Small-dollar fundraising metrics: 3 things to look for

Congratulations! You’ve conquered the basics of digital fundraising, and you’re raising your first dollars. Now how do you measure success? Your fundraising data might seem intimidating, but you don’t need to be a data scientist to use it: All you need is a willingness to look at your fundraising critically and the follow-through to apply what you learn!

Data lets you work smarter rather than harder. It all begins by taking stock of your data and using it to evaluate if you’re running an efficient program that is on track to fuel your campaign or organization for the long fight. Then, you can figure out how to refine your fundraising practices to improve your numbers. From the groups just getting started to the experts building out their program, every digital fundraiser can look at the following three metrics to analyze their small-dollar program. You can find all three right at your fingertips in your ActBlue Dashboard, so you’ll be driving your fundraising forward in no time!

1. Toplines: Number of contributions, dollars raised, and average contribution size over time

What it tells you: Your topline numbers give you a basic, holistic overview of your fundraising and donor behavior. These toplines include your program’s two core numbers: contributions and dollars raised. Your third topline number is average contribution size, which is found by dividing dollars raised by the number of contributions. Average contribution size can give you an idea of how much your program is relying on many small-dollar donors chipping in or fewer donors giving larger amounts.

Where you can find it: At the very top of your Dashboard Overview are your campaign or organization’s topline fundraising numbers. Here to greet you all the time, you’ll find your number of contributions, dollars raised, and average contribution size over the last seven days. The best part is you can easily change the timeframe for these topline numbers (and the corresponding graph) so you can observe your fundraising for any timespan you want. And if you want an idea of how a specific form performed, you can find these topline numbers for each form on its Statistics page.

What to do with this: Check the number of contributions and dollars raised for the month and quarter to see if you are hitting your fundraising goals. You can use the graph to predict when your fundraising will peak and send more emails during those strong moments. When you know you’ll hit slower fundraising periods, be ready to get creative with your tactics for engaging small-dollar donors.

Next, compare your average contribution size to the sitewide average contribution size of $30 in 2019 so far. Is your average contribution size really large? Think about whether you’ve shown donors who give $5 that their contribution matters to you. And think about what donation ask amounts are right for your program — you want to bring in as many people as possible and let them give at the level they like.

2. Percent of contributions made via mobile device

What it tells you: With more and more people using their phone or tablet to take action and give (more than 50% of donations on ActBlue have been made on mobile so far in 2019), it’s important for you to remember to keep a mobile-first mindset and meet your donors where they are. You can check what percent of your contributions were made through mobile devices and compare it to the average percent of sitewide contributions made via mobile.

Where you can find it: You can find a few important pie charts under “About your contributions” in your Dashboard Overview. One of these is the percent of your contributions made via a mobile device, with a sitewide average in grey below as an easy comparison point. Another place you can find percent mobile is on each form’s Statistics page. This helps you see how specific emails are performing on mobile devices!

What to do with this: While you’re thinking mobile first, don’t forget your fundraising emails! If you’re going to focus on improving one thing in email, make it the mobile experience. Make sure your emails are easy to read and quick to load on mobile. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on connecting with all of your supporters. Your fail-proof check is testing your emails and forms on a variety of mobile devices to ensure they look good and perform fast for every grassroots supporter.

3. Recurring retention

What it tells you: Retention is a measure of your program’s sustainability. Building a strong recurring program by keeping your retention high paves the way for you to raise more money long term and gain the flexibility to budget ahead. With an eye on your recurring retention, you can understand how many recurring donors want to stay in your movement rather than cancel their monthly donations. And this will give you a good idea of how many resources you’ll have months from now to commit to organizing and other actions.

Where you can find it: Right in the “Recurring” tab of your Dashboard menu is your Retention Matrix, a chart showing you how many donors choose to continue their recurring contributions for how many months before cancelling.

Here’s how you read your Retention Matrix: This chart shows the percent of recurring contributions you retain over time, grouped by the month the contributions were started. You can read the chart from left to right to see the percent of recurring contributions started in a specific month that were still active one month later, all the way to 12 months after the initial contribution!

Retention matrix

What to do with this: Your goal is to keep the percentages in your Retention Matrix high, and keeping track of your most avid supporters is crucial to good retention! Make sure your monthly sustainers know the incredible impact their contributions have and send them the most important updates from your group rather than more fundraising asks. Above your Retention Matrix in the “Recurring” tab, you can download a list of current recurring donor email addresses in your “Active recurring contributions CSV.” Exclude this email list from your fundraising emails, and instead send your monthly donors a thank you or ask them to take the next step of volunteering or fundraising on your behalf. And if you have one or two critical moments in your work, you can ask them for a special one-time donation while acknowledging their ongoing support.

Now you’ve got data on your side

Even if you don’t have a dedicated data analyst on your team, you have the tools you need on ActBlue to better understand and grow your fundraising success. And remember that our digital experts are ready to help you meet any fundraising challenge, including getting a handle on your data! We’re a call away to help your campaign, organization, or nonprofit assess and build your program.

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!