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!

No ceiling to small-dollar donor engagement

More small-dollar donors than ever before are powering grassroots movements, and their immense energy for changing our country was on full display this past quarter. 2.4 million engaged grassroots supporters gave an incredible $246 million in Q2 ‘19 through ActBlue, with 56% of contributions made on mobile devices. In the first two quarters of this cycle, 3.3 million unique donors gave more than $420 million to nearly 9,000 campaigns and organizations, with an average contribution size of $32.29. These numbers are even more impressive considering that 4.9 million donors gave on ActBlue over the course of the entire 2018 election cycle!

Donors are all in to transform our country: 40% of donors have given more than once so far this year, and 1.1 million people have created ActBlue Express accounts so they can easily give to any group on ActBlue with a single click. And of donors who have given to both a presidential candidate and another type of candidate or group, 56% gave their first contribution of the year to a non-presidential candidate or organization and then went on to give to a presidential candidate. Many donors are showing up first for causes, congressional campaigns, or other down-ballot races, and then getting involved with the presidential race.

Keep reading to see all of what small-dollar donors achieved this quarter!

Total Dollars Raised on ActBlue Through Q2

Cycle-to-Cycle Comparison

2016 Cycle through Q2 2015 2018 Cycle through Q2 2017 2020 Cycle through Q2 2019
Contributions 2,073,889 8,827,452 13,024,448
Total Amount $75,815,141 $248,806,668 $420,495,119
Average Contribution Size $36.56 $28.19 $32.29
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
2,396 4,858 8,674

Topline Numbers

Q2 ’15 Q2 ’17 Q2 ’19
Contributions 1,281,954 4,655,506 7,620,071
Total Amount $48,572,278 $137,442,494 $245,989,080
Average Contribution Size $37.89 $29.52 $32.28
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 1,976 4,293 7,582

Building off the unprecedented participation of the 2018 midterms, small-dollar donors have expanded this grassroots movement in incredible ways, breaking multiple records on June 30th. By midnight, small-dollar donors made the largest number of contributions in a single day (390,000 contributions) and raised the second largest haul of money ever in a day ($12.5 million).

Creating a stronger democracy means winning elections at all levels of our government. We’re investing heavily in reaching out to state and local campaigns and making sure we’re ready to help thousands of state-level campaigns win. So far this year, we’ve worked with 5,744 different state and local campaigns and organizations, more than double the number we had worked with at the same point in 2017.

And donors are fired up about down-ballot races, too. They’ve supported state legislative candidates with unparalleled energy, raising twice as much money in the first two quarters of 2019 compared to Q1 and Q2 ‘17 to win back and protect crucial seats that will determine our voting maps for the next decade. At the local level, donors gave more than three times as much money to local candidates and groups so far this cycle compared to this point in the 2018 cycle.

Folks are also donating as a way to make a difference during one of our country’s biggest humanitarian disasters: Small-dollar donors raised $1.3 million in Q2 for groups helping parents and children separated at the border. Elected officials and activists used our Tandem Fundraising feature to create contribution forms listing multiple nonprofits on the ground so people looking to help immigrant and refugee families could support all of their work with one donate button.

ActBlue Express

Q2 ’15 Q2 ’17 Q2 ’19
New ActBlue Express Users 196,873 241,619 588,933
% of Total Volume via ActBlue Express 57.2% 59.2% 60.0%
% of Total Contributions via ActBlue Express 64.0% 65.9% 64.2%

There’s no ceiling that we’ve seen for small-dollar donor participation: 589K new folks signed up for ActBlue Express’ single-click giving in Q2 ‘19 alone. There are now 7 million small-dollar donors (and counting) in our ActBlue Express universe ready to transform our country and instantly take action for the left when it matters most.

Cumulative ActBlue Express Growth By Quarter

Mobile

Q2 ’15 Q2 ’17 Q2 ’19
% of Contributions via Mobile 27.0% 40.5% 55.7%

We’re constantly enhancing our tools to better serve growing grassroots movements and the donors driving them. This is our second quarter ever with more than 50% of contributions made via mobile devices! We know the importance of mobile in giving all people access to effecting change. It’s why our team of engineers has prioritized providing the same single-click ease of giving for donors using alternate forms of payment like Apple Pay and PayPal on tablets or phones.

New Mobile Contributions in 2019 by Payment Method

Our mission is to meet small-dollar donors where they’re at so they can make their voices heard on any device they have, anywhere, and at any time of day. It’s why we keep mobile at the forefront of our technological innovation and work hard to streamline mobile contribution forms. You can see just how many people are taking advantage of our optimized mobile forms to participate throughout the day below:

Mobile Contribution Rate By Time of Day, January - June 2019

Recurring Contributions

Q2 ’15 Q2 ’17 Q2 ’19
Total Recurring Volume $9,922,468 $36,630,129 $40,515,111
% of Total Volume 20.4% 26.7% 16.5%

Customer Service

Q2 ’19
Total Incoming Calls 23,587
Email Conversations 78,127

More small-dollar donors than ever are investing early in the 2020 cycle and showing up to power the left in this historic moment. Interested in being part of these people-powered movements? If you want help fundraising for your favorite candidate or cause, or if you have questions about this post, drop us a line at info@actblue.com. If you’re looking to get your group set up on ActBlue, you can always contact us at support@actblue.com. And if you’re interested in putting your skills to work and changing our country, we’re looking for passionate people to join our team!

Why small-dollar donors give, in their own words

At ActBlue, we believe that our elected officials and democratic institutions should be accountable to the people, not the 1%, and that collectively we’re more powerful than a few mega-donors could ever be. That’s why we work hard to build online fundraising tools that make it easy for grassroots donors to give to their favorite candidates and causes. Over the past 15 years, millions of small-dollar donors have taken action and donated through ActBlue to Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits fighting for a better future. It’s this incredible participation from people all across the country that keeps us going, day in and day out. We recently asked why folks give through ActBlue, and we’ve never been so inspired. Here’s what motivates six small-dollar donors to give, in their own words.

Irina from Washington:

“I am an immigrant from Ukraine, I was raised in Soviet Union times and I know what dictatorship looks like! I was really excited to move to the U.S. and experience all the unimaginable freedoms that citizens have here. I have recently, just this May, become a U.S. citizen, and I am very excited to have the right to vote! I have been concerned that our democracy is in jeopardy and our human rights, and women’s rights especially, have been assaulted. I want to make sure I do my small part to keep our democracy intact.”

Kent from Texas:

“I am starting my fourth year as a public high school music educator in the great state of Texas. My home state is rich with culture, diversity, innovation, and possibility. The students who I see every day reflect those qualities of the community and state I serve. I support ActBlue because I want to fund candidates who pursue policies that will create a world where my students are safe from gun violence, where climate change can be curbed and reversed, where their ability to get an education or medical care isn’t determined by how much they or their parents make, and where they have equal representation and treatment in their government and under the law. I want my students to live in a country that speaks for and serves all Americans, not just the rich and powerful.”

Kathryn from Oregon:

“There are many ways to be an active participant in politics and progressive causes; I choose to join rallies and activist groups, call my elected officials, and donate money. These are all important, however, donating money keeps the organization(s) operating. I rely on the research, focus, and immediacy they provide to maintain my motivation to continue the fight for Democratic Party ideals and policy, which help make us a better country and partner with our allies.”

Patty from Florida:

“I’m grateful for your service and its ease of use to support the small donor and to contribute to the progressive candidates. Big donors, big PACs, and lobbyists have taken our government. We need small donors and your help toward the small donors’ efforts. Thank you.”

Warren from Alaska:

“The work you at ActBlue are doing allows citizens like me to express our desire for a better democracy, and a just and concerned society. Thank you for the work you are doing and please keep doing it.”

Nancy from Washington:

“I love my country and care about its future, especially for my grandchildren. I have always been proud to be an American, but in the past two years the ideals and institutions that make us unique are being eroded, and the only way to turn this around is to defeat Trump in 2020 and elect more Democrats to Congress.”

Everything we do is for the small-dollar donor movement, because we know people power is the only thing that can transform power structures in our country and create a democracy that truly works for everyone. And we’re seeing more engagement than ever before — in the last week of June alone, 1.1 million unique donors gave on ActBlue! So to all the grassroots donors out there, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for taking a stand. Thank you for actively working to make our country a better place. And thank you for letting us be a part of this movement with you!

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.

Q1 2019: Strongest start to an election cycle on ActBlue

Coming off of a historic midterm, small-dollar donors, campaigns, and organizations made Q1 2019 the strongest start to an election cycle in ActBlue’s lifetime. This start is especially noteworthy when you compare the numbers from this past quarter to the exceptional numbers from just two years ago, when the resistance and huge surge of first-time candidates began to emerge and fuel unprecedented grassroots participation. As the numbers show, this movement has only deepened: 6,217 groups raised money through ActBlue in Q1 ‘19, more than twice as many groups raising during the incredible first quarter of the 2018 cycle. And small-dollar donors gave $174,506,038 through ActBlue to their favorite candidates and causes — by far the most dollars raised in any first quarter of an election cycle in our history. It’s clear the energy and action from small-dollar donors we saw during the 2018 election is here to stay.

Topline Numbers

Q1 '15 Q1 '17 Q1 '19
Contributions 791,935 4,171,950 5,404,378
Total Amount $27,242,863 $111,364,174 $174,506,038
Average Contribution Size $34.40 $26.69 $32.29
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 1,731 3,079 6,217

This immense and early grassroots participation is already driving the 2020 cycle, but it’s also giving Democrats running right now in state-level races the resources to lay out the critical groundwork they need to win. Supporters gave 32% more money in Q1 ‘19 to state candidates with elections this year than in Q1 ‘17 (not including gubernatorial races). Keep reading to see all of the numbers from Q1 ‘19.

ActBlue Express

Q1 '15 Q1 '17 Q1 '19
New ActBlue Express Users 45,397 342,840 542,612
% of Total Volume via ActBlue Express 55.8% 59.9% 60.6%
% of Total Contributions via ActBlue Express 60.2% 64.8% 64.2%

Over 60% of the dollar volume in Q1 ‘19 came from ActBlue Express users who saved their payment information on ActBlue so they could give again with just a single click. That pool of ActBlue Express donors skyrocketed this past quarter with 542,612 people joining our ActBlue Express universe of over 6.4 million users. These motivated donors made Q1 ‘19 the second biggest quarter ever for new ActBlue Express users. All of this participation means more voices are being heard in our political processes and institutions that have been dominated by conservative mega-donors and big money interests for years.

Mobile

Q1 '15 Q1 '17 Q1 '19
% of Contributions via Mobile 25.3% 39.4% 53.3%
% Mobile for ActBlue Express 27.5% 40.4% 53.1%

Q1 ‘19 was also the first quarter in ActBlue history when over 50% of contributions were made via mobile devices! A big reason for this growth in mobile has been candidates and organizations increasingly prioritizing direct communication with supporters about the impact of their grassroots enthusiasm. Small-dollar donors are engaging with these announcements and taking action to support their favorite campaigns and organizations in real time. Making sure it’s easy to give on mobile means supporters can donate wherever they are, whenever they are moved to do so. This is why we focus so much on donor experience. By building contribution forms that work seamlessly on mobile, we ensure small-dollar donors can always participate.

Recurring Contributions

Q1 '15 Q1 '17 Q1 '19
Total Recurring Volume $7,803,912 $29,574,762 $32,989,001
% of Total Volume 28.6% 26.6% 18.9%

Customer Service

Q1 '19
Total Incoming Calls 26,205
Email Conversations 66,908

If you have questions about this post, you can always get in touch with us at info@actblue.com. If you’re looking to set up an ActBlue account for your group, contact support@actblue.com!

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!

Need more hours in the day? Press pause to be more productive.

This is a guest post written by Janice Chan, who often writes for our friends at Wethos over at The Wethos Collective blog. In over a decade in the nonprofit sector, Janice has written fundraising appeals and grant proposals, led social media outreach, managed volunteers, executed rollout plans, managed donor and program databases, and learned the hard way that changing to a new website host means you’d better make sure that donation form still works!

wethos

Feeling burned out? I know this sounds counterintuitive, but put aside your to-do list for 30 minutes. Turn off your notifications, hide your phone, if need be, hide yourself in a conference room where your coworkers can’t find you. (Okay, maybe tell one person who understands the true meaning of the word emergency. You know, in case there is a fire or something.)

Then use that 30 minutes to brainstorm ways that you can get more hours back in your day. It takes time to make time. What would make it easier/less frustrating to do your job? Review everything currently on your to-do list and ask yourself these three questions.

Do you actually need to do this?

The quickest way to get back time is to go down your list and ask, of each item, “What will be lost by NOT doing this?”

At the micro level, this can be steps in a process. One low-lift example: Can you streamline an approval process? Maybe certain people only need to sign off if certain criteria are in play.

At micro and macro levels, re-evaluate wants vs. needs — just as you would with your budget. Maybe you want to run more events to attract new donors, but maybe what you really need to do is focus on continuing to build relationships with grassroots donors. Or maybe you want to revamp your website, but what you really need is a better digital strategy. Perhaps it is worth engaging a team of digital strategists to help you assess what items will have the most impact.

Do you need to do this?

Are you the only person who can do this? It can be scary to let go of things that you’re good at, or that you’ve always done. At the same time, it can be incredibly freeing not to shoulder a particular responsibility all by your lonesome. For example, to go on vacation and know that other people can handle things.

As you go down your list, consider whether any of these items could be good growth opportunities for a colleague. Or, perhaps, it is a tedious task that needs to be done but could be a little more evenly distributed than it currently is. What’s holding you back from delegating? Another low-lift strategy would be writing up a how-to guide (which is also important knowledge management, should you ever win the Powerball) or taking a screencast or training others. Ensuring organizational continuity is always time well spent now to free up your time later on.

Remember to leverage all the people on your team. For example, is your board fundraising? If not, perhaps it’s time to talk to board members about expectations.

Trying to figure out something new? Your nonprofit is probably not the first organization to tackle this challenge. For example, your cause is suddenly thrust into the news and the spotlight, and you need to come up with a fundraising plan yesterday! Or, you could take a page from these best practices in rapid response fundraising from AB Charities.

Is heavier lifting required?

Sometimes it is worth examining the opportunity cost of you doing X, when you could be making a bigger impact in other areas. Maybe you’d like to keep your hand on the wheel, but could get there faster with help, whether it’s extra hands or a particular skill set your team needs support with. There’s no shame in raising your hand — in fact, it requires maturity and confidence to ask for help. It’s what we often encourage others to do.

Admittedly, it can be challenging to ask for help when you’re not sure what you need. Wethos collaborative teams and the AB Charities team are always ready to support you and can even help you figure out what is needed.

Could this be accomplished differently?

We are often so busy getting things done that we forget to pick our heads up and survey the changing landscape — and sometimes we miss things, like technology that might make our jobs and lives easier!

Things you can do this week

Compound time saved with smarter habits

  • Are you asking for every single gift? Learn why you should ask for recurring donations and how AB Charities makes this simple and automatic (for you and your donors).

  • Does this need to be done in the office? Offices can be great for collaboration-heavy projects, but they are full of distractions. When you need to focus on a thinking-heavy project, perhaps it would be better to work off-site.

  • Should this be a meeting or an email or a phone call? Do everybody a favor and make a habit of asking this question regularly!

Invest upfront to multiply your time later

And if it is a thorny project that desperately needs to be tackled? Engaging a collaborative team of experts can help get you over a large one-time hurdle while also providing an opportunity to gain expertise you don’t currently have in-house.

Overwhelmed? Start somewhere, start anywhere — just start!

One pause and one deep breath can lead to another. I wrote this down so that you can come back to the resources and ideas. No need to tackle this all at once. Or alone — the AB Charities team is always available to help you with your digital fundraising, and Wethos collaborative teams are available to support you with a broad range of skill sets.

But now when you get overwhelmed, you can ask those three questions: Do I need to do this, do I alone need to be the one to do this, and could this be done a different way?

This post was written for AB Charities in partnership with Wethos and also appears on The Wethos Collective blog.

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!

Q4 2018: Closing a historic cycle

Small-dollar donors were fired up in the final sprint to Election Day, ending a historic 2018 election cycle with record-breaking Q4 fundraising numbers. Grassroots supporters made 8,457,209 contributions on ActBlue in Q4 alone — the biggest quarter ever for number of contributions. And hear this: More money was raised by more groups using ActBlue in Q4 than in the *entire* 2014 election cycle! Grassroots donors showed up until the very end and continued to give to resistance groups and Democrats spearheading change. Q4 2018 made it clear that while we’re leaving a lot behind in 2018 (like a GOP-controlled Congress), the small-dollar donor movement that drove huge wins in 2018 is here to stay.

Topline Numbers

Q4 '14 Q4 '16 Q4 '18
Contributions 2,177,088 4,159,948 8,457,209
Total Amount $76,314,676 $147,657,516 $367,387,118
Average Contribution Size $35.05 $35.50 $43.44
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 2,800 3,911 8,888

Cycle-to-Cycle Comparison

2014 Cycle Total 2016 Cycle Total 2018 Cycle Total
Contributions 8,972,224 23,366,034 42,101,095
Total Amount $335,049,366 $781,789,826 $1,662,987,705
Average Contribution Size $37.34 $33.46 $39.50
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 5,067 6,687 14,998

ActBlue Express

Q4 '14 Q4 '16 Q4 '18
New ActBlue Express Users 99,775 206,957 348,313
% of Total Volume via ActBlue Express 60.0% 60.6% 63.0%
% of Contributions via ActBlue Express 64.3% 64.6% 64.2%

Mobile

Q4 '14 Q4 '16 Q4 '18
% of Contributions via Mobile 25.3% 36.4% 46.2%
% Mobile for ActBlue Express 26.9% 38.2% 46.4%

Recurring Contributions

Q4 '14 Q4 '16 Q4 '18
Total Recurring Volume $11,364,805 $37,833,998 $62,877,525
% of Total Volume 14.9% 25.6% 17.1%

Customer Service

Q4 '18
Total Incoming Calls 46,646
Email Conversations 112,092

Interested in more data? Millions of folks across the country fueled Democrats to victory in 2018, and our election cycle review lays out how this grassroots fundraising shaped the midterms and will continue defining our country’s politics.