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Tutorial


Tutorial

(how to do everything on actblue)

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Tutorial


Tutorial

(how to do everything on actblue)

Tutorial

How to do everything on actblue

Reference Codes


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Reference Codes



Using refcodes

We recommend using reference codes (which we’ll refer to as refcodes) for every fundraising link you send out. Refcodes are specific links that collect useful data on your emails by tracking which link a donor used to give. For example, was it the first link in the email? Was it in version A or version B of your email? Refcodes will record that information for you, so you’ll have a better feel for what your donors are responding to.

Using refcodes, you can easily measure which version of your fundraising email generates the most money in a test send. 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 refcode pre-loaded to track their donations. Or, if you’ve got multiple links in an email, you can find out which link most people are using to give.

Most importantly, if you’re using Express Lane, refcodes are critical for determining which donation link amounts people are clicking. If you have questions about using refcodes with Express Lane, email us at info@actblue.com.

Here’s how to create a refcode:

  1. In the Promote tab of your form, enter an appropriate word or phrase, with no spaces or punctuation marks, into the refcode section.
  2. 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 pink section is your refcode, orange is the amount, and green is the number of months (if you’re pre-setting for a recurring donation).

  1. To see how many people have given using that link, go to the Statistics tab of your form. You’ll see all of the contributions broken down by refcode, as well as your total contributions.

USING MULTIPLE REFCODES

If you’re running a complicated and intensive testing program this feature is for you.

Sometimes a single refcode isn't enough to collect all of your data, especially when you want to keep track of additional items such as link placement. That’s why we allow you to build a second refcode into your links, using the “refcode2=” parameter. Here's what it looks like:

The refcode2 parameter won’t be displayed in your Statistics page, but you can find all of that data when you download the CSV for your Contribution Form.

Scroll to the bottom of the chart on the Stats page and you’ll see totals for the form, like displayed above. The contributions are listed by refcode, so you can determine which of your links generated the most funds. You’ll also see the number of pledged recurring contributions, the projected funds raised from those contributions, and the total funds the form brought in initially.

You can also see if the percentage of contributions for a specific refcode were made using a mobile form, as well as compare the conversion rates for your various refcodes.

If you want to download your data as a CSV to do further analysis, scroll down to the bottom of the “Stats” page and click the drop-down menu, “Additional Tools.”

You can also search for a specific refcode. You’ll see that option in the top right hand corner of the refcode table on your form’s Stats page, which provides you with a detailed breakdown of contributions for the specific form you’re viewing.

If you’ve entered a specific refcode you’ll get a detailed breakdown of the contributions generated by that specific link.

You can also see your donations broken down by refcodes in a chart on your Stats page. Click “Toggle refcode chart.”

You’ll see a chart like the one below with a visualization of your contributions by refcode.

Using fundraising thermometers


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Using fundraising thermometers



Using fundraising thermometers

We offer fundraising thermometers, which allow you to show donors how close you are to your goal and motivate them to give. These can work well if you need to fund a specific project or hit your goal by a certain deadline.

Here’s how you create a thermometer:

  1. Visit the Goal tab of your Contribution Form.
  2. Set a goal for either number of supporters or dollars raised.
  3. Select the appropriate radio button and fill in your first goal. Make sure it’s reasonable — a $1 million goal for a small campaign won’t compel supporters to donate because people want to help you hit a real and tangible target.
  1. Set the start date of your fundraiser and choose some additional goals, so donors aren’t demotivated once you reach your initial goal. Enter these in order, separated by commas with no spaces in between. If you don’t enter the values correctly, your thermometer won’t update automatically.

If you’ve created a fundraising thermometer, it will automatically appear on your Contribution Form. You can also add it to your website or fundraising email:

  1. Visit the Promote or Goal tab of your form and decide which style thermometer you’d like.
  2. Click “Get Code” underneath the thermometer you’ve chosen. This code already contains a link to your Contribution Form and the image for your thermometer.
  1. The thermometer will automatically be given the refcode ‘thermometer,’ but you should feel free to change it.
  1. Copy and paste the code in your mass mailer or web design software. You may need to use some additional HTML tags to achieve the desired placement. Visit our guide for some background on using HTML. The image will automatically update when supporters open an email or form with the thermometer.

Whenever someone donates through that link, their donation will be tagged with that information in your data so you can see how many donations and dollars each link generated. In order to see your contributions broken down by refcode, visit the Statistics tab of your form.

To get accurate data make sure that you don’t repeat any refcodes. We also recommend using words or phrases that are easy to remember.

Recurring Contributions


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Recurring Contributions



Recurring Contributions

Why you need a recurring contribution program

We strongly recommend that you start a recurring fundraising program. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Recurring contributions = more money. Period. That’s because donors can chip in a small amount each month, rather than making a large, upfront contribution.
  • Since you can see a projection of how much you’ll bring in each month, you’ll have a good sense of what the next cycle of fundraising will look like at your organization, allowing you to make better monthly budgeting decisions.
  • If you have a small staff, recurring contributions allow you to spend less time on fundraising each month, which means you can spend more time on advocacy and campaigning.

Need more proof? The chart below shows an example of the difference between funds from a recurring ask and a one-time ask.

The blue line represents a one-time ask and the pink line represents a recurring ask. After the initial send the one-time ask brought in $1,770 and the recurring ask brought in $1,635 — not much of a difference at first. But, five months later the one-time ask is up to $2,070 while the recurring one has brought in $5,900. This example illustrates how building a pool of recurring donors can pay-off in the long-term.

And we make building a recurring contribution program easy. Here’s how:

  • We’ll take care of processing donations every month until your donors’ pledges run out. If they have questions, we’re ready to answer them.
  • Once your recurring program is in place we provide you with the tools to evaluate your program.
  • We offer a weekly recurring option starting eight weeks out from the election, allowing you to continue cultivating those strong connections with your supporters throughout your campaign’s final push. You can contact us to get more information about the weekly recurring feature at info@actblue.com.

Building your Recurring Donor Program


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Building your Recurring Donor Program



Building your recurring donor program

Creating a recurring fundraising ask

Any ActBlue Contribution Form can accept recurring donations. Here’s how to get started setting up your recurring contribution program:

  1. Create a new Contribution Form or navigate to a previously created one.
  2. Go to the Edit section and click “Show Recurring Contribution Options.”
  3. You can then choose to “Use specified duration monthly contributions” or “Use unlimited monthly contributions.” We recommend unlimited monthly contributions.
  1. Send out a fundraising email. You’ll want to make sure you preset the links for recurring and specifically ask for a recurring contribution in your email. What does that mean?

If you’ve set the form to use unlimited monthly contributions as suggested above, you should set the recurring option on the Promote page to ‘1’ which will ensure that the form will be preset to a recurring contribution. If you’ve set the form to use specified duration monthly contributions, write in the number of months it will recur for.

When you write your fundraising email, your ask should read something like “Can you chip in $10 a month?” And if you’re using Express Lane, your link should say “Express Donate: $10 a month.” You can read more about that in our Express Lane section.

Donors can always choose to give a one-time donation instead of a recurring contribution when they reach the Contribution Form, but it’s important to make the recurring donation process as frictionless as possible for supporters.

Note: You can also start your recurring program by enabling the pop-up recurring function in the Edit section of your Contribution Form. You can find specific instructions about the pop-up recurring function here. We think pop-up recurring asks are a great place to start, but remember that in order to build a robust recurring program, you’ll have to invest some time.

You need to make a specific appeal to your donors for a recurring contribution and explain why a sustained commitment is needed. If your organization is planning a series of big events over the next year, make sure you let donors know how important these efforts are to your cause.

Analyzing your recurring contributions

You can view the recurring contribution data for a specific form by clicking on “Stats” in the left hand corner of your form, just above your blurb.

If you’d like to see your overall projected recurring donations to your organization, visit the “Recurring” section of your Dashboard.

Here you’ll see the amount of recurring dollars you’re projected to bring in, broken down by month for the past 13 months.

You can also see the total amount you’ve raised from recurring contributions over time, by clicking the “Total contributions” bubble below the chart. Here, you can also see new contributions and any new contribution amounts.

If you scroll down further you’ll see a table with another detailed breakdown of your recurring program, including your number of supporters and your new supporters each month, as well.

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Once you’ve got your recurring program up and running you can continue evaluating it on a monthly basis using the charts under the “Recurring Retention” tab of the Recurring section in your Dashboard.

The first chart you’ll see (the Retention Matrix) groups recurring contributions together by month. You can look left to right to follow the monthly trends of a group of contributions.

Here’s an example:

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Rows represent every recurring contribution that began that month and the numbers 0-13 above the columns represent the number of months since the initial donation. The percentages represent the retention rate of those contributions.

You can look left to right to follow the monthly trends of a group of contributions, look top to bottom to figure out what happens to contributions after a specific number of months, and you can spot trends.

It’s important to note that a campaign or organization that is just getting started building a recurring program won’t see as many rows and columns in their chart and that every campaign’s retention rates will be different.

You’ll also see a second graph (the Cohort Decay) below that. Here, you can hover over each of the lines to see the monthly recurring contribution fulfillment rates. This helps you to get an idea of the trends that are normal for your organization. Here’s an example:

The grey and yellow lines represent the retention rate for a month’s worth of contributions. Basically, each row from the chart on top of this page is represented as a single line in this graph.

The red line is a trend line, which can help you gauge whether a month’s recurring pledges are over- or under-performing. Lines above the red line are being fulfilled at a higher rate than average and the opposite is true for lines below the trend line.

If you’d like to read more about these visualizations you can do so here.

Supporting your recurring contribution program

Email receipts will automatically go out to all recurring contributors when their donation is processed. You can edit the receipt text to include a personalized thanks to your donors that they’ll receive within the automatic message.

That email contains a link that allows them to alter the number of months of their contribution, cancel it completely, or update their credit card information. The dollar amount cannot be altered. Recurring donations can be cancelled at any point in time.

If their card is declined and needs to be updated, an automatic email will go out letting them know that they were not charged and that they should update their information. If a card is declined, they will not be charged that month, but we’ll attempt to process the contribution again the next month.

Many donors will opt to email ActBlue instead of handling it through their receipt. In that case we’re happy to take care of these tasks for them. If your donors contact you with questions about their recurring contribution, you can forward them to us. We have a great customer service team and make every effort to get back to donors during the same business day.

Finally, make sure to follow up with your recurring donors and let them know what you’re up to. If you go to the Settings section of your Dashboard under the “Tools” header you can scroll down and click on “Blurbs, Disclaimers, and Tracking Codes”

Under the “Email Message Blurbs” you’ll see a place to edit the recurring email blurbs.

Donors have the option of cancelling their commitment, but we find that upwards of 80% of the pledged money actually comes in. That has a lot to do with the relationships that you build with supporters over the course of their commitment.

Branded Forms


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Branded Forms



Creating a branded form

Branded forms are one of our most popular features and you can create them in minutes. Brandings allow you to modify your Contribution Form to look like your website or use your campaign’s colors and logos.

Log in and go to your Dashboard and select the Brandings tab from the left navigation menu. If this will be your first branding you’ll see a message that reads: “No brandings currently.” You should click “Create One” directly next to that. You’ll then see a page that looks like this:

Create a name for the branding — it’s internal to your campaign, so choose something that makes sense for you and other members of your team. Choose whether you want to make this the default branding for all your forms. You can have multiple brandings and use them on a form by form basis, or stick with one for all of your forms.

Click on the “Lite Branding Settings” drop-down option to expand it. Here you’ll upload a header image (usually your campaign’s logo or a similar image).

Next you can set the color of your form and custom CSS if you choose. You can also link your header image to your organization’s website, but we don’t recommend it.

The “Background color” field asks for a hex color code (that’s a six-digit code, like #3399FF, used to specify a color). Since you may not know the exact hex color code for your organization, there’s a color picker that pops up when you click on the “Background Color” field. Choose your color and it will fill in the appropriate color code for you.

Note: If you want to be exact and not eyeball the color, we provide instructions for finding your exact hex code here.

You can also upload a background image for your form, instead of a solid color background. Check the ‘Use background image’ box and you’ll see a place for you to choose an image to upload.

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Uploading a background image will cause the form to become single column. It will be helpful to shorten your ask blurb on a form like this, so the form itself doesn’t get pushed down the page. It’s extremely important to use a well compressed image for this, so we recommend shooting for less than 150KB — anything above 200KB is going to severely impact your page’s loading times. If your page takes too long to load, donors will get impatient and exit before contributing.

The branding or the Contribution Form title must also include the name of the committee. Here’s an example:

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If you want some assistance setting up a similar form, feel free to contact us!

If you have someone on your web team who is comfortable editing CSS, you can make additional changes to your form.

Once you’re done, hit save. You can swap brandings on a form on the fly in the Edit tab. Just select any one of the brandings you’ve added.

A/B Test


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A/B Test



Using the A/B test tool

You can run A/B tests to compare two different variations of a form (say, two different titles) in order to find the one that works best. The A/B test splits everyone who lands on your form into two groups. One group receives the normal form (the control) and one receives the altered form (the variable). Once the test has run its course, you can compare the two forms and see which one received more dollars and donations.

To set up an A/B test, click on the A/B Test tab of your Contribution Form and give your new test a descriptive name. The name will only be seen internally, so choose something that works best for you.

Check off the attribute that you would like to test. You can test the form title, Contribution Form blurb, using a fundraising thermometer, embedding a video, a pop-up recurring ask, or a pop-up recurring title. This will be your variable.

Say you’ve chosen “Pop-up recurring ask.” Once you’ve checked it off, the page will show you the two different aspects you’ll be testing — “The first variation, your form’s current settings” and “A variation to test.” You can test multiple variations.

In this case, fill out the top section (your form’s current settings) with the pop-up recurring ask you’re already using.

In the bottom section, write up another blurb to test the response from your donors. You should give this part a title — something that will remain internal to your organization. You can test the content, the length, or the way you make your ask. Just make sure your donors know why they should become a recurring donor after reading it.

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You should then click Create Test and you’ll be brought to a page like the one below which shows the breakdown of the two variations you’re comparing.

Now all you need to do is send the form out to your donors in a fundraising email, and each version of the form will be served up an equal number of times, to a randomized group of your supporters.

Thanks to our Multi-armed Bandit feature, as the test runs and one variation begins performing better, we’ll start sending more traffic to that form, roughly in proportion to how they’re trending. If there was a false positive and the losing form starts doing better, the traffic allocation will begin to reverse. The test will continue to run indefinitely until you click “Make Winner.” The A/B testing tool will eventually send 100% of volume to the winner if you don’t make either version the winner manually.

You can continuously revisit the A/B Test tab and see your results, including the number of people who landed on each form, and the number of people who donated (conversions), as well as the average contribution and dollars per visit. Next to each conversion rate bar will be a symbol. If you see a checkmark next to the bar, that means that your result was statistically significant.

In laymen’s terms, that means the test won! There was a real (positive) difference between the two tests that you can trust. If the gray symbol at right remains, any differences could be due to normal variations.

Data on your A/B test will be included in your contributor CSV, which can be found under the Statistics tab of your page. If you've offered any additional incentives, like a bumper sticker on a pop-up recurring test, you can find contact information for all of the donors that signed up.

If you want useful results, we recommend that you only change one of the attributes on the form. That way you’ll know any variation in donations is due to one factor.

If you have further questions about A/B tests or best practices, let us know.

Ad Tracking


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Ad Tracking



Ad Tracking

We make it easy for organizations who run online ads to track how well they’re doing. If you’re not familiar with this tool and would like more information, feel free to contact us.

Candidates and groups can embed tracking codes on the Contribution Form and the Thank You page to track both those landing on the form and those who convert. You have the option to put the tracking snippets on a form by form basis, or set a default tracking code for your committee which can then be chosen on each Contribution Form.

The safest and easiest option for most committees will be to only set up tracking on Contribution Forms that are specifically made as an endpoint for an ad campaign. This ensures that the Contribution Forms that you use for email and website traffic load as fast as possible.

To put tracking codes on a specific Contribution Form, first make sure you are logged in as the owner of that form. Then navigate to the Edit tab for that Contribution Form:

There you’ll need to scroll down and click “Show Advanced Options,” where you’ll see more options drop down.

Paste your code snippets in the correct fields.

If your ad system allows you to pass a conversion amount, you can do so with the merge field {AMOUNT}. Make sure to only do this on the conversion tracking page and not the landing page.

We’ll replace that token with the amount of the contribution when the thanks page renders. This allows you to track the monetary value of a click from within your advertising platform.

To set a default tracking code for your committee, first visit your campaign Dashboard. On the left side of the screen click on “Settings.”

Scroll down to the “Blurbs, Disclaimers, and Tracking Codes” section and click to toggle more options:

Paste your code snippets in the correct fields. If your ad system allows you to pass a conversion amount, you can do so with the merge field {AMOUNT}. Once you’ve saved your committee’s default tracking code, you can select the radio button to use it on any of your Contribution Forms.

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Planning Events


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Planning Events



Planning events

Events can be a great way to raise money and build relationships within communities, but it can take a lot of work. We make the logistics and money part easier so you can focus on recruiting great guests.

To get started, visit your Dashboard and click “Metrics” in the menu on the left. You can then choose to “plan an event” under the “Start Fundraising” prompt.

In addition to the normal Contribution Form information, you’ll be prompted to enter an event title and invitation text. We provide this sample text to use as a guide:

Please join us for an event to support Your Favorite Candidate
8:00pm, June 25, 2015
At the home of Jane Smith
123 Main Street, Washington, DC, 20036
RSVP by ordering your tickets below.
Questions? Please email xxxx@xxxxx.com or call (###) ###-####

You can fill in whatever information you would like, but we usually recommend making sure you include as much detail as possible. Typically guests will have lots of questions about the event, so it’s best to give the most important information (time, location, how to RSVP, contact information) up front.

Here’s a tip: If you have information that you’d prefer to keep private, such as the address for a high-profile event, include it in your email receipt text. That way, only donors who are attending your event will have the information. In this case it can be helpful to note the neighborhood, so people have some idea of where the event is located when they purchase tickets.

If you need guests to include specific details about any special requirements, like food allergies or accessibility challenges, donors will be prompted to enter that information after they’ve purchased their tickets, like you see below.

In the next step, you can create personalized ticket levels and set prices. You need at least one ticket level (i.e. general admission), but you can make as many as you’d like. Groups will often give special discounts for early-birds, students, or volunteers and also provide sponsor or host prices for high-dollar donors. You can set a ticket limit for some or all of the categories you create if you have limited space.

Once you reach that threshold of tickets sold, that level will “sell out” and automatically disappear from the options. A “Can’t Attend? Donate” box will appear under all of your ticket prices, so guests still have a way to contribute to the event if they can’t join you in person.

THANK YOU AND DETAILS

In the next step, you’ll write your email thank you text. While thank you text is always a great idea, it’s especially important when you’re throwing events. Make sure to include all the details people might need (including a contact number) so they’ll have all of that information handy.

PROMOTING AND MANAGING YOUR HOSTS

Once you’ve finished creating your event form, the rest of the editing tabs will appear. You’ll also see tabs for Tickets and Guests.

One of the most stressful parts of planning an event is helping hosts manage their invitations, holding them to their commitments, and making sure they get credit for every donor they bring in.

We have a sure-fire way to track this. Visit the Promote tab and give each host their own custom link to the event using refcodes. Every donor that uses the host’s link will be tagged with the host's name. The hosts are guaranteed to get credit for each contribution, donors don’t have to take any extra steps, and you can easily track it all in real-time in your Statistics tab data.

In the Tickets tab you can see how many tickets have been sold for each level, edit the limit or price, or disable any ticket level.

The Guests tab lists the name and ticket level of each guest along with any notes about food restrictions or other concerns that they left. You can download this information as a .CSV or as a printable guest list to bring to your event.

If you’d like to sell tickets at the door, we recommend bringing a laptop or a mobile device, pulling up the event form on an incognito or private browser (that means no cookies, so no one’s information gets stored) and having guests buy tickets as they walk in. You can also collect any additional donations this way.

For example, if you’re using an iPad at the door you can open Safari, tap the Pages icon (shaped as two squares) and then tap Private.

If you’re using a laptop, opening an incognito or private browser varies depending on what browser you’re using.

  • In Google Chrome, click File > New Incognito Window.
  • If you’re using Safari, click Safari > Private Browsing.
  • In Firefox, click File > New Private Window.
  • For Internet Explorer users, click Safety > InPrivate Browsing.

If you’re using a different browser, the steps should be similar.

Have more questions about pulling off a great (and smooth) fundraising event? Let us know, we’d love to help brainstorm!

Selling Merchandise


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Selling Merchandise


Selling merchandise

Everyone loves being able to represent the causes they care about and we make it easy for you to build your own campaign store so your supporters can do just that. We’ve seen everything from bumper stickers to baby onesies sold on ActBlue, so the sky’s the limit — just follow our simple guidelines so you can keep your team on track and your donors happy.

Note: While selling merchandise is fun, it’s also hard work, which is why you’ll notice a lot of strong suggestions from us throughout this section. We’ve seen campaigns and organizations face difficulties with this in the past and run into “swagsasters.” We want to provide you with the guidance you need to avoid those issues and be successful in selling merchandise if you choose to.

You need to make sure you have the infrastructure for fulfillment before you start selling your goods. Donors will expect to receive what they’ve purchased in a timely manner. Once you have that infrastructure in place, you'll be ready to follow the instructions below.

Visit your campaign or organization’s Dashboard and click “Sell Merchandise” under the “Start Fundraising” prompt on the “Metrics” tab.

On the first page of the form you’ll fill out the usual stuff, as well as a customer service email and phone number, and a shipping time frame. All of these boxes are required, and they’re very important. You'll need to monitor the email address and phone number you enter regularly. Donors will always have questions about their orders, and you need to make sure your team can be responsive.

Adding a shipping timeframe cuts down on donor questions, but make sure it is reasonable and accurate. If you know you can’t deliver the product in 1-2 weeks, don’t promise that timeframe. Honesty is the best policy here, and you’ll maintain stronger donor relationships if they know what to expect!

Next, upload all of the gifts you want to sell. You’ll need to give each one a name and a price and upload an image of the gift so donors know what they’re purchasing. If you have a finite number of goods, you can also add a limit.

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Once you’ve sold all the available merchandise, the option will disappear from the form. Make sure you don’t accidentally sell more merchandise than your vendors are prepared to make! Hit save once you’re satisfied with the information.

Click “edit image, description and options” in order to give your item a description or add variations, like sizes or colors. Type in an option that you’re offering (i.e. size) and enter the various choices (i.e., S,M,L) separated by commas and save the changes.

You can access your contributor information as usual for reporting purposes. Please note that items sold are considered gifts in return for a contribution to your organization, and your organization is responsible for producing and shipping your goods in a timely fashion. The following message will be displayed on the store Contribution Form:

The items on this page are being offered as a gift by “Your Organization” in gratitude for a contribution at the designated level. The estimated shipping time for the gifts is in 1-2 weeks.

“Your Organization” is solely responsible for producing and shipping your gift. If you have questions about your gift, please contact them at info@yourorganization.com or 555-555-5555.

Producing and Shipping

You can download a CSV of all of the orders your page has received. This will help make the order fulfillment process a little bit smoother.

We strongly recommend that you have all of your vendors set up before you start selling any gifts, and that you have a dedicated team member who will be in charge of fulfilling orders. Selling t-shirts or bumper stickers is a great way to bring supporters into your campaign or let them show their solidarity, but if they receive their purchase after election day, or months after they placed their order, they’ll be left feeling disappointed.

Pop-up Recurring


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Pop-up Recurring



Pop-up Recurring

Our pop-up recurring feature allows you to ask donors to make their one-time donation a recurring one after they’ve hit “Contribute." Their one-time contribution will already have been recorded, so you won't lose out on any donations.

It’s an easy and fast way to begin building a recurring contribution program, so the pop-up recurring threshold is set at $100 as the default for all Contribution Forms. If you’d like to make the amount higher or lower, or turn off this feature, feel free to change the Pop-Up Recurring Threshold.

You can read more about recurring programs here.

To set up this feature, navigate to the Edit tab of your Contribution Form and scroll down to the “Show Recurring Contribution Options” tab. This will expand and allow you to see the options for the pop-up recurring feature.

First you'll want to enter an amount into the "Pop-up Recurring Ask Threshold" box. Donors giving less than this amount will receive an ask to make their contribution recurring.

You probably don't want to ask a $1,000 donor to make their donation a recurring donation. But you might want to ask a $5 or $25 donor to convert to a monthly recurring gift. If you want to turn if off for everyone, leave it blank or enter a “0.”

The "Pop-up Recurring Ask Blurb" is the text you want to appear on the pop-up. Try to remind your donors why a continued investment in your campaign or organization is important to your long term goals. You’ll want to keep this blurb as short as possible, to make sure it’s not overwhelming for your mobile donors.

After donors give, they’ll see the pop-up box on their screen. They always have the option to skip the monthly donation. Here’s what it will look like:

When the donor presses the Contribute Now button on the form, we’ll initiate a charge for the one-time donation. If they choose to "make it monthly" on the pop-up then we convert their donation to monthly recurring. If they hit skip or do nothing (close the page, etc.) the donor will only see the one charge they initiated on their credit card statement.

Over the course of an election cycle, the pop-up recurring feature can build a large base of recurring donations.

Tandem Fundraising


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Tandem Fundraising



Tandem Fundraising

Tandem fundraising, which allows you to fundraise for yourself and one or more other candidates or organizations, is one of the best tools that campaigns or organizations can utilize. Whether you’re a senator looking to keep your list active and engaged or an organizer trying to generate interest in your niche issue, tandem fundraising can be a powerful tool.

First we’ll explain how to set up a tandem Contribution Form and then get into reasons to form a tandem fundraising coalition, as well as how to implement it successfully.

The group that will be sending out emails or publicizing the fundraising campaign should create the Contribution Form. That way it will have their branding on it and their supporters will feel at home when donating. It also highlights the fact that they’re making a personal ask on behalf of another group.

Set up the Contribution Form as you normally would (if you need a refresher, click here).

Once you’re happy with your page, click the Add tab in the menu on the left. You can either search for your candidate or group, or use our handy directory. If you’re raising for a candidate, make sure you check the election year and office listed, as there are sometimes multiple accounts per candidate. Once you’ve found the appropriate group or candidate account, click “Add.”

If you’re raising for a slate of candidates, continue adding candidates or organizations until you’re finished. We recommend sticking to a smaller group of candidates or organizations, so donors aren’t overwhelmed or confused by the splitting of their contribution.

When you land on a tandem form, you’ll see the normal amount buttons with a note underneath saying who the donation will be split among. You can still click a button to allocate different amounts to each candidate, but donors are less overwhelmed when they land on the page.

Here’s an example: Kirsten Gillibrand’s Off the Sidelines PAC, which supports women candidates. The form is branded to look like the PAC’s website, and the Contribution Form allows you to give to one or all of the candidates and organizations.

We note that your donors will have the ability to choose one amount, which will be divided between the candidates affiliated with the form, but they also have the option to click the “Click here to allocate amounts differently” link, as you can see above, making the Contribution Form display a way for the donor to choose exactly how much they’d like to give to each individual candidate.

Donors will receive an itemized receipt for their records with each individual contribution.

If you made a mistake or want to remove someone from the Contribution Form, you can return to the Edit tab and scroll to the bottom where each group is listed. Click “remove” to take them off of the form. You can add or drop candidates or groups from the form at any time.

If you’ve done Tandem fundraising before you’ll also be able to see a tab for Tandem Stats on your entity Dashboard.

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Here, you can see a breakdown of your tandem fundraising contributions and you can search for contributions within a specific date range of two years or less.

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Wondering when and why you should do tandem fundraising and how you make it work? We break it all down below.

Campaigns and Candidate PACs

Tandem fundraising is a great way for established candidates to keep their email lists active when they’re not up for reelection and also help out newer candidates who don't have wide bases of support yet. It’s a great way to grow your list, while also growing the party.

If you’re a senator up for reelection every six years, you’ll absolutely lose your list if you don’t engage them consistently during that gap between elections. Lists need to be cultivated and kept involved, otherwise you’ll see huge unsubscribe numbers and unresponsive supporters. The problem is that it can be hard to find reasons to fundraise and stay in the conversation during your non-election years. Tandem fundraising is the perfect option.

You can show your public support for candidates with upcoming elections by sending out a fundraising ask, while also raising for yourself. As a more senior official, you’re in a unique position to help them launch their campaign or win their first big election.

In doing so, you’ll be building a powerful coalition, so you can continue to work for your shared values and build the party. At the same time, it gives you a real reason to ask your base for donations for your campaign or PAC during a quiet period or off year. That means you’ll be more prepared when your own election season rolls around. And your small dollar supporters get to join you in the party building.

Go forth and build coalitions!

Causes and Caucuses

Slate fundraising (where an organization, caucus, or committee fundraises for a group of candidates) is a great way to put your issue front and center and generate funding for the candidates working on it.

Slate fundraising organizes campaigns and candidates in a way that helps donors understand the value of a contribution. While the average donor may not normally give to a secretary of state candidate, they do value keeping our elections open and honest. The Secretary of State Project asked donors to protect elections across America by giving to our election-protectors - secretary of state candidates across the country - and in doing so were able to build a powerful movement out of an otherwise dry and complicated issue.

You can make this strategy work for your organization too. Are you part of the progressive caucus in your state senate, or are you running the women’s caucus? Ask your supporters to give to the women working on passing fair pay laws. It’s a more tangible and compelling goal than getting 5 women from a range of districts elected. It’s a great opportunity to bring in fundraising dollars and to educate your donors on your issue.

Weekly Recurring


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Weekly Recurring



Weekly Recurring

When you’re in the waning weeks before Election Day, asking supporters for a monthly recurring donation doesn’t make much sense. Instead, it's a great time for you to start a weekly recurring contribution campaign. Weekly Recurring allows donors to pledge a certain amount of money each week leading up to Election Day. The donation will be charged on the same day of the week as the initial contribution — so focus on Monday and Tuesday asks. Donors will be signing up for a shorter commitment, and you’ll receive an infusion of cash every week right up until the election. It’s a great way to raise money and also to ramp up donor excitement leading up to the big day!

Our team can turn on the weekly recurring feature starting eight weeks prior to the election and once you have it enabled, it's pretty simple to turn it on for a specific Contribution Form. Click on 'Edit' and scroll down to the 'Show Recurring Contribution Options' link and click that. You'll see a list of options, so be sure to click on 'Use weekly contributions.'

Make sure you also turn off pop-up recurring if you have it enabled — these two features aren’t compatible (yet!).

When setting up a weekly recurring ask via email, the parameters are fairly straightforward, you’ll just need to swap out &recurring=true for &recur_weekly=true. Here's an example link for a $10 weekly contribution:

https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/deals?express_lane=true&recur_weekly=true&amount=10&refcode=exp_rec_w

And the image below shows what an entire email ask box looks like. Note that the disclaimer clearly explains that the payment will go through each week from now until Election Day.

Weekly recurring is a great tool, but it’s also a big commitment for donors. Enabling it too far out from Election Day will discourage donors from making a recurring commitment, which is why this feature can be accessed no more than 8 weeks out from Election Day. Once your election is over, the recurring donations will automatically cease being charged weekly.

Embedding Video


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Embedding Video



Embedding Video

Do you have a great video message that you think will convince supporters to donate? We make it easy and safe for you to add it to your Contribution Form.

Click on the Edit tab of your Contribution Form and paste the YouTube link in the box we provide.

We’ve built this feature with a special YouTube embed tool that ensures your form will be secure for donors, which means your page won’t display a security warning.

While this can be a great feature if you've got a specific message to spread, the vast majority of videos actually reduce the number of people that contribute. It’s best to test a video on your form before sending to your full list, unless it’s more important that people see the video than donate.

Preset Contribution Amounts and Express Room


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Preset Contribution Amounts and Express Room



Preset Contribution Amounts & Express Room

We recommend you choose custom contribution options (meaning those radio buttons donors can select) for your form. Donors always have the option to enter their own amount, but this allows you to give supporters a frame of reference for how much they should give.

To enter your contribution options, click on the Edit tab of your Contribution Form and scroll down to the “Options” section where you’ll see a place to enter your list of preset contribution amounts — enter these as a list of amounts separated by commas with no spaces.

While it is possible to push donors to give slightly higher donations based on contribution amounts, it's still important to make sure the amounts you suggest are in line with the type of supporters you have on your list. If your lowest radio button is $50, a potential $5 donor might feel like their donation doesn't matter.

You also have the option of pre-setting the donation amount that you’re asking for and a suggested number of months (if you’re asking for recurring contributions) for a donation link. Go to the Promote tab of your Contribution Form and enter the desired amounts.

If you're not asking for recurring contributions, leave the month field blank. Donors can manually change the donation amount on the Contribution Form, but it's best to ensure they have to do as little work as possible in order to contribute.

Copy the link that's generated, and drop it into your fundraising email or add it to your website. If you're not sure how to embed a link, check out our HTML Guide. Anyone who clicks the link will see pre-selected buttons on the Contribution Form.

If your committee is using Express Lane, when an Express User goes to your Contribution Form, they'll see a different version of the form that cuts down on the steps they have to take to contribute. Since their information is saved, all they have to do is click the radio button for the amount they'd like to give, and their contribution will process automatically!

Express Lane


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Express Lane



Express Lane

Express Lane is our single-click donation program that helps you raise more money and dramatically increases conversion rates. We’ve seen campaigns bring in 3x more money with Express Lane!

We encourage donors to save their payment information after contributing in order to become Express users. Once a donor is an Express user, all they need to do in order to donate is click a link you provide. Express Lane increases conversion rates for all users, but it provides an even greater boost when users are donating on a mobile device.

We have over 1.25 million Express users who are shared across all of our campaigns, committees, and organizations. That means you’ll most likely already have a big pool of Express users on your email list.

If you’re interested in having Express Lane turned on for your organization, contact us here.

How it Works

Express Lane works based upon two factors: a special URL parameter on each link in your email and a cookie on your potential donor's device. If either of those isn’t present the donor will see a normal contribution form. For example, if you send a link without a parameter to an Express User or you send a link with a parameter to a non-Express User, they will see a normal Contribution Form. If this is the case, donors won’t accidentally get charged if they click one of these links.

Express Lane works with both one-time donation asks and recurring donation asks.

We've built tools to make the building of the special URLs easy and quick. Once you have the basics down, you can skip the URL building tools and craft extremely customized ask amounts and strategies.

Here's How to Get Started:

The first step to using Express Lane is to email info@actblue.com or an ActBlue team member to turn on the Express Lane feature for your account.

Express Lane is only available to campaigns and organizations who use ActBlue exclusively — both on their websites and in fundraising emails.

After Express Lane is turned on, go to your contribution form and click the “Express Lane” tab. There you’ll see the Express Lane Custom Link Generator.

Once you get to the Link Generator, you can select the dollar amounts for your Express links, the link text, and the refcodes. The Link Generator will then spit out a block of code for you to use.

Enter the dollar amounts for your Express Lane links in the “Amounts” box. These need to be separated by commas, with no spaces between numbers.

Place your link text in the “Sentence” box. You must include “AMOUNT” where you want the dollar amount to be.

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For example if you want your first Express link to say “Click here to donate $5 immediately”, the Sentence box should read “Click here to donate AMOUNT immediately.”

The “other text” box should be left filled with “Or donate another amount” so that your donors can choose a different amount to contribute other than the preset amounts.

In the “Refcode” box, choose a refcode. We highly recommend adding a refcode to your Express Lane links, so you can track which dollar amounts performed the best and optimize your link structure over time. Type in your desired refcode and check off the box that says “Include amount at the end of the refcode.” That ensures that you’ll be able to differentiate between each link. The “refcode” is optional, but extremely helpful in tracking the returns from your emails.

Also optional is a monthly “recurring” parameter which makes whatever amount you are charging process monthly for a certain number of months. Scroll down to the recurring section to find out how to set this up.

Once you have filled in the boxes, you can copy the code generated in the bottom of the blue box.

PUTTING EXPRESS LINKS INTO AN EMAIL

Paste the code you copied from the Link Generator into the HTML version of the email you are sending to your donors.

Here’s what the Express Lane code will look like:

<div class='express-lane-links'><p class='info'>If you've saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:</p>

<p class='link amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/gamechange?express_lane=true&amount=5&refcode=top_link_5'>Express Donate: $5</a></p>

<p class='link amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/gamechange?express_lane=true&amount=10&refcode=top_link_10'>Express Donate: $10</a></p>

<p class='link amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/gamechange?express_lane=true&amount=25&refcode=top_link_25'>Express Donate: $25</a></p>

<p class='link other'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/gamechange?refcode=top_link_other'>Or donate another amount.</a></p></div>

When a donor clicks one of these links they’ll immediately be contributing the amount specified by the link — in this case, the links at the top of your email.

It’s extremely important that you include the disclaimer language in the code and that it is clearly visible in the email. The disclaimer states “If you’ve saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately.” You want to be sure that your donors understand that by clicking the link they will be contributing immediately.

One extremely important detail to remember is that your “other amount” link should not have the “express_lane=true” parameter, which turns on Express Lane for each individual link. The tool we’ve built will generate the correct links, so be sure to use it when building your own links. Your donors (and lawyers) won’t be happy if you automatically charge people for donations they haven’t agreed to.

Before you send the email to your donors, double check that your Express links are working properly and the contribution amounts coincide with the links you’re sending.

Here’s a sample Express Lane ask:

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR LINK AMOUNTS AND STRUCTURE

We have some basic recommendations for selecting Express link amounts and structure, but feel free to use your understanding of your donors and what works for your email list when making your decisions. You should also try out different tactics in different fundraising emails or in different segments of your list if it’s big enough.

We generally recommend that you select 3 to 5 different dollar amounts for your links. Typically you start with the lowest dollar amount.

The most popular amount donors choose to give is typically the lowest amount suggested. That's why it's important that you think about the goals of your fundraising campaign. Do you want to make as much money as possible or have as much participation as possible? If the goal is to increase participation, you should start with a smaller amount, such as $3 or $5. For a recurring donation ask, your amounts should be smaller since you are asking for donors to contribute that amount every month.

You should look at your contribution history and see how much people typically give. You don’t want to pick amounts significantly lower than your donors typically contribute, but at the same time selecting amounts that are much higher than average could drive donors away.

To help with this, you can create tiers of donors to help organize your email sends based on what your supporters have contributed in the past. You can separate these categories into low, middle, and high-tiered donors. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a $50 ask to your donors that have a history of contributing $10 at a time.

Test and experiment with different strategies to see what works best for you and your list.

RECURRING CONTRIBUTIONS

At ActBlue we’re big believers in monthly recurring donations. Our testing has shown that Express Lane and monthly recurring is a powerful fundraising combination!

Express Lane allows donors to set up a recurring donation with a single click. Just use the “recurring=1” parameter to set the link for unlimited recurring in the URL along with the other required parameters.

<div class='express-lane-links'><p class='info'>If you've saved your payment information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:</p>

<p class='link amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/consequences?express_lane=true&amount=10&recurring=1&refcode=bottom_link_rec_10'>Express Donate: $10 a month</a></p>

<p class='link amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/consequences?express_lane=true&amount=25&recurring=1&refcode=bottom_link_rec_25'>Express Donate: $25 a month</a></p>

<p class='link amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/consequences?express_lane=true&amount=50&recurring=1&refcode=bottom_link_rec_50'>Express Donate: $50 a month</a></p>

<p>Or donate another amount:</p>

<p class='other amount'><a href='https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/consequences?amount=10&recurring=1&refcode=bottom_link_rec_other'>https://secure.actblue.com/contribute/page/consequences</a></p></div>

Remember to turn on unlimited recurring contributions by heading to the Edit tab of your Contribution Form. Scroll down to "Recurring Contribuion Options" and click to see a menu drop down. You can then choose "Use unlimited monthly contributions."

When working with Express Lane recurring asks, you must clearly explain to the donor that not only will their card be charged immediately when they click the link, but also that their card will be charged monthly thereafter. The text for your links MUST read: "Express Donate: AMOUNT a month."

LIST MATCHING

Want to know how many Express Users you have on your list? There may be members of your list that have never given to you before, but have given to other campaigns and have saved their ActBlue Express information, so we’ve made it possible for you to upload your list for us to match, but it’s not necessary for you to match your list in order to use Express Lane.

We do not use uploaded email addresses for any purpose other than matching and annotating your list. We’ll keep the list of Express Lane enabled email addresses for 48 hours after matching to allow you ample time to download, but we won’t hold on to your uploaded list any longer than that.

We’re happy to help you get started matching your list. Just email us at info@actblue.com.

Form Duplication


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Form Duplication



Contribution Form Duplication

If you have a fundraising form that you want to copy, there are now two places you can do that. Click on the Edit tab of a Contribution Form and you should see an option to duplicate the form beneath the header at the top of the page.

You can also duplicate a form by visiting the Fundraise tab in the green bar at the top of ActBlue’s homepage. Hover over the Fundraise option and you should see a “Manage Forms” option drop down.

From that page you can see all of the Contribution Forms associated with your username.

Click the orange duplicate button on the right hand side. You’ll then be prompted to name your new form.

Everything else about the Contribution Form will be copied over exactly as it is on the original Contribution Form. This feature is particularly useful if your campaign or organization does a lot of emailing and creates a new form for each email.

If you’re not creating a new form every time, you should. It’s a best practice. All of your favorite settings will be set up, so you can just replace the form content to match the new email blast.

If you are running tests within one page, the upgraded testing tool is still the way to go. But this should be a significant time-saver for your digital or finance team.

Metrics


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Metrics



Metrics

Your Metrics page will help you get to know your donors and make smarter decisions by tracking statistics like how many people used ActBlue Express, Express Lane, 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 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. These tools make your fundraising decisions, like making an additional ad buy or sending out a kicker for your email blast, easier than ever.

Lists of your candidate, committee, or organization's top Contribution Forms and events are at the bottom of the Metrics page, so you can quickly see which initiatives have performed the best over time.

Adding Users


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Adding Users



Adding and removing users

You'll want to make sure only current team members have access to your candidate, committee or organization's ActBlue account. We make it easy for you to keep the list of users up to date.

Visit your group’s Dashboard by selecting it from the “My Committees” dropdown menu when you’re logged in, and click on the User Access tab.

Scroll to the bottom of the page and type in your colleague's email address. If they already have an ActBlue account, their name will pop up and you can click "Add User."

If you want to add a user to the account who has never used ActBlue before, enter their email address and click the button that says "Create User sample@sample.com and grant access." We'll send them a link to create an account and add them as a user on your account.

We know staff turnover is a fact of life. If you want to remove a user from your account, just click "Remove User" next to their email address. You can also set up contribution alerts from this page. Find out how here.

Here you can also reassign Contribution Forms once owned by a specific user. Just click the “Reassign forms” option like in the screenshot above and you’ll see a prompt like this:

Contact Information


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Contact Information



Updating contact information

Visit your Dashboard by logging in and clicking on your candidate, committee, or organization under the "My Committees" dropdown menu. Click on the Settings tab to access all of your contact information. Update any of the relevant fields and click save at the bottom of the page.

The address you provide for us here is the place you’ll receive your checks, so it's important for us to have current information so that we can contact you with any donor issues and make sure you get those checks on time!

Contribution Alerts


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Contribution Alerts



Contribution Alerts

If you’d like to know when 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. You’ll receive the alert for any donation larger than that amount. This is for your entire entity or organization, rather than a specific Contribution Form.

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.

You can also set up contribution alerts for a specific Contribution Form. You’ll see an Email Alerts tab in the menu on the left side of your form once you’ve clicked the Edit button.

You should click on “new Contribution Form alert” where you’ll see a pop-up prompt to choose an email from your users.

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You can also choose to set up alerts for refunds, that way if someone from our team refunds a donor you’ll receive an email.

We’ve also added a “Manage Email Alerts” tab under the “My Account” drop-down menu on the homepage. If you’re set up for alerts on more than one email, you can visit that page to keep track of everything.

Donor Data


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Donor Data



Accessing your donor data

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

First, you should read through your campaign or organization’s specific compliance and reporting guidelines, so you have a good understanding of the rules and regulations.

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.

If you use Excel, Access, or any other donor tracking software, you can then import our CSV contributor data. CSV, which stands for comma-separated values, is a popular and universal file format that should work with all types of software.

Click to download your data as a CSV and you’ll have the option to download the information for each individual check or download a large fundraising report containing all of your data.

Scroll to the bottom to find your latest report or look for the correct data and check. You’ll find that reports are listed from earliest to most recent.

If you’d like to download a report for a specific Contribution Form you can do so from the Statistics tab of that form.

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 at the top of your Compliance page.

There, you’ll see a description of how to import your data into NGP.

You’ll need to download both the data file and the fundraiser file for each check that you report.

Overall Recurring Dollars


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Overall Recurring Dollars



Measuring your overall recurring dollars

If you've implemented a recurring contribution program (and you absolutely should), you'll want to track your results so you can make smarter budgeting decisions. Go to your campaign Dashboard by clicking on your group's name under the "My Committees" drop-down menu and click on the Recurring tab.

Here you'll see how much money your group is projected to bring in, how many active recurring supporters you have, and how much you've raised in the past through recurring contributions. The chart on the bottom of the page gives you a breakdown of how many dollars you'll bring in each month for the next two years.

By clicking on the Overview tab, you’ll see the amount of recurring dollars you’re projected to bring in, broken down by month for the past 13 months.

You can also see the total amount you’ve raised from recurring contributions over time by clicking the “Total contributions” radio button below the chart. Here, you can also see new contributions and any new contribution amounts.

If you scroll down further you’ll see a table with another detailed breakdown of your recurring program, including your number of supporters and your new supporters each month, as well.

If you click on the Recurring Retention tab, you’ll be able to see two visualizations of your recurring program and your overall recurring dollars.

The first chart you’ll see (the Retention Matrix) groups recurring contributions together by month. You can look left to right to follow the monthly trends of a group of contributions.

Rows represent every recurring contribution that began that month and the numbers 0-13 above the columns represent the number of months since the initial donation. The percentages represent the retention rate of those contributions.

You can look left to right to follow the monthly trends of a group of contributions, look top to bottom to figure out what happens to contributions after a specific number of months, and you can spot trends.

It’s important to note that a campaign or organization that is just getting started building a recurring program won’t see as many rows and columns in their chart and that every campaign’s retention rates will be different.

You’ll also see a second graph (the Cohort Decay) like the one above. Here, you can hover over each of the lines to see the monthly recurring contribution fulfillment rates. This helps you to get an idea of the trends that are normal for your organization.

The grey and yellow lines represent the retention rate for a month’s worth of contributions. Basically, each row from the chart on top of this page is represented as a single line in this graph.

The red line is a trend line, which can help you gauge whether a month’s recurring pledges are over- or under-performing. Lines above the red line are being fulfilled at a higher rate than average and the opposite is true for lines below the trend line.

Refunds


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Refunds



Refunds

Your refund center, which you can find under the Refunds tab of your organization’s Dashboard, lists all refunds made from your ActBlue account in response to donor errors and credit card chargebacks.

There are two types of refunds:

  • A refund made before the funds are sent out to a committee (pre-disbursement)
  • A refund for a contribution that has already been sent to a committee (post-disbursement)

Pre-disbursement refunds may not need to be reported by the committee in many jurisdictions, since the money was never distributed to the committee. They're listed here for your administrative ease and are identified with "N/A" in the "Disbursed" column.

Post-disbursement refunds may need to be reported by your committee. For these refunds, click on the "Disbursed" date to see the original check that contained the now-refunded money.

In order to recover the money from your committee, we deduct it from your pending check. Once that check is cut, you can click on the date in the "Recovered" column to see the check that contained the refund.

You can also search for specific donors or contributions by going to the Search tab in the menu on the left of your Dashboard.

Issuing a Refund

If someone contacts you directly for a refund, you can feel free to take care of that. For example, if you know a particular donor is over their contribution limit, or ran a donor card incorrectly, you can handle that refund right away in-house.

Navigate to the search tab of your Dashboard, fill in the donor information that you have available, and click search. Once you’ve found the right contribution, you can click on the associated date to open up all the contribution information.

If the contribution is eligible for a refund, you’ll find a drop-down menu at the bottom of the screen where you can choose the reason for your refund and process the refund.

If the contribution has already been disbursed in a check, you’ll see a message prompting you to contact ActBlue Customer Service to obtain a refund.

Email Blurbs


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Email Blurbs



Email Blurbs

When a donor’s credit card has expired or we’ve processed their recurring contribution, we send out standard customer service email responses, which we allow you to customize.

We encourage you to write a few lines of text specific to your campaign or organization to add on to these standard responses. These blurbs add a personal touch and let your donors know how much you value their engagement with your movement.

To add in custom text of your own, scroll down to the “Blurbs, Disclaimers, and Tracking Codes” section of the page, where you’ll see three prompts for custom email text.

If you don’t choose to write up blurbs for these sections, don’t worry! They’ll still receive a standardized message that provides the important customer service information.

The “Decline email blurb” box allows you to add custom text to the email your donors receive if their contribution is declined. You can encourage your donors to reach out to their bank in the event that their card is declined or provide a way for them to follow up with you. Here’s an example of an email response if a contribution is declined:

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The “Expired email blurb” is the email text you want your donors to receive if their credit card has expired. You can thank them for trying to make a contribution and ask them to update their credit card information. An email for an expired credit card would read something like this:

The “Recurring email blurb” is the text you’d like donors to see along with their recurring contribution receipt every month. This is a chance for you to let your donors know how much their continued support means to you. An email response here would read something like this:

You can also include a custom message or pitch to donors on individual Contribution Forms. Just visit the Edit tab of any Contribution Form and scroll down to Advanced Options.

There you’ll see prompts for an Express blurb and a Thanks page blurb.

After non-Express users donate on your Contribution Form, they'll have an opportunity to sign up for an Express account. The Express blurb is your chance to pitch Express to them and get them to convert. Leave them a note letting them know how convenient contributing will be if they save their information and how much you value them taking the time to do so.

After your supporters contribute, they'll see a "Thanks" page, which lets them know their contribution was successful. Just fill in your message in the "Thanks page blurb" box. Let them know how much you appreciate their support.

Here, you can also include a Thanks page redirect URL.

This gives you the opportunity to send your donors to an action page on your website, like a petition. Or, you can redirect them to a volunteer form and ask them to take the next step in supporting your cause.

After contributing, your Express Users will see a popup that says, “Your contribution succeeded, thanks!” for 5 seconds before being directed to the page you’ve chosen. They’ll still receive their email receipt automatically upon contributing.

Fundraising Email


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Fundraising Email



Writing a great fundraising email

What makes a good email program?

What’s most important here are the fundamentals: telling a compelling story that drives your supporters to take action.

Write an email that you think will really resonate with your donors, tells a compelling story, and has a good theory of change — give them a meaningful action they can take that will actually bring about a change they want to see. Don’t worry too much about length or other factors at first. Your biggest tool is going to be great writing.

You’ve probably heard a lot of rules of thumb: use a one word subject line, make the button really big, keep your emails short. And on and on. The good news is there really aren’t any hard and fast rules, just general guidelines.

Every email list and group of supporters is going to behave differently, so you need to figure out what yours wants. Keep in mind that will change over time too, so this will be an ongoing process. Not even the most experienced email writers can predict what their list will respond to six months down the line.

The bad (or rather fun news, for all of us emailers) is that you can and should test the various email characteristics for yourself. If you have questions about testing for your large list, or figuring out the right move for your small list, get in touch with us. We’d love to work with you to set up a great program.

If your list isn’t big enough for testing (you’ll need at least tens of thousands of people), then write the best email you can and always keep your donors in mind when you’re making decisions. Watch what large organizations are doing with their emails (and more importantly, what they’ve stopped doing) to get a sense of what is testing well for other groups.

Sending an Email Step-By-Step

First you’ll need to tackle the actual writing of the email. You can either designate this to one person on your team, or have multiple people come up with drafts that you can combine or use separately for copy tests. If your organization has the capacity to write emails on different topics or from different angles, this is one of the best ways to invest time in your digital program. You’ll often see a large difference in donation rates from one email pitch to the next. And most importantly, make sure to have your work proofread by a colleague (twice!).

While you’re working on your content, you’ll want to pull a list of all of your supporters from your database. If you’re testing this email, make sure to work out what group sizes you’ll need to pull. You can read more about testing in our tutorial here.

Once you’ve got your groups and content all set, you’ll need to send yourself and your colleagues test emails. Check them again for grammar and check and double check that all your links work and contain refcodes if you’re using them. Having multiple sets of eyes for this step will help.

When you feel really really confident, hit the send button and watch the donations roll in on your ActBlue page (it’s addicting!). Make sure you have each and every step to sending an email at your organization documented, and that everyone on your team has access to it. That way, you’ll be able to handle any news story that comes your way.

It’s important to work out your rapid response system in advance and hold people to their role. Reducing the number of people who need to sign off on every message will make it possible for your team to send out emails as quickly as possible, allowing you to capitalize on a relevant news story.

Content: Building Your Story

Why are stories important? We all respond to storytelling — it’s how we define ourselves, and how organizations can define themselves. Your job is to tell your organization’s story to donors in a way that makes them want to be a part of it.

If a supporter feels an emotional pull, they’re going to be motivated to take action. Facts and numbers can be great for backing up your story, but it’s more important to provide your donors with a narrative that compels them to pull out their credit card.

Make sure every email you send contributes to your organization’s ongoing narrative and goals, and that it’s in the right tone of voice. That means you should maintain a consistent style, but also keep it friendly. You’re having a conversation with supporters, not writing a report.

Our friends over at New Organizing Institute have recommended answering these 4 questions before you start writing your email:

Why now? Why me? Will it help? How much?

You need to make a clear and direct pitch to your email list, convince them that your cause is urgent, worthy, and that their donation can actually make a difference. This is your theory of change, and it works like this:

If I do this, then this will happen.

So: If I give $5 today, then the campaign will be able to hire an organizer to reach more voters in my neighborhood.

Once you’ve figured out what you’re asking for and why, you can build your narrative. If you’re pitching to newer supporters, a compelling story about how your work affects community members is a great idea. If the opposition has made a particularly crazy statement this week, you can use that as a jumping off point to highlight how your candidate or cause is different.

Here’s your new mantra: You are not your list. When you’re crafting your message, imagine your typical supporter and write to them. Above all, make sure your writing is engaging and that you have a story to tell.

Always remember that something timely/urgent is going to win your donors over more than even the most well-crafted narrative. Responding to the news with an urgent and important email send will provide your donors with a motivation and evoke that emotion we mentioned previously.

If you’ve got the time and resources, we highly recommend doing a content test. Send out two or three different emails with either completely different topics, or slightly different narratives and see what your list responds to. It’s not always immediately clear which story will resonate, and this takes the guesswork out of it. Remember to take a step back and think about your larger organizational narrative and the kind of stories you want to tell. It’ll make your program more successful in the long run.

Email Structure

Remember that you’re competing for attention in the inbox with other organizations, friends, and family, so readability is key.

Try to start off with a sentence that’s engaging — whether it gets them excited, intrigues them, or even makes them angry. Keep it to one sentence if possible.

Keep paragraphs short - blocks of text can be intimidating. Your first ask should come after the first couple of paragraphs — the earlier the better. If you wait any longer you’ll lose interest, or you’ll risk donors having to scroll down on their email browser to see any type of action. Whether using Express Lane or linking text, be sure to bold all of your links.

As we mentioned earlier, you might think that only shorter emails work, and while it’s true that you’ve only got about 3 seconds to hook your reader before they click away, you’re not necessarily looking for everyone to make it to the end. The important part is that you have clear asks and compelling content.

Many groups have had success with very short emails. We’ve tested this at ActBlue, and moderate length emails tend to win out for us because they work with our narrative and our list. That being said, make sure every word counts. If you can cut down and tighten your email, then you should absolutely do that.

Note that shorter paragraphs are especially important to mobile conversion rates. Long paragraphs of text can negatively affect the readability of your email even more so on a mobile device. More and more donors are contributing this way — 24.7% of contributions we processed came from a mobile device in the first quarter of 2015.

Making The Hard Ask

You might feel uncomfortable asking for money right off the bat, but it’s a skill that anyone can learn. And if you and your supporters are truly committed to your vision, they’ll be happy to give.

Be realistic. A donor’s money isn’t going to help you cure cancer (unless you really are doing cancer research). But it will help to fuel a movement. Think about what you really need the money for, and let donors know. If you need TV ads, tell them how much each one costs. If you need office supplies to make posters for a rally, that will work too. Communicating your needs to donors and putting a human face on your work will increase their likelihood of giving.

Be active. Don’t say “Click here to give $5” or “If you’d like to support our campaign, you can donate here.” Make the hard ask, and give them a reason to give. Something like “Can you donate $5 right now so we can open a new field office?” And make sure your donation links are bolded and stand out.

Again, your first ask should come relatively early in your email, ideally sometime after paragraphs 2-4. In a traditional email, you’ll follow that up with another 2-4 paragraphs and another ask. This second set of paragraphs should argue something slightly different. Try and take a different but related approach to convincing someone who may not have been sold by your initial paragraphs to give when they get to that second ask. Remember to keep these paragraphs relatively short, so that your email looks visually appealing and easy to read.

If you’re a candidate just starting out, we strongly recommend that your launch ask is for donations. It will be your most urgent need at that point, and the list you start with will likely be made up of past supporters, so they’ll be primed to give right away. Make sure you don’t miss out on an important opportunity to jump start your campaign and get supporters invested.

Subject Lines: The Most Important Test You'll Run

Subject line tests are probably the most important types of tests you can run. Your supporters can’t donate if they don’t open your email, so subject line tests can dramatically increase conversion rates. You’ll see open rates that vary 2-6 percentage points on average based on subject lines and response rates will often vary in proportion. However, you should always go with the subject line with the highest response rate. For example, a flashy subject line that doesn’t match the content could lower the overall response rate.

A good rule of thumb is to test three subject lines per email. Usually you measure the this by number of donations, and if that doesn’t give you a clear answer, by open rates. Sometimes you’ll have a really great subject line that gets a lot of opens, but it’s not attracting the donor types you want, so that’s why you shouldn’t get too hung up on open rates.

We try to always include at least one one-word subject line. Despite our skepticism, they they often turn out to be our best performing subject line. Other good subject lines will highlight a buzzword or popular topic, or entice the supporter to read more.

Email frequency and schedule

You can’t treat your list like an ATM if you want to keep your supporters. You also can’t send them a handful of emails a year and expect to get great action rates. But with a bit of scheduling and cultivation, you can send frequent emails without increasing unsubscribe rates.

Your email schedule is dependent upon your specific list and the size of your organization. For example, if you’re in the home stretch of a candidate campaign, you can send more frequently, but make sure that every email is important and unique.

Work backwards from your budget: how much do you need to raise, and how much do you typically receive from each fundraising email? For candidates, keep in mind that as you get closer to an election, you’ll usually bring in more money per send. At ActBlue, we see our highest volume days in September, October, and early November. To give you some context, we processed over $38.2M in September of 2014, but just $10.2M in February of the same year.

Monthly donations can be your secret weapon, and there are a whole host of reasons why they’re great, from monthly budgeting to supporter cultivation. But the most important one is that they raise more money. You can reduce your workload significantly by asking your donors for recurring contributions. Take this graph, for example.

The blue line represents an email send with a one-time ask and the pink line represents an email with a recurring ask. After the initial send the one-time ask brought in $1,770 and the recurring ask brought in $1,635 — not much of a difference at first. But five months later the recurring one has brought in $5,900. This example illustrates how much money you can raise in the long-term by doing the same amount of work as you would sending a one-time ask.

You can read further about recurring contributions here.

Despite your schedule, if a really great fundraising opportunity presents itself, make sure you take it. You don’t want to pass up a potentially huge moment because you’re not ready or working on other projects. The emails that aren’t planned have the potential to do exponentially better than the ones carefully crafted ahead of time because they have urgency. So make sure you’re flexible enough to handle opportunities as they come in.

Quick Reminders

  • Test your subject lines
  • First ask should come in paragraph 2-4
  • Bold each link and try to make it stand apart
  • Start off with a short, punchy sentence or paragraph
  • Make your ask reasonable
  • Give a reason for people to give
  • Keep it friendly
  • Don’t treat your list like an ATM
  • Keep your emails mobile device friendly

Branding


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Branding



Designing a great branding

We’ve already gone through how to make a branding. Now we’ll show you how to design one that looks professional and polished.

Color

First, you’ll want to make sure that your branding looks like an extension of your website. The background color is key to maintaining that consistency. Since you may not know the exact hex color code for your organization , there’s a color picker that pops up when you click on the “Background Color” field. Choose your color and it will fill in the appropriate color code for you.

If you want to match the shade exactly, follow these steps:

Mac: Go to your applications folder and click on Utilities. Open the application called DigitalColor Meter. You’ll have a few options in the box for how to display the color. You should choose Adobe RGB. Hover your mouse over the color you’d like to identify and write down the R, G, and B values.

Next, go to this site: http://www.rgbtohex.net/ and type the values in. You’ll get the hexcode for your color, which you can type in on the brandings page. Now you’ve got that perfect shade of blue!

PC: There are lots of tools out there for you to use, but we recommend the Google Chrome ColorPicker Eyedropper, which you can use with a Google Chrome browser. It’s easy and safe to use.

You can find the extension here. Click the + Free button to install the software. Then click on the ColorPicker icon to the right of your website bar. Click once on your page to activate the picker and then click on the color you’re trying to match on your webpage. The hex code will pop up, which you can copy and use for your branding.

Image

Make sure you keep your logo short so that it doesn’t push your Contribution Form down on the screen. This is critical to the conversion rate and something we’ve tested here. You don’t want your supporters to have to do any extra work in order to donate.

You want to choose a high quality version of your logo (or as high quality as you have available). Try to stay away from using only big pictures of the candidate or distracting images. Your logo is the unifying image in your campaign, so it will make donors feel more at home when you use it here.

CSS

If you’ve got a tech person on staff who knows how to do CSS, you can get in touch with us, as we’d love to talk through any design ideas with you. However, you don’t need any custom CSS to make your branding look great, so if you don’t have experience with CSS, it’s much better not to edit this section at all.

Examples

We’ve created some amazing brandings here at ActBlue, and also seen campaigns create their own beautiful designs. Here are some of our favorites, which can serve as inspiration.

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HTML


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HTML



Using HTML on your ActBlue Contribution Forms

When adding text to your fundraising page, you can just type regular text (separate paragraphs with a blank line). But if you want to use bold, italics, bulleted lists, etc., this formatting guide will show you how. We only allow limited HTML on our forms, so keep it simple!

To indicate that a set of words should be formatted in a specific way, use HTML tags, which are just simple commands enclosed in < >'s. In most cases, you'll need to enclose a set of words inside a pair of tags, which indicate the beginning and ending of the text to be formatted.

The simplest way to explain it is by way of example, which we've provided below.

Feature

Tags

Example code

Result

BOLD<strong></strong>Losing is <strong>not</strong> an option.Losing is not an option.
Italics<em></em>Today's <em>Boston Globe</em> reported that...Today's Boston Globe reported that...
Links<a href="URL"></a>Please visit <a href="http://www.candidatewebsite.com"> my candidate's web site</a> to learn more.Please visit my candidate's web site to learn more.
Line Break<br>Short line <br> A longer line of text <br> Short againShort line
A longer line of text
Short again
Block Quotes<blockquote></blockquote>Great news from the campaign today: <blockquote> We'll be unveiling a major new initiative next week. </blockquote> Looking forward to it!Great news from the campaign today:
We'll be unveiling a major new initiative next week.
Looking forward to it!
Numbered Lists<ol></ol><ol>
<li>
Number one</li>
<li>Numero dos</li>
<li>san-ban</li>
</ol>
  1. Number one
  2. Numero dos
  3. san-ban
Bulleted Lists<ul></ul> <ul>
<li>Number one</li>
<li>Numero dos</li>
<li>san-ban</li>
</ul>
  • Number one
  • Numero dos
  • san-ban

ActBlue Graphics


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ActBlue Graphics



ActBlue Graphics

Below you'll find a bunch of ActBlue badges in popular sizes that you can download and add to your website. Just right-click on the badge you want and save it.

If you're a designer and want to incorporate high-resolution versions of the ActBlue logo and design elements into your designs, get in touch.

Actblue Badge 150px Actblue Badge 80px Actblue Poweredby
Actblue Badge Plain 150px Actblue Badge Plain 80px
Actblue Badge Lock 150px Actblue Badge Lock 80px
Contribute Button 150px B Contribute Button B
Contribute Button 150px Contribute Button
Fundraise Button 150px B Fundraise Button B
Fundraise Button 150px Fundraise Button
Actblue Lock Large Actblue Lock Medium Actblue Lock Small