Refcodes (short for reference codes) are URL parameters that you can add to your contribution form links in order to collect useful data about where your donations are coming from.
For example, did a donation come from the first link in the email you sent yesterday, your website, or your social media account? Refcodes will record that information for you.
Here are some common use cases for refcodes:
- If you’re testing content, refcodes will help you determine which message is working best for your supporters.
- 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.
- If you’ve got multiple links in an email, you can find out which link most people are using to give.
There are many more ways for admins to use refcodes. We recommend using refcodes for every fundraising link you send out.
Go to the "Contribution Forms" tab of your dashboard and select your form name in the list of forms.
Then under the "More" dropdown on the form editor navigation bar (form navbar) at the top, click the "Promote" button.
A pop-up will appear, with sections for you to write in refcodes, preset dollar amounts, and recurring settings.
The first section circled in pink is where you name your refcode. Pick a short word or phrase to use as your refcode (you can use letters, numbers, or underscores, but no spaces or punctuation) and type it in the field. Your link will generate at the top. To get accurate data, make sure that you don’t repeat any refcodes on the same contribution form!
The section circled in yellow is where you can preset the contribution amount that will be selected when a donor lands on your contribution form.
The section circled in green should only be filled out if you are explicitly asking for recurring donations in your fundraising email or text message. All campaigns and organizations who use “Recurring” in their form links, like using “Recurring” in the “Promote” pop-up, should explicitly ask for a recurring contribution before sharing the form link anywhere (including emails, text messages, and on websites). We require users to use language like “a month,” “monthly,” “weekly,” or “recurring” to make it clear to donors that by clicking your link or linked button, they are making a donation that will recur more than once!
To set up recurring contributions, close the pop-up and select the "Edit" button on the form navbar.
Then select "Recurring settings" tab in the form editor.
Here you can choose to use unlimited monthly contributions or set a specified number of monthly contributions. We recommend using unlimited monthly contributions. Once you've chosen your settings, save them by clicking the green "Publish" button at the top. After publishing, close the form editor and select "Promote" again. Your recurring settings will affect what you enter into the "Recurring" section of the "Promote" pop-up. If you selected “Use unlimited monthly contributions,” enter “1” in the field. If you selected “Use specified duration monthly contributions,” write the number of months you want contributions to recur in the field.
When you’re done creating your refcode and presetting your link, copy the link at the top of the page and place it in a fundraising email or on your website, using explicit recurring language as explained above if needed.
You can make as many refcodes as you’d like using this generator. Just copy the new link each time you make a new refcode. For example, you could make a refcode for every person on your team to send to their contacts by using their names.
If you’re comfortable, you can also add the refcode, preset contribution amount, or recurring parameter to your links without using our generator. To do this, start by adding a “?” after your link. Then add each parameter (“refcode=”, “amount=”, or “recurring=”) after the question mark. Separate the parameters with ampersands. The order of the parameters does not matter.
If you’re using ActBlue Express Lane, refcodes are critical for determining which donation link amounts people are clicking. If you have questions about creating refcodes and using them with ActBlue Express Lane, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Analyzing and Visualizing Your Refcodes
To see which refcode raised the most money, click the "Stats" button on the form navbar.
Your contributions are listed by refcode. You can see how much money each refcode brought in, as well as the conversion rate, mobile donation rate, and recurring stats. If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll be able to see the total amount the form brought in.
If you need to, you can search for a specific refcode. The search bar is in the top right-hand corner of your Statistics page.
You can also see a visual breakdown of your refcodes by clicking “Toggle refcode chart.”
You’ll see a chart like the one below that visualizes your contributions by refcode.
Refcode charts give your team a look at how much your refcodes have raised within a certain time period, how much they’ve raised over time, and even how much they brought in on an hourly basis.
You can look at this chart at various points after sending an email so you know how each refcode is performing.
Each refcode will be represented by a specific color. You can view only your best performing refcodes by specifying how many you want shown in the “Limit to top refcodes” box. This is a quick and easy way to figure out which content and which links are working best.
Using Multiple Refcodes
Sometimes using a single refcode to collect all of your data can get too complicated, especially if you’re running a complex testing program. 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 on your Statistics page, but you’ll have access to all of that data when you download the CSV for your contribution form.