 19 more characters than a tweet may not seem like a lot, it can add up and allow you to squeeze in a few more words about why it is crucial to make a donation now. And no matter where you’re posting, a call to action is critical in motivating those who come across your social share.

There is no one way to create a compelling social share — just make sure you energize potential supporters and share what makes your campaign or organization worth their donation! If you are looking for more social media strategies for your campaign or organization, there are many different resources to help you hone your message and create a strong social media presence. Sprout Social has a guide for political campaigns looking to improve their digital skills. TechSoup has nine tips for nonprofit organizations that are trying to get a better handle on the growing world of online fundraising.

Your supporters feel a personal connection to the cause when they donate. Giving them an opportunity to share their contribution on social media is just another way to empower and uplift the voices of small-dollar donors, so take a minute and customize your social share today!

The easiest design guide for high-impact form brandings!

You may have heard: We completely upgraded how brandings are created and edited on ActBlue! No matter your digital skills or design background, you can make gorgeous brandings right in the form editor. But with far more creative freedom and customization options comes far more power. You may need some time to get familiar with every corner of our new and improved branding editor, so we’ve compiled digestible design tips to help you get your footing and tackle form brandings with confidence.

Below are some design principles for creating beautiful brandings that drive donors to give. After the design principles we’ve included templates for successful brandings. To skip ahead to the templates, use these links:

Design 101: What to keep your eyes on

Before you begin tinkering around with the branding editor, it’s helpful to know the basics of good design. Design isn’t just about how something looks: Just like the language you use to move supporters to give, design is a big communication tool that can empower small-dollar donors. The goal of your form is to encourage donations, so your design choices should be intentional about making it easy for supporters to give (despite the temptation to let your inner Picasso run wild). When creating your form branding, keep in mind the following design principles so that your design matches your messaging and moves people to click the donate button.

Composition

  • Composition describes how all the different elements of your design work together as a whole. We mean it when we say less is more for understanding your branding’s composition. Strive to include only the most important design elements that encourage donations and keep your form clean and easy to read.

  • White space is your friend! White space is the unmarked space of your composition. It gives each element breathing room so your form doesn’t appear too cluttered!

Color

  • If you already have brand colors, your form is the perfect place to flaunt them! If you’re just choosing them, you can find inspiration in colors associated with your organization’s cause or your campaign’s hometown. (If you need a starting block for choosing colors, this free online color tool generates color schemes.)

  • You don’t need the whole rainbow to make your form stand out. First stick with a few of your brand’s most important colors. When using multiple colors together, there’s a helpful 60-30-10 design rule that recommends you combine colors in the proportion of 60%–30%–10%. (The biggest section goes to the dominant color, 30% goes to a secondary color, and 10% goes to an accent color.) Don’t fret about the math too much, though — the point is to be mindful of how multiple colors work together in harmony! You can explore other tips on color in this article.

  • Remember your supporters: Color can detract from your form’s accessibility. With red and green color blindness as the most common form of color blindness, try avoiding red and green as significant emphasis colors.

  • And aim for a high contrast design. Contrast (how the color of your font reads on the color of the background) significantly affects whether people of various eyesight abilities can read your text. An easy way to create contrast is pairing a light and dark color! When you pair colors that are too similar, your contrast decreases, and the text appears faint or fuzzy. Test out font colors against different background colors to see which combinations pass or fail at accessibility and legibility standards.

Font

  • Stick to one or two fonts to keep your form looking polished.

  • Which fonts? The branding editor comes with a “System” font already selected as default for all forms, as well as other common fonts. The pre-selected “System” font has already been optimized for screen legibility and loading speed. You should use this “System” font and the other ones available in the branding editor to your advantage instead of scouring the internet for custom fonts!

  • Next, think about the typeface you’d like to use to match your messaging. There are two main typefaces people choose from: serif fonts that have decorative details at the end of letter strokes, and sans-serif fonts that lack the decorative details.

Serif and sans-serif fonts

Serif fonts like Times New Roman seem traditional and bookish, while sans-serif fonts like Montserrat appear modern and informal.

Fonts used in a sentence

  • Why not both? You can try delegating serif for the title font and sans-serif for the donation ask font, or vice-versa. Explore this font-pairing website to see font combinations in action and possibly find the font pair you want!

  • Save bold for when you need to emphasize information.

  • When in doubt, choose grayscale font colors: shades of gray that sit between white and black. Opting for grayscale colors can keep your design simple and sleek while letting accent colors stand out. Plus, there’s nothing more legible than a black font!

Winning combinations (and how to make them)

The new branding editor comes with so many great customization options, but you only need to use a few to make some beautiful, successful brandings. Here are a few easy recipes for success that you can follow to a T to craft a form branding that looks like (and rakes in) a million bucks. We’ve labeled all of the elements in the branding editor that you need to use to create brandings like these!

Branding Level: Easy

Branding Level: Easy image

Branding Level: Medium

Branding Level: Medium image

Branding Level: Picture Perfect

Branding Level: Picture Perfect image

Changing Default Blue Colors

Changing Default Blue Colors image

Introducing the new, powerful branding editor

Contribution form brandings are a crucial part of the online donation process. A beautiful branding will catch your supporters’ attention and make your campaign or organization look more professional. Admins have always been able to create custom brandings on ActBlue, but up until now you had to use custom CSS to create more advanced designs. We knew that wasn’t an option for lots of smaller organizations and candidates running for state or local office for the first time. We’re all about breaking down barriers to entry in politics and advocacy, even when it comes to the details, so we’ve completely overhauled brandings on ActBlue to make it easier for everyone to create polished brandings!

 

Branding editor gif

Now, anyone using our platform can have attractive, personalized brandings. Admins of all skill levels can customize dozens of contribution form elements from within the form editor. There’s no need for complicated custom CSS, and you can preview changes to your brandings in real time because they live in the form editor!

This change will also ensure contribution forms load as quickly as possible and help prevent brandings from losing their custom formatting due to outdated CSS. (From now on, our team will be limited in their ability to support custom CSS branding issues.)

To use the new branding editor, go to the “Branding” tab in your form editor. If your contribution form doesn’t have a branding, you’ll see a bunch of elements you can customize!

Branding editor menu

If your form is already using a branding, you’ll be able to edit the branding using the new branding editor — just click the blue “Edit” button.

Edit button

We’ve thought of everything! It’s as easy to make big changes — like your background color, form layout, or header image — as it is to customize the details, like the weight of the font on your donation buttons. And under “Save options,” you can name reusable brandings and set a default branding to save yourself time in the future. We go into detail about all of the functions in the new branding editor on our support site.

The new branding editor gives admins more control than ever, but we encourage beginner designers to focus on just a few elements to make your branding shine. With design, less is often more. You want a clean, simple branding that allows your supporters to focus on donating.

As you get to know the branding editor, try starting with the basics. Under “Background” and “Header,” set a background color and upload your logo as your header image. And make sure your text is really easy for everyone to read! You can change the color or weight of the font if needed.

We’ve also made it easy to incorporate your campaign or organization’s current design standards. If you know the hex color codes for your group’s commonly used colors, you can use them in the branding editor and remove any guess work. The branding editor also includes popular fonts that you may already be using on your website or in your emails.

Here are two examples of simple, professional brandings on desktop that you could create in minutes using the new branding editor:

Example branding 1

This branding uses a centered header image, a stacked form layout, and a light gray background color.

Example branding 2

This branding uses a left-aligned header image, a side-by-side form layout, orange action buttons (learn about button types in our support article), and bolded Verdana font for the form title (“Join our cause!”).

We’re really excited about the opportunities the new branding editor will give to campaigns and organizations using ActBlue. If you’re ready to design some beautiful brandings, check out our support site for detailed instructions. If you want to talk about brandings with us, just email support@actblue.com! We’d love to walk you through your new capabilities or help you build your branding.

Happy designing!

Spring cleaning: Spiff up your digital fundraising

From meeting monthly goals to meeting a news moment with rapid response, digital fundraising can get hectic. But with spring in full bloom, embrace the spring cleaning mood and check up on your grassroots fundraising program. Now’s the time to sharpen the digital tools that may have collected dust so your fundraising doesn’t stall in big moments. Here’s a rundown of what to tidy up right now to make your program stronger for the long haul.

Clean up the basics

First things first, double-check and update your default contribution form! Every campaign and organization on ActBlue is set up with a default form, which most supporters find when they search for you in our directory. Take this moment to refresh your form with your most up-to-date branding and a clear donation ask that’s relevant to your current messaging. Don’t forget that you can also A/B test your forms to figure out which elements on your form drive your donors to give.

Then make sure you’re nailing the details of your donors’ giving experience, from beginning to end. Take some extra time to freshen up the brandings on the form on your website’s homepage and other forms with high traffic. Beyond forms, do your *email receipts* have up-to-date brandings, too? It’s easy to forget about what happens to donors after they give, but you can finish the donation process with care by customizing the thank you text on your email receipt. And it doesn’t end there: Many of your invested supporters will want to share on social media that they gave to you. If you haven’t already, put in some time to make your social share pop, so excited donors fill their personal networks with your compelling images and messaging! You can even reuse social share settings on future forms and save time in big moments. And if you don’t think you have the digital chops to pull it off, we made this simple template for you to use.

Tidy up your email list!

Declutter your email list by keeping the engaged supporters and letting go of the inactive ones. If you’re an admin who sends regular emails to a growing list, keeping your list healthy and updated with only active subscribers gives you stronger returns on fundraising. It’s hard to let go of subscribers, but a more active list (that might be smaller) leads to more opens and donations. Metrics like open rates also affect whether your emails end up in the inbox purgatory of Gmail’s Promotions tab — or worse, spam.

How do you figure out who to unsubscribe? If you’re sending fundraising emails on a weekly basis or more, it’s generally good practice to unsubscribe people on your list who have not opened your emails for more than 90 days, which is the standard measure of inactivity. Once you’ve grouped them together, you can send them a courtesy email to let them know you’ve unsubscribed them and give them an option to resubscribe!

Give your fundraising a quick lift with these easy tools

Spring cleaning is also the perfect moment for you to implement tools that you’ve been too busy to try out but that can help grow your fundraising! Here are two simple tools you can quickly put to work to level up your program. First, turn on our Smart Recurring feature to encourage donors to support you for the long run. Smart Recurring automatically asks donors who make a one-time contribution to also start a smaller recurring donation to your campaign or organization. It helps you build a recurring donor program that will sustain your campaign for months — and our algorithms do all the math for you!

Second, add a *personal* touch to your remarketing email to encourage supporters to finish their donation! Our remarketing feature automatically sends a reminder email to supporters who didn’t completely finish their donation, but you can (and should) customize this email text. Personalizing allows you to explain how they’ll make a difference by completing their donation to your specific campaign or organization.

Lastly, and most importantly, keep your account’s security squeaky clean

Your security is our priority, and we’ve made it easier than ever for you to bolster your ActBlue account with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA adds an extra level of protection to your login by requiring you to enter two independent pieces of verification that confirm your identity when logging in. If you have already set up 2FA but haven’t downloaded backup codes, now’s the time to do so and store them in a secure place (like a password manager)! In a world of increasing cyber attacks, being proactive in securing your account is the most important task in cleaning up your fundraising.

With this quick scrub, you’ve refreshed the basics of your program and set up your grassroots fundraising for long-term success. If you realize there’s most dust than you thought, you can always reach us at support@actblue.com to help get the spring cleaning going!

Save time with reusable social share settings!

When a donor shares the link to your contribution form on social media, they’re introducing your cause to hundreds of potential new supporters. We want you to be able to make the most of these moments, which is why we’ve upgraded our social share feature! In addition to customizing the image and text that appears on Facebook and Twitter when someone posts the link to your form, now you can create default and reusable social share settings for your ActBlue contribution forms. This will save you time and effort for future forms while ensuring your supporters are filling their networks with your messaging and branding!

To create reusable settings, just check the “Make settings reusable” box at the bottom of the “Social share” tab in the form editor after adding the text and image you want. Then give the settings a name.
Reusable social share setting option

 

Once you publish your changes, the next time you go to the “Social share” tab for a contribution form you’ll be able to select the reusable setting in the “Applied reusable settings” dropdown!

 

Applied reusable settings 1

Applied reusable settings 2

 

If you need help creating an image for your social share, check out this blog post!

To set a default social share setting for your campaign or organization, select the reusable setting you want from the dropdown and check the “Set as default” box that appears before publishing your changes.

 

Set as default

 

From then on, all brand-new forms you create will automatically have the default social share settings applied, except for new clones of forms with different settings.

If you decide to make a different reusable setting your default, that setting will only be applied to brand-new future forms, not pre-existing forms that use an old default or new clones of forms with different settings.

We’ve also made it possible to preview your social share text and image together with this upgrade. After customizing your Facebook or Twitter share, just click “Preview” above the image to see your social share setting.

Social share preview

Preview

We hope these improvements will save you time and make customizing your social share settings easier! To get a step-by-step guide to these changes, including how to edit a reusable setting, visit our support website. And if you’re an admin who needs assistance with social share or another aspect of contribution forms, you can always reach us at support@actblue.com!