ActBlue in 50 Words or Less (with prizes!)

"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. As you've seen here on MyDD's Road to 60 page, ActBlue's customizable fundraising pages allow progressive activists to raise money for the best Democratic candidates out there easily and effectively. 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!

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The State of the States

A great local online activism update, from the diaries - Todd

Cross-posted from the ActBlue Blog.

There is a rising force in the online community, often forgotten by the mainstream media because of their niche audience and dispersed nature. With over half a million readers a week they are on the front lines of grassroots battles. Their ears to the ground and their footsteps echoing in the halls of their capitals, they are often the first to report on issues and breaking news that eventually bubble up to the national discussion.

This force is the vast and ever growing community of state and local blogs, both those in the 50-state blog network and beyond. These blogs and their nearly 1000 authors are both a part of the national Netroots and unique local communities unto themselves. 

In some states with more established blogging traditions, networks of bloggers have created communications tools to facilitate the sharing of best practices and to coordinate messaging campaigns. Other blog networks have worked to grow readership and develop true community-oriented sites. This year has seen some of the most interesting developments as these blogging communities started flexing their fundraising muscle in state and local races. Even better, some have gone a step further by leveraging their online presence into offline action. This maturation of state blogging is truly exciting.

I've gotten in touch with some of the organizers of this new breed of activism in hopes that by sharing their experiences, we might inspire others to similarly innovative action.

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Why does ActBlue support Every Democrat?

The following post is provided by ActBlue's President, Benjamin Rahn.

When I'm explaining ActBlue to people who don't spend much personal or professional time on politics, I usually start with something like "Most PACs operate by endorsing candidates who are strong on their issues and raising money for them.  But we're not like most PACs."

At ActBlue we pride ourselves on being an honest broker in the Democratic movement. Concretely, that means that every Democrat running for President, House, Senate, and state executive and legislative races around the country that's registered with the appropriate election office is listed in our candidate directory (or at least they should be -- if you notice someone missing just let us know) and we provide them all with access to exactly the same software and services.

And we're particularly proud that campaigns trust our neutrality: in primaries including the recent MA-05 special election and the upcoming ME-01 and CA Senate District 3 races, all (or almost all) of the Democratic campaigns are using ActBlue as a core part of their online fundraising program.

But for an organization with an inherently political mission, it's an odd route to take.  So why'd we do it?

When Matt DeBergalis and I founded ActBlue in 2004, this course was a straightforward choice for several reasons:

  1. Republicans controlled every branch of government and were on an unchecked tear to remake this country in their own horrifying ultra-conservative vision: a disastrous war abroad, erosion of civil rights at home, and a government run for the benefit of corporate greed -- social and environmental consequences be damned.  We needed to push back--hard--by returning the Democratic Party to power.
  2. The organizations, bloggers, and grassroots activists we wanted to serve were all making different choices about who to support.  With different issue priorities, different strategies, and different opinions about which campaigns were most likely to put Democrats over the top, the best way to help them all was to build a platform that could support all of the candidates for whom they wanted to fundraise.
  3. It didn't hurt that this route was easy to implement. We could focus our efforts on building a novel fundraising platform rather than detailed candidate research.

Of course we got a good bit of flack for this choice in various corners: "Why are you supporting [candidate X]? They're way too conservative/crazy/long-shot to deserve help from ActBlue."  One of my off-hand responses from 2004 lives on in our Frequently Asked Questions:


You listed a candidate who clubs baby seals-shouldn't you take them off the site?

We...don't impose our personal or ideological judgments on our decisions to include or exclude anyone. However, if our users share our anti-baby-seal-clubbing views, no one will promote them on their fundraising pages, and there won't be any problem. 

In that quip, though, lies a more fundamental reason for our approach that we didn't fully appreciate when we got started. By offering a trusted, neutral platform for all Democratic candidates and fundraisers, we're creating a more democratic (little 'd') party -- and that ultimately makes the movement stronger.

Let me unpack that a bit.

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Sen. Harry Reid Supports Blogosphere Day

I just got this statement in on Senate Majority Harry Reid's support of the 4th Annual Blogosphere Day!

I am immensely proud that 17 of my Senate colleagues have joined me in using ActBlue to build our Democratic majority, and I expect many more to do so this election cycle.

Blogosphere Day celebrates the greatest aspiration of our democracy: people coming together to change the direction of their country.  By enabling Democrats from all walks of life to work together, to pool their passion and energy, and to elect candidates who represent their values, ActBlue has created a unique strategic advantage for the Democratic Party.

Your investment in ActBlue builds resources for our best candidates, our best activists, and our best ideas -- and your contribution today makes the biggest difference as we pave the road to November 2008.

Please support ActBlue today.

For more background on to the value of ActBlue check out the linked articles or today's round-up of activity.

Update: Sen. John Kerry is blogging at Firedoglake about Blogosphere Day!

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ActBlue Stats Week: State Level Activity

Over the past week we've looked at a number of statistics from ActBlue.com, everything from some raw numbers, top candidates, and top fundraising pages. To finish out our series we're going to take a look at one of the most important areas of ActBlue- state level fundraising.

It's true that federal activity made up the majority of 2nd Quarter fundraising at ActBlue- 90% in fact. That's no surprise as federal races have always made up the bulk of ActBlue activity and tend to get started sooner than state legislative races.

That said, state level fundraising at ActBlue has huge potential for 2008 and is already showing enormous growth. In the 2nd Quarter, $323,638 was raised for state candidates in 15 states. (To note- in Q2 2005, just under $100,000 was raised across ActBlue for all candidates federal and non-federal.)

The charts below break out the numbers by state and detail the cluster of activity in Virginia (which has 2007 elections) and California.

Q2 $ Raised by State Q2 Donors by State # of Recipient Campaigns
$ Received State # of Donors State # of CampaignsState
148,856 CA 650 VA40VA
120,308 VA 551 CA15CA
23,774 IL 145 IL6TX
16,990 MT 122 MT5PA
6,877 MO 43 PA4MT
2,705 PA 35 MO4NM
1,840 WI 17 WI4WI
1,210 MS 16 OH3NH/OH

In addition, the following table is of the Top 10 state candidates by $ raised on ActBlue in the 2nd Quarter.

$ Raised in Q2 Candidate Office
74,254Mark LenoCA-SD-03
31,136Joe Alioto VeroneseCA-SD-03
28,267Karen SchultzVA-SD-27
23,739Daniel BissIL-HD-17
15,540Carlos Del ToroVA-HD-88
12,295Donald McEachinVA-SD-09
11,745Steve BullockMT-Atty Gen
11,325Jay DonahueVA-HD-86
8,668Rick GonzalesCA-HD-80
8,175Connie BrennanVA-HD-59

We're looking forward to helping more candidates in the 23 states where we are active. If you are a campaign in the following states, (Alabama, Arizona, California, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming) contact us at info@actblue.com to get set up with ActBlue and start fundraising today!

That concludes our Q2 Stats Week with ActBlue. If seeing more if this type of data is something you find valuable on an ongoing basis, leave a note and we'll see about developing a more automated system to present select data.

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ActBlue Stats Week: Fundraising Pages

Yesterday we looked at the top candidates on ActBlue for the last quarter. Today we'll look at our ActBlue fundraising pages which any individual or campaign can create to support the candidates and causes of their choice.

Before we look at the individual pages here are some big picture numbers. Since ActBlue started three years ago, 4,263 different fundraising pages have been created, 43% of which have raised funds. In the 2nd Quarter of 2007, 606 fundraising pages were created, of which 71% raised funds. We're very excited to see that above average number of successful pages. Users are becoming more savvy in reaching out to their friends and supporters which is beneficial to the campaigns receiving those contributions.

And now, the Top 10 lists of ActBlue fundraising pages by number of donors and dollars broken down by lifetime totals and those for the recently completed Q2.

Top 10 fundraising pages by # donors (Lifetime)

count   | page name
---------+---------------------
40,026 | johnedwards
14,443 | netrootscandidates
  8,994 | hackett
  6,151 | blueamerica
  5,521 | pacforachange
  3,555 | eschaton
  3,421 | takebackthecongress
  2,752 | dnc
  2,450 | republicanfirewall
  2,235 | dkos

Top 10 fundraising pages by # of donors (Q2)

   count | page name
  -------+----------------------
12,661 | johnedwards
   1,017 | roadblockrepublicans
      842 | kerryforjohnson
      482 | blueamerica08
      373 | thepen
      346 | bluemajority
      318 | fightback
      310 | recount
      284 | infrastructure
      199 | eric

Top 10 fundraising pages by $ (Lifetime)

$ amount  |  page name
------------+--------------------
3,397,145 | johnedwards
1,601,968 | netrootscandidates
   568,009 | blueamerica
   532,998 | dansealsforcongress.com
   482,616 | hackett
   377,058 | dkos
   325,313 | sos-all
   292,829 | pacforachange
   278,821 | christine
   257,327 | republicanfirewall

Top 10 fundraising pages by $ (Q2)

$ amount | page name
------------+-------------------------
  876,230 | johnedwards
    73,206 | roadblockrepublicans
    66,067 | dansealsforcongress.com
    43,911 | markleno
    42,958 | mikesmith
    35,129 | kerryforjohnson
    33,600 | dougslist
    32,196 | blueamerica08
    28,513 | karenschultz
    23,824 | eric


As you can see, the list of fundraising pages is a mix of different approaches. Some are dedicated pages for particular candidates  like Eric Massa or Mark Leno who use it to collect their campaign contributions. Others are pages being used by current officeholders like John Kerry to raise on behalf of their colleagues. Others represent the collective voice of online communities like the various netroots pages in their efforts to support a wide range of candidates.

Join us tomorrow in our final installment of ActBlue stats week where we'll explore state level activity on the ActBlue fundraising platform.

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ActBlue Stats Week: Top Candidates

Yesterday we looked at some of the big picture numbers at ActBlue. Today, we're going to take a look at candidates and campaigns behind those numbers, both for the 2nd Quarter and for ActBlue's history.

Top 10 entities by # donors (Lifetime)

count   |   candidate
---------+------------------
41,236 | John Edwards
16,363 | James Webb
12,420 | Ned Lamont
11,090 | Claire McCaskill
10,709 | Jon Tester
10,627 | Paul Hackett
  9,300 | Joseph Sestak Jr
  7,378 | Harold Ford, Jr
  7,187 | Eric Massa
  6,584 | Darcy Burner

Top 10 entities by # donors (Q2)

count   |   candidate
---------+------------------
13,028 | John Edwards
  1,725 | Tim Johnson
     859 | Charlie Brown
     852 | KY-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     830 | MN-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     763 | NH-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     755 | ME-Sen Democratic Nominee Fund 2008
     664 | Keeping America's Promise
     591 | Tom Allen
     548 | BlogPAC

Top candidates by $ raised (Lifetime)

amount     |  candidate
-------------+------------------
3,437,887 | John Edwards
   894,042 | James Webb
   868,287 | Joseph Sestak Jr
   538,659 | Dan Seals
   528,664 | Paul Hackett
   507,553 | Tim Mahoney
   453,027 | Ned Lamont
   415,751 | Eric Massa
   395,795 | John Morrison

Top candidates by $ raised (Q2)

amount  |  candidate
----------+------------------
883,656 | John Edwards
134,904 | John Kerry
128,215 | Jared Polis
107,483 | Joseph Sestak Jr
103,264 | Tim Johnson
101,689 | Steve Novick
  97,000 | Chellie Pingree
  77,677 | Niki Tsongas
  74,254 | Mark Leno
  70,377 | Jamie Eldridge

Join us tomorrow when we look at fundraising pages on ActBlue.

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ActBlue Stats Week: Q2 Fundraising

Let's spend some time looking at our ActBlue totals, donors, and contributions. I'll be breaking these apart for 2nd Quarter data compared to that for the lifetime of ActBlue.

Total Contributions
Life:   $24,790,988.32
Q2:      $3,460,609.75

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents 14% of all contributions made on ActBlue over the least 3 years. To put this in perspective, it took ActBlue over five fundraising quarters in '05-'06 to raise the same amount as was raised in this past quarter alone. By November of 2006, ActBlue had raised a lifetime total of about $17 million with 40% of that coming in during the last 6 weeks of the campaign cycle. When you consider that Q2 2007 is already outpacing Q2 2005 by a factor of 10 and that this is a Presidential Cycle...well, you get the picture. It's one of the reasons why investment in ActBlue is so critical- we'll need to expand our six member staff and move out of our 600 sq ft office sooner than later.

Total Number of donors
Life: 217,998
Q2:     28,925

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents 13.2% of the number of individual donors on ActBlue.

Average contribution size to all entities
Life:  $60.38
Q2:    $99.65

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents a 65% increase in the average contribution size to all candidates, committees, and organizations when compared to the ActBlue lifetime average. This is explained by the activity of campaigns. Monies raised earlier in an election cycle tend to be weighted more heavily by maxed out or large donors. In campaigns, these larger donations are often gathered to generate early momentum and viability as candidates reach out to their personal friends and most steadfast supporters. As individual fundraisers and grassroots communities grow we expect this average contribution size to naturally fall later in the cycle.

Average contribution size made to ActBlue Pages
Life:  $112.28
Q2:    $119.64

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents only a 6.5% increase in the average contribution size made to ActBlue fundraising pages. Overall, contributions to pages are higher than those to entities since pages often contain multiple candidates. The slight increase is within the normal parameters, although the use by some campaigns of single, one-candidates ActBlue pages to collect contributions for their sites has some effect in increasing the average. Compared to the rather large increase in average contributions to "entities" explained above, we can see that pages are less effected by the campaign cycle since they are more grassroots in nature.

Median contribution
Life: $50.00
Q2:   $45.00

The 2nd Quarter of 2007 represents a 10% decline in the median contribution size. While the average contribution size has increased, the decline in the median contribution is evidence that small dollar grassroots contributions are healthy and abundant on ActBlue. This means a cluster of high dollar donations is responsible for bringing up the site's average for the quarter rather than a more general trend of larger contribution sizes.

Join us again tomorrow when we explore the topic of top candidates on the ActBlue Blog.

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Built to Last

This post was written by ActBlue's co-founder Matt DeBergalis and is cross-posted from the ActBlue Blog.

We've talked a lot about how you can use ActBlue effectively, where you can run into us at trainings and events, and what's coming next.  Today's topic is a little different, but no less important.

I want to start talking about how it all works.  In particular, I want to talk about sustainability: how we built ActBlue to last forever.

Some quick history to start.  Ben and I launched ActBlue in June 2004 and shepherded just shy of $1 million to 150 Democrats that year -- a success in its own right.  We always treated 2004 as a two-front experiment, though: one, will the ActBlue model for funding candidates work (yes!); and two, can we build the organization itself in a sustainable fashion.

Raising funds for infrastructure like ActBlue instead of campaigns is always a challenge.  Some of the best advice Ben and I got in the early going was to create a sustainable organization -- one whose operations provide all the necessary internal funding.  (Companies that aren't sustainable go bankrupt and are considered failures or Internet startups, and yet this is all too common in the political world.)  Our answer was the tip request that we ask of each contributor using the website.  What excited us about 2004 is that over half our donors left a tip for ActBlue.  We thought we were on to something.

There was only one problem.  We were still broke.

* * *

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ActBlue Turns 3 Years Old Today

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan... As a reminder, head on over to the MyDD/dKos/SSP Blue Majority page on Act Blue, where we've just passed our end of the quarter fundraising goals for Donna Edwards and Charlie Brown and want to send a real signal in support of these candidates. And of course, don't forget to support Act Blue.

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.

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Diaries

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