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Getting Started


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Getting Started


Getting Started

READ THIS TO GET YOUR ACCOUNT UP AND RUNNING

Contribution Forms


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Contribution Forms


Step 1: Make a Custom Contribution Form

The first thing you should do once you’ve set up your ActBlue account is create a custom contribution form from your campaign or organization’s Dashboard. You'll use this form on your website or in your fundraising emails. You can create as many custom contribution forms as you’d like (it only takes a few minutes!) and we suggest making a new one for each fundraising ask that you make.


1. CHOOSE YOUR FORM

Once you’ve logged in to ActBlue you’ll see the My Dashboards tab in the upper right hand corner. Click to open up a side menu that lists all of your committees.

Visit your Dashboard by clicking on the appropriate organization within the menu. Navigate to the Metrics tab of your Dashboard and choose the appropriate option: create a contribution form, sell merchandise, or plan an event.

2. Fill in the essentials

The basics come first. Give your form a title and a short blurb explaining why a supporter should donate. Telling people why you need the money and what you’ll use it for helps motivate them to give.

We've made it easy for you to add custom formatting to your pitches, thank you emails, pop-up recurring asks, and more. No HTML required.

You can add basic formatting like bullet points and bolding, as well as add images.

If you’d like to see our traditional HTML editor, click the pencil on the right-hand side of the menu to switch over. For help with HTML, check out our guide here.

While more creative control is awesome, remember that less is always more. You want to make sure your forms are readable on all devices, particularly mobile, where 40% of all contributions are made. You should preview the form on your phone to be sure your donors won’t have any trouble viewing and contributing.

We suggest making a note of the slug, or name, you decide to give your form. Having the form's name on hand will allow you to locate it in the Form Management tab quickly.

You can choose to display your form's fundraising totals by checking or un-checking the box below the Options header while editing your form. If you choose to leave it un-checked, the funds raised won’t be reflected in your public totals.

Once your form is created, the address will look like this:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/YOURWEBADDRESS

We’ve also provided you with the tools to add goal thermometers and videos to your contribution forms. You can click the linked text to find out more. But for now, click the button in the lower right hand corner to skip this step.

3. Customize

Now that you have the basics down, you have a number of optional customizations that you can add to your form. You can choose to skip these, select the ones that suit your particular fundraising campaign, or come back and edit them once you’ve finished creating your form.

You can also add a branding to your form, allowing you to include your campaign or oganization’s logo or color scheme on the contribution forms your donors receive. If you’ve created one already, click the drop-down menu and select which one you’d like to use for this form. If you haven’t created a branded design for your campaign or organization, we make it easy for you. You can find out how to create your own template with your group’s colors and logo here.

We strongly encourage you to check the box to enable recurring contributions. You can learn more about them here, but for now turning them on is enough.

You can also choose custom contribution amounts for your form. Donors will always have the option to type in their own amount, but you should still make sure that the amounts you suggest are in line with the type of supporters you’re targeting. We’ve tested the current standard presets and determined that they’re the best overall. However, every campaign and organization is different, so you should test this yourself if you have the resources to do so.

As you can see below, presetting the contribution amounts like we have above will make it easy for your donors to quickly choose an amount.

When your donors chip in to support your cause they deserve some thanks! Write a short thank you note for donors and make them feel like they’re part of your movement. Your message must be in plain text (no HTML formatting) and will automatically be added at the top of the email receipt your supporters receive after contributing.

4. Promote

Time to get the word out! Donors aren’t going to find your contribution form on their own. You’ll need to put in some hard work to raise your funds. Choose Promote on the left menu of your form to launch your fundraising program.

To send your contribution form out to the world, just copy the link that’s generated on the top of that page and paste it in an email, on your website, or anywhere else you’d like to fundraise and you’re all set!

If you’re planning on using reference codes to track your donations (and we think you should), read our guide here.

5. Make Changes

Once you’ve completed the contribution form setup process, you’ll see there are new tabs available with further customization options. You’ll find these in the sidebar on the left hand side of the form. Check out those additional features here.

If you want to change or update your form at any other time, you can access it by logging into ActBlue and selecting “Manage Forms” from the “Fundraise” drop-down menu in the upper right hand corner of the site and choosing the Edit button in the left sidebar on the form you’re working with.

There you’ll be able to edit all the features you just set up, or you can see what your contribution form will look like by clicking "View your form" in the menu on the left hand side of your screen.

Dashboard


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Dashboard



Step 2: Using your Dashboard

The Dashboard is your central organizing station for all things online fundraising. It contains all of the important tools and information that you’ll need to run your program. We’ll go through each important section of the Dashboard and explain the basic functions, including how to grant access to other staffers and access your donor information.

Metrics

This is the home section of your Dashboard -- the same place where you initially started to create your first contribution form. Here, you can also view fundraising data from the last week, month, year, or length of time of your choice.

You can get to know your donors and make smarter decisions by tracking how many people used ActBlue Express, PayPal, or a mobile device when donating. All of the data is in real-time so you can make faster decisions when it comes to your fundraising program.

You can also keep track of the number of contributions over the past hour using our scatter-plot feature and track the geographic diversity of your donors with our fundraising map.

Recurring

There are a lot of benefits to a recurring program, but the main one is more money. That’s because donors can chip in a small amount each month, rather than making a large upfront contribution. It also means that you’ve got a good sense of what the next cycle of fundraising might look like at your organization. You’ll be able to see a projection of how much you’ll bring in each month over those two years. That means that you can make better monthly budgeting decisions.

Check out this page for a more detailed breakdown of everything you can learn from your team's Recurring page.

We highly recommend that you start a recurring fundraising program, especially if you’re working for an organization. This means you’ll ask your supporters to make a monthly commitment to your organization and we’ll collect their donation every month until their pledge runs out. Check out our guide to building a recurring contribution program, as well as our visualization features to help you evaluate your recurring program!

Form Management

Here you can access your campaign or organization’s forms all in one convenient place. Just head over to the Form Management tab from the left menu on your campaign or organization’s dashboard.

Once there, you’ll see a detailed breakdown of all your contribution forms.

They’re listed in descending order by default, starting with the most recent form that was created. But just click on any of the headers and you can toggle the table to sort it how you’d like.

You can quickly scan through the slugs (or page names) you gave your forms, the number of contributions they received, the amount of money they raised, and whether or not you chose to brand your forms. You’ll also be able to duplicate a form from this page, with just the click of a button.

Further, if you’ve got a form from a few years back that you know won’t be getting sent out to donors, simply hit the Archive button in orange at the right of the table.

If you choose to archive a form it can no longer be viewed, which also means it can no longer receive contributions and you won’t be able to edit it. However, we give you the option to archive rather than delete your forms, so that you can Revive a form if you need to. If you’ve archived a form it will turn grey, as you see below, but it will still be listed in the same spot in the Dashboard as it was before it was archived.

Just click Revive at the far right of the table and the form will become active. Anyone with access to the Dashboard will have the ability to visit and work with the form again.

There are two tabs at the top of the page, one for Managed Forms and one for Community Forms.

The Managed Forms tab provides a breakdown of forms that were created by any user with access to your campaign or organization’s Dashboard.

The Community Forms tab provides a breakdown of forms that were created by a third party. For example, a volunteer decided to create a form to raise money for your candidate or organization. You won’t have the ability to edit these forms, but you can collect data, just like you would from a form created by yourself or another user with access to the Dashboard.

Just below those tabs you’ll also have the option to Download a contribution form CSV report. This report will give you an even more detailed breakdown of each form, including info like whether or not the form was set to public or private, as well as the pre-set contribution amounts you chose for the form.

Finally, you can search for a specific form by page name. Simply type in the name you gave your form in the box at the upper righthand corner of the table.

You can also use this tab to assign default settings to your contribution forms. It’s common for organizations and campaigns to have multiple forms created and maintained by several different admin users. This can make it difficult to make sure your settings remain consistent across all your forms.

To avoid this issue, we recommend utilizing the default form that you’ll find at the top of your list highlighted in grey in the Form Management tab. We create this form automatically for new and existing candidates and committees, and it will always appear at the top of your list.

You’ll also see a column at the far left of your list of forms titled “Use defaults.”

All you need to do is open up the default form and apply the form settings you generally would, like a pop-up recurring ask threshold or preset contribution amounts. Once you’ve made all your edits to the default form, you can go through your Form Management tab and check through the forms you want to have your default settings.

Keep in mind that the default form will override all of the settings except for Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. That means if you leave something like the Thank you text blank on your default form, none of the forms with default settings will have Thank you text. So be careful with your selections.

If you visit the Edit tab of contribution forms with default settings, you’ll see the following:

If you’ve selected default settings for a form the only fields you’ll be able to edit are Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. Every other setting will be hidden.

You can still run an A/B test or set a goal, however. And if you decide you’d like to make edits outside the default settings, feel free to do so. Just remember that if you update your default form the changes you made previously to the form will be overridden.

You can also choose to uncheck the “Use defaults” box for that form and then make any edits you wish. Just keep in mind that the form won’t update the next time you edit your default form.

You can always go back and edit the default form at any time.

Settings

Worried about getting your check on time after your office headquarters moves? You can update all that information for yourself in the Settings section, also found in the left sidebar of your dashboard.

It’s important that your settings are always up to date so we can send your checks to the right address and contact you with any donor issues that might come up.

User Access

Great fundraising comes from a great team! To give colleagues access to your organization’s ActBlue information, enter their email address and click “Grant Access” to give them access to the Dashboard. You’ll find the “User Access” feature on the left sidebar.

If you grant access to someone who does not have an ActBlue account yet, we’ll automatically send them an email with instructions for creating one. Users who already have an ActBlue account will be able to see your campaign or organization's information the next time they login. Click “Remove User” to revoke access.

If you’d like to know whenever your campaign or organization receives a donation over a certain amount, you can set up an alert here. Just click “set up a contribution alert” underneath your email address and enter the threshold for receiving an alert. Although it might be tempting to hear from us every time you receive a donation, we recommend choosing a relatively high number so you won’t be inundated with emails.

Brandings

This is where you choose the design for your form. Your group has likely spent hours choosing the perfect shade of blue and coming up with an awesome, memorable logo. We want you to show that off and make sure donors feel connected to your campaign or organization when they’re giving.

You can create new brandings—custom designs for contribution forms—from this page as well as preview and edit existing ones.

Here’s an example of what a branded form can look like:

For instructions on how to create a branding, check out this page.

managing multiple accounts

Admin users who have access to lots of different campaigns or organizations can use the My Dashboards tab to navigate easily from account to account.

Once you’ve logged in to ActBlue you’ll see the My Dashboards tab in the upper right hand corner.

Click there to see a list of your campaigns and committees in a menu on the left hand side of your screen.

From the side menu you can easily navigate to the Dashboard of each committee and organization.

You can also choose to click the arrow at the right of each campaign or organization to see a list of that group’s contribution forms. Click on either “stats” or “edit” next to your form to navigate to the form.

You’ll have the option to edit the form or view statistics for that form directly from the sidebar. This is especially helpful for admin users with access to multiple Dashboards, as you can move from one to another by just clicking back up at My Dashboards in the right hand corner at any time, from any page.

Donor Data


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Donor Data



Step 3: Accessing your Donor Data

Head to the Reporting tab of your Dashboard, which contains all of the contributor information you’ll need to complete accurate reports.

First, you should read through the compliance and reporting guidelines we’ve laid out for you, so you have a good understanding of the rules and regulations. Just click the link within the Disbursements tab.

Reminder: we’re glad to offer some helpful information, but this is not legal advice. You should consult with your counsel and your compliance team when filing compliance reports.

Once you're up to speed, import your CSV contributor data. CSV, which stands for comma separated values, is a popular and universal format that should work with all types of donor tracking software, including Excel and Access.

Visit the Downloads tab and click the Download button to import your CSV data. You can download contributions for a specific time frame or contribution form, or a report for all contributions.

You can also download a report for a specific contribution form by visiting the Statistics tab on your form.

You’ll find the Statistics tab along the lefthand side of your Dashboard, or directly on your form above your custom blurb.

The Statistics tab will show you a table of the contributions that specific form received, broken down by refcode. Below the table, you should see an “Additional tools” option. Toggle the drop-down menu and you’ll be able to download a CSV of contributions.

If you need to download a CSV for a specific check or disbursement of funds, head to the Disbursements tab underneath the Reporting center heading.

Just scroll to find the date or check number you’re looking for and choose the CSV button all the way to the right.

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NGP DATA

If you’re a federal campaign using the compliance software NGP, we make it really easy for you. Click the link to download NGP data next to a check disbursement, just like you would if you were downloading a CSV.

If you're interested in learning about how to visualize your donor data, you can read about it here.