Press Coverage of 2019 Numbers

Small-dollar donors were fired up in 2019, raising more than $1 billion through ActBlue for Democrats and progressive organizations! This achievement signals the powerful momentum of grassroots donors heading into the elections. They are building the foundation that Democrats up and down the ballot and advocacy organizations will need to win this year! And their unprecedented participation did not go unnoticed by the press — many outlets highlighted the more than $1 billion raised and other achievements of grassroots donors on ActBlue. Read some of the stories here:

Democrats’ contempt for Trump fuels an online cash surge, by Brian Slodysko of The Associated Press, Jan. 9

6 million Democratic donors gave $1 billion in 2019 through ActBlue, officials say, by Michelle Ye Hee Lee of The Washington Post, Jan. 9

ActBlue says it raised $1 billion for Democrats in 2019, by Reid Wilson of The Hill, Jan. 9

Ted Cruz thinks we’re big money

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

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

 

Ted lying

 

It was actually kind of funny how wrong he was:

 

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

 

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Better luck next time, Ted.

 

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

Victory at the FEC: Draft Fund Fun

Last month the FEC ruled 6-0 to approve our request to open up restrictions on draft funds for federal candidates. Yes, it’s incredibly nerdy, but it’s a big deal.

Here’s Politico on the ruling (behind paywall):

Democratic digital fundraiser ActBlue won a unanimous green light from the Federal Election Commission today allowing the firm to start raising money for the Democratic 2016 presidential nominee — only if that person is a woman.

Hillary Clinton or any other female Democrat who secures the top spot on the 2016 ticket would benefit from ActBlue’s efforts. The company had previously secured FEC approval to establish “draft” campaigns before a formal candidate had declared their intention of running for an office. With its latest request, ActBlue got specific permission to establish a fund for which gender was the primary reason for someone to donate cash.

Yep, ActBlue can now set up a nominee fund and raise a pot of money that goes to the nominee if she is a woman. She’d get it when she officially became the nominee.

Additionally, you can now set deadlines for candidates to declare. If they haven’t announced their candidacy by then, the money goes elsewhere. It’s a way of building urgency around draft campaigns and getting your issues injected into the debate.

And wait, there’s more! The FEC gave us a thumbs-up to create draft funds that name a series of potential candidates as recipients.You can combine the two and do something totally whacky like:

  • If Beck declares by February 20th he gets the money
  • But if he doesn’t and Beyonce gets in by March 14th she gets it
  • But if she doesn’t and Kanye decides to run by April 27th then he gets it
  • But if none of the potential recipients declare in time, then the DNC receives the funds.

The primary reason we asked the FEC to rule on these requests is so that millions of small-dollar donors can encourage candidates — especially women — to run for federal office, in particular the presidency. And that’s something the FEC commissioners are interested in themselves.

ActBlue is always innovating to find new ways to give small donors a voice and help the organizations that use us advance their agendas and meet their goals. This new freedom from the FEC will help us do just that.

Transparency and the Public Option

I've talked about the central role that transparency plays getting your fundraising momentum noticed as it's happening. As confirmation, today we have this article by Ryan Grim at the Huffington Post on the gathering pace of small-dollar fundraising around the public option:

Two freshman Democrats who launched a Senate effort to revive the public option have been rewarded by small online donors for their activism. ActBlue, which raises funds and is closely associated with the blogosphere, has seen more than $150,000 come in from more than 8,000 individual donors. That's an average contribution of less than $20.

I'd like to point out a couple of things here: first, ActBlue didn't raise that money. We built the infrastructure that enabled the PCCC/DfA push to rack up $150,000 in 48 hrs, but it wouldn't have happened without the efforts of the candidates and organizations involved and the response from their donors. Each of those things–infrastructure, organizing, response–are necessary but not sufficient conditions for this type of success. Second, they're getting press coverage precisely because Ryan was able to see their numbers. Without that ability, the story doesn't get written. That's the difference between ActBlue and Generic Payment Processor X. Back to the article:

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
individually raised $70,000 and $40,000, respectively. Bennet, who is
facing a primary challenge in Colorado, led the effort, circulating
what became known as the "Bennet letter," which called on Senate
Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) to include a public option in a final
health care bill moved through reconciliation, which only requires a
majority vote. Gillibrand was an original cosigner, along with freshman
Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Two progressive groups that led the organizing effort also
benefited. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) and
Democracy for America each raised over 20,000 from more than 4,000
donors, for an average contribution of $5.

As late as last week, the consensus was that the public option was dead. Whatever the final outcome of this round of legislation, the ability of these groups to revive a progressive idea, generate buy-in from vulnerable legislators, and buttress that effort with small-dollar donations from real, non-corporation Americans should be considered a signal of things to come.

ActBlue Obama Fundraisers in the LA Times

We’ve been extremely busy at ActBlue this week, as Democrats come together to support the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama.

After Senator Obama reached the delegate numbers needed to clinch the nomination on Tuesday night, we sent an email encouraging ActBlue Democrats to show their support by creating a personal fundraising page for Obama.

Here is an excerpt of the email:

Now it’s time for Democrats to come together and start working for victory in November. ActBlue wants to help you do your part.

Build a personal fundraising page and ask each of your friends and family members to contribute to the Obama campaign.
Build it right here. Ask right now.

Join the legions of Democrats who are ready to fight.
Become a fundraiser and create a fundraising page.

Less than 36 hours later, dozens of people have taken up the fight for the White House and started fundraising for Obama on ActBlue. This morning, the Los Angeles Times cited these new ActBlue pages as "a measure of [Obama’s] power on the Internet." As ActBlue is a barometer for the strength of Obama’s online support, we need you to get involved and prove that a united Democratic Party cannot and will not be defeated.

Keep the buzz going and build a page for our nominee, Barack Obama.

From all of us here at ActBlue, thanks.

ActBlue Crosses $21 Million Mark for 2008 Cycle

As the Washington Post reported this weekend, ActBlue has raised more than $21 million for Democrats this cycle. That’s ten times our totals at this point in 2006, and it’s great news for downballot campaigns across the country. We’ll have more to say on this in our March newsletter, but in the meantime, check out Matthew Mosk’s article .

ActBlue Reports Raising $21 Million

The Washington Post  [The Trail]

By Matthew Mosk

There have been plenty of signs of the huge advantage Democrats appear to hold in the arena of Internet fundraising this year.

Barack Obama’s $55 million haul in February, for instance.

The latest sign comes via the web site ActBlue.com, which collects contributions for Democrats up and down the ballot.
The website reported today that it has so far raised $21,226,219 for Democratic candidates who face election in November. This has been significant for presidential contenders — who have collectively raised $5,064,291 from the site so far. (Most of that was directed to John Edwards, who used the site as his primary means of collecting online donations.)

But the more substantial impact of the site’s efforts are likely to be felt by congressional candidates, according to Marissa Doran, who serves as director of strategy and communications for the site. The site has enabled donors around the country to direct money to targeted races, often ones identified and promoted by liberal blogs.

Republicans have attempted to match the effort on a handful of similar sites, but to date have not found the traction of ActBlue.

Making Democracy More Democratic

Over at Horses Ass, blogger David Goldstein gives his take on the importance of ActBlue.  It’s a spot on analysis both of what ActBlue does and why it matters. 

Emphasis Mine:

When people talk about the progressive “netroots” the first thing
that comes to mind are the plethora of local and national blogs that
have grown to challenge the legacy media’s diminishing control over the
political narrative. But in fact it is much, much more than that, and one of the most exciting and important netroots developments of the past few years has been the growth of ActBlue,
an online fundraising clearinghouse that is beginning to enable the
financial power of the people to challenge the entrenched power of
corporate America.

The US Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that money is speech, and
in that context, the special interests of the ultra-wealthy have long
spoken louder than the interests of the average Joe, but by
democratizing fundraising, introducing efficiencies and creating new
grassroots opportunities that flip the traditional top-down model on
its head, ActBlue has begun a process that could eventually free
candidates from the financial stranglehold of corporate sponsors. The
fact is that money, and the media it buys, be it television, radio,
direct mail or other, is the primary means by which candidates
communicate their message to voters; no realistically achievable amount
of doorbelling or coffee klatches can win a congressional district on
its own, and no candidate can be expected to compete for votes without
securing at least a somewhat level financial playing field. ActBlue
provides a tool that doesn’t just enable progressive campaigns to tap
into the aggregate resources of the public at large, it enables the
people to organize ourselves in support of the candidates we prefer, as
opposed to merely those candidates the political establishment would
prefer we be limited to choose from.

Most of us can’t afford to max out to candidates.  What we can do is
come together and maximize the impact of contributions to a campaign.  ActBlue exists to give you that power.  We’re a resource for you.

ActBlue Featured in the Boston Globe

We’re back from Yearly Kos in Chicago and we were greeted by a great sight, a feature in the Boston Globe! Here’s the story…

410wCAMBRIDGE — The new headquarters
of ActBlue, with its tangled cords, leftover Deval Patrick signs, and
20-somethings tapping on white MacBook laptops, is what a political
campaign would look like if it shared space with a dot-com start-up.

ActBlue is in fact both — an Internet-based
political action committee that is quietly becoming one of the biggest
forces in Democratic politics. Its founders aim for nothing short of
revolution, and they are already partway there.

The PAC, operated
from a former architecture studio on Arrow Street near Harvard Square,
functions as an online clearinghouse for campaign contributions to
Democrats of all stripes, allowing anyone in the country to donate any
allowable amount to any candidate with the click of a mouse: You send
the money to ActBlue (actblue.com), and ActBlue funnels it to the campaigns. This gives local, state, and national Democratic candidates a cheap, efficient means of building a base of supporters over the Internet.

This
simple but transformative concept has raised $25.5 million and counting
since its creation in Cambridge in 2004, when two computer-savvy
scientists with liberal leanings set out to take political action in a
new direction. They believed that armies of small donors, mobilized
effectively, could be more potent than the “bun dlers” who have
dominated fund-raising by amassing checks from wealthy contributors.

Today,
with that philosophy ascendant and the 2008 presidential campaign
breaking all fund-raising records, ActBlue has become a unique bundler
of the unbundled. It is reshaping political
fund-raising and giving the Democratic Party a powerful, lasting
resource for presidential contests, state legislative races, and
everything in between.

“There’s a huge opportunity to involve
many times more people in this process than we currently have,” said
Benjamin Rahn, 30, a Harvard graduate who suspended his doctoral work
in theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology to
found ActBlue with Matt DeBergalis, 29, a technology whiz out of MIT.

ActBlue,
in coordination with campaigns, bloggers, and individuals across the
country, has funneled donations to 1,500 Democratic candidates to date.
It moved $17 million to candidates in the 2005-2006 election cycle,
including about $15.5 million to congressional campaigns, part of a
tide of support that flipped the House and Senate to Democratic control.

ActBlue
appears to have been far and away the biggest direct donor to
congressional candidates of either party last fall. “They are
revolutionizing approaches to fund-raising,” said Anthony Corrado, a
specialist on campaign finance at Colby College.

Rahn and
DeBergalis say they are just getting started. They predict confidently
that they will move $100 million in the 2007-2008 cycle.

Indeed,
their fund-raising this year suggests that the PAC will be an even
bigger player in the months ahead. Through the end of June, ActBlue had
already raised $6.6 million in 2007. In the last off-year, 2005, it
took ActBlue 12 months to raise $1.6 million. The 28,925 new
contributors who signed up in April, May, and June of this year
represented 13 percent of its overall number of contributors.

Continued after the jump…

Keep reading →

Small Donors Rising

Before heading out for the weekend (and in the midst of ActBlue’s move to new offices) I wanted to briefly touch on some presidential fundraising numbers compiled this week by OpenSecrets.org and the Center for Responsive Politics.

From April through June, donors who gave $200 or less [to presidential campaigns] accounted for 26 percent of the contributions the candidates collected from individuals. Compared to the first three months of this 2008 election cycle, small donors increased their giving to the candidates 84 percent and just about doubled their share of the money raised from individuals. In January through March, donors contributing $200 or less accounted for 14 percent of individual money.

The trend from Q1 to Q2 fundraising in 2007 has clearly been in favor of small donors. I see two factors at work here. The first is the natural pattern of presidential fundraising, where the first fundraising period consists of a high number of $2300 checks, the maximum contribution level. This ‘big money’ is tapped first to jump start campaigns but of course, results in an inability to re-solicit donors as they have already given the max amount. The second pattern is an actual increase in small dollar contributions resulting in increased total Q2 fundraising numbers (compared to the percentages shifting just because one area of revenue has declined). Clearly, those who have given small contributions before are giving again in addition to the new small donors being added to the pool of givers.

In our training materials and fundraising calls, we at ActBlue point out this benefit to campaigns. Small donors (often correlated to online donors) can be re-solicited throughout a campaign. Having a strong small donor base is equally important to contacting those who can give the maximum amount as it can sustain a campaign longterm. It distributes power to more individuals and diversifies the audience to whom campaigns are accountable. The following section from the aforementioned press release puts this in context.

Among corporate contributors in all industries based on contributions from employees, their families and political action committees, no company has invested more in these candidates than Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street firm. Goldman’s executives and employees have donated about $930,000 in the last six months. Investment firms Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and JP Morgan Chase round out the overall top donors. 
      

But the biggest "contributor" of all at this point is the progressive group ActBlue, which facilitates individual donors pooling their money to finance Democratic candidates. By collecting mostly donations of $200 or less, ActBlue has directed more than $1.5 million to the presidential candidates, the bulk of it to Edwards.

In this case the aggregate of contributions through ActBlue represent no specific industry or collection of people other than an aggregate of donors to presidential candidates. Still, this expresses the shift in the distribution of giving from Q1 to Q2. (To note, the $1.5 million is figured from donations $200 or more- a couple million more exists in contributions less than $200 which are not required to be itemized.)
      

Democrats Building Lead in Fundraising

The Wall Street Journal published an article yesterday that validated something we’ve been predicting would happen for a number of months now. According to their research, Democratic campaign in aggregate are now enjoying a $100 million advantage in fundraising.

With more than a year to go before the 2008 elections, Democratic
candidates have raised $100 million more in campaign contributions than
Republicans, putting them on track to win the money race for the White
House and Congress for the first time since the government began
detailed accounting of campaign fund raising three decades ago.

The total raised to date is quite astounding, with the leading financial contenders for president on the Democratic side raising more funds already than all of the Democratic primary candidates did combined for the totality of the race in 2003-2004. Not only could 2008 be a billion dollar election but quite possibly double or triple that. But where will all that increase in funds come from?

If their fund-raising advantage continues — so far, Democrats have
been pulling in about 58% of overall donations to federal-office
seekers — they will have more resources for pricey advertising,
organization building and voter outreach next November to buttress
their edge in the polls. Moreover, Democrats’ focus on small donors
leaves them room to raise more cash over the next year, since many
contributors have yet to hit the legal limit of $2,300 per candidate
per election, and could potentially keep giving.

While this cycle will see more donors that give the maximum allowed to federal campaigns, we are seeing an explosion of new donors buying into the political process at smaller levels- each with the capacity to give more throughout the cycle. During the last fundraising quarter, we reported that the average contribution size to all candidates through ActBlue was right at $100 and that the median size was $45. We’ll see those lower end donors continue to give through the cycle. The WSJ highlights this very point with their own research.

Only half of Mr. Obama’s donors have hit the giving
limit for the primaries; about a quarter have given him less than $200,
according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group
that analyzes campaign contributions.

By contrast, about two-thirds of those contributing to
the campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani have already hit
their maximum; just 8% have given less than $200.

For comparison, I ran the numbers for a sample of about 40 major federal campaigns that used ActBlue to collect their online contributions in Q2 and found that on average, 22% of the funds raise in the quarter were online contributions. In a couple of cases the online percentage went over 50%.

Another important point is the increasing percentage of online giving as a share of campaign fundraising.

Democrats have also benefited because of their
comparative strength with Internet activists. While Republican voters
tend to gravitate toward traditional media like talk radio, Democratic
voters with strong opinions are more likely to go online to read blogs.
That, in turn, has led to an explosion in online giving to Democrats,
who are building lists of thousands of small-dollar donors for a
fraction of the cost of traditional direct mail.

Many Democrats give by clicking links to candidates on
the Web site ActBlue, a clearinghouse for small donors. ActBlue has
raised $5.6 million for Democratic House, Senate and presidential
candidates, according to PoliticalMoneyLine, a Web site that tracks
donations. It was the single biggest source of contributions to the
party’s presidential candidates during the first six months of the
year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In a report last
week, the center said ActBlue donors gave more in aggregate than the
total from employees of heavy corporate contributors like Goldman Sachs Group Inc.