January ’18 Recap

It’s officially a midterm election year, and small-dollar donors are hitting the ground running. In January, they raised $45,885,947 for Democrats standing up to Republicans and organizations on the left. A record-setting 5,404 groups used our tools, and those campaigns and organizations are laying the groundwork for more victories in 2018. Additionally, we hit 4.5 million ActBlue Express users in January. This is a huge — and continuously growing — pool of grassroots donors across the country who have saved their payment information with us so they can give to groups on ActBlue with a single click.

All of this money and engagement produced another record: we printed more checks to send to campaigns and organizations than in any other month! Our three-person Political Operations Team sent nearly 13,000 checks over the course of the month. That’s almost two and a half times the number of checks we sent in January 2017.

Check out all the highlights from January below:

Topline Numbers

January ’14 January ’16 January ’18
Contributions 223,156 1,213,461 1,334,297
Total Amount $7,975,991 $33,741,624 $45,885,947
Avg. Contribution Size $35.70 $27.56 $34.36
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,603 1,936 5,404

Grassroots donors gave 1,334,297 contributions to campaigns, organizations, and nonprofits in January. That’s over 100,000 more contributions than we saw in January 2016, which kicked off a presidential election year. The total dollar amount raised also increased by a whopping 36% from January 2016. Concerned citizens and activists are doubling down on the midterms.

Amount Raised in January by Year

We’re also seeing impressive growth in the number of groups using our tools every month. January 2018 was the biggest month for new entities signing up to use our tools since 2012: nearly 1,200 campaigns and organizations submitted account setup requests.

Many of the new groups were state and local candidates, including 42 in Michigan, 20 in West Virginia, 24 in North Carolina, and 20 in Texas. Democrats are building robust down-ticket benches across the country.

New State and Local Candidates Signed Up in January

Express

January ’14 January ’16 January ’18
New Express Users 18,764 171,614 80,861
% of Total Volume via Express 47.6% 66.5% 59.8%
% of Contributions via Express 55.2% 70.6% 64.0%

More than 80,000 folks signed up for ActBlue Express in January, pushing the total number of ActBlue Express users over 4.5 million. About two-thirds of all contributions last month came from ActBlue Express users, and as the midterms and important state and local elections approach, this feature will ensure supporters can give to their favorite campaigns and causes without a second thought.

ActBlue Express Growth

Mobile

January ’14 January ’16 January ’18
% of Contributions via Mobile 19.2% 37.4% 42.6%
% Mobile for
ActBlue Express Users
22.0% 40.2% 42.9%

Our contribution forms are automatically mobile-optimized so that campaigns and organizations can reach supporters at all times and on any device. In January, 42.6% of all contributions on ActBlue were made via mobile. Mobile giving is only going to continue growing, so everyone — from candidates for school board to national advocacy organizations — needs to make mobile a core part of their fundraising strategy or risk missing out on contributions.

Recurring

January ’14 January ’16 January ’18
Total Recurring Volume $739,220 $7,437,024 $11,428,202
% of Total Volume 9.3% 22.0% 24.9%

Recurring contributions made up 24.9% of total volume in January. As we prepare for the extremely consequential midterms, recurring contributions will make it possible for Democrats from coast to coast to compete with the GOP’s mega-donors right up to Election Day.

Customer Service

January ’18
Total Incoming Calls 10,653
Email Conversations 24,510

Grassroots donors threw down the gauntlet in January. While the Koch brothers and other big spenders think their millions will protect Republicans this fall, we know that our people power has a bigger impact. If you want help fundraising for your favorite candidate or want to set up an ActBlue account for your organization, or if you have questions about this post, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com.

New year, new contribution form editor

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

Here’s how it works:

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

 

menu

 

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

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

 

editor

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

pop-up

 

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

 

discard

 

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

 

different views

 

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

 

forms

 

forms

 

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

November ’17 Recap

We continued to see incredible growth this November. More groups used our tools than ever before, and small-dollar donors raised 2.7 times more money than in November 2015. Some of this growth even outpaced historical patterns: Supporters raised more money in November than they did in October for the first time since 2011.

Folks had many reasons to be motivated, from the major Democratic gains in state and local elections on November 7 to the special Senate election in Alabama this week. The month also ended with one of the biggest fundraising days of the year: Giving Tuesday, the charitable response to Black Friday.

Check out all the highlights from November below:

Topline Numbers

November ’13 November ’15 November ’17
Contributions 194,232 628,036 1,362,751
Total Amount $7,575,727 $18,109,714 $49,174,649
Avg. Contribution Size $39.00 $28.84 $36.08
Unique campaigns, committees,
and organizations
1,484 1,841 4,771

A record-breaking 4,771 campaigns and organizations raised money on our platform last month. A lot of this growth came from the unprecedented number of people choosing to run for office.
Additionally, small-dollar donors made nearly 100,000 more contributions in November than they did in October 2017, even though October benefitted from final Election Day pushes.

On Giving Tuesday, we saw clear spikes in contributions at certain hours. The chart below shows the number of new contributions to both 501(c)3s and 501(c)4s on the big day by hour (Eastern Standard Time). Donations started off early at 7 a.m. and spiked at 3 p.m., but the busiest hours by far were after the end of the traditional working day. There was a massive bump at 7 p.m. and another at 11 p.m. as supporters tried to get their donations in before the deadline.

Giving Tuesday New Contributions By Hour

Express

November ’13 November ’15 November ’17
New Express Users 14,862 51,862 58,367
% of Total Volume via Express 41.6% 60.2% 53.4%
% of Contributions via Express 52.9% 68.6% 59.4%

Mobile

November ’13 November ’15 November ’17
% of Contributions via Mobile 18.4% 32.1% 40.7%
% Mobile for
ActBlue Express Users
21.5% 35.0% 41.2%

Our automatically mobile-optimized contribution forms help empower grassroots donors during big moments. When a candidate or organization launches a rapid response campaign, mobile-optimized forms allow donors to give quickly, no matter what device they’re using. With 40.7% of all contributions made via mobile last month, groups that aren’t thinking with a mobile-first mindset will miss out on a huge number of contributions, especially during breaking news.

Recurring

November ’13 November ’15 November ’17
Total Recurring Volume $621,341 $5,569,388 $10,519,004
% of Total Volume 8.2% 30.8% 21.4%

This November, 21.4% of all contributions were recurring. As we’re not even a full year into Trump’s presidency, recurring donations are more important than ever so that the groups opposing his policies have the funds they need to stay in the fight.

Customer Service

November ’17
Total Incoming Calls 8,020
Email Conversations 22,088

Our Customer Service team received over 22,000 emails in November — that’s more emails than there are people in Concord, Massachusetts, where the Revolutionary War started!

December is already proving to be busy, with important fights over government spending, DACA recipients, and children’s health care. And nonprofits are in the thick of their busiest season of the year. We expect to be busy right through New Year’s Eve. If you want help perfecting your end-of-year fundraising strategy or planning for next year, or if you have questions about this post, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com.

Election Day 2017: Wins at the state and local level, fueled by the grassroots

Hi, I’m Rachael from the Outreach Team at ActBlue, stopping by the blog to talk about the (amazing) outcome we saw this past Election Day. I work with state and local candidates and teach them how to use our platform to build campaigns funded by small-dollar donors. I’ve been traveling across the country in 2017 doing this work, and I’ve gotten to see firsthand the incredible surge of folks getting involved in politics at the state and local level since the 2016 election.

We talk a lot on our blog about the huge impact small-dollar donors have on campaigns and organizations across the country, and we’re proud to make that possible with our tools at ActBlue. The 2017 elections were a great reminder that donors and activists are making a bigger difference than ever, and that when small-dollar donors chip in to support the candidates they care about, those folks have the resources to win their races. During this month’s elections, Democrats picked up Republican seats in deep-red Georgia and flipped control of the legislature in Washington. The first openly transgender woman, Danica Roem, was elected to the Virginia state house. The first black woman, Vi Lyles, was elected mayor of Charlotte, NC, and the first woman, Joyce Craig, was elected mayor of Manchester, the largest city in New Hampshire. And those are just a few of the biggest highlights.

My team and I were excited to see so many of the Democrats we work with have a successful election night. And it was amazing to see voters and activists so invested in campaigns at the state and local level. Why exactly were they so enthusiastic to help out and vote for these candidates? Voters now have a clear picture of how things go when Republicans are in charge, and thankfully, a lot of people took advantage of their first chance to show they don’t approve. What else? People ran for office. It’s that simple. Instead of allowing Republican incumbents to hold on to their power any longer, Democrats came forward to run against them. And these candidates built winning races with help from grassroots donors, who chipped in what they could to support their efforts.

In Virginia specifically, state and local campaigns raised over $12 million in 2017 from over 200K contributions made by small-dollar donors using ActBlue. And that’s compared to over $3.4 million raised from 33K contributions in Virginia’s state and local elections in 2015. (Note: There was not a VA governor’s race in 2015.) And the contributions for this year’s races paid off big time. Political strategists were pretty adamant that Democrats didn’t have any chance to take back the Virginia House this year, but of the 17 seats we needed to flip to win the majority, we flipped 15 and nearly toppled the GOP’s power. And 12 of those 15 candidates beat a Republican incumbent. To top it all off, 100% of the challengers who beat Republican incumbents in Virginia used ActBlue to raise small-dollar donations and build their campaigns from the bottom up.

We’ve been working hard to expand our reach in local jurisdictions this year, so we can help candidates in every race build winning grassroots campaigns, just like they were able to in Virginia. Our compliance staffers have cleared 100 jurisdictions so far in 2017, and those are all places where new candidates can now use ActBlue to fund their campaigns. And as we expand further, staffers like me are getting out on the ground in these areas to train candidates on the best practices of small-dollar fundraising. We truly believe in the power of grassroots donors, and we know candidates can build winning campaigns when their supporters chip in $5 or $10 online. In fact, small-dollar donations are especially impactful at the state and local level where candidates typically don’t need to raise millions of dollars in order to build a winning campaign.

That’s why we’re doing this work — so you can give to local and state campaigns in every election, at every level, and help create real change in your communities. You might not be able to volunteer to knock doors for every race, but you can make a difference in the work being done to bring Democrats and their policies to the state and local level. Groups like Indivisible, Flippable, and Run for Something are great resources for voters and small-dollar donors to learn about important races all over the US. And aside from contributing and volunteering, you can actually run for office. Since the 2016 elections, more groups and resources to support new candidates have sprung up than ever before. We even celebrated the first ever National Run for Office Day this month with Run for Something, where folks at the ActBlue office heard from Boston City Councilor-Elect Lydia Edwards, the first woman to ever hold her seat. It’s becoming clear that if you have the passion and drive you can run for office and you can win. And at ActBlue, we’ve got the tools to help first-time candidates build powerful movements. Who knows, you just may be the next state representative, mayor, or city councilor to go on to become the President of the United States.

We want to hear from you so we can help! Who are you supporting? What are you running for and where? You can check out the local jurisdictions we’ve cleared here. If you’re running for an office that we don’t currently have listed, reach out to us at info@actblue.com and we’ll work to get that cleared. And if you have questions about running for any office from the top of the ticket on down, just drop us a line at info@actblue.com.

October ’17 Recap

Small-dollar donors worked tirelessly on a wide swath of issues this October. Folks prepared for the 2018 midterms, quickly rallied for victims of the devastating wildfires in Napa Valley, and made a hugely successful pre-Election Day push. By the time October ended, candidates, organizations, and nonprofits using our tools had raised $47,600,346 from more than 1.2 million contributions. Additionally, an impressive 4,736 unique groups used our tools, including more local and state candidates than usual.

The hard work that state and local campaigns put in paid off. Democrats won races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey, made huge gains in the House of Delegates in Virginia, and helped elect groundbreaking candidates like the first woman mayor of New Hampshire’s biggest city and the first transgender woman in Virginia’s state house. There were many more victories around the country that would not have been possible without widespread grassroots energy.

Check out all the highlights for October below:

Topline Numbers

October ’13 October ’15 October ’17
Contributions 289,613 667,502 1,263,181
Total Amount $10,289,128 $21,740,256 $47,600,346
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,574 1,937 4,736

Last month small-dollar donors made nearly one million more contributions than in October 2013 and more than doubled the total dollar amount raised via our platform compared to October 2015. It’s a real sign of strength to see so much money go to Democratic candidates and progressive organizations in a non-presidential election cycle.

People all over the country are also facing the GOP head-on by choosing to run for office, and small-dollar donors are stepping up to support them. The number of candidates for local, state, and federal offices using our platform all more than doubled from October 2015 to this year. There were 567 candidates for local office; 1,171 state candidates; and 791 federal candidates raising money via our platform this October.

Number of Candidates Raising by Jurisdiction in October

Donors really see their contributions as an act of resistance. When Ted Cruz compared ActBlue’s platform to the Koch brothers in a televised debate with Bernie Sanders in October, our supporters were quick to correct him on Twitter. They made it clear that they use our tools to stand up to the GOP’s mega-donors by giving to grassroots campaigns.

This event was a great reminder that there’s no limit to the number of ways we can elevate the voices of small-dollar donors. In the chart below, you can see the jump in organic online engagement on Twitter the day of the debate. We even featured some of our favorite tweets from our community in a blog post. If you want to keep up with future breaking news events, you can follow us on Twitter @actblue!

Twitter Engagement

Mobile

October ’13 October ’15 October ’17
% of Contributions via Mobile  19.1% 31.6% 40.7%
% Mobile for
ActBlue Express Users
22.4% 34.3% 41.2%

 

With 40.7% of all contributions and 41.2% of ActBlue Express contributions coming from mobile, October showed us the continued importance of mobile optimization. That’s why ActBlue’s contribution forms are automatically mobile-optimized. It’s vital that donors are able to easily give on whatever device they prefer to use.

Over the past three Octobers, we’ve seen that many donors will only give via mobile. If campaigns and organizations don’t have mobile-first mindsets, they won’t be able to reach all of those supporters. And we only expect the percentage of donors giving via mobile to increase over time.

How Repeat Donors Gave In October By Year

Recurring

October ’13 October ’15 October ’17
Total Recurring Volume  $611,951 $5,684,019 $9,728,299
% of Total Volume 5.9% 26.1% 20.4%

Recurring donations were worth almost $10 million in October and accounted for more than 20% of our total volume. These monthly and weekly contributions give campaigns and organizations a sense of stability by enabling them to plan ahead. That’s why we built an integration with Account Updater that automatically updates expired or replaced credit cards used for recurring contributions, ensuring donations are not interrupted and make it to the campaigns and causes small-dollar donors support. This feature has proven to be increasingly important as hacks of credit card companies and similar organizations become more frequent.

This October, Account Updater saved a significant number of recurring contributions. On average, 13.3% of recurring contributions were updated each day. On the last day of the month, when a large volume of recurring contributions were processed, we peaked at 21.8% updated. These numbers are huge — we typically only update 1% of recurring contributions per month. Overall, 14.1% of all recurring contributions were updated in October, benefiting 2,740 groups. That means Account Updater saved donations for 57.8% of all unique campaigns and organizations on our platform!

Daily Total Saved in October Through Automatically Updated Credit Cards

Express

October ’13 October ’15 October ’17
New Express Users 29,355 79,784 62,044
% of Total Volume via Express 44.8% 61.0% 54.4%
% of Contributions via Express 54.3% 68.5% 62.5%

Customer Service

October ’17
Total Incoming Calls  7,188
Email Conversations  21,782

With such a strong October to kick off Q4, Democratic candidates and progressive organizations are heading into 2018 on a high note. We expect even more small-dollar donor power to be on display on Giving Tuesday as nonprofits head into their busiest giving season of the year. If you’d like help planning your end-of-year giving as an individual donor or as an organization, or if you have any questions about this post, get in touch with us at info@actblue.com!

Getting the most out of #GivingTuesday

The end of 2017 is rapidly approaching, and with that comes holidays, shopping, and something that’s likely on a lot of fundraisers’ minds right now: giving season. Giving Tuesday (November 28th), the official kickoff to giving season, has become a prominent, global day of generosity, falling immediately after big shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s the start to an end-of-year period when people are driven to give back. In 2016 on Giving Tuesday alone, nonprofits raised over $168 million globally, up a whopping 44% from 2015. And the giving won’t stop there — 30% (!!) of all nonprofit giving happens from Giving Tuesday through the end of the year. That adds up to a whole lot of groups making appeals for support on the same day, and a crowded marketplace as you work to hit your fundraising goals.

Folks tend to be feeling generous as the year comes to a close, and some have likely even planned ahead to make charitable contributions in the last month of the year. That’s why nonprofit fundraising teams should plan ahead as well, so you can have a strategy in place to reach those excited supporters multiple times during giving season, when they’re already inclined to chip in.

The more prepared your organization is, the better. If you’re a nonprofit fundraiser, you’ll find our top tips below for preparing your giving season fundraising campaign. As you make progress on your plans, we’re available to answer questions or talk strategy at AB Charities, so let us know how we can help. And if you’re not set up to use our tools yet, there’s still time — most organizations can get set up within a day or two!

  • Decide on a goal and make your donors feel like they’re invested in helping you hit it. You should focus on a measurable, realistic goal that you know your supporters can help you reach — and you should let your donors know about it! When there’s a tangible goal in mind, donors feel more motivated to give and help you succeed.

  • Outline, write, and prepare your content ahead of time. You’ll want to be prepared for both Giving Tuesday and the larger end-of-year push that comes afterwards. Having one or two emails prepared likely won’t be enough content to help you hit your goal. Take some time to brainstorm with your team and think through the different stories you want to tell and what fundraising emails, graphics, social media content, or blog posts you’ll need to get those messages across. And remember that above all, you want to tell a compelling story and incorporate urgency and emotion. Let your donors know why they should care about your work right now, why you need their contribution, and what you’ll be able to do with their donation if they give. You can also prepare thank-you text to send out to donors. AB Charities will send out a receipt automatically when people donate, but you can easily customize that language to thank your donors and add it to your fundraising page ahead of time, so every time a donor contributes they’ll receive your note.

  • Brand your contribution forms for Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday has become a way for supporters to feel like they’re a part of an incredibly large, global movement for positive change. When you brand your contribution forms to show donors that you’re asking for their support as a part of your Giving Tuesday campaign, it can help donors feel even more motivated to make a contribution that will help you reach your goals. Using AB Charities, it’s quick and easy to add a branding to your forms that fits in with the look and feel of your Giving Tuesday campaign. If you have questions about creating a branding find more info here or contact Kiersten from our advocacy team at arnoni [at] actblue [dot] com.

  • Connect with folks in your organization’s community ahead of time and invite them to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising. If you have supporters who are willing to put in a little work for your cause, you can make them an AB Charities contribution form and encourage them to organize their networks by emailing or posting on social media to help broaden your reach. Those folks who are already engaged in your organization’s work can offer compelling appeals for support by telling their personal stories or offering unique perspectives as to why your organization needs their donation. You can also get board members involved and make them their own fundraising pages, so they can keep track of fundraising goals and help you hit them. Your organization’s staffers can log in and check on the progress of the peer-to-peer and board fundraising pages, saving your team a ton of time!

  • Include a pop-up donation ask on your website. With so many donors planning on giving and researching causes they want to support, it’s common for charitable groups to experience high traffic on their websites from Giving Tuesday through the end of the year. Building a pop-up ask into your giving season campaign is a great way to meet your donors where they already are. Using AB Charities, ActBlue Express users can give easily with a single click on your pop-up. This will make it especially simple for donors who access your website via their phone or tablet — no typing in their credit card number to complete a donation.

  • Make a recurring ask to seize the momentum of Giving Tuesday and keep supporters engaged long-term. Many groups focus on bringing in one-time contributions to hit their goals, but we recommend asking for weekly or monthly recurring contributions. Recurring contributions are a great way to capture the excitement of giving season and turn it into long-term success. When you know you have a certain amount of money coming in each week or month from recurring donations, you can budget and plan ahead for the future. With AB Charities, you can set a deadline at the end of the year so donors can contribute a small amount each week from Giving Tuesday on, or you can set recurring contributions to run indefinitely every month, so you can keep the momentum going into the new year. Donors will feel invested in your work and you’ll be able to rely on a steady stream of donations even as giving season comes to a close.

Taking the steps above will help you have a solid plan in place and will set you and your team up for success. AB Charities allows you to track the performance of your contribution forms and how donors are responding to different content, social media asks, or email pitches in real time.

If you’re interested in learning more about our tools, have questions about preparing for Giving Tuesday, or want to run a test between AB Charities and your current platform, just let us know. You can drop Kiersten a line at arnoni [at] actblue [dot] com. We wish you good luck during giving season, and can’t wait to see your fundraising campaigns in action!

Ted Cruz thinks we’re big money

Last night, Ted Cruz mentioned us in a debate about the tax code on CNN with Bernie Sanders. Perhaps not surprisingly, Cruz got his facts wrong. When talking about big money in politics, he compared us to the Koch brothers — some of the biggest Republican mega-donors in the business.

As a nonprofit fundraising platform for the left dedicated to helping small-dollar donors speak truth to power, we were caught off guard by his mistake — and so were the people in our community.

 

Ted lying

 

It was actually kind of funny how wrong he was:

 

Tweet

Tweet

Tweet

Tweet

Tweet

 

In case Ted Cruz is still confused, here are some tweets that explain what we do from some of the amazing small-dollar donors and grassroots activists who use ActBlue:

 

Tweet

Tweet

Tweet

Tweet

Tweet

 

Better luck next time, Ted.

 

Tweet

 

In the meantime, we’ll be actively empowering small-dollar donors so they can fuel the organizations and causes they care about and power Democrats to victory in 2018, 2020, and beyond.

Q3 2017: Unprecedented engagement across the board

2017 has been a huge year for fundraising on the left as more Americans make fighting back against Trump and the GOP part of their daily lives. We knew there was a lot of momentum going into Q3 but wondered if the summer would slow anyone down. The numbers show the resistance is still going strong. We helped raise $108,108,700 for Democratic campaigns, progressive organizations, and nonprofits doing hurricane relief work — nearly double what we helped raise during the same period in the 2016 election cycle — from 3,178,688 contributions.

Organizations large and small worked tirelessly to respond to Trump’s DACA repeal and congressional Republicans’ attempts to replace the ACA, and an historic number of folks decided to run for office. All of this work was powered by small-dollar donors giving to the causes and candidates they believe in. As a result, a record-breaking 5,225 groups raised money on ActBlue in Q3 — more than ever before in our history.

This surge of activity helped break another record. By the end of Q3, campaigns and organizations using our tools had raised over $350 million since the beginning of the calendar year, despite the fact that midterms are still more than a year away. The only other time we’ve handled $350 million in an election cycle was in the most recent election. We hit that mark in March 2016, 13 months into a very active presidential race. Donors are participating at unprecedented levels, and candidates are laying the groundwork they need to run strong campaigns up and down the ticket in 2018 and beyond.

Topline Numbers

Q3 ’13 Q3 ‘15 Q3 ‘17
Contributions 637,923 1,785,889 3,178,688
Total amount $23,154,693 $57,200,756 $108,108,700
Unique campaigns, committees,
and organizations
1,826 2,259 5,225

The number of unique groups using our platform more than doubled from Q3 2015 and even increased by 21.7% from Q2 of this year. Specifically, more candidates are jumping into the ring earlier than ever before and focusing on raising money from small-dollar donors to fuel their campaigns. We’ve seen growth at all levels of office this quarter:

There were 658 local candidates and committees raising money on our platform in Q3, which is 4.6 times higher than Q3 in 2013 and more than double our Q3 2015 total. Our team has been busy clearing local jurisdictions so that more candidates for offices like city council and school board can run people-powered campaigns and make a difference in their communities right now.
1,026 candidates for governor, state house, and state senate used our tools this quarter. That’s nearly double the amount of candidates compared to this time in 2015.
A total of 804 candidates for federal House and Senate seats were raising money from small-dollar donors in Q3, three times as many as in the last two election cycles.

And progress isn’t limited to elections: 293 (c)4 advocacy organizations raised money this quarter. The following graph shows just how many more groups were raising in Q3 than at the same point in the last few election cycles.

Daily Running Total of Campaigns, Committees, and Organizations Using ActBlue

This trajectory shows us that people are extremely engaged, and at ActBlue we’re working hard to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed. Our integration with Account Updater, which we offer at no additional cost, is one of those tools. If a donor has a recurring contribution on ActBlue and loses their card or their credit card company issues them a new one, this feature updates their card information automatically.

September was a particularly good month for Account Updater, with 17.4% of recurring contributions being updated with a new card. (For comparison, we usually update around 1% of recurring contributions per month.) Updates in September alone ensured that $859,466 worth of small-dollar contributions made it to the campaigns and organizations donors wanted to support, at no extra cost to those groups or donors. In the graph below, you can see the total amount of money saved by Account Updater since we started using the integration.

Cumulative Total Saved Through Automatically Updated Credit Cards

Major Moments

Q3 was full of difficult days for our nation. From natural disasters to crises created by Trump and the GOP, small-dollar donors channeled their sorrow and disgust into action. The graph below shows our daily fundraising totals for the quarter, along with the biggest news stories of the last three months.

The biggest days of the quarter were the end of each month and the end-of-quarter deadline, which are traditionally the most important fundraising days of the year. But the health care fight in July also led to an uptick in support, as did the hurricanes that hit at the end of August and September. Supporters who had previously given via ActBlue forms were able to quickly give to disaster relief organizations on AB Charities through Tandem forms, which allow donors to split one contribution between several groups. We saw a steady bump in traffic in the days following those natural disasters as more and more news came out about relief efforts. Overall, 31,448 small-dollar donors gave to charities through Tandem forms and 274 charities raised money on AB Charities in Q3.

ActBlue Q3 Daily Fundraising

ActBlue Express

Q3 ‘13 Q3 ‘15 Q3 ‘17
Total ActBlue Express users 644,425 1,740,943 4,199,621
New ActBlue Express users 63,481 266,885 189,331
Total ActBlue Express dollars $10,200,369 $34,240,878 $64,516,271
% of total contributions via ActBlue Express users 51.9% 66.4% 66.3%

Making giving as frictionless as possible is crucial to the success of fundraising campaigns. ActBlue Express enables more than 4 million small-dollar donors to give to any group on our platform with a single click, and its importance is reflected in this quarter’s numbers. ActBlue Express users raised $64,516,271 in Q3, almost double their haul in 2015. There were also 189,331 donors who signed up for ActBlue Express this quarter.

Recurring Contributions

Q3 ‘13 Q3 ‘15 Q3 ‘17
% of total contributions via recurring 13.4% 43.5% 46.3%
Total recurring dollars $1,554,307 $13,715,929 $24,984,209

Recurring contributions help campaigns and organizations plan for the long haul. This quarter, 46.3% of total contributions came from recurring donations. After the devastating hurricane season, we were heartened to see people ask for recurring donations to support relief efforts. Donors often want to give in those moments, and a recurring ask can create a more sustainable recovery effort.

Mobile

Q3 ‘13 Q3 ‘15 Q3 ‘17
% of contributions via mobile 14.4% 30.4% 41.0%
% of contributions via mobile for
ActBlue Express users
17.6% 33.1% 42.4%

41% of all contributions this quarter were made via mobile, and because ActBlue Express donors can easily give on any device, 42.4% of ActBlue Express contributions were mobile as well. Additionally, 5.4% of all mobile contributions were made via Apple Pay (70,490 contributions in total). It’s clear that anyone doing digital organizing today needs to be using a mobile-first mindset. With a president who likes to govern by tweet, mobile optimization is more important than ever.

Q3 was a true success thanks to the emerging deep bench of Democratic candidates and passionate organizers around the country. We’re thrilled to help so many people-powered movements fundraise online. And we expect Q4 to bring even more small-dollar donors into the fold, with campaigns continuing to build for 2018, state elections in Virginia in November, and Giving Tuesday just a few weeks later. If you have any questions about our tools or need advice on how to use them, contact us at info@actblue.com.

August ’17 Recap

Small-dollar donors didn’t take a summer vacation from the resistance. Instead, they doubled down on grassroots fundraising for timely causes and future elections — literally. The total money donors gave using ActBlue’s tools in August 2017 was more than double the total we handled in August of the last election cycle.

Even more exciting, more campaigns, committees, and organizations used our tools last month than in any other month in our history, with over 4,000 groups raising money in August.

To top it all off, as of August 28th we’ve already helped candidates and organizations raise over $300 million for this election cycle. This is the first time that’s ever happened in an off-year! It took 663 days to pass $300 million in the 2014 cycle; 426 days in the 2016 cycle; and only 240 days this cycle!

Check out all the highlights for August below:

Topline Numbers

August ’13 August ’15 August ’17
Contributions 155,517 526,028 1,019,563
Total Amount $5,818,391 $15,370,889 $32,205,903
Avg. Contribution Size $37.41 $29.22 $31.59
Unique Campaigns, Committees,
and Organizations
1,305 1,632 4,021

Candidates and organizations raised over $32 million in August from over one million contributions. The number of contributions nearly doubled from August 2015 to this year, but the metric we’re most inspired by is the breadth of candidates and organizations using ActBlue’s tools compared to past years. Now more than ever, Americans are organizing for a brighter future.

This was especially apparent when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and Louisiana at the end of the month. Candidates and organizations around the country jumped into action to support the relief efforts before the storm even ended. Elected officials from Massachusetts to California, progressive organizations, and nonprofits asked their supporters and friends to contribute to slates of local nonprofits in the affected areas by using Tandem Fundraising. This ActBlue feature lets donors split a single contribution among several groups, like humane societies, diaper banks, and community foundations.

We were excited to see how easy Tandem Fundraising made giving during the crisis. Our Outreach Team quickly connected with organizations responding to the storm and helped 32 charities raise their first dollar ever on ActBlue through Tandem forms. The surge in Tandem donations can be seen in the graph below. Additionally, four of the five highest-grossing contribution forms across ActBlue for the last week of August were Tandem forms supporting local nonprofits doing Harvey relief work.

Proportion of ActBlue Charities Raising on Tandem Forms
 

ActBlue Express

August ’13 August ’15 August ’17
New ActBlue Express Users 13,026 74,798 60,618
% of Total Volume
via ActBlue Express Users
45% 59.8% 60.7%
% of Contributions
via ActBlue Express Users
 53.0% 65.9% 66.5%

It was a big month for ActBlue Express. Over 60,000 new users signed up for the time-saving feature, which allows donors to give to any campaign or organization with a single click. Almost two-thirds of all contributions sitewide were made by ActBlue Express users last month, showing how important the tool is to donors and organizations alike.

Going deeper into our data, we found that 65.6% of all new donors in August became ActBlue Express users, the highest percentage since January (67.3%). This conversion is very encouraging because summer months are typically slower than politically charged moments like the inauguration.

New ActBlue Express Sign-Ups in August 2017 by Day
 

Mobile

August ’13 August ’15 August ’17
% of Contributions via Mobile  9.4% 29.8% 41.0%
% Mobile for
ActBlue Express Users
12.6% 32.4% 42.1%

Recurring

August ’13 August ’15 August ’17
Total Recurring Volume  $502,669  $4,557,742  $8,095,870
% of Total Volume  8.6%  29.7%  25.1%

We processed more than $8 million in recurring donations in August. When donors make recurring contributions, they enable campaigns and organizations to plan for the long haul. People who signed up for a recurring contribution in August to help hurricane relief will be supporting that crucial work for months to come, even when the headlines have moved on.

Customer Service

August ’17
Total Incoming Calls 6,167
Email Conversations 19,151

Our Customer Service Team handled an average of 198 calls per day last month. Their dedication is one of the many reasons why so many new groups continue to sign up to use our tools.

It might be hard to believe, but we’re officially more than halfway through Trump’s first year in office. The good news is that small-dollar donors and the organizations and campaigns they believe in are not slowing down. We can’t wait to see what they achieve with all of their hard work by the end of this quarter. In the meantime, if you have questions or comments about our August recap, you can reach a member of our team at info@actblue.com.

ActBlue interns weigh in on their experience

We hire a team of paid interns every semester at ActBlue, who are interested in everything from politics to law to writing and marketing. They come to us from varying college majors, hometowns, and backgrounds, and they bring unique perspectives and ideas to the ActBlue team. It’s our goal to help them learn the ins and outs of ActBlue and show them what it’s like to work in politics, as well as within the larger grassroots movement. Perhaps most importantly, they’re able to explore how their own interests and skills can play a role in their political work.

I can speak to the intern experience first-hand, since I myself started interning at ActBlue in 2014. The work I did was extremely rewarding — I knew that every task I completed played a part in the larger mission of ActBlue, and I also knew that I was gaining some great experience to take with me after college. I started as an intern during the summer before my senior year of college as a writing and literature major. I knew I wanted to write, but I also had a passion for politics and I had no idea those interests could intersect so perfectly. Before I started with ActBlue, I didn’t know that the job I’m currently doing existed. When I thought about working in politics, I only thought about actually running for office or working on a campaign. I didn’t realize the scope of the work being done, or how fulfilling that work could be, but my internship introduced me to a host of new opportunities and ways I could make a difference.

Since I graduated, I’ve been a full-time staffer, working with our Marketing Team and building a career in digital organizing. That means I’m now on the other side of the internship program, and it’s been amazing to see how excited our interns are about Democratic politics and how inspired they are by the strength of the small-dollar donor movement. They’re the kind of enthusiastic, passionate activists that are going to play a big role in all the work we’ll be doing on the left in the coming years and we’re grateful we can be a part of their stories.

Jess, Deb, and Monika worked on our Customer Service, Marketing, and Outreach teams. They’re moving on from ActBlue to new adventures in the fall, so we chatted with each of them to hear about their experiences.

 

 

Jess:

It’s been extremely rewarding to see the incredible ways ActBlue’s platform has been able to support the resistance. I’ve seen first-hand that people are not sitting by and letting this country fall at the hands of Trump and the GOP. They’re running for office. They’re donating to really great candidates. They’re starting PACs and advocacy organizations, and they’re building powerful networks of small-dollar donors who can respond to attacks on things like our healthcare within hours. It’s been really eye-opening to see the power of grassroots organizing and it reminds me that all hope is not lost.

Deb:

During my internship, I had to juggle multiple projects with different demands and time commitments. I got to expand on my abilities to prioritize and multitask, while also learning how to design projects on my own. But my favorite part of being an ActBlue intern was the exposure I got to the national political landscape from right here in Somerville, Mass. Each team at ActBlue plays a unique part in the political process, and I’m so grateful to have been able to see things from different angles throughout my time here.

Monika:

When I started interning last year, I wanted to find a workplace where I could play an active role in Democratic politics in the months leading up to the election, while still being able to develop my personal and professional interests. I’ve been exposed to so many different organizations and individuals who are doing really great advocacy work throughout the country. I’ve been able to expand my view of nonprofits who work in this space, but I’ve also been able to develop my own intentions and ambitions as I move forward in my career.


The energy and drive we see in our interns every semester is inspiring to all of us, and a sure sign of all the great activism and work that’s going to be done in the upcoming years.

We’ve already completed the intern hiring process for the fall, but should be accepting applications for spring interns in mid-to-late October. If you’re interested in applying, we encourage you to check back. Aside from all the great experience they receive, our interns are paid, provided with a transportation subsidy, and all the snacks and coffee they need to get them through interning and taking classes. If you have questions about our internship program, drop us a line at internships@actblue.com.