Getting Started


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Getting Started


 

Getting Started

READ THIS TO GET YOUR ACCOUNT UP AND RUNNING

Contribution Forms


Contribution Forms


Step 1: Make a Custom Contribution Form

The first thing you should do once you’ve set up your ActBlue account is create a contribution form to be used on your website or in your fundraising emails.

You can create as many custom contribution forms as you’d like -- it only takes a few minutes!

1. Choose your form

Once you’ve logged in to ActBlue you’ll see the My Dashboards tab in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Click to open up a side menu that lists all of the campaigns or organizations you work with on ActBlue.

Visit your group’s Dashboard by clicking on the appropriate organization within the menu. Click the “Create Form” button in the left hand corner, or navigate to the Metrics tab and choose “create a contribution form” in the blue box.

If you press the "Create Form" button in the top left corner, you'll be given the option to create a contribution form, an event form, or a merchandise form. Be sure to select the option for contribution forms. 

2. FILL IN THE ESSENTIALS

The basics come first. Give your form a title and a short blurb explaining why a supporter should donate. Being specific about why you need the money and what you’ll use it for will help motivate your supporters to give. 

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

Please note that images will need to be in http:// format. If you don’t have a file in a link format, you’ll need to host the image on an image hosting website like Dropbox or Google Drive. And if you want to add HTML, click the pencil icon.

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

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

You can choose whether or not to display your form’s fundraising totals. Just check or un-check the box labeled "Public" at the bottom of the page. If the box is left un-checked, the funds raised from that form won’t be reflected in your public totals across ActBlue.

We also provide you with the tools to add goal thermometers to your contribution forms, as a visual representation of your team’s progress for the donors who land on your forms. You can click the linked text to find out more. But for now, click the button in the lower right-hand corner to skip this step.

3. CUSTOMIZE

Now that you have the basics down, you can customize your contribution form. You can make these selections now, but you’ll always have the opportunity to change them later.

BRANDINGS

You can add a branding to your form, like the one below, to include a logo or color scheme on contribution forms you’re sending out to donors. Below is an example of a contribution form with custom branding. 

Essentially, a branding layout is a template that you can apply to any contribution form, specific to your campaign or organization. If you’ve created one already, click the drop-down menu and select which one you’d like to use for this form.

If you haven’t created a branding for your campaign or organization, we make it easy for you. You can find out how to create your own branding with your group’s colors and logo here.

RECURRING Contributions

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

You can choose to use monthly contributions that recur for a specified amount of time, customized by your team. Or, you can use unlimited monthly contributions, which can recur as long as a donor wants to remain a monthly supporter.

You can also choose unlimited monthly recurring and smart pop-up recurring, which will show one-time donors a pop-up prompting them to commit to a monthly contribution of a smaller amount than their initial contribution. You can read more about smart recurring here.

REMARKETING

We’ve built Remarketing into our contribution forms, so your campaign or organization can follow up with visitors who landed on your form but didn’t actually complete their contribution.

Once you’ve turned on the feature, donors who abandon your form before completing their donation will automatically receive an email thirty minutes following their incomplete donation.

So, if a donor selects a contribution amount and fills in their email address, but leaves the page before going on to fill in their credit card info, we’ll make sure they get a reminder with a link to your form asking them to complete their contribution.

You must enable Remarketing on a form-by-form basis, as the feature is turned off by default. If you want to learn more about how to turn it on for your own forms just follow this link.

PRESET CONTRIBUTION AMOUNTS

You can also choose what contribution amounts appear on your form. Donors will always have the option to type in their own amount, but it’s a good idea to make sure that the amounts that appear on the form are in line with the type of supporters you’re targeting. We’ve tested the current standard presets and determined that they’re the best overall, but you should think about what makes sense for your program.

Presetting contribution amounts will make it easy for your donors to quickly choose an amount, as you can see below. For more help setting up preset contribution amounts, click here. 

THANKING DONORS

When your donors chip in to support your cause they deserve some thanks! Write a short thank you note for donors and make them feel like they’re a part of your movement. Your message must be in plain text (no HTML formatting) and will be added to the top of the automated receipt sent via ActBlue after a donor makes a contribution.

4. PROMOTE

Time to get the word out! Donors aren’t going to find your contribution form on their own. You’ll need to put in some hard work to raise your funds.

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

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

5. MAKE CHANGES

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

Most importantly, you can see what your contribution form will look like from a donor’s point of view by clicking "View your form" in the menu on the left-hand side of your screen.

The Dashboard


The Dashboard


Step 2: Using Your Dashboard

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

ACCESSING YOUR DASHBOARD

When you’re logged in to ActBlue you’ll see the My Dashboards tab in the upper right-hand corner.

Clicking My Dashboards will bring you to a menu on the left-hand side of your screen where you’ll be able to easily navigate to your group’s page.

If you’re working with multiple groups on ActBlue, you’ll see a list of the campaigns or committees you have access to, and you’ll be able to toggle between them.


You can also choose to click the arrow at the right of each campaign or organization to see a list of that group’s contribution forms. 

METRICS

This is the home section of your Dashboard -- here, you can analyze all of your fundraising data and create new contribution forms. You can also create event or merchandise forms here.

You can view fundraising data from the last week, month, year, or any customized length of time. You can get to know your donors and make smarter decisions by tracking how many people used ActBlue Express, PayPal, or a mobile device when donating. Everything is tracked in real-time so you can make faster decisions when it comes to your fundraising program.

RECURRING

This page will help your team track your recurring donations.

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

Check out this page for a more detailed breakdown of everything you can learn from your team's Recurring page. And check out our guide to building a recurring contribution program, which includes our visualization features to help you evaluate your recurring program.

FORM MANAGEMENT

Here you can access your campaign or organization’s forms all in one convenient place.

They’re listed in descending order by default, starting with the most recent form that was created. Click on any of the headers to sort the forms the way you’d like.

This list shows your form names (or slugs), the number of contributions they received, the amount of money they raised, and whether or not you chose to brand your forms. You can also duplicate a form from this page, with just the click of a button.

Further, if you want to hide a form, just hit the Archive button in orange at the right of the table.

If you choose to archive a form it can no longer be viewed, which also means it can no longer receive contributions or be edited, but you can revive a form if you need to. You can read more about archiving forms here.

Here, you also have the option to Download a contribution form CSV report. This report will give you a detailed breakdown of your contribution forms, including how much they raised and the forms’ titles.

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

You can also use this tab to assign default settings to your contribution forms. Follow this link to learn more about adding default settings to your forms.

SETTINGS

You can update your team’s contact information in the Settings section. The address listed here will be the same place we send your checks, which means it’s extremely important that it’s always up to date. We want to make sure you get your money!

USER ACCESS

Great fundraising comes from a great team! You can add team members to your account in the User Access tab.

Just type in your colleague’s email address and click “Grant Access.”

If that person doesn’t have an ActBlue account yet, we’ll send them an email with instructions for creating one. Users who already have an ActBlue account will be able to see your campaign or organization's Dashboard the next time they login. Click “Remove User” to revoke access.

EMAIL ALERTS

You can set up alerts for contributions or refunds over a certain amount in your Email Alerts tab.

Just click “new campaign alert.”

Enter the threshold for receiving an alert, and choose whether the alert is for contributions or refunds. Although it might be tempting to hear from us about every donation or refund, we recommend choosing a relatively high number so you won’t be inundated with emails.

Finally, you’ll have the option to subscribe a third-party ActBlue user (someone working with your team who might not need full access to your Dashboard) to your contribution or refund alerts. If you choose to do so, they’ll start receiving emails, but won’t be granted access to your ActBlue account.

Donor Data


Donor Data


Step 3: Accessing Your Donor Data

Your team will need to file contribution reports in order to be compliant with federal and state law. We’ve made it easy for you to access your contributor info so you can have the data you need to meet any and all reporting deadlines.

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

Please note that what you see here might be a little different if you’re a group with a merchant account.

First, you should read through the compliance and reporting guidelines we’ve laid out for you. Just click the link within the Disbursements tab.

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

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

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

You can also download a CSV for a specific check or disbursement of funds. Just head to the Disbursements tab underneath the Reporting center heading.

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

If you want to view data for a specific check or disbursement without downloading a CSV, just click the Details button next to the CSV link.

There, you’ll be able to view both contributions and refunds for a check or disbursement right from your ActBlue Dashboard.

DONOR DATA FROM A CONTRIBUTION FORM

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

You’ll find the Statistics tab along the menu on the left when editing your contribution form, or directly on your form above your custom blurb.

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

NGP DATA

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

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