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.

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!

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!

Social share graphics for contribution forms: Designing your own with our new, easy-to-use template

We frequently hear from donors who are extremely proud of their donations and excited to share that they’ve chipped in, which is why we’ve built social share features right into our contribution forms. It’s easy to add images or text to your forms that will be included with your link every time someone shares it on Twitter or Facebook.

And now we’ve built a brand-new, easy-to-use template for folks to use to create their own social share images to add to their contribution forms. Keep reading for all the details.

What does social share look like?

If you customize your social share on ActBlue (and we highly recommend doing so for every form), it can look something like this:

 

example

Every time someone shares a link to your contribution form on social media they’ll be sharing a relevant image along with the link to donate. In the example above, we were tweeting out a form where folks could donate to Democratic nominee funds — funds we built at ActBlue to raise money for the Democrats who win primaries and go on to challenge Republicans in general elections. The social share graphic we included was attention-grabbing and helped explain a slightly wonky topic. That’s the kind of thing that can make a big difference when sharing forms this way.

And social share doesn’t have to be limited to just text-based graphics. Groups have seen success with all different types of images on their contribution forms. Here’s an example:

 

photo-social-share

 

Photos can add a human touch to your campaign or cause and catch the eye of people scrolling through their social media feeds. That’s why campaign photos are often a great choice for social share images.

Using our template to design a social share image

You’ll find our brand new social share graphic template here.

To start using the template to design your own custom social share image, first make a copy of the document when you are prompted. You’ll notice that the template is a Google Drive file, so once you’ve made a copy you’ll be able to find it in your own Google Drive from that point forward. (If you don’t have a Google account, you should create a free account in order to use the template.)

Here’s what the template will look like before you make your own changes:

 

template

 

The center area where you should put design elements you want displayed on your social share graphic is 1000 x 525 pixels (with a 2:1 ratio) — specs that will fit the standard Facebook and Twitter image sizes for sharing links.

You can make changes to the text on the template by adding in your own copy and changing the font and color of the text to fit your brand. You can also add images and logos, and/or change the background color of your graphic.

To replace the sample text on the template just highlight the text and begin typing.

 

typing-gif

 

To upload a logo or an image to the template, just select the Image box within the top menu and upload your image.

 

upload-image

 

You can replace the LoremIpsum logo with your own, like you can see in the example below. But you should also remember that this is just a template! Feel free to move things around within the template to make sure your graphic best fits your brand.

logo
After you’ve got your images and text in place, you can also change the background of your social share image, by using the bucket tool in the top menu.

background-color
Now that you’ve got the bones of your design, you can add some style to your text if you’d like. You can easily add some depth to your design simply by highlighting some of your text, as you can see in the gif below.

 

highlight-text

 

Feeling good about your design? Now you just need to download it! Note that you shouldn’t change the size of your image before downloading. Just head up to the top menu and choose the File dropdown menu. Then you’ll want to choose “Download as…” and download the image as a PNG file.

 

download

 

Once you’ve downloaded your image there’s one final step you should take to make sure your image will display in clear, high quality. Due to Twitter and Facebook’s image compression process, sometimes images will appear blurry on social shares. If your image is looking a little blurry, you can try this tool. Just drag your image into the box on the page. This will tweak your image so that it will bypass Twitter and Facebook’s compression tools (but won’t change the way your image looks). Once you’ve dragged your image on to the page, a new version will download to your computer and will include “TWITSAFE” in the file name. This will work for both Twitter and Facebook.

Adding your image to a contribution form

So, how do you set up your shiny, newly designed social share image on a contribution form? It’s easy! Once you’ve created a contribution form, select the “Edit” button, the first button on the contribution form navigation bar (form navbar).

 

form-editor

 

Next, you’ll want to choose “Social share” from the form editor.

Here you’ll be able to customize the title and description of your links as they’ll appear on both Facebook and Twitter. You can also include your campaign or organization’s Twitter handle if you’d like to be tagged every time someone shares your form. Below you can see just what you can change for your links on Facebook and Twitter.

social-share-ActBlue
Lastly, you’ll be able to upload your new, custom image using the “Upload an image” option which you can see below.

 

upload-graphic

 

You can also save these social share settings to easily reuse them for any future form by checking off the “Make settings reusable” option at the bottom of the “Social share” tab.

 

reusable-option

 

To double check that your image and text look how you want them to, head to https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator and drop the link to your form in the Card URL box. It will show you a preview of what folks on Twitter will see in their feeds. You can do the same for Facebook at this link: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/.

Social share can make all the difference in social media fundraising, which is why we’ve made it so easy to build right into your fundraising program. If you’re a donor or activist creating contribution forms for causes you care about and you have questions about social share, you can reach out at info@actblue.com.

And if you’re working for a campaign or organization using ActBlue and you have questions or comments about creating social share graphics using our template, or customizing your social share text, just drop us a line at support@actblue.com!

Our new navigation bar’s best features

ActBlue users of all types (organization admins! candidates! donors!) will see a brand-new navigation bar (navbar) on ActBlue starting today, pictured below. We wanted to run through a few of the reasons why we made this change and how we think it will make your workflow even better!

Nav1

A better mobile experience

First off, we wanted to make the experience better on mobile for everyone. In the old version of the navbar, there were a few different nested menus, which didn’t lead to a very quick or userfriendly experience. The new navbar makes it much easier for users (especially campaign and organization admins) to navigate to the pages they need.

Nav2
The pink circles show the many nested menus in the old navbar on mobile.
Nav3
The new navbar is much simpler on mobile!

Better support for multi-group admins

We also know there are a lot of admins who work with more than one candidate or organization on ActBlue. We wanted to make that multi-group experience as smooth as possible. To that end, we got rid of the old gray slideout menu and replaced it with a “My Dashboards” tab where you can see the last five Dashboards you’ve accessed or use the search function to quickly find the Dashboard you’re looking for.

Nav4

An easier way to get back to your favorite pages

We’ve added a “Recent” menu to the header, which will bring up a donor or admin’s recently visited pages. For admins, that means you can easily access the contribution forms and Dashboards you’ve been working with. And for donors, it means you can find your way back to contribution forms for your favorite candidate or organization, or use the link to the directory to find the cause you’re looking for.

Nav5

Access to the navbar on contribution forms for entity admins

If you’re a cookied entity admin, you’ll now be able to log in to ActBlue while you’re on a contribution form! This should make it easier for you to access your contribution form data or Dashboard while preserving the regular contribution form experience for donors.
Nav6

We know this is a big change, but we designed this new tool with faster workflows and a better mobile experience in mind, and we hope it will help out entity admins! We’ve also heard from many donors about needing an easier way to find favorite candidates and organizations, and this is a big step toward that goal. If you have questions or concerns, let us know at info@actblue.com.

Introducing our new support website!

Exciting news: Today we’re launching our redesigned support website for ActBlue admins and donors! We completely overhauled the site to make it more user-friendly for everyone who uses ActBlue, from people running for office for the first time to seasoned fundraisers to folks making their first political donation in response to Trump and the GOP.

When you visit https://support.actblue.com now, the site is clearly split into two sections: For Donors and Supporters and For Campaigns and Organizations. This way you can immediately know where to look for the information you need!

Overview

The different categories within these two sections are full of helpful articles and how-to guides. If you’re not sure which category to look in, just use the search bar at the top of the page!

Search

We’ve also linked to related topics at the end of every article to make it as easy as possible for you to get the answers you need.

Additional

Of course, our friendly Customer Service Team is always available to help you if you can’t find what you need online. If you are a donor or a supporter with a question, email us at info@actblue.com. If you work for a campaign or organization that uses ActBlue, reach out to us at support@actblue.com. Or you can always give us a call at (617) 517-7600! We return every phone call and email we receive, typically within 24 hours.  

New Two-factor Authentication recommendations

ActBlue admins will notice something new on their Dashboard starting today: A message regarding two-factor authentication.

2FA Message

Two-factor authentication (2FA for short) is a security protocol that requires users to provide two different, independent pieces of verification to confirm their identity when logging into an online account. A common form of 2FA requires users to enter a username and password combination AND an authentication code that is randomly generated by a separate app on a phone. We’ve offered 2FA on ActBlue admin accounts since 2016. Today, we’re releasing new 2FA recommendations and options to reflect current best practices.

1. We strongly recommend setting up 2FA with Google Authenticator for your ActBlue account today, even if you are already using a different 2FA application (and especially if you are not currently using 2FA). Google Authenticator is a Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP) app. TOTP apps are the most secure 2FA option because they use algorithms to generate authentication codes. When you use Google Authenticator with your ActBlue account, you will not receive text messages or voice calls as part of the verification process as those methods can be vulnerable to social engineering.

To start using Google Authenticator with your ActBlue account, simply log in to ActBlue and then follow the link in the message at the top of your Dashboard (pictured above). You’ll be brought to a page where you can download Google Authenticator on your phone or tablet.

2FA Page

Open the app and select “Begin Setup” and then “Scan barcode.”

Google Authenticator

Scan the barcode on our page. The app will then show you an authentication code, which you should enter in the “Confirmation code” box on our page. Please note that every code will disappear in the app after a few seconds, but the app will constantly generate new ones (so don’t worry if you are too slow entering it the first time).

Click the orange button at the bottom of our page to complete the setup process! From then on, you will be asked to enter a Google Authenticator code when logging in to your ActBlue account on an intermittent basis or any time you log in on a new device.

2. If you currently use the 2FA application Authy and do not want to switch to Google Authenticator, we strongly recommend disabling the Authy Multi-Device feature. This feature leaves your account vulnerable to social engineering. See number three — “Enable (or disable) Authy Multi-Device” — on this page for instructions. Or just set up Google Authenticator instead. It only takes a few minutes!

3. We are excited to now support YubiKeys for 2FA! While using an app on a phone like Google Authenticator will be easiest for most ActBlue admins, we’re always striving to be on the cutting-edge. Now, if you have a YubiKey (a physical device that you insert into your computer, similar to a USB drive), you can use it with codes generated by the Yubico Authenticator desktop application for your 2FA.

Two-factor authentication is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your organization from attacks. If we can help you deploy 2FA to your entire campaign or organization on ActBlue, or if you have any questions about these recommendations, contact us at support@actblue.com!

New year, new contribution form editor

Big news: We totally overhauled the way you edit contribution forms! Why? Creating contribution forms is the most central part of using ActBlue to raise money from small-dollar donors. The new contribution form editor is a more streamlined, user-friendly way to make changes to your forms. Now you can preview any edits you make in real-time, so you can test out what adding a branding or more text looks like. You can also view your form as different types of ActBlue users, so you can get a clear picture of what your form will look like for donors who land there. But rest assured that even though you can see your form changing as you make updates, your edits won’t be visible publicly until you save them.

Here’s how it works:

You can still create or duplicate a new form in the same way, but once you’re viewing your form, this is what it will look like:

 

menu

 

You’ll see a form menu on the left with options allowing you to edit your form, duplicate it, or visit the form’s Stats page where you can track donations for the form. You can also set contribution alerts for the form, add refcodes and build links using the Promote function, or head back to a list of all your contribution forms.

Clicking the Edit button will open up the new form editor. While the layout has changed, you’ll still find all of the tools you’ve always had access to. With the new form editor, each section of tools is broken out into its own tab in the menu. Clicking on any one of these titles will open up all the tools within that section. Here’s what it looks like:

 

editor

 

You can now preview changes as you make them, making it easier to customize your form in a way that makes sense for you and your supporters. You can see how this will work in the gif below:

 

 

As you make edits, you’ll see an orange dot appear next to the item that you updated. When you finish making edits, you’ll need to click “Publish changes” at the bottom of the editor menu to make them live. The form editor will be time-stamped so you know exactly when your last changes were made and saved. If there are unpublished changes you’ll see an orange dot indicating that some edits haven’t been saved.

If you click off of a section but have unsaved edits, you’ll see the orange dot next to the section title in the editor, to help you keep track. This way you can make multiple changes across sections in the editor, and when you click “Publish changes” all of those edits will go into effect.

If you make a change and try to close out the editor before clicking “Publish changes,” you’ll see a pop-up prompting you to either save your edits or close the editor and discard them.

 

pop-up

 

If you’ve made changes and decide you don’t want to publish them, you can click “Discard changes” at the bottom of the editor.

 

discard

 

One of the biggest changes we made in this update is giving you the ability to view the form as different types of users — a first-time donor, a returning donor, or an ActBlue Express donor. At the bottom of your form editor menu, you’ll find buttons for these three options. Toggle between them to see the different views, and click “Yourself” to go back to viewing the form as you normally would.

 

different views

 

As for accessing all of your forms, you’ll still do that in the Form Management tab on your Dashboard, or within the form menu on any contribution form.

 

forms

 

forms

 

We hope these changes will make the form editing process easier than ever. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at info@actblue.com if you’ve got questions or comments.

New and improved daily update emails

At ActBlue it’s always been our mission to help people across the country run the most effective small-dollar fundraising programs. One of the ways we do that? We make sure the groups using our tools have easy, real-time access to their fundraising data, so they can budget, plan, and strategize.

If you’re an ActBlue admin user you’ve probably gotten used to receiving a fundraising update from us every morning. And you might have noticed that we recently gave those fundraising updates a makeover. We want to hit your inbox every day with stats that make the most sense for you and your team because we know it’s critical (especially right now) that you have meaningful, actionable data to work with.

The change that’s probably most noticeable in your inbox is the new subject line for the update emails. We switched out “You’re making a difference” for the total dollars the group or groups you work with raised on the previous day. You can see an example of the new subject line in the screenshot below. Rest assured, you’re still making a difference — we just won’t be telling you every day.

 

subject-line

 

With the new subject line, even if you don’t have time to open your email during a busy morning, you’ll still get an important topline stat in the notification you receive first thing — your most recent day’s fundraising total.

Here’s an example of what the daily update email will look like once you open it up:

sample-email

 

Your daily update email includes data like month-to-date fundraising stats, the percentage of contributions that came in via specific payment methods — including ActBlue Express, Apple Pay, and PayPal — as well as a table listing each of the groups you manage, the percentage of contributions that were recurring, and the percentage of contributions that came in via mobile.

Please note that the stats you receive in your daily update email will vary depending on the number of groups you manage on ActBlue.

At the bottom of your daily update email, you can click on “Get Help” to send us an email if you have questions about your recent fundraising, or if we can be of assistance in any way.

contact-us

You can also click on the link just below that to change your email preferences.

email-settings

You can choose to receive daily update emails every morning, or opt out of receiving them altogether. If you want to receive an email every morning, choose “Nightly” in the dropdown menu next to Site Activity Emails. This means that our system will analyze your fundraising activity every night, compile the data and send it out to you in the morning. If you don’t want to receive any updates, just choose “None” in the dropdown.

We hope you and your team will find these insightful, and that the new data we’ve incorporated will help you hit the ground running each day! If you have questions or comments about the daily update emails, you should feel free to drop us a line at info@actblue.com.