Tips from our digital experts for state and local campaigns and organizations

Our team of organizers at ActBlue has already worked with 5,744 (and counting) different state and local campaigns and organizations in the first half of 2019! We’re passionate about making sure thousands of state and local-level campaigns win, including state legislature seats that will determine our voting maps for the next decade. Our grassroots fundraising platform gives all candidates and causes on the left access to powerful tools like seamless, mobile-optimized contribution forms and a saved payment universe of over 7 million ActBlue Express users who can give to groups on ActBlue with a single click. It’s important for us to back our easy fundraising tools with the tips, knowledge, and resources all levels of campaigns and organizations can implement to build strong, people-powered movements. You can catch us year-round traveling across the country to do in-person trainings and answer any questions folks have about technology or strategy. But it doesn’t stop there: We’re bringing our experts’ tips directly to you right here!


Zoë

Zoë

Senior State Outreach Manager
Midwest Region

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
Speak honestly and candidly with your donors. You’re raising money, but you’re also building relationships and creating a community of invested supporters. Don’t be afraid to be honest in your email communication — talk to your people like they’re people!

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Find out — either through your ActBlue contact or through your independent testing — how to not just use ActBlue’s tools, but how to utilize them most effectively. For example, use social share on all your forms — but go the extra step and investigate which images perform the best with your list and will ultimately yield maximum results.


Graeme

Graeme

State Outreach Assistant
West Region

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
Be genuine — digital communication is how you are going to reach the most voters and potential donors, so use it to help people understand who you are, what you stand for, and why they should support your campaign.

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Experiment! Our tools make it easy to analyze your fundraising and make specific, tested improvements to your forms, so try new things and find out what works best in your community.


Nisa

Nisa

Senior State and Local Outreach Associate
South Region

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
What works in a big city won’t work in a rural area — use the tools and messaging that actually address the needs of your community, rather than focusing on tools and messaging that are out of touch.

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Spend time customizing your form to show your supporters that you are as invested in this victory as they are: Why are you running? What is this money being spent on? How do your supporters fit into your strategic vision?


Kathleen

Kathleen

State Outreach Research Associate

What’s your top digital fundraising tip for state and local groups?
Use ActBlue’s tools to create a data-driven campaign. Look at your donors’ fundraising histories in order to determine whether you should encourage them to create a recurring contribution. Look at your most successful forms and replicate them. Figure out whether you are getting the bulk of your contributions through your very active Facebook page or through your email program with refcodes (hint: it’s probably your email list). By understanding who is supporting you, how they are supporting you, and what your successes are, you can build upon those wins in the future!

What’s your top tip for using ActBlue’s fundraising tools?
Use the data tools available to you! Your Dashboard Overview has a lot of valuable information, but the most important information and insights are found in the CSV files available under the “Reporting,” “Donor Segments,” and “Recurring,” tabs of your Dashboard. Also, take the time to set up refcodes! They can help you find insights about your donors and fundraising program that you wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise.


Small-dollar donors from coast to coast are fueling down-ballot candidates and causes and making winning grassroots movements possible. It’s our mission to make sure all people can make their voices heard in our country, and this means strengthening our democracy at all levels of government. Our digital experts come to work every day excited to help everyone — from first-time school board candidates to activists trying to flip state legislatures — make the most of ActBlue’s tools. Have questions about our tips above or want to talk digital strategy that works best for your specific group? Hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us!

Tips from our nonprofit fundraising experts

At AB Charities, we love helping other nonprofits fundraise better by building small-dollar donor bases to sustain their work. Who exactly are we? We’re a team of fundraising experts passionate about talking nonprofit digital strategy and answering any technical questions about making the most of AB Charities accounts and our platform. Our grassroots fundraising platform gives nonprofits of all sizes access to easy, modern tools like mobile-optimized contribution forms and a saved payment universe of over 7 million ActBlue Express users who can give to you with a single click. And as a nonprofit ourselves, we know the stresses that come with raising funds for important advocacy work. It’s a huge reason why we’re usually on the road doing face-to-face trainings and making small-dollar fundraising less intimidating (and less lonely). And we don’t want to stop there: We’re bringing our top digital fundraising tips to you right here!


Adri

Adri

Nonprofit Outreach Manager
Gemini

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Focus on building your recurring donor base! Recurring donors will be more invested in your organization and mission and are more likely to take other actions like signing petitions, volunteering, and encouraging their networks to donate to your organization. Having a strong recurring program also helps organizations budget, and this additional source of revenue allows for more flexibility to run programs and cover things like overhead costs!

Top tip for using AB Charities
Don’t be afraid to ask us for help! Our team is happy to help you create brandings for your forms, help you access donor information, and give demos to teach your team how to get the most out of your AB Charities account. We’re all passionate about empowering organizations to run strong, successful digital fundraising programs, because we understand how important your work is. We want you to have all the tools and skills you need in order to not only sustain but grow your organizations and expand your impact.


Kiersten

Kiersten

Nonprofit Outreach Director
Virgo

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Mobile is becoming extremely common as a way for supporters to engage with your nonprofit and donate! Make sure your donation forms are optimized for mobile (we have Apple Pay and PayPal on our forms!) so supporters can donate via mobile no matter where they are. This is especially true for supporters who may not have internet access or who have mobile networks like 3G with slower page load times. Big picture, make it easy for a supporter to give no matter their device! They already want to support you, and you’ve empowered them to take action — so you’ll want your fundraising platform to make it as easy as possible for them to give.

Top tip for using AB Charities
Chat with us! We’re here, and we want to help. There are a ton of optimizations that you can make to your contribution form to help increase your one-time and recurring donations.


Selah

Selah

Nonprofit Outreach Associate
Aries

Top online fundraising tip for nonprofits
Take some time to nail a theory of change in your fundraising emails! Your donors will always be asking themselves “Why give now? What will my contribution do?” So it’s critical to: highlight the problem your nonprofit is looking to solve, explain what the solution is, and emphasize that donors are a key part of the solution — in this case, a specific sum of small-dollar donations. A (simplified) example might look like: “Our organization works hard every day to improve road safety here in our community, and we need your help. Our free brake light clinic is all set to reduce the chance of car accidents on Main Street: but we still need to get the word out! Just $50.00 will cover the costs of printing flyers that we’ll be posting up around town. Can you pitch in $5.00 today to close this gap and make a change? If 10 people chip in, we’ll be ready to hit the streets!”

A clearly articulated theory of change that answers the right questions goes further than you might imagine in composing an effective ask. Not only will you add an honest sense of urgency to your emails, but you’ll make it clear that donors are part of your team, and you’re getting things done together! It also goes a long way in developing a healthy relationship with your small-dollar donors, building trust, and displaying your nonprofit’s accountability and transparency.

Top tip for using AB Charities
Once you’ve built trust and rapport with your donors through your fantastic emails (featuring your well-written theory of change, of course), AB Charities features some excellent tools for building a sustainers program of recurring donors. Our unlimited, customizable forms have features that encourage supporters to commit to feasible, long-lasting gifts, and we make it easy to pull donor data and build a cohort of engaged supporters who give regularly.

You can also use AB Charities to send a personalized contribution form to your most committed donors to build and steward long-term donor relationships that much more effectively!


We’re a team of dedicated nonprofit fundraising experts who love brainstorming digital strategy that fits your nonprofit and making fundraising all about big numbers and big laughs! You can always give us a wave on Twitter. And if you have any questions about our tips above or making the most of AB Charities, hop on a one-on-one strategy call with us!

Make an impression with strategic social share settings

A fundraising campaign doesn’t end once a supporter makes a donation: It’s important to set up a really great action for donors to take after they’ve given! Chipping in makes folks more connected to a cause, so they’re eager to spread the word by posting about their donations on Twitter and Facebook. Make the most of this energy by creating custom social share settings that show up whenever a link to your contribution form is posted online!

Custom social share settings will make the donors sharing your forms feel like a part of your movement and will help make your brand more recognizable. While your own social media presence is crucial to your success, you have an opportunity to reach an even wider community when your small-dollar donors post about your work. And donors don’t just help you reach a wider audience — they often share their personal connection to the cause, which helps move others to action! Getting your social share perfect isn’t always easy, so here are some tips on how to get the most out of your social share.

First, check out how to use ActBlue’s tools to customize the images, titles, and descriptions for your Twitter and Facebook social shares here (including how to make reusable and default settings!). Once you’re familiar with the basics of social share settings, think critically about your goals. Beyond getting the word out to new audiences about why your mission matters and giving supporters an action to take after donating, you are promoting your professional brand. Your social share is a representation of your campaign or organization that will be seen by many. Your image and text should reflect your values and goals, while empowering people to join you.

1. Keep in mind who your audience is on each of these platforms. Are you targeting the same supporters on both networks? For example, according to Sprout Social, more women than men use Facebook, whereas men and women use Twitter equally. While Facebook is generally used by people of all ages, Twitter is generally used by a younger audience, with 40% of users ranging from 18-29 years old. Once you have an idea of the audiences you might be reaching on each platform, it’s easier to craft your message.

2. Just as Twitter and Facebook’s audiences are different, so are the dimensions for images and graphics. Check this handy guide to ensure that you are uploading the correct size! Make sure the graphic you choose to include is as compelling and thoughtful as your message. Think carefully about whether or not you want the graphic to depict an image, text, a donation button, or a combination of all three. What is most important is that your image reflects your brand. Using the same colors, fonts, logos, and images as your form branding is a great way to build your brand and create continuity across platforms. You can use our easy template to make a simple, professional graphic that matches the rest of your online presence.

3. Keep the custom titles and descriptions for your social shares short, so they don’t get cut off! You can check to see how your text (and graphics) will look on Twitter using this resource and on Facebook using this resource. Always remember to use inclusive language that builds authentic, horizontal relationships with your supporters — this can be as simple as writing “We can win, but only if we do it together” instead of “We have the solution, and we need you to help.”

4. Twitter is all about keeping things short and sweet. Keep your custom tweet text to 71-100 characters for the most retweets. You only have a couple seconds to make an impression while potential supporters are scrolling through their feed. Using action-oriented language that motivates and empowers readers is a great way to engage with people whose values align with yours. Instead of explaining why people should care about your mission, explain why they should act!

5. There are additional best practices to keep in mind when posting links to contribution forms from your own accounts! You can explicitly ask supporters to retweet a post from your Twitter account that features your social share for an increase in retweets. For peak engagement on Facebook posts, you can use up to 100-119 characters. While 19 more characters than a tweet may not seem like a lot, it can add up and allow you to squeeze in a few more words about why it is crucial to make a donation now. And no matter where you’re posting, a call to action is critical in motivating those who come across your social share.

There is no one way to create a compelling social share — just make sure you energize potential supporters and share what makes your campaign or organization worth their donation! If you are looking for more social media strategies for your campaign or organization, there are many different resources to help you hone your message and create a strong social media presence. Sprout Social has a guide for political campaigns looking to improve their digital skills. TechSoup has nine tips for nonprofit organizations that are trying to get a better handle on the growing world of online fundraising.

Your supporters feel a personal connection to the cause when they donate. Giving them an opportunity to share their contribution on social media is just another way to empower and uplift the voices of small-dollar donors, so take a minute and customize your social share today!

Making summer matter as a nonprofit fundraiser

Summer is an incredible time for your nonprofit to sharpen all parts of your online fundraising program so you’re keeping up with best practices and setting yourself up for a strong end-of-year. The pace of life might seem to slow down with the warmth, but small-dollar donors are ready to take action for causes and organizations in need no matter the time of year. This summer is only halfway over, and small-dollar donors have already raised $1.3 million for groups helping parents and children separated at the border. And you can see in our 2018 cycle in review that the number of new donors has skyrocketed at critical moments throughout the summer months.

August is traditionally thought of as sleepy, but there are strategies you can implement now to make the most of summer. Keep reading for high-impact steps to build a robust, streamlined program before the fall and set yourself up for big fundraising rewards.

Build:

1. Your email list.

Summer’s the perfect season for taking your organizing outside and adding emails to your list. With the warmer days finally here, think about hosting events that bring supporters together for your cause and build a sense of community that can translate into a strong base of grassroots donors. From a house party to a rally, cook-out competition to a bike-a-thon, outdoor events are great opportunities to collect emails on paper or digitally. You can sell tickets, collect free RSVPs, or do a combination of both using event forms on AB Charities. And just because you’re hosting an event doesn’t mean you can’t make a face-to-face donation ask! AB Charities makes it easy for you to collect donations at events with our Entry Mode feature, so multiple people can easily make secure donations on the same device. We’ve also made sure our contribution forms are optimized for mobile — it’s why this past quarter, over 50% of contributions made through our platform came from mobile devices!

Rural Utah Project Event

2. Your recurring donor base.

Invest time into building a strong recurring program while Giving Tuesday and other deadlines are still months away. Recurring gifts give you the amazing flexibility to budget for the future! And by nurturing a solid community of monthly supporters now, you’ll gain the superpower to plan for the big events and campaigns for your cause later in the year. You can begin by asking for monthly gifts of *smaller* amounts than one-time donations. You can also turn on our Smart Recurring feature, which encourages donors making a one-time contribution to make an additional, lower monthly gift.

Here’s a pro-tip: If you have inexpensive gifts like stickers to give supporters, you can ask people to make a monthly donation to receive a sticker. A simple email that says “Where should we send your sticker?” and includes a donation ask can build your recurring program!

Polish:

1. Your open rates.

Let go of inactive subscribers in your email list to boost your open and donation rates. Your emails are some of your most important communications with your supporters, and creative and authentic emails can build meaningful relationships with your base that raise more money in the long term. Metrics like open rates also affect whether your emails end up in Gmail’s Promotions tab or spam, so you’ll want to take your open rates seriously!

2. Your email targeting.

If you haven’t yet, segment your email list into groups of supporters organized by donor behavior. It’s easier than ever to group people by previous donation sizes using AB Charities’ tools for data on donor segments. Once you clean up your list and prepare your targeting, you can send more intentional, personalized emails that meet your donors where they’re at. And it’s this kind of detail in knowing your donors’ behavior that improves your fundraising results!

3. Your forms with A/B testing.

A/B tests are a great way for you to identify the most successful parts of your contribution form so you can make optimized forms that raise the most money. Our A/B Test Tool makes it super easy for you to run head-to-head tests on your forms, including comparing different form titles and ask language. Does a simple branding or fancier one connect with your supporters more? After testing various form versions, you’ll be left with a powerful baseline for all future forms you make!

Nourish!

While the sun’s shining, grow your relationships with your supporters through cultivation emails that aim to engage (and not just fundraise). Whether surveys, newsletters, or updates on your nonprofit’s work, sending compelling content builds trust and engagement with your list. Do you have swag and merchandise that are perfect for your supporters to sport in the summer? Try hosting a giveaway where you ask supporters to enter a contest to win sunglasses, hats, totes, or water bottles that show their grassroots pride!

Summer’s the perfect time to take big actions that can build up your grassroots fundraising. Don’t let the slow pace of these months fool you, and get started on strengthening all parts of your digital program with our tips. Still wondering where to begin? One of your first high-impact actions can be hopping on a one-on-one call with our team to talk through strategies that work for your nonprofit. We’re always happy to chat and answer any questions you have!

The automation on ActBlue giving your fundraising a boost

Every campaign and organization on ActBlue has access to powerful automated tools. Our mission has always been to make fundraising incredibly easy for grassroots groups and the donors who support them, and automation plays a huge role in taking care of the small stuff so you can focus on the hard work of organizing, winning, and building strong movements. Automation can help you cultivate closer relationships with your supporters and raise more money, and with just a little extra customization, you can make these automated functions work even harder for you! Because our team of engineers is constantly focused on finding ways to make your fundraising better (and your life easier), we’ve made sure automation is baked into our platform. Check out the automation that’s giving your fundraising a boost on ActBlue and how you can take it to the next level.

Email Receipts + Thank You Messages

We automatically send email receipts to donors who give to you through our platform. These automated receipts let you recognize and value every single one of your donors!

How to level up: You can celebrate your donors even more by customizing the text in these automated receipts with a heartfelt thank you. Customized email receipts leave supporters with a meaningful message about the key role of small-dollar donors in your work and motivate your supporter base to stay in this movement with you. While you’re here, add a custom branding to your receipt to match your campaign or organization. You can use ActBlue’s easy design tools to spiff up your receipts with your logo (and a background color if you’re feeling artistic!).

Customized Receipt Example

Remarketing

Sometimes people navigate away from a form before completing their donation and need a nudge to finish it. Our remarketing feature encourages supporters to finish their incomplete contributions by automatically sending a follow-up email thirty minutes after an unfinished donation. Remarketing, a common and impactful feature in e-commerce, increases conversion rates and lets you get the most out of each and every ask!

How to level up: Customize your remarketing email text to remind supporters one last time why it’s so important for them to give to you and finish filling out the contribution form right now. (If you’ve used a branding on your email receipts, it will carry over to remarketing emails!)

Pop-up Recurring and Smart Recurring

Building a healthy recurring program sustains your work for the long term, and our pop-up recurring feature on our forms helps you get started. Pop-up recurring asks people who make a one-time donation to you if they’d like to turn that one-time donation into a monthly one. This feature is automatically on for all of our forms because it’s an easy way for groups on ActBlue to begin growing their recurring contributions. While pop-up recurring is turned on by default, groups can also turn on our Smart Recurring feature to automatically ask donors who make a one-time contribution to start an additional and smaller recurring donation to your campaign.

How to level up: We have default language for these pop-ups, but it makes all the difference for you to add your own title and ask. Whether pop-up recurring or Smart Recurring, this is a great opportunity for you to explain in your own voice how important recurring donations are for you. Even better? You can add an image or GIF to the pop-up to really make an impression. Another great strategy is letting donors know you’re sending a sticker to people who sign up to be monthly sustainers of your work!

PopUp Example 1

PopUp Example 1

Account Updater

After doing the hard work of growing your recurring program, you don’t want old and lost credit cards to be the reason you lose donations. We launched an integration with Account Updater in late 2016 that automatically updates lost and expired credit cards used for recurring contributions, saving you and your donors time and effort. It’s a really impactful integration that benefits all campaigns and organizations, so we make sure it comes standard for every single group on our platform (no extra charge!).

Account Updater Graph

These automated features are already running on our platform to give campaigns and organizations the fundraising advantage they need to build people-powered movements. When fundraising’s stressful for you, our goal is taking care of the technology so your digital work is easier and more successful. Curious to know more or need some help customizing these features? You can reach out to us at support@actblue.com.

How to retain (and love) your grassroots donors

One of the smartest and most exciting strategies your organization can implement right now is prioritizing existing donors! Reaching fundraising goals can be much more than finding *new* donors. Making donor retention a key part of your fundraising program helps you build strong, lasting relationships with your incredible supporters that lead to more money raised over the long term. Your small-dollar donors are your most passionate advocates and investors in your mission, so treat them as the valued stakeholders they are! And donor retention doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some tips for showing your supporters some love and motivating them to stay in this movement with you.

Start off on the right foot with a welcome email series

Welcome emails are a great way to show people who are new to your email list that they’re part of something bigger! These emails are the foundation on which you’ll build relationships with grassroots supporters, so you’ll want to put in the time to craft content that makes people want to stick around and take action.

What’s the anatomy of a strong welcome email series? From the get go, the content of your welcome emails should reiterate that by joining your list, supporters are joining a community of critical participants for your cause, like this welcome email from Sunrise does:

Sunrise Welcome Email

Let your supporters know how they can begin taking specific actions, whether it’s donating, signing a petition, volunteering, or sharing on social media. Sunrise provides links for action steps to make participating as easy as possible.

You can set a precedent for honest, respectful communication by laying out to subscribers what kinds of emails you’ll send their way, like Grist does below. Additionally, think about giving supporters an easy way to unsubscribe from your email list or linking to subscription preferences like Grist does. (Giving an easy opt-out from the start also keeps your list healthy and clean from inactive subscribers, and your future self might just thank you later).

Grist Welcome Email

Make appreciation your bread and butter

Make it a point to say “thank you!” Appreciate your small-dollar donors by letting them know they’re an irreplaceable part of your larger mission. You can immediately begin showing donors your appreciation by automating donation receipts that acknowledge gifts. AB Charities already sends automated receipts to donors for you, but you can (and should) customize the “thank you” text in these receipts. With automated, customized receipts, you ensure every grassroots gift is acknowledged and every donor leaves the giving process feeling special and important to your cause.

Saying “thank you” after someone donates is important, but appreciating your supporters in all pieces of communication for sticking with you is just as important. Keep gratitude and respect at the crux of your fundraising program by thanking supporters in every email you send. Whether a fundraising email or a newsletter, a line at the end saying “thank you” shows people they’re part of your work — and your organization knows it!

Go beyond asking for money

When a big goal of your program is building lasting relationships with donors, send non-fundraising emails that share high-quality, approachable, and timely content with your supporters. Your emails should aim to engage people so they want to stay on your list, hear from you, and invest in your cause for the long term. Many of your emails can be cultivation emails — non-fundraising emails meant to share compelling content — so you’re not only sending hard fundraising asks. With thoughtful cultivation emails, you can engage folks as partners in the fight for your cause rather than solely as piggy banks.

Try sending cultivation emails entirely dedicated to saying “thank you.” Do you have exciting numbers and accomplishments to share? You can use a thank you email as a moment to emphasize the impact of gifts and express appreciation for your donors’ actions. And you don’t have to sacrifice fundraising, either — leave an easy donate button at the bottom of the email for people who are compelled to give. Here’s an example of a great thank you email from United We Dream:

United We Dream Thank You Email

Another possible way to engage supporters is asking for their input and opinions to let them know their voices are central to your movement. Many organizations send surveys, but Friends of the Earth checked in with their list by asking people if they could make a special volunteer call to discuss advancing climate change legislation:

Friends of the Earth Volunteer Call Email

Be ready to support donors who need help

An enjoyable giving process also means having the donor support to quickly solve donation problems. Make sure you have the infrastructure to address the needs and concerns of donors. That’s why AB Charities has a dedicated donor support team that spends one-on-one time with donors having trouble. Your fundraising platform should also offer tools for frictionless donations. For example, AB Charities has a free integration with Account Updater to automatically update credit card numbers so recurring donations don’t stop even when cards are lost or expired!

With these tips in mind, you’re ready to begin building lasting relationships with small-dollar donors passionate about powering your work and sustaining your movement for the long haul. Relationship management can feel intimidating, so our team is always happy to jump on a one-on-one call with you to help your organization retain (and love) your donors!

The easiest design guide for high-impact form brandings!

You may have heard: We completely upgraded how brandings are created and edited on ActBlue! No matter your digital skills or design background, you can make gorgeous brandings right in the form editor. But with far more creative freedom and customization options comes far more power. You may need some time to get familiar with every corner of our new and improved branding editor, so we’ve compiled digestible design tips to help you get your footing and tackle form brandings with confidence.

Below are some design principles for creating beautiful brandings that drive donors to give. After the design principles we’ve included templates for successful brandings. To skip ahead to the templates, use these links:

Design 101: What to keep your eyes on

Before you begin tinkering around with the branding editor, it’s helpful to know the basics of good design. Design isn’t just about how something looks: Just like the language you use to move supporters to give, design is a big communication tool that can empower small-dollar donors. The goal of your form is to encourage donations, so your design choices should be intentional about making it easy for supporters to give (despite the temptation to let your inner Picasso run wild). When creating your form branding, keep in mind the following design principles so that your design matches your messaging and moves people to click the donate button.

Composition

  • Composition describes how all the different elements of your design work together as a whole. We mean it when we say less is more for understanding your branding’s composition. Strive to include only the most important design elements that encourage donations and keep your form clean and easy to read.

  • White space is your friend! White space is the unmarked space of your composition. It gives each element breathing room so your form doesn’t appear too cluttered!

Color

  • If you already have brand colors, your form is the perfect place to flaunt them! If you’re just choosing them, you can find inspiration in colors associated with your organization’s cause or your campaign’s hometown. (If you need a starting block for choosing colors, this free online color tool generates color schemes.)

  • You don’t need the whole rainbow to make your form stand out. First stick with a few of your brand’s most important colors. When using multiple colors together, there’s a helpful 60-30-10 design rule that recommends you combine colors in the proportion of 60%–30%–10%. (The biggest section goes to the dominant color, 30% goes to a secondary color, and 10% goes to an accent color.) Don’t fret about the math too much, though — the point is to be mindful of how multiple colors work together in harmony! You can explore other tips on color in this article.

  • Remember your supporters: Color can detract from your form’s accessibility. With red and green color blindness as the most common form of color blindness, try avoiding red and green as significant emphasis colors.

  • And aim for a high contrast design. Contrast (how the color of your font reads on the color of the background) significantly affects whether people of various eyesight abilities can read your text. An easy way to create contrast is pairing a light and dark color! When you pair colors that are too similar, your contrast decreases, and the text appears faint or fuzzy. Test out font colors against different background colors to see which combinations pass or fail at accessibility and legibility standards.

Font

  • Stick to one or two fonts to keep your form looking polished.

  • Which fonts? The branding editor comes with a “System” font already selected as default for all forms, as well as other common fonts. The pre-selected “System” font has already been optimized for screen legibility and loading speed. You should use this “System” font and the other ones available in the branding editor to your advantage instead of scouring the internet for custom fonts!

  • Next, think about the typeface you’d like to use to match your messaging. There are two main typefaces people choose from: serif fonts that have decorative details at the end of letter strokes, and sans-serif fonts that lack the decorative details.

Serif and sans-serif fonts

Serif fonts like Times New Roman seem traditional and bookish, while sans-serif fonts like Montserrat appear modern and informal.

Fonts used in a sentence

  • Why not both? You can try delegating serif for the title font and sans-serif for the donation ask font, or vice-versa. Explore this font-pairing website to see font combinations in action and possibly find the font pair you want!

  • Save bold for when you need to emphasize information.

  • When in doubt, choose grayscale font colors: shades of gray that sit between white and black. Opting for grayscale colors can keep your design simple and sleek while letting accent colors stand out. Plus, there’s nothing more legible than a black font!

Winning combinations (and how to make them)

The new branding editor comes with so many great customization options, but you only need to use a few to make some beautiful, successful brandings. Here are a few easy recipes for success that you can follow to a T to craft a form branding that looks like (and rakes in) a million bucks. We’ve labeled all of the elements in the branding editor that you need to use to create brandings like these!

Branding Level: Easy

Branding Level: Easy image

Branding Level: Medium

Branding Level: Medium image

Branding Level: Picture Perfect

Branding Level: Picture Perfect image

Changing Default Blue Colors

Changing Default Blue Colors image

Spring cleaning: Spiff up your digital fundraising

From meeting monthly goals to meeting a news moment with rapid response, digital fundraising can get hectic. But with spring in full bloom, embrace the spring cleaning mood and check up on your grassroots fundraising program. Now’s the time to sharpen the digital tools that may have collected dust so your fundraising doesn’t stall in big moments. Here’s a rundown of what to tidy up right now to make your program stronger for the long haul.

Clean up the basics

First things first, double-check and update your default contribution form! Every campaign and organization on ActBlue is set up with a default form, which most supporters find when they search for you in our directory. Take this moment to refresh your form with your most up-to-date branding and a clear donation ask that’s relevant to your current messaging. Don’t forget that you can also A/B test your forms to figure out which elements on your form drive your donors to give.

Then make sure you’re nailing the details of your donors’ giving experience, from beginning to end. Take some extra time to freshen up the brandings on the form on your website’s homepage and other forms with high traffic. Beyond forms, do your *email receipts* have up-to-date brandings, too? It’s easy to forget about what happens to donors after they give, but you can finish the donation process with care by customizing the thank you text on your email receipt. And it doesn’t end there: Many of your invested supporters will want to share on social media that they gave to you. If you haven’t already, put in some time to make your social share pop, so excited donors fill their personal networks with your compelling images and messaging! You can even reuse social share settings on future forms and save time in big moments. And if you don’t think you have the digital chops to pull it off, we made this simple template for you to use.

Tidy up your email list!

Declutter your email list by keeping the engaged supporters and letting go of the inactive ones. If you’re an admin who sends regular emails to a growing list, keeping your list healthy and updated with only active subscribers gives you stronger returns on fundraising. It’s hard to let go of subscribers, but a more active list (that might be smaller) leads to more opens and donations. Metrics like open rates also affect whether your emails end up in the inbox purgatory of Gmail’s Promotions tab — or worse, spam.

How do you figure out who to unsubscribe? If you’re sending fundraising emails on a weekly basis or more, it’s generally good practice to unsubscribe people on your list who have not opened your emails for more than 90 days, which is the standard measure of inactivity. Once you’ve grouped them together, you can send them a courtesy email to let them know you’ve unsubscribed them and give them an option to resubscribe!

Give your fundraising a quick lift with these easy tools

Spring cleaning is also the perfect moment for you to implement tools that you’ve been too busy to try out but that can help grow your fundraising! Here are two simple tools you can quickly put to work to level up your program. First, turn on our Smart Recurring feature to encourage donors to support you for the long run. Smart Recurring automatically asks donors who make a one-time contribution to also start a smaller recurring donation to your campaign or organization. It helps you build a recurring donor program that will sustain your campaign for months — and our algorithms do all the math for you!

Second, add a *personal* touch to your remarketing email to encourage supporters to finish their donation! Our remarketing feature automatically sends a reminder email to supporters who didn’t completely finish their donation, but you can (and should) customize this email text. Personalizing allows you to explain how they’ll make a difference by completing their donation to your specific campaign or organization.

Lastly, and most importantly, keep your account’s security squeaky clean

Your security is our priority, and we’ve made it easier than ever for you to bolster your ActBlue account with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA adds an extra level of protection to your login by requiring you to enter two independent pieces of verification that confirm your identity when logging in. If you have already set up 2FA but haven’t downloaded backup codes, now’s the time to do so and store them in a secure place (like a password manager)! In a world of increasing cyber attacks, being proactive in securing your account is the most important task in cleaning up your fundraising.

With this quick scrub, you’ve refreshed the basics of your program and set up your grassroots fundraising for long-term success. If you realize there’s most dust than you thought, you can always reach us at support@actblue.com to help get the spring cleaning going!

Need more hours in the day? Press pause to be more productive.

This is a guest post written by Janice Chan, who often writes for our friends at Wethos over at The Wethos Collective blog. In over a decade in the nonprofit sector, Janice has written fundraising appeals and grant proposals, led social media outreach, managed volunteers, executed rollout plans, managed donor and program databases, and learned the hard way that changing to a new website host means you’d better make sure that donation form still works!

wethos

Feeling burned out? I know this sounds counterintuitive, but put aside your to-do list for 30 minutes. Turn off your notifications, hide your phone, if need be, hide yourself in a conference room where your coworkers can’t find you. (Okay, maybe tell one person who understands the true meaning of the word emergency. You know, in case there is a fire or something.)

Then use that 30 minutes to brainstorm ways that you can get more hours back in your day. It takes time to make time. What would make it easier/less frustrating to do your job? Review everything currently on your to-do list and ask yourself these three questions.

Do you actually need to do this?

The quickest way to get back time is to go down your list and ask, of each item, “What will be lost by NOT doing this?”

At the micro level, this can be steps in a process. One low-lift example: Can you streamline an approval process? Maybe certain people only need to sign off if certain criteria are in play.

At micro and macro levels, re-evaluate wants vs. needs — just as you would with your budget. Maybe you want to run more events to attract new donors, but maybe what you really need to do is focus on continuing to build relationships with grassroots donors. Or maybe you want to revamp your website, but what you really need is a better digital strategy. Perhaps it is worth engaging a team of digital strategists to help you assess what items will have the most impact.

Do you need to do this?

Are you the only person who can do this? It can be scary to let go of things that you’re good at, or that you’ve always done. At the same time, it can be incredibly freeing not to shoulder a particular responsibility all by your lonesome. For example, to go on vacation and know that other people can handle things.

As you go down your list, consider whether any of these items could be good growth opportunities for a colleague. Or, perhaps, it is a tedious task that needs to be done but could be a little more evenly distributed than it currently is. What’s holding you back from delegating? Another low-lift strategy would be writing up a how-to guide (which is also important knowledge management, should you ever win the Powerball) or taking a screencast or training others. Ensuring organizational continuity is always time well spent now to free up your time later on.

Remember to leverage all the people on your team. For example, is your board fundraising? If not, perhaps it’s time to talk to board members about expectations.

Trying to figure out something new? Your nonprofit is probably not the first organization to tackle this challenge. For example, your cause is suddenly thrust into the news and the spotlight, and you need to come up with a fundraising plan yesterday! Or, you could take a page from these best practices in rapid response fundraising from AB Charities.

Is heavier lifting required?

Sometimes it is worth examining the opportunity cost of you doing X, when you could be making a bigger impact in other areas. Maybe you’d like to keep your hand on the wheel, but could get there faster with help, whether it’s extra hands or a particular skill set your team needs support with. There’s no shame in raising your hand — in fact, it requires maturity and confidence to ask for help. It’s what we often encourage others to do.

Admittedly, it can be challenging to ask for help when you’re not sure what you need. Wethos collaborative teams and the AB Charities team are always ready to support you and can even help you figure out what is needed.

Could this be accomplished differently?

We are often so busy getting things done that we forget to pick our heads up and survey the changing landscape — and sometimes we miss things, like technology that might make our jobs and lives easier!

Things you can do this week

Compound time saved with smarter habits

  • Are you asking for every single gift? Learn why you should ask for recurring donations and how AB Charities makes this simple and automatic (for you and your donors).

  • Does this need to be done in the office? Offices can be great for collaboration-heavy projects, but they are full of distractions. When you need to focus on a thinking-heavy project, perhaps it would be better to work off-site.

  • Should this be a meeting or an email or a phone call? Do everybody a favor and make a habit of asking this question regularly!

Invest upfront to multiply your time later

And if it is a thorny project that desperately needs to be tackled? Engaging a collaborative team of experts can help get you over a large one-time hurdle while also providing an opportunity to gain expertise you don’t currently have in-house.

Overwhelmed? Start somewhere, start anywhere — just start!

One pause and one deep breath can lead to another. I wrote this down so that you can come back to the resources and ideas. No need to tackle this all at once. Or alone — the AB Charities team is always available to help you with your digital fundraising, and Wethos collaborative teams are available to support you with a broad range of skill sets.

But now when you get overwhelmed, you can ask those three questions: Do I need to do this, do I alone need to be the one to do this, and could this be done a different way?

This post was written for AB Charities in partnership with Wethos and also appears on The Wethos Collective blog.

Save time with reusable social share settings!

When a donor shares the link to your contribution form on social media, they’re introducing your cause to hundreds of potential new supporters. We want you to be able to make the most of these moments, which is why we’ve upgraded our social share feature! In addition to customizing the image and text that appears on Facebook and Twitter when someone posts the link to your form, now you can create default and reusable social share settings for your ActBlue contribution forms. This will save you time and effort for future forms while ensuring your supporters are filling their networks with your messaging and branding!

To create reusable settings, just check the “Make settings reusable” box at the bottom of the “Social share” tab in the form editor after adding the text and image you want. Then give the settings a name.
Reusable social share setting option

 

Once you publish your changes, the next time you go to the “Social share” tab for a contribution form you’ll be able to select the reusable setting in the “Applied reusable settings” dropdown!

 

Applied reusable settings 1

Applied reusable settings 2

 

If you need help creating an image for your social share, check out this blog post!

To set a default social share setting for your campaign or organization, select the reusable setting you want from the dropdown and check the “Set as default” box that appears before publishing your changes.

 

Set as default

 

From then on, all brand-new forms you create will automatically have the default social share settings applied, except for new clones of forms with different settings.

If you decide to make a different reusable setting your default, that setting will only be applied to brand-new future forms, not pre-existing forms that use an old default or new clones of forms with different settings.

We’ve also made it possible to preview your social share text and image together with this upgrade. After customizing your Facebook or Twitter share, just click “Preview” above the image to see your social share setting.

Social share preview

Preview

We hope these improvements will save you time and make customizing your social share settings easier! To get a step-by-step guide to these changes, including how to edit a reusable setting, visit our support website. And if you’re an admin who needs assistance with social share or another aspect of contribution forms, you can always reach us at support@actblue.com!