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!

Why Campaigns are Emailing You

Campaigns have fundamentally changed over the last twenty years and are more people-powered than ever! While candidates still need compelling ideas, the ways supporters get involved with a campaign have totally changed. The barrier to entry has been lowered, and there is space for more people to be involved in the political process. Technology has greatly contributed to this shift, bringing candidates and issues right to a person in a way that works for them — mainly through email! This means that campaigns are spending more time talking to you.

Here at ActBlue, we are all about strengthening the horizontal relationship between campaigns and their small-dollar donors. There’s no denying that during an election cycle, our inboxes can be full of emails from different candidates and organizations encouraging us to get involved. However, behind every email there is a purpose, and it’s not always to get a donation! Many email programs are centered around cultivating a real relationship with their subscribers. Email provides a direct connection between candidates and supporters, creating an accessibility that simply wasn’t there before email programs and digital fundraising became popular. Here are some emails you might recognize!

Messaging Emails:

Running a grassroots campaign means candidates have to authentically and regularly keep supporters informed and engaged with their campaign. Messaging emails are centered around updating their supporters on what is happening on the campaign trail, a new policy rollout, big moments in the news cycle, and other important topics that subscribers might want to know more about. These emails give supporters an opportunity to learn more about a candidate and why they deserve support. And sometimes, messaging emails are about hearing from you! Many campaigns will ask supporters to share their stories, give their input via a survey, or sign a petition regarding a specific policy.

Grassroots Fundraising Emails:

Small-dollar donors are essential to the infrastructure of grassroots campaigns. Fundraising emails are used to bring more supporters into the fold, giving them a stake and a voice in important races. Campaigns can be expensive, and candidates need money to pay their staff, travel all over to meet the people they are hoping to represent, and cover many other expenses.

More and more candidates are looking to supporters to invest in their campaigns so they can build an inclusive movement that has the community support it takes to win. Here’s what Laticia, a small-dollar donor from Florida, has to say about fundraising emails:

I never gave to campaigns, but now I’m contributing regularly, albeit in small amounts. I feel connected with the candidate when I contribute. I receive their emails of gratitude and notes of campaign progress. I appreciate the honing of their ideas into policies and can witness the strength of their campaigns. By giving small amounts through ActBlue, I remain connected.

These relationships with grassroots donors also free candidates from big money and having to spend significant amounts of time courting one or two mega-donors. This means candidates can spend more time connecting with and serving constituents! Small-dollar donors have made our political landscape more representative and diverse than ever before, and this movement is only going to continue to lower the barrier of entry to politics! But don’t take it from us — check out what other grassroots donors across the country have to say about why they chip in.

Organizing Emails:

Grassroots campaigns rely on more than just small-dollar donations — they need people-powered support in every aspect of their campaign. Organizing emails let supporters know about opportunities to get involved in the campaign through events, canvassing, and phone banking. There are endless ways to support a candidate, and organizing is a great way to create a community within a campaign and meet other people who are passionate about the same issues as you!


Emails are an important way to stay informed about a candidate and the causes they care about. Every campaign email you get has a specific purpose, and that is to provide you with information and opportunities. That being said, if your inbox is overwhelming or you are no longer involved in a cause anymore, you can always unsubscribe. Campaigns want their supporters to feel excited when they get an email, and passionate supporters are the key to a healthy email list! It’s also important to note that ActBlue does not send fundraising emails (or texts) on behalf of any other candidates or groups.

Accessibility to a candidate is integral in ensuring they are fighting for you, and email is breaking down barriers between supporters and campaigns. We know how important it is to include all people in the political process and make sure everyone can be engaged and informed. So the next time you get an email from a campaign, take a moment to remember how far campaigns have come and the progress that has been made to ensure transparency and inclusion in the political process!

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.

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!

Q3 2019: On track for a $1 billion year

Small-dollar donors took no time off this summer, setting multiple sitewide records in the third quarter (July, August, and September). Over 3 million donors (record number one!) chipped in to raise $297 million in Q3 ’19 — our biggest quarter this year and third largest in ActBlue history by dollars raised. Nearly one million of those people were first-time donors on ActBlue! And that’s not all: Roughly the same number of unique donors have now given this year as in the entire 2018 election cycle!

Q3’s 3 million donors made 10.5 million contributions to 8,984 campaigns and organizations fundraising on ActBlue, breaking our previous quarter record by almost 2 million contributions. And on September 30, small-dollar donors gave more contributions in a single day than ever before! We saw unprecedented engagement, with donors giving nearly 40,000 contributions per hour at the peak of end-of-quarter traffic. Mobile giving is driving more traffic than ever before, with an impressive 58% of donations this quarter made via mobile. 2019 is the first year we had a 50%+ mobile quarter, and that percentage has been growing fast!

Many people expected this summer would be a slow fundraising period, but our numbers show that the sleepy fundraising summers of the past are over!

Dollars Raised on ActBlue by Quarter

TOPLINE NUMBERS

Q3 ’15 Q3 ’17 Q3 ’19
Contributions 1,790,888 3,179,068 10,466,567
Total Amount $57,508,215 $108,146,597 $297,113,012
Average Contribution Size $32.11 $34.02 $28.39
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
2,263 5,226 8,984

CYCLE-TO-CYCLE COMPARISON

2016 Cycle through Q3 2015 2018 Cycle through Q3 2017 2020 Cycle through Q3 2019
Contributions 3,848,036 11,974,368 23,470,324
Total Amount $132,621,476 $355,506,035 $716,960,748
Average Contribution Size $34.46 $29.68 $30.50
Unique Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations 3,009 6,392 11,082

Small-dollar donors were active and engaged throughout Q3, not just in September or at end-of-quarter — August 2019 was our fifth biggest month ever by total dollars raised! And not everything is about the White House. Small-dollar donors are supporting candidates and causes across the board — 62.4% of donors gave to a campaign or organization other than a presidential candidate in Q3.

With more and more attention paid to issues like gerrymandering, Medicaid expansion, reproductive rights, and gun sense laws, small-dollar donors are making sure their voices are heard in state-level elections this cycle. Compared to Q3 ‘17, donors have doubled their contributions to state legislative races. Small-dollar donors are engaged with congressional races, too. Despite the attention on the presidential primary, donors gave twice as many contributions to House and Senate races this quarter compared to Q3 ’17. It’s clear that not only are small-dollar donors engaged and excited, but they are both thoughtful and strategic in their giving.

ACTBLUE EXPRESS

Q3 ’15 Q3 ’17 Q3 ’19
% of Total Contributions via ActBlue Express 64.9% 64.4% 61.7%

Donors who save their payment information in an ActBlue Express account can give to any candidate or cause on ActBlue with a single click. The ActBlue Express community is empowered, and it is growing: Q3 2019 was our second largest quarter ever for ActBlue Express adoption. There are 7.7 million ActBlue Express users!

MOBILE

Q3 ’15 Q3 ’17 Q3 ’19
% of Contributions via Mobile 30.3% 41.1% 57.9%

We strive to meet grassroots donors where they are and make it as easy as possible for them to participate in civic life. Increasingly, donors are engaging with the news on the go amidst their daily lives, and we want to ensure they can take action right in the moment, no matter where they find themselves. That’s why we’re focused on making the mobile contribution experience as seamless as possible, from building automatically mobile-optimized forms to offering payment options like Apple Pay.

And mobile participation is on the rise. This quarter we saw the biggest ever hour for mobile donating during the Democratic presidential primary debate in September! Between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET, the rate of mobile giving sitewide peaked at 82%. Mobile giving is making it easy for donors to engage in the moment and be politically active in real time. Since 2018 alone, the average percent of contributions made via mobile on ActBlue has risen almost 20%.

Sitewide Contributions Made via Mobile

RECURRING CONTRIBUTIONS

Q3 ’15 Q3 ’17 Q3 ’19
Total Recurring Volume $13,852,497 $25,283,816 $48,857,797

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Q3 ’19
Total Incoming Calls 30,045
Email Conversations 67,549

We’re a mission-driven nonprofit focused on empowering small-dollar donors, and that means we strive to provide the best possible experience for donors top to bottom, including customer service. This quarter at ActBlue our team has matched the energy of the small-dollar donor community through our work supporting 8,984 campaigns and organizations raising on our platform and responding to 97,594 donor conversations.

Small-dollar donors have blown us away with their enthusiasm and passion this quarter. It was huge and kept us on track for campaigns and organizations to raise one billion dollars on ActBlue alone this year — an incredibly impressive grassroots movement!

Total Dollars Raised on ActBlue Through Q3

With impeachment, more debates, Giving Tuesday, and important state elections happening this year, there are many more opportunities for small-dollar donors to shine. Looking forward to all that we accomplish together in Q4!

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!

The power of recurring contributions

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

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

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

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

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

total recurring graph

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

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

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

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

NARAL

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

3. Always say thank you!

Everytown Email

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

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

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!

Q1 2019: Strongest start to an election cycle on ActBlue

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

Topline Numbers

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

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

ActBlue Express

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

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

Mobile

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

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

Recurring Contributions

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

Customer Service

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

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