Using Reference Codes

We recommend using reference codes (refcodes, for short) for every fundraising link you send out. Reference codes are powerful tools that allow you to track exactly where your donations are coming from. That means you can easily measure which fundraising copy generates the most money in a test send, and if you’ve got multiple links in an email, you can find out which one most people are using to give. You’ll learn more about your donors so you can optimize your fundraising program over time.

To create a reference code, enter an appropriate word or phrase, with no spaces or punctuation marks, into the “refcode” section. You also have the option of pre-setting a donation amount and suggested number of months for recurring contributions. Copy the link and place it in the appropriate spot in your fundraising email or on your website. Here’s what it will look like. The red section is your reference code, blue is the amount, and yellow is the number of months (if you’re pre-setting for a recurring donation).

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Whenever someone donates through that link, their donation will be tagged, so you can see how many donations and dollars each link generated. In order to get accurate data, make sure that you don’t repeat any reference codes on the same form. There’s no limit to the number of reference codes you can use. At ActBlue, we like to use words or phrases that are easy to remember, and we always make sure that we have a unique code for every link.

Using Multiple Reference Codes

Sometimes a single reference code isn't enough, especially when you want to keep track of additional items such as link placement. Here at ActBlue, we use a second reference code to do just that. The majority of our emails use the standard Express Lane link structure twice, once at the top and the other on the bottom. The screenshot below shows what people would see if they hovered their mouse over the top URL link: a second reference code. Here's what that looks like typed:

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Using Reference Codes to Analyze Data

You can see your donations broken down by reference codes in two spots. If you have your Contribution Form open, go to the Contributors tab, and click on “View Page Statistics.” Or, if you’d like to get more detailed data on your donations, visit your Contribution Form’s individual dashboard (which you can access here: and click “By Refcode.”

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From either of these pages, you’ll be able to see the number of contributions, total amount raised, and average donation amount. In addition, if you’re asking for recurring contributions (and you should be!) you’ll see the number of recurring contributions, how much you brought in off those donations initially, and how much you’re projected to bring in off of them in future months.

If you want to download your data as a CSV to do further analysis, go to the “View Page Statistics” page and click “Download this as a CSV.”


As we mentioned, we recommend you always use reference codes in your fundraising emails, but you can use them in other places as well. You can track how many donations come in through your website by adding reference codes to the links on your site. Or, if you’re asking supporters to fundraise on your behalf or planning an event with fundraising hosts, you can give them custom links with a reference code pre-loaded. That way you’ll be able to tell which supporters or hosts are hitting their goals, and you can make sure you give them the credit they deserve.