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!

2019 in Review: A $1 BILLION year!

Small-dollar donors set a new standard for civic engagement in 2019 and built the foundation Democrats and progressive groups need to win in 2020. Together, the small-dollar donor community raised more than $1 BILLION for over 13,000 candidates and organizations fundraising on ActBlue, with an average contribution size of just $30.50! A milestone like $1 billion raised in one year takes massive people power — 6 million people gave on ActBlue to campaigns or causes that mattered to them (the most donors ever in a year!), and over 3 million of those people were first-time donors! That’s as many first-time donors as in 2017 and 2018 combined, and 40% of these first-time donors gave multiple times in 2019.

first-time donors

In total, grassroots donors made 35 million contributions on ActBlue in 2019, the most ever in one year and more than double the number they gave in 2017. And in a historic presidential primary year, folks did not ignore other crucial causes: Nearly 40% of all 2019 donors gave their first contribution of the year to one of the thousands of non-presidential candidates or groups raising money on ActBlue.

These numbers wouldn’t be possible without ActBlue Express, which allows donors who’ve saved their payment information to give with a single click. By the end of 2019, we reached a total of over 8 million ActBlue Express users. This is a powerful community of donors ready to take action at a moment’s notice, and 29% of these users signed up for their account in 2019, making this our largest year ever for ActBlue Express adoption!

2019 was also a breakout year for mobile contributions: 57% of all contributions on ActBlue were made on mobile devices. This was the first year ever that over half of all contributions came via mobile, which shows just how engaged folks were in 2019. More people took action than ever before and are now poised to change our country — from organizing their local communities to electing a new president — in 2020. Keep reading to see all that small-dollar donors accomplished in 2019!

total dollars raised

CYCLE-TO-CYCLE COMPARISON

2016 Cycle through Q4 2015 2018 Cycle through Q4 2017 2020 Cycle through Q4 2019
Contributions 6,245,551 16,359,129 34,697,054
Total Amount $206,898,155 $522,834,271 $1,058,107,046
Average Contribution Size $33.13 $31.96 $30.50
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
3,590 7,894 13,314

2019 also ended strong: Small-dollar donors gave 11.2 million contributions in Q4 for a total of $343 million. Over 3 million donors chipped in to more than 10,000 campaigns and organizations this past quarter, with an average gift of $30.53. And plenty of records were set in Q4:

  • Most contributions ever in a single quarter

  • Biggest quarter of 2019 by dollars raised

  • Biggest quarter ever for number of groups fundraising on ActBlue

  • December 31 was the biggest day ever by dollars raised (more than $20 million!) and number of contributions (525,000!)

Q4 TOPLINE NUMBERS

Q4 ’15 Q4 ’17 Q4 ’19
Contributions 2,401,784 4,396,559 11,237,913
Total Amount $74,510,083 $167,858,508 $343,075,461
Average Contribution Size $31.02 $38.18 $30.53
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
2,615 6,286 10,468

STATE AND LOCAL IMPACT

The big numbers from this year just skim the surface of the impact small-dollar donors had in 2019. Not only did they support a slate of 2020 presidential candidates and nonprofit organizations across the country, small-dollar donors were also a driving force behind the impressive wins Democrats racked up in crucial down-ballot elections this fall. Grassroots donors raised $100 million for state and local candidates across the country on ActBlue in 2019: 36% more than 2017! And twice as many state and local candidates raised money on ActBlue in 2019 compared to 2017.

The state-level work is particularly important now, because we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to organize around redistricting in a presidential election year, when voter turnout is highest! At ActBlue, we made strategic investments in organizing at the state level in 2019 by growing our team that works directly with state and local candidates and committees and partnering with organizations and training programs from coast to coast to make sure we were pairing our tools with the strategy Democrats need to build successful grassroots programs. In 2019, members of our team attended 187 events in 39 states and the District of Columbia, building relationships with candidates and organizations or providing in-person trainings.

Small-dollar donors also continued their activism beyond elections in 2019 by showing up for rapid response moments and raising their voices for issues that mattered to them. Outside of presidential fundraising and traditional fundraising deadlines (which typically see very high mobile rates), the day with the highest mobile contribution rate in 2019 was August 4, following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. On that day, 61.6% of contributions (excluding the presidential race) came through a mobile device.

PAYMENT METHODS

2016 Cycle through Q4 2015 2018 Cycle through Q4 2017 2020 Cycle through Q4 2019
% of Contributions via Mobile 30.6% 40.5% 57.1%
% of Contributions via PayPal 11.9% 12.6% 18.0%
% of Contributions via Apple Pay Not offered 3.4% 7.3%

ACTBLUE EXPRESS

2016 Cycle through Q4 2015 2018 Cycle through Q4 2017 2020 Cycle through Q4 2019
New ActBlue Express Users 815,108 1,004,919 2,357,895
% of Total Contributions via ActBlue Express 66.2% 64.7% 63.1%
% of Total Volume via ActBlue Express 59.3% 58.3% 58.3%

RECURRING CONTRIBUTIONS

2016 Cycle through Q4 2015 2018 Cycle through Q4 2017 2020 Cycle through Q4 2019
Recurring Volume $48,802,559 $125,598,472 $176,556,404
% of Total Volume 23.6% 24.0% 16.7%

CUSTOMER SERVICE

2020 Cycle through Q4 2019
Incoming Calls 115,677
Email Conversations 346,183

The 2018 elections proved that small-dollar donors could fuel campaigns to victory, and in 2019, folks across the country were eager to be a part of this people-powered movement. 2019 was our second billion-dollar year in a row, with more people making more contributions than ever before.

Small-dollar support has become a key indicator of success for candidates up and down the ballot, and grassroots donors are ready to organize and fight for their candidates in 2020. We can’t wait to see what this movement accomplishes this year!

Taking a moment to celebrate small-dollar donors!

2019 was a historic year for the small-dollar donor movement! More donors have given on ActBlue this year alone than in all of 2017 and 2018 combined, and grassroots supporters helped power big wins on the state and local level in November. So before we hit the ground running in January, we want to take a moment to thank the small-dollar donors who have chipped in to their favorite campaigns and organizations through ActBlue in 2019! Millions of folks across the country invested in people-powered movements this year, and this momentum is critically important going into 2020.

This year we asked small-dollar donors why they give through ActBlue, and we can think of no better way to celebrate them than by sharing their stories. Here’s what motivated a few grassroots donors, in their own words.

Alison from Oregon:

I became a grassroots donor because I feel money — huge amounts of money that I don’t have — greatly distorts our political process. I want my members of Congress to listen to the great majority of Americans, not a few billionaires. So I donate my small amounts to Democrats when I can and volunteer my time.

Mary from New York:

My husband and I did not understand just how powerful our small donations could be before this grassroots movement began. A small donation is like a single vote. It can swell to become a loud, impactful voice in a crowded field. The rich individuals and corporations that have been dominating our politics and our elections now have competition. I hope it inspires hope in others who have given up on their ability to participate in our democracy.

Rebecca from California:

I am a life-long voter, but after Trump got elected and politicians started putting their own careers as more important than law, country, and Constitution, one of my only comforts has been to back candidates who still respect humanity and society as a whole. I know a LOT more about civics now. I know we owe it to our democracy to be informed, speak truth to power, and use our pocketbooks to force them to listen.

Mary from Virginia:

I just wanted to do anything I possibly could to help. When I compared the cost of this to what I might be spending on coffee, it was simply a no-brainer. When I am reminded about my contribution each month I have a feeling of satisfaction.

Pat and Jack from Colorado:

We believe in doing our part to make this world a better place. We try to donate and act locally while thinking globally. Every person can do their part, no matter what their resources might be. If someone can’t contribute, they can still volunteer their time to help a favorite cause.

We work every day to empower small-dollar donors because millions of folks taking a stand is the only way change will happen in our democracy. So on behalf of all of us at ActBlue: Thank you for contributing and making your voice heard. We can’t wait to keep building people-powered movements together in 2020 and beyond.

Fall training wrap-up: Across the country and back again!

At ActBlue, we believe grassroots fundraising is essential to democratizing power. Small-dollar donors make it possible for more people to run for office, even without a wealthy network behind them, and help make nonprofits more sustainable. Plus, candidates of all types can use grassroots fundraising to run winning campaigns! That’s why we build easy-to-use digital fundraising tools that empower small-dollar donors and meet them where they’re at. But often, these tools are not enough on their own: It’s on us to make sure that these tools are accessible and that people have all of the knowledge and strategies they need to build the strongest people-powered programs possible.

That’s why we send staff members across the country to empower campaigns and organizations to engage with small-dollar donors! And this fall, we were able to refine our strategy and up the ante on our training program, thanks to our first-ever Training Director, Ruby! With new worksheets and presentations in tow, dozens of team members have completed 23 trainings since August 2019. In that time, we’ve trained over 350 staffers, organizers, volunteers, and nonprofit professionals on how to use our tools to grow grassroots movements all across the country.

Why train people on digital fundraising tools in person? In trainings, we can come out from behind the screen and build real connections through hands-on activities, practice sessions, and one-on-one conversations with the folks who are laying the groundwork to transform our democracy. We understand that digital fundraising can be unfamiliar and intimidating to many people, but it’s a lot less scary when you can ask questions in person and learn from other organizers working through the same challenges. These in-person opportunities are particularly important as we see more and more first-time candidates and brand-new organizations using ActBlue!

It’s so exciting to be in the room when someone has an “aha moment” — you can see it in their face when they learn something new or connect a dot that will make their lives easier. Whether it’s when attendees write their first fundraising email or when they figure out how A/B testing can help their email program be more successful, every training has these moments. These moments are why we work every day to build new partnerships and create inclusive curriculums that bring as many people into the small-dollar donor movement as possible.

So where have we been so far this year? Many of our trainings are for new candidates, volunteers, nonprofit professionals, and other folks who are at the beginning stages of their campaign or digital fundraising program and are looking to learn as much as possible. Back in August, we traveled to Phoenix to talk small-dollar donors with Progressive Change Campaign Committee candidates.

Bold Progressives

That month, we also talked to a cohort of future Democratic campaign leaders at New American Leaders’ Ready to Win training about the digital fundraising strategies they need in order to run strong people-powered campaigns.

New American Leaders

In September, we traveled to Arena Academy in Houston to talk to aspiring campaign staffers about one of our favorite topics: email fundraising! (Spoiler alert: Email is how the vast majority of grassroots money is raised online! It is an incredibly effective way to tell compelling stories and engage with your small-dollar donors.)

Arena

And recently, our nonprofit experts flew to Chicago to talk about how every group can benefit from a robust grassroots fundraising program at Upswell 2019, a gathering for the nonprofit and social enterprise world.

Upswell

When we’re not traveling, we often host webinars with partners and publish other online resources here and on our support site! Our webinars focus on best practices for starting or expanding a digital fundraising program that has diverse and robust community support. If you’re interested in participating in a future webinar or training, check for updates on our Twitter or drop us a line at training@actblue.com!

Everything our training experts do, whether it be online or in person, is focused on empowering the folks on the ground to build digital fundraising programs that center small-dollar donors. We travel the country to make sure our tools are as accessible to as many people as possible, and we’re not planning on slowing down in 2020: Look out for our team members as we partner for more trainings, travel to even more cities and towns, and launch a new webinar program in the upcoming year!

Election 2019: What civic participation looks like today

There were several crucial state and local elections across the country on November 5, and grassroots activists and small-dollar donors powered Democrats to victory in many of them! Folks invested time and money in their state and local races like never before because these offices have a huge effect on our day-to-day lives.

Democrats flipped both the House of Delegates and the State Senate in Virginia, securing control of the state government for the first time in the 21st century! And in Kentucky, a traditionally red state, Democrat Andy Beshear is the governor-elect.

Millions of small-dollar donors and thousands of activists all over the country made these and many other wins possible. Election Day 2019 is an exciting example of how more people are participating in our democracy than ever before! And it was definitely not an off-year for small-dollar donors: They doubled their contributions to state legislative races on ActBlue in Q3 ’19 compared to Q3 ‘17!

Grassroots donors also directed their money to where it would make the most impact. Many groups organizing around state and local elections created Tandem forms on ActBlue, which enabled donors to give to multiple candidates with a single click. This tool was particularly successful in Virginia, where the entire state legislature was up for election. Grassroots donors contributed $1.8 milliona sixth of all the money raised on ActBlue for Virginia candidates — via Tandem forms in this election! Here are two Tandem examples from Virginia that made it easy to give to multiple highly competitive campaigns in a single click:

Swing Left

Impact Slates

But the engagement doesn’t stop with contribution forms: Small-dollar donors do much more than give! They vote, get the word out, and bring more people into a cause. The 2019 election is a great example of this.

Organizations like MobilizeAmerica, a volunteer management platform, help make record turnout numbers and huge Democratic wins happen by harnessing the power of the grassroots. In Virginia, volunteer activity through MobilizeAmerica was approximately five times the volume from 2017 — that’s over 15,000 volunteer shifts, 4,900 of which happened in the week leading up to the election!

Thousands of people did the vital work of going door-to-door, making calls, and asking people the simple question: What is your plan to vote? These efforts continued online too:

Tweet

The organizing that went into this election and its results lay the groundwork for 2020! Democrats, from grassroots donors to elected officials, will now have a voice in critical decisions and have tested strategies to take across the country. We can’t wait to see where this momentum will lead us. Check out our Twitter to stay updated on how small-dollar donors are making change happen across the country!

Celebrating 15 years of empowering small-dollar donors

ActBlue officially turned 15 years old this past summer! Since 2004, we’ve been driven by our mission to make it incredibly easy for people to give to candidates and causes on the left and make their voices heard. We sat down with our Executive Director Erin Hill to talk about Day One of democratizing power and how small-dollar donors have transformed how candidates run for office, how we elect our representatives, how movements take off, and how people effect change.

Erin


Why was ActBlue founded?

Erin: ActBlue was founded in 2004 by Matt DeBergalis and Ben Rahn, scientists who were not traditionally part of the political space. 2004 was another period of time in our country when folks were coming off of the sidelines and thinking about the way the country was going. George Bush was president, Hurricane Katrina would hit in 2005, and we were in wars we are still in today.

People were trying to think about how they could use their skills to make the country a better place, and I think our founders were canonical examples of that. They had these professional skills and thought: Could we use technology to make it as easy for people to participate in our politics and donate as it is to buy a book online? Something to remember is that there wasn’t a lot of online fundraising before 2004 — that time was still the rise of e-commerce! So Matt and Ben set out to democratize the least democratic part of the political process, with the simple idea of making it easy for more people to give.

How has ActBlue changed fundraising?

E: To get somebody to donate still takes the basics of making a very specific, urgent ask and inviting people to be part of your compelling ideas! But what technology does is make it possible for you to reach more people and to do it more efficiently. It lets us meet people where they are and lets them contribute in a meaningful way that fits in with their lifestyle.

The other thing this rise in small-dollar donors has done is help us compete in more places and help new candidates find their voice. People can build their own grassroots fundraising structure from the ground up, and that changes who can see themselves as a viable candidate.

Kitchen Origin Story

So many times, those campaigns are very small. It’s a candidate, a partner, and a neighbor over a kitchen table trying to think about how to make their community better. Our technology takes off some of the administrative burden so they can focus on connecting with supporters, which makes a big difference for these campaigns.

How will small-dollar donors impact 2020?

E: Small-dollar donors are going to elect the next president of the United States. They were the force behind the Democratic candidates who took back the House in the 2018 midterms, and they are going to fuel at least 50% of the Democratic presidential nominee’s fundraising. So they’re going to be really important in taking down Donald Trump.

Not only that: We are preparing to go more aggressively down-ballot this year than we’ve ever gone before. Small-dollar donors are giving to state and local candidates, causes, and charities that matter to them! So small-dollar donors are not only going to be important for powering the top of the ticket — they’re going to be important for powering the entire bench all the way down to make sure we’re going to fix our country.

Collective Power!

As someone who’s been with the organization since basically the beginning (ActBlue’s second team member ever!), what are you most proud to have witnessed and been a part of at ActBlue?

E: It’s such a privilege that our work at the end of the day gets to be about helping to empower other people. The thing that always surprises me the most is that in those early days, I was so used to talking about the ActBlue pitch. Now, to run into people who talk about what giving through our platform means to them, how that’s helped them have a voice in the democratic process in a way they didn’t have otherwise, who see us as an ally — that is so moving.

How are you making the giving process even easier for people who want to take action today?

E: We have a whole team of brilliant folks continuously running tests on our features and tools to learn about user behavior and use data to drive decisions! We like to say it’s our job to make giving as frictionless as possible. About 7.5 million people have saved their payment information in a single-click payment method we call ActBlue Express, which is especially important for the majority of donations made on mobile. There’s nothing worse than on your commute, reading an email and saying “Yes! I want to be in this,” and trying to type in 16 digits of your credit card number using your thumbs on a phone!

Subway Single Click

What does the future hold for ActBlue and the small-dollar donor movement?

E: I think this movement is going to keep growing! Small-dollar donors give little bits to lots of candidates and causes that matter to them. With the number of new folks we’re seeing come out this early in the election cycle, we’ll see millions of new small-dollar donors between now and Election Day in 2020. We hear a lot about the Koch brothers, big money, and dark money: I think small-dollar contributions are a positive and practical alternative to that. If corporate money and dark money are threats to our democracy, small-dollar donors will help save our democracy!

If you could say one thing for people to take away from our conversation, what would you want that to be?

E: I want small-dollar donors to know we wouldn’t be able to do any of this work if it were not for them. We’re a nonprofit, so the source of income for the entire organization is our own small-dollar donors! It means we work for the people who use us, which is a great privilege. It also means we’re all working together toward the same gains.

It’s amazing to see small-dollar donors become such an integral and effective part of how our democracy works right now. They change who is participating, who people are paying attention to, and who can run for office. At this particularly important time, we can put all of our brains together to change our country. And we get to be part of that! It’s just so awesome.


Thank you for 15 incredible years and many more to come! Since the beginning, it’s been grassroots movements changing our country for the better, and there’s no other place we’d rather be than in this small-dollar donor movement with you.

In other words, our story is your story! Are you a donor, supporter, or fundraiser who’s part of our 15 years? Leave us a message on our birthday wall letting us know when you first made a donation or used our tools!

Meet the interns powering grassroots movements

Every academic semester, a team of paid interns jumps on board to join ActBlue in empowering millions of small-dollar donors and gain hands-on professional experience in politics, advocacy, and tech. Many of those interns end up staying with us for multiple semesters, and nine former interns are now staff members! Our incredible interns come from different corners of the country and study different disciplines, but what brings them all to ActBlue is a shared passion for creating positive change. At ActBlue, we’re driven by our mission to make it easy for people to make their voices heard and change our democracy. It’s why we’re always excited to include inspired students in the day-to-day work of serving small-dollar donors and helping groups on the left build people-powered movements.

Interns bring their diverse skills and unique voices to various teams across the organization, and their excitement to make a difference is the kind of electricity that keeps a nonprofit like ActBlue going! From supporting donors with the Customer Service Team to helping groups make contribution forms with the Outreach Team, interns see all the work and people it takes to make democratizing power a reality. As an intern myself, I’ve gotten a firsthand look into the big role interns play at ActBlue.

Natalie
That’s me, Natalie!

As I start my last year at Emerson College and my second semester with ActBlue, I realize how impactful this internship has been. I started this past summer knowing that the next three months would be really important in my career trajectory. After all, this was my first summer away from home — Milwaukee — and my last summer as a college student! I had to start figuring out what I wanted to do after I graduate, and I am so grateful that I spent this time at ActBlue. Through my work with ActBlue’s Communications and Marketing Team, I’ve had incredible opportunities to take on independent projects and be a key part of a nonprofit and larger grassroots movement. I got to face new challenges and learn firsthand how to craft content and engage with different progressive communities taking action! It’s this kind of mission-driven work and mentorship from people in ActBlue that have supported my growth as someone passionate about political communications.

No matter your major, everyone can put their talents and skills to good use in changing our country. I sat down with a few summer interns from different departments to ask about their thoughts on being an intern at ActBlue. I’m excited to share their stories and perspectives from their time powering the small-dollar donor movement!

Daria

Hayes

Daria is a rising senior in justice and peace studies at Georgetown University. She returned home to Boston this past summer as a Customer Service intern at ActBlue to support the millions of small-dollar donors using our platform to give to campaigns and organizations on the left.

I stumbled upon the ActBlue internship online, and the mission of making sure politics doesn’t have to rely on billionaires and corporations made me want to work here! My favorite part of this internship has been helping grassroots campaigns and the donors who support them, as well as the awesome conversations I have every day in the office. If you know you want to do something, but you don’t know what exactly you want to do, this is a great place to learn all of the ways you can participate in the civic process. Even if you may not be interested initially in customer service, you’re doing so much more than just talking to people — you’re helping. When you’re helping that one individual donor, you’re helping the entire grassroots movement.

Hayes is in his fourth year at Northeastern University studying political science and economics (with minors in urban studies, gender studies, and public policy!). Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Hayes is an intern on the State and Local Outreach Team, helping research candidates in crucial down-ballot races who could use ActBlue’s fundraising tools to connect with small-dollar donors and drive winning people-powered campaigns.

I’ve worked on a few state, local, and federal campaigns in the past, but the ActBlue internship gave me a chance to work on the actual infrastructure of campaigns. Campaigns are often sprints, and one election cycle’s lessons can get lost when Election Day is done! I feel with our work at ActBlue, we are able to make that long-term investment in improving the left. We take lessons from past election cycles and create this infrastructure and fundraising tools that any group on the left can use, no matter what level of government. As an intern reaching out to Western and Southern states about grassroots fundraising, I’ve learned how to manage multiple projects and directly communicate with campaign staff or organizers. I get to see firsthand how important down-ballot races are, and as sexy as working on a federal campaign can be, focusing on helping smaller races has given me a new fire.

Bennett

Shalinee

Bennett is a junior from Oakland, California, studying political science at Tufts University. As an intern with the Partnerships Team, she helped ActBlue build collaborations and support groups on the left with our digital fundraising trainings and resources.

Some friends recommended the ActBlue internship to me, and I knew through the people I talked to and from ActBlue’s mission of lifting up small-dollar donors that there was going to be value alignment between the work I was doing, what I really care about, and what I want to have an impact on. As an intern with the Partnerships Team, I research organizations we are interested in partnering with and want to support. I’ve been able to take on responsibility for multiple short-term and long-term projects and learned to build healthy professional relationships based in communication! One of the highlights from my internship was sitting in on a phone conversation between my supervisor and United Working Families (UWF), one of our partner organizations. It was fantastic to see how my background research on the important work UWF does helped my supervisor understand what resources ActBlue could provide to help them achieve their goals.

Shalinee is starting her second year at the University of California, Los Angeles, studying linguistics and computer science. This past summer, she came back home to Boston as a Customer Service intern.

I’m studying computer science, but I’ve always been super interested in politics. Interning at ActBlue, a technology nonprofit, has shown me that I can combine my love for progressive politics with my background in engineering! I’m really passionate about accessibility to education, so it’s cool that even though I’m not a political science major, I can work in politics. This is my first time working in an office setting, and I’ve really honed my email writing skills and learned how to help donors with different questions as much as possible. One of my favorite parts of this internship is the 18 types of loose leaf tea and snacks in the kitchen, but above all, I love working with all the friendly people at ActBlue. They care about the growth of students throughout the internship, and that’s the most valuable type of internship program.

Want to join us in powering grassroots movements across the country as one of our paid interns? While we already completed the intern hiring process for fall 2019, we’ll be looking to welcome some more amazing interns for spring 2020. What better way to close out your school year than an internship that gives you a chance to make a difference, pays you, and gives you mentorship, a public transit pass, and snacks and coffee? If you’d like to be notified when our spring internship application opens — typically at the end of October — fill out this form! We’d love to connect with you then about your passion for changing the future of our country.

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.