Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

ActBlue Looking for Your Ideas

( – promoted by DocHoc)

“I believe candidates with strong, sound stances deserve our support, and this is a race where your dollars can make the difference. Please make a contribution to this critical cause.”

Sound familiar? If you have any experience with our fundraising pages you will have seen this (and perhaps fallen asleep to it) a few too many times. It is the default text for ActBlue’s fundraising pages. ActBlue’s customizable fundraising pages allow progressive activists to raise money for the best Democratic candidates out there easily and effectively, and the fifty state blog network has taken advantage of this feature to support state and national candidates with customized, targeted pages. But while the original blurb did help Democrats use our pages, we’re in year 5 of ActBlue, and this is definitely year 3-4 material. We’ll be working with thousands of new fundraisers this cycle, and we want to make sure they have the best language. And, well, this isn’t it.

So, we need ideas.

We know you’re best equipped to know what language will appeal to your friends and neighbors, so we wanted to give all of you an opportunity to create the next fundraising page blurb. If we pick yours, it will show up automatically on almost every fundraising page created on ActBlue. To show our appreciation, we’ll send the winner and two runners-up an ActBlue Ice Cream Scoop! (No, we’re not kidding. And trust us, it’s a high quality scoop – The Original Zeroll.)

Okay, here are the guidelines:

  1. The blurb must be fewer than 50 words.
  2. It has to be fairly generic (no specific issues or names), but still get across the basic reason for the fundraising page. This is something our current text does fairly well, if you are looking for an example.
  3. If you can make it apply to pages for candidates and/or committees, all the better. If not, at least make it appeal to people looking to donate to candidates.
  4. We are Democrats, and our pages are for Democrats. If your message would appeal to Democrats, that would probably earn points.
  5. Humor is a big plus, but only that universal humor that works for everyone.
  6. Effective fundraising is personal. Think about what kind of language would help you be a better fundraiser, and think about why your friends and family might feel compelled to give.
  7. All entries must be received by 3/25.

Fill out your entry form right here! Thank you for your participation!

ActBlue is active in all 50 states, helping Democrats raise money for their chosen candidate from the comfort of their living rooms and offices. We believe that your voice should be heard everywhere from your state capitol to the Senate floor, and we’re working to make sure it is. Please support our work with a $15 recurring contribution today!

ActBlue Turns 3 Years Old Today

( – promoted by DocHoc)

Today ActBlue marks its 3rd Anniversary. Seriously, 3 years? I know- time flies.

Back in 2004, our founders Matt DeBergalis and Benjamin Rahn thought they could build something that would change Democratic fundraising- making it, well, more democratic. The two of them, living off of savings and limited investment, set out to build a platform that would end up changing our Party. Working out of their homes, they built the first generation of ActBlue.

This innovative, secure, and groundbreaking way to give money to Democrats was launched in June of 2004 before the end of the fundraising quarter. The earliest adopters, the blogosphere, helped push $250,000 into federal campaigns that summer. Printing $1 million in checks out of Matt’s living room by the end of 2004 was an accomplishment for the start-up. ActBlue caught the eye of Democratic campaigns, organizations, and establishment investors and it was time to grow.

And grow ActBlue did. You can see it for yourself in the numbers.

Total Raised for Democrats through ActBlue: $24,167,741

# of fundraising pages on ActBlue: 4,204

# of people contacted in just 3 weeks via ActBlue’s new Spread the Word tool: 3,751

# of active entities in ActBlue’s directory: 3,739 (will grow towards 10,000 this cycle)

# of candidates and committees receiving funds to date: 1,725

# of states where ActBlue is active for state level activity: 23 (soon to be 24)

# of people behind the ActBlue curtain: 6

# of months until ActBlue outgrows its 600 sq foot office: 1
  (that’s over $40,000/sq.ft. of productivity!)

There a lot of talk about investing in lasting infrastructure for the Democratic Party. ActBlue returns over $20 in aid for Democratic candidates for every $1 in investment. We have more ideas under the hood than you can shake a stick at, limited not by our creativity, but by time and investment.

ActBlue is an investment in our Party. ActBlue is an investment in a Democratic future.

So, in honor of our 3rd Anniversary, will you invest in ActBlue?

http://www.actblue.com/page/investinactblue

With your help, the future will be more than just bright- it will be Blue.

So I offer a toast: the undiscovered country . . . the future. Here’s to turning 3.

ActBlue Helping County Parties

( – promoted by DocHoc)

US Counties

Since 2004, ActBlue has helped Democrats raise over $22 million in online contributions.  We are a Political Action Committee, not a business, so our motivation is getting Democrats elected instead of padding profit margins.  We know how much of a hassle accepting credit card donations on the Internet can be, and we want to help.

One of the areas that ActBlue can help in is with your local County Democratic Party.

If your local county party or committee is in one of the 22 states where ActBlue is already active (minus some clean-elections states like Arizona), you can have all the ActBlue fundraising tools utilized by top tier House and Senate campaigns at the disposal of your county party.  Several county parties are already using those tools to achieve success!

In Oregon, the Yamhill County Democratic Party uses ActBlue to accept monthly recurring contributions:

http://www.actblue.com/page/ycd_presidents_circle

Instead of soliciting your membership for a one-time donation, recurring contributions allow you to ask them for $10 a month (or more) for the next year.  This helps you budget and helps your members by spreading out their contribution over an entire year.

The San Diego County Democratic Party used ActBlue to accept RSVPs and payments for their annual fundraising dinner:

http://www.actblue.com/page/rd

Using ActBlue for event management allows you to see your rsvps in real time (no waiting for a check in the mail!).  Online invitations help circulate event details while collecting contributions. Contributor data in spreadsheet form provides you with an instant guest list and useful template for nametags and thank you notes.

The Democratic Party of San Fernando Valley used ActBlue earlier this year to collect registration costs for their General Assembly meeting.

http://www.actblue.com/page/dpsfvregistration

So how cost effective is this for local parties?  There is no setup fee, no maintenance fee, no check fee, no check re-issue fee and no customer service fees.  We deduct a processing fee of around 3.95% which covers what we are charged by our credit card processor.  This fee comes out of your contributions so there are never any bills to pay.

Every Monday we mail checks to all campaigns and committees that received contributions through ActBlue during the past week.  All of the information about the individual contributors is available online and can be imported to your existing campaign finance software.

You can see that there are a number of ways that County Parties can use ActBlue. In the most basic sense, parties can use ActBlue to process their general donations and ease their reporting burden. At any time they can take advantage of these more creative and advanced options to enhance their fundraising, none of which even requires a county party to have a website!

This is just another way we are hoping to make ActBlue useful to you in building a more Democratic America. Please contact us at info@actblue.com to discuss how we can help your county party. We’ll be happy to get you started!

Sneak Peak of the New ActBlue Fundraising Pages

from the ActBlue Blog

Fundraising pages are the most important component of ActBlue: the vast majority of visitors to the site arrive directly on a fundraising page because a friend, an organization, or a campaign has channeled them there.  We pride ourselves on these pages’ simplicity: donors can show up, immediately understand what’s going on, and contribute with no distracting bells and whistles. 

But we harbor a dirty secret (or, not-so-secret if you’ve been with us a while).

Over the past three years, $22 million raised, and 200,000+ donors, these pages haven’t actually changed all that much.  For a bit of nostalgia, check out the DailyKos dozen page as it looked back at the end of 2004 (compare to the same page with today’s look).  Yeah, the site framework has changed a little, but the makeup of the fundraising pages is remarkably similar.

Next week, all that is about to change.Comp_02_v3b_2

Motivated by a strong sense that we could do better (and by a desire to burn down HTML code approaching its second anniversary), a few weeks ago we got to work putting together a new design with the help of the excellent Steve Ofner of Liberal Art.  The result is the new design that that you see at right.  (Click the image for a full-size mockup.)

In putting the new design together we had several aims:

  • A sharper, more dynamic look & feel
  • A simpler user experience
  • A clearer presentation of the dollar and donor numbers
  • A more attention-grabbing "contribute" button at the top

The result is an improved page design that looks good with long candidate blurbs, short candidate blurbs, no candidate blurbs, or all of the above.

We’ll be rolling out this design next week, and will continue to refine it in the coming months — so please let us know what you think!

End-of-Quarter Blog Fundraising Asks

cross-posted from the new ActBlue Blog


On Monday I posted a tip for spicing up ActBlue fundraising pages by embedding video into ‘asks’. This is a very powerful fundraising tactic–especially when the asker and audience have an existing relationship.

Over at Calitics, a great community blog in California, they’ve taken that suggestion and run with it. I’ve included a screenshot of their pitch to the right (click on it to view a bigger version in a new window). Besides the video, Calitics’ blogger Brian uses several of the principles of fundraising to make a really compelling plea for his candidates.  Some of the successful elements they have included:

  1. Create Urgency- The pitch is for end-of-quarter donations.  Brian clearly states that there’s a deadline before which donors need to fundraise.  And he timed his pitch just a couple of days away from the end of quarter.
  2. Be Specific- Rather than overloading their page with a dozen candidates, Brian stuck with three candidates that have a common theme.  The majority of ActBlue donors give to an entire page’s slate of candidates…remember that when choosing your slate of candidates.
  3. Make it Personal- Brian, a Calitics blogger, is asking his own blog readers to donate. They have an existing relationship and a degree of trust built up. Potential donors are more likely to give when asked by someone they know and the pitch is personal.  They’re less likely to donate when spammed by someone they don’t know.
  4. Think Longterm- The Calitics’ ask offers the option of giveing once or of setting up a recurring contribution. Recurring donations are growing in popularity on ActBlue, with over 1000 users having chosen that option for a variety of candidates.   If a donor can’t contribute a lump sum amount at once, recurring contributions allow them to invest in the page in installments.

Most of these elements are included in their Calitics ActBlue fundraising page as well. To improve the impact, some ideas might be to include the text from the Calitics post next to the video on their ActBlue fundraising page itself or add the recurring contribution buttons below the embedded video. If that happened, their ActBlue fundraising page could be e-mailed around to additional friends or registered users of the Calitics blog extending the end-of-Quarter ask into a new medium.


One other thing that might help the effort is to set a goal, similar to what the bloggers at Raising Kaine have done (screen shot at left again, click to enlarge). They are shooting for $20,000 to all their endorsed candidates by the end of the state quarter on Saturday, giving a real sense of momentum to their efforts. Adding some text about that immediate goal on their fundraising page would be perfect to tie it together with their blog posts.

While it is early in the cycle, bloggers can build upon their early adopters to make effective asks in creative ways that fit their audience. What ideas might you add?

ActBlue Launches a Blog

( – promoted by DocHoc)

cross-posted at Daily Kos and MyDD

With as many friends as ActBlue has in the Democratic blogging community, it’s about time we joined the party with a blog of our own. So today we are launching our official ActBlue Blog where we look forward to bringing our donors, candidates, campaigns, fundraisiers, and bloggers interesting resources, analysis, tips, and other information to more effectively raise funds to elect Democrats!

Here’s just a sampling of things you can expect to see-

  • Case Studies on some of the most creative ways ActBlue has been used
  • Analysis on how and why people donate
  • State Reports that highlight successful state level campaigns
  • Tips & Tricks about ways to use ActBlue you may not have known about
  • Page of the Week where we will highlight our favorite fundraising strategies
  • Monthly ActBlue Zeitgeist to explore trends, patterns, and other cool stuff
  • Major Series where we will explore how we are most relevant to your efforts in fundraising

This week I’ll be cross-posting some content from our blog as a way to introduce it to our friends in the online community. Tomorrow we’ll be releasing our version of a case study on the Secretary of State Project (which I was a blogger for last year before being hired by ActBlue). Later in the week I’ll introduce you to successful state level fundraising efforts by blogging communities and local organizations.

Our posts will strive to be informative and useful while maintaining the Democratic grassroots values which have driven us for the last two and a half years. We encourage you to subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up to receive new posts via e-mail to keep up with our latest posts (both available at http://blog.actblue.com).

Much of the growth for ActBlue and the netroots in the next 2 years will be at the state level. Hopefully I’ll be able to work with lots of you to enable more successes in the statehouse while we work to expand our DC majority. If you have thoughts or questions, please leave me a comment!