How to do everything on actblue


Preset Contribution Amounts

Preset Contribution Amounts

Preset Contribution Amounts

You can set the donation buttons on your contribution forms to any amount you want. While donors will always have the ability to enter their own amount, the preset contribution amounts set a frame for how much donors might want to give.

Toggle open the “Options” menu in the Edit tab of your contribution form, and you’ll see a field where you can enter your preset contribution amounts.


List up to seven amounts separated with commas and no spaces. It’s important to offer a range of contribution amounts on your form -- if your lowest preset contribution amount is $100, some donors who can only give $10 may feel like their contribution won’t matter and choose not to contribute.


If you’re fundraising through an email, you can also preset the contribution amount and number of recurring months (if you’re asking for recurring contributions) by customizing the links you include in the body of the message. Go to the “Promote” tab of the form and enter the amounts.


As you can see, the link is now customized with the contribution amount and number of recurring months, and you can drop this link into a fundraising email.


When a donor clicks on this link, they’ll see the buttons for that amount and number of recurring months preselected on the contribution form. If your committee is set up with ActBlue Express Lane, and an ActBlue Express user clicks on one of these links, their contribution will process automatically for that amount and number of recurring months.

 To learn more about ActBlue Express Lane, click here. To inquire about getting your committee set up with ActBlue Express Lane, reach out to us at info@actblue.com.

Branded Forms

Branded Forms

Branded Forms & Receipts

With brandings, we give you the tools to create custom-designed contribution forms and receipts. Creating brandings is a quick and easy process that ensures your forms match your campaign or organization’s style.

Creating branded forms & receipts

To get started, log in to ActBlue, and click “My Dashboards” in the top right-hand corner of the homepage.


From your Dashboard, select “Brandings” in the side menu. Click “Create one” to get started (or “New Branding” if you’ve created a branding before).

First, you’ll want to create a name for your branding. This name will only be visible to you and your team.


Below that, you’ll see two checkboxes. If you select “Default,” the branding you create will be automatically applied to any new forms you create. You can change your default branding or the branding associated with any of your forms at any time.

Checking the “Public” box will make your branding available to users outside of your campaign. Some ActBlue donors choose to go that extra step and make their own contribution forms to fundraise for specific candidates or causes they support. If you make your branding public and send these users the link, they’ll be able to edit their forms to match your organization.

Here’s how you design your branding:

First, you’ll want to select a header image. This is usually a logo or similar image. It is not the spot for a photo of your candidate or a large image.

Then, you’ll select a background color. You want to choose a color that will keep your form consistent with the look of your website.


If you know your organization’s hex color code, you can type it in here. A hex color code is a series of numbers and letters (#XXXXXX) that specifies an exact color, and we recommend using one to make your form look professional. If you don’t know your hex color code, you can click in the “Background color” box and a color picker will pop up. You can use this to pick a color that matches your campaign or organization’s style, or read about how to find your hex color code here.

You also have the option to add a header URL, which you can use to direct donors to your website or another action if they click on the header of your form. We don’t recommend including a URL, as donors might click away from the contribution form before finishing their donation.

If you would like to use a background image instead of a background color, check the box that says “Use background image.”  Then click “Choose File” to upload your image.


We recommend choosing an image under 150KB, because larger images may increase page load times (and longer wait times may deter donors).

Here is an example of a branded form that uses a background image:


If someone on your team knows CSS, you have the option to make additional changes to your form in the “Custom CSS” box, but this is by no means necessary to make a great branding.

We also give you the tools to customize the receipts your donors receive after they donate. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and click “Receipt Email Styles,” where you’ll be able to design your custom receipts.


You have the option of adding a background color, which you can do by using your organization’s hex color code, or by using the color picker.

Then, just add your logo or a similar image next to “Email header image.”

Here is an example of what a branded receipt may look like:


Finally, click “Save” to add the branding to your account.

If you want some assistance setting up a branded form or receipt, feel free to contact us at info@actblue.com!

Using your brandings

If you’ve set a particular branding as your default, that branding will automatically be selected when you create new forms, as you can see below.


You can also select a different branding than your default as you’re creating a form by using the dropdown menu.

Adding your branding to an existing contribution form only takes a minute! Click “Form Management” in the side menu of your Dashboard.


Here, you will see a list of all your contribution forms. Click the title of the form you want, then click “Edit” in the side menu.

Click “Options” underneath your contribution form pitch. Then, just click the dropdown menu next to “Branded Layout,” and choose the branding you want to use on your form.


Then click “Save.” You’re all set!

Using Refcodes

Using Refcodes

Using Refcodes


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.


After you’ve created a contribution form, head to the Promote tab of your Form Tools menu and take a look at our guide below.


The pink section 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 into the box. Your link will generate above the box. To get accurate data, make sure that you don’t repeat any refcodes on the same contribution form.

The yellow section is where you can preset the contribution amount that will be selected when a donor lands on your contribution form. The green section should be filled out if your links are going to a form that uses recurring contributions. 

To set up recurring contributions, go to the Edit tab of your Form Tools menu and expand the “Recurring Contribution Options” section.


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 made your choice, go back to the Promote tab in your Form Tools menu. Your choice will affect what you enter into the “Recurring months” box (the green section in the first image). If you selected “Use unlimited monthly contributions,” enter “1” in the box. If you selected “Use specified duration monthly contributions,” write the number of months you want contributions to recur in the box. Learn more about recurring programs here

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. 


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 info@actblue.com.


To see which refcode raised the most money, head to the Statistics tab of your Form Tools menu.


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.


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.




What is remarketing?

Have you ever placed something in your cart while shopping online but never actually made the purchase, only to receive an email shortly afterward that asks if you’re still deciding on it? That’s remarketing.

We’ve built that feature 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.

It’s a way to increase conversion rates and get the most out of each and every ask by bringing in more dollars without putting in much extra work.

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

What counts as an incomplete donation? 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. If that happens, we’ll make sure they get a reminder with a link to your form asking them to complete their contribution.

You must enable it on a form-by-form basis, as the feature is turned off by default.  

If you’d like to enable the feature just head over to the Edit tab of your contribution form. Scroll down and toggle the “Remarketing Options” drop-down menu.

Check off the “Enable Remarketing” box.


Next you’ll need to write up some custom text. We have an automated response (which you can see in the sample below) set up to accompany the link your donors will receive, but we highly recommend filling it out with text specific to your cause or campaign.


You should view your custom text as a chance to make the case to donors for why it’s so important that they finish the form and complete their donation. See below for an example of how to customize your text to get that message across to donors.


If you have branded receipts enabled, that branding will be included on this email. The example email above include’s ActBlue’s branding. An unbranded email won’t include any logo.

Default Settings for Contribution Forms

Default Settings for Contribution Forms

Default Settings for Contribution Forms

Default contribution forms allow you to keep your settings consistent across all of your contribution forms.

You’ll find your team’s default form at the top of your contribution list in the Form Management page of your Dashboard. We provide every group using ActBlue with a default contribution form automatically.

When you update your default contribution form, those updates will be applied to every contribution form that you’ve chosen to have those default settings.


To use your default form, just open it up and apply all the settings you want to use, like a branding or preset contribution amounts.

Once you’ve made all your edits to the default form and hit save, you can then go through your list of contribution forms and check off “Use defaults” for the forms you want to have your default settings.

You’ll see a pop-up asking if you’re sure you want to apply default settings to the form, since changes cannot be undone. But don’t be alarmed!

That’s because the default settings will override all of your form’s previous settings except for Page Name, Author, Contribution blurb, and url. That means if you leave something like the thank you text blank on your default form, none of the forms with default settings will have thank you text. So, be thoughtful in making your selections.

You’ll still be able to run an A/B test or set a goal.

And remember you can always choose to uncheck the “Use defaults” box for a form and make customizations separate from your default settings.


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


Contribution Form Duplication

Contribution Form Duplication

Contribution Form Duplication

If you’re constantly creating new forms, but only changing the copy and not the settings, you should consider using our form duplication feature. When you make a copy of one of your contribution forms on ActBlue, all the settings will be copied from the original form to the duplicate form, saving you time and making it really easy to create a new form for every email you send so you can track performance.

In your Form Management tab, you’ll see an option to duplicate next to every form.


You can also choose a form and click “Edit.” You’ll see a grey button with the option to create a new form based off an existing form here.


You’ll be prompted to choose a URL for the new form. Then click “Create form,” and you’ll be able to adjust any settings you might want to change on the new form.


Archiving Forms

Archiving Forms

Archiving Forms

To hide a form that you no longer need, you can archive it.


If you choose to archive a form it can no longer be viewed, receive contributions, or be edited. However, you can revive the form if you need to.

After archiving a form it will turn grey (as you can see below), but it will still be listed in the same spot in your contribution list as it was before it was archived.


If necessary, just click Revive at the far right of the table and the form will become active again.

Managed and Community Forms

Managed and Community Forms

Managed & Community Forms

Managed forms are contribution forms created by any member of your team with an ActBlue account.

Community forms are contribution forms created by a third party. For example, if a volunteer decided to create a form to raise money for your candidate or organization. You don’t have the ability to edit these forms, but you’ll receive all of the data, just like you would from a form created by someone on your staff.

You’ll notice a Managed Forms tab and a Community Forms tab on the top of your Form Management page in your Dashboard.


Just toggle between the two tabs to see a list of your team’s managed forms or community forms.  


Social Share

Social Share

Social Share

After donors finish a contribution, we give them an option to share their contribution on social media. This is a great way for them to share their passion with their social networks and engage and organize on your behalf.

With ActBlue’s tools, you can customize what Facebook and Twitter posts look like when your donors share that they’ve made a contribution.

To set up your social share settings for a particular contribution form, navigate to the Edit tab  and toggle open the “Social Share” section to fill in all of the information you’d like to include.  

You can add a title, description, and image for Facebook posts, as well as custom text for tweets. Please note that in order to add a custom image for Facebook, you’ll need to host the image online and provide a URL.


Here’s an example of what social share can look like on Facebook:


Please note that you may need to wait a few minutes for Facebook to cache your image. To see if your image is ready, visit Facebook’s Sharing Debugger.

Here’s how social share looks on Twitter:


By default, links shared via social share will direct to your ActBlue contribution form. However, you can choose a different link to be included for sharing on Facebook. For example, you could direct folks to your campaign website or volunteer sign-up page.

If you do choose a destination other than an ActBlue contribution form for your Facebook shares, your custom text and image settings will no longer apply. Instead, Facebook will automatically fetch images and text from the link your donors share:


Social share is a really powerful way to expand your reach, get the word out about your work, and raise more money. We highly encourage you to take a minute to customize it!

Using Fundraising Thermometers

Using Fundraising Thermometers

Using Fundraising Thermometers

Fundraising thermometers track donation totals on a single contribution form. You can add them to your website and include them in your emails. They’ll give donors a visual representation of just how close your team is to a specific goal. Here’s an example:


Thermometers are especially helpful if you’re fundraising on a deadline and want to have a way to get that across to your supporters.

To create a fundraising thermometer, visit the Goal tab of your contribution form.

Decide whether you want to measure participation (by number of donors who contribute), or dollars raised and fill in your first goal. Make sure it’s reasonable — a $1 million goal for a very small campaign or organization won’t compel supporters to donate. People want to help you hit a real and tangible target.


Next, set the start date of your fundraiser. Then, choose some additional goals, so that when you hit your initial goal, your thermometer will automatically update with a new and higher 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.

To add your thermometer to your website or fundraising emails you should visit the Promote or Goal tabs of your form. Click “Get Code” underneath the thermometer (either blue or white) that you want.

The code will automatically contain a link to your contribution form, with the refcode “thermometer.” You can change that refcode to anything you would like. This will help your team determine just how much money your thermometer is generating.


Copy and paste the the thermometer code into 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.

Please note that if you’re not seeing your thermometer updating on your website or forms, it’s most likely due to simple caching issues with your browser. Just clear your cookies, and you should be good to go!

A/B Test

A/B Test

Using the A/B Test Tool

A/B tests allow you to compare two slightly different versions of something to see which performs better. You can easily run A/B tests on your contribution forms using our platform. Our A/B Test Tool randomly splits everyone who clicks on the link to your contribution 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 versions and see which one received more dollars and donations.

One example of a good A/B test to try is comparing a plain pop-up recurring ask with a pop-up recurring ask that includes an added incentive for those who sign up, like a bumper sticker. We’ve found that this is one of the best ways to get recurring donations.

Setting up an a/b test

To set up an A/B test, go to your contribution form and then click on the “A/B Test” tab of your Form Tools menu. Give your test a descriptive name. The name will only be seen internally, so choose something that works best for you.


Underneath the name field, the “Automatic traffic allocation” option will automatically be selected (pictured below). This feature, also known as a multi-armed bandit algorithm, directs more traffic to the version of your form that is performing best so you won’t lose out on potential contributions, while still running a sound test. This is an easy, and highly recommended, way to run tests and raise funds at the same time. You can learn more about the multi-armed bandit on our blog.

If you uncheck the “Automatic traffic allocation” box, both of your forms will be allotted the same volume of traffic, even if one performs very poorly.

Select the feature that you would like to test:

This will be your variable. While you can test multiple features at once, if you want to run the most accurate test possible, you should pick just one. That way you will know it was the variation that caused a difference in visits, contributions, or contribution amounts. 


Once you’ve selected which feature you want to test, update the variation of that feature as needed. For example, if you are testing the form title, your current form title will populate and you’ll need to enter a second variation of the title (pictured below). 


Once you’ve finalized your test variations, click the blue “Create Test” button. Congrats — your test is live!


Once you create the test, you’ll be able to track each variations’ progress by returning to the “A/B Test” tab of the Form Tools menu for that form. This will show you traffic allocation, conversion rate, number of people who donated (conversions), number of visits, average contribution, and dollars per visit for each version of the form.


If you did NOT use the automatic traffic allocation (multi-armed bandit) option, you will need to click “Make Winner” on the variation that performed best in order to stop the less-successful form from being distributed. If you did use the multi-armed bandit method, the A/B test will do this on its own over time, but if you see a clear winner you can click “Make Winner” to speed up the process. 

Data on your A/B test will be included in your contributor CSV, which can be found in the “Statistics” tab of your form in the “Additional tools” dropdown menu at the bottom of the page. If you've offered any additional incentives, like a bumper sticker on a pop-up recurring test, information for all of the donors that signed up will be in the CSV as well.

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

Tandem Fundraising

Tandem Fundraising

Tandem Fundraising

Tandem Fundraising is an exclusive ActBlue feature that allows campaigns, organizations, and activists to fundraise for multiple groups on a single contribution form. When a donor gives on a Tandem Fundraising form, they can easily split their contribution between all of the groups listed (or choose which ones they’d like to give to).

You can create a form for your own campaign or organization and add others who are working alongside you in your issue area, or you can create a form that lists groups you’d like to help support. Donors can also create Tandem forms with their favorite candidates or organizations and send them to their personal networks. Check out our blog post on creating nominee funds for an example.

Whether you’re a senator looking to keep your email list active between elections, an organizer working to elect officials that will fight for your cause, or a charity working with other nonprofits to respond to a crisis like a hurricane, Tandem Fundraising is a powerful tool.

Potential Tandem Fundraising uses:

  • If you’re a candidate in a tough or unknown election, you can ask a popular office holder to email their list on your behalf and help you get more supporters (and raise some money for themselves). This is especially useful for down-ballot races, special elections, and Democrats running in Republican districts or against GOP incumbents
  • If you’re not up for election for a few more years but you need to keep your email list active, you can raise money for yourself and an organization or candidate working to address a current event
  • If you’re an organization or PAC, you can raise funds for candidates who will advocate for your cause
  • The options are endless!


Before creating your form, make sure you understand whom you can and cannot legally fundraise for. 

  • If your organization is designated as a 501(c)4 you have the ability to fundraise with other 501(c)4s, political groups, or 501(c)3s. 
  • If your organization is a 501(c)3 you can fundraise with other 501(c)3s and 501(c)4s, but not with political groups. 
  • If you’re a political candidate, you can fundraise with other candidates, 501(c)4s, or political groups. And you can always send out a Tandem 501(c)3 page as long as you don’t include your own campaign.   

If you want to create a Tandem form to raise funds for yourself and others, the candidate or organization that will actually be sending the form to donors should be the creator. This will highlight the fact that they’re making a personal ask on behalf of another group(s) and let them add their own branding to the form. 

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 Recipients tab in the menu on the left. 


Search for your candidate or group in our directory. If you’re raising for a candidate, make sure you pay close attention to 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.”


Continue adding candidates or organizations until you’re finished. If you try to add an organization and see the message below, it means their tax designation does not allow you to raise funds for them. 


If you only want to raise for others and not yourself, you’ll create the form yourself. You’ll just need to go to the Recipients tab of your Form Tools menu and click on “Remove” next to your name. This is useful when responding to situations like natural disasters where you want to give your donors a chance to help others. 


If you made a mistake or want to delete a candidate or group from the contribution form, you can also remove them this way. 


When your donors land on a Tandem Fundraising form, they’ll see the usual amount buttons with a note above them saying that their donation will be split among every group on the page. Here’s an example: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ran a Tandem Fundraiser to help re-elect Senator Claire McCaskill. The form is branded to feature Kirsten so her donors will feel at home.


If a donor selects the $25 button on Kirsten’s form, $12.50 will be donated to Kirsten and $12.50 will be donated to Claire. There is a $1 minimum for all donations, so if a donor gives $5 on a form that lists 10 groups, the first 5 groups will receive $1 each, and the rest won’t receive any donations.

Alternatively, your donors can choose to split their contribution in a different way by clicking the “Click here to allocate amounts differently” link. 


The donor can then choose exactly how much they’d like to give to each individual candidate or organization, as shown below. Donors will receive an itemized receipt for their records with each individual contribution.


The order your groups appear in on your Tandem form will stay the same unless you choose to randomize them. If you are listing more than a few organizations, we highly recommend using our randomization feature to avoid the first group(s) getting all the money when people don’t contribute enough to benefit everyone on the form. To do this, head to the Edit tab of your Form Tools. 


Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Options to see a dropdown menu for making customizations. Check off “Randomize the order of the groups on your contribution form.” Scroll down and hit save.


If you choose not to use the randomization feature, you have the option of manually dragging and dropping the groups in your form’s Recipients tab to reorder them. 




To see how much you raised for yourself and the others on your Tandem form, open the form and click Stats. The first table will show your overall results — contributions to all of the candidates and organizations listed on the form, combined. Scroll past that table and click on the dropdown menu for “Contribution summary by recipient” beneath it.


Here you can see how much was raised, and by how many contributions, for each candidate or organization on your Tandem form. 


Every active entity will also have a Tandem Stats tab in its Fundraising Overview menu. If you’ve run a Tandem fundraiser, you’ll be able to track and compare results for the groups you’ve raised for by clicking on this tab.


You can search for contributions within a specific date range of two years or less.


Tandem Fundraising is proving to be a key tool in the resistance movement. With Tandem forms, donors can give quickly to multiple candidates and organizations they care about, or they can build their own contribution forms listing groups they want to support and rally their networks around. It’s a great way for candidates and organizations with the same goals to work together and maximize their fundraising.

Planning Events

Planning Events

Planning Events

You can easily sell and track tickets for an event using our tools while keeping all of your fundraising in one place. Events are a great way to raise money and build relationships within communities, but they can take a lot of work. We’ve streamlined the hard stuff — selling tickets, tracking responses, working with multiple hosts — and put it all in one place so you can avoid event-induced headaches.

To get started, click the blue “Create Form” button in the top left corner of your Dashboard. 


Clicking the “Create Form” button will display a drop down menu. Make sure to select “Event Form.” 


Step 1: Fill in the Essentials

You’ll need to give your event form a name, a pitch (event description), and a web address.


We recommend including any relevant details about the event in your pitch to help people decide whether to buy tickets. See below for sample pitch text to use as a guide:

Please join us for an event to support Your Favorite Candidate or Organization
A few lines describing what will be happening at the event or why people should come
8:00pm, June 25, 2017
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 (###) ###-####

Typically guests will have questions about the event, so it’s best to give the most important information (time, date, location, how to RSVP, contact information) up front.

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 (covered in Step 3!). That way, only donors who are attending your event will have the information. If you do this, you should include a line in your event pitch explaining what information will be sent in the email receipt so guests are not confused when making their purchase.

Once you are happy with your invitation, click the green “Proceed to ticket prices” button at the bottom of the page.


Step 2: Add your ticket types

You can create as many ticket levels as you’d like. To begin, fill out the ticket name and price in the first field on your screen, and press save. Once you have created one ticket, a new blank field will pop up beneath it for you to create another (pictured below). If you no longer want a ticket option to appear on your form, select disable. 

Your ticket options could be adult, child, student, etc. like we show below, but you may also choose to create specific donor levels such as friend, host, sponsor, and VIP. You can change their order by dragging and dropping them. 


If you want to include an option for free tickets, just enter $0.00 as the price. A “Can’t Attend?” donation box will appear under all of your ticket prices so supporters have a way to contribute to the event if they can’t join you in person. This donation box is on every form by default and cannot be removed. 


If you have limited space, you can set a ticket limit for some or all of the ticket levels by checking the Limit box. You’ll then be prompted to enter a specific number of tickets that can be sold at that price. Once you reach the threshold of tickets sold, that level will sell out and automatically disappear from the options. 


After buying a ticket, everyone will be asked for the name(s) of the guest(s) and any special dietary and accessibility requirements they may have, as shown below.


However, if you’d like to provide a specific prompt for your guests, you can write your custom label, which will replace “Notes,” in the Special Requirements Prompt when you are creating your tickets. 


When you are satisfied with your ticket options, click the blue “Proceed to customizations” button at the bottom of the page. 


Step 3: Customize your event form

Now that you’ve got the basics, you’re ready to customize your event form. You can choose a custom branded layout for your form to get your guests excited for a great event. 


This is also where you’ll enter your email receipt text, which will only be seen by guests who purchase tickets. We recommend thanking your guests for buying a ticket and including any information you only want guests to know, such as the address or personal contact information of the event coordinator. If you create a ticket type that allows entry for multiple guests, be sure to ask for all of the guest names in your email receipt text.

Once you select “Save and proceed,” you will be taken to the “Promote” tab of your Form Tools menu to finish creating your event. 

Step 4: Promote your event

If you’re having hosts sell tickets on your behalf, it’s important to keep track of how many tickets each of them sells. The “Promote” tab in your Form Tools menu can help you with this. You can create a custom link for your event form for each host to use when they sell tickets. To do this, type the host’s name (or other identifying feature, if you prefer) in the “Refcode” box. 

Original link:


Custom link:


Every donor that uses a host’s custom link to buy a ticket will be tagged with the host's name (or whatever you set as the custom refcode). This way, hosts are guaranteed to get credit for each contribution, and you can easily track their progress in real-time in your “Statistics” tab. To learn more about refcodes, click here

Now your event form is complete! To look at the form, go to the “View your form” tab in the Form Tools menu. 


Managing Your Event

If you need to edit your event form, go to the “Edit” tab of your Form Tools menu like you would for a regular contribution form.


If you need to modify the tickets, or add a new ticket option after you’ve created your form, go to the “Tickets” tab of your Form Tools menu. 


You can make adjustments here and your form will be updated in real-time. 

To view your event’s guest list, go to the “Guests” tab of the Form Tools menu. 


Here, you can view all guests attending the event and their special requirements, and you’ll have the option to print a guest list. This is also where you’ll go if you’re using the AB Events App to check people in at your event. The AB Events app is currently the only way to electronically check guests in with our tools (you can’t use your Dashboard), so be sure to learn about it here


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 additional donations this way.

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


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.
  • In Safari, click File > New Private Window.
  • In Firefox, click File > New Private Window.
  • In Internet Explorer, 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, and we’d love to help brainstorm!

AB Events App

AB Events App

AB Events App

We know managing a fundraising event can be stressful. Luckily, our AB Events App makes it easier than ever for groups to handle all the moving parts smoothly and efficiently on the day of your big event. The AB Events App makes it simple for volunteers and staff to keep track of ticket sales before the event and quickly check in guests the day of. It also lets guests and donors choose to show their ticket on their mobile device, rather than going through the hassle of printing out a ticket and remembering to bring it.

Getting Started

First, you’ll want to create your event form so that guests can start buying their tickets. Learn more about creating an event form here.

Then download the AB Events App by visiting the Apple app store here. (Unfortunately, the AB Events App is only supported on Apple products at this time). 

Once you open the app, you’ll see a screen that asks you to scan your event code or enter it manually.


Your event code was created when you made your event form. To find your event code, navigate to the “Guests” tab of your event’s Form Tools menu. You’ll see the unique code, as well as a QR code that you can scan. 


Once you enter your code, you’ll be able to see your guest list and start managing your event!  

Checking guests in

When you’re at your event and ready to check people in, you can either scan their ticket by clicking the orange “Scan Ticket” button or search for their last name in the “Search attendees” box. Scanning a guest’s ticket will automatically check them in. If you’re checking guests in manually, search by their last name (not full name or first name). Swipe right when their name comes up. This will check them in and turn the sidebar next to the guest’s name green. 


Once a guest is checked in on one device, they’ll be checked in across all the devices that your staff and volunteers are using, as well as your ActBlue Dashboard! This way, the guest list is updated across your entire team in real-time. 

To view a guest’s ticket type or any special requirements they indicated on their tickets, click the blue information circle next to the guest’s name. 


This will bring up a box like the one shown below.


You’ll also be able to track your event attendance in real-time throughout your event by looking at the tracker at the top of your guest list. 


Adding Volunteers

If you have a big event, you’ll likely want more than one person checking in guests. You should make sure your staff and volunteers have iPads or iPhones with the AB Events App installed. 

Once you’re at the event, give staff and volunteers the unique event code to type in or scan in the app. You can get the code in the “Guests” tab of your event’s Form Tools menu, or you can access the code directly in the AB Events App by clicking Menu and selecting “Add ticket taker.”


There, you’ll see your unique event code and your QR code for scanning.


Adding multiple ticket takers makes it easy for event coordinators to delegate check-in responsibilities and focus on other event logistics. 

Checking guests out

If you’re hosting an event where guests will be coming or going and you want to keep track of numbers, the AB Events App offers you the option to check guests out as well. Simply swipe left on a guest’s name. 


If you have questions about the AB Events App, we’re happy to help! Just send us an email at info@actblue.com and our team will get back to you.

Selling Merchandise

Selling Merchandise

Selling Merchandise

Selling merchandise can be a great tool for engaging supporters -- they get to represent causes they care about, and you get to promote your work. That’s why ActBlue gives you the tools to easily sell merchandise to your supporters.

Selling merchandise does come with some challenges. It’s important to have a plan for fulfillment already in place, so you can get merchandise out to your supporters in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, you’ll end up upsetting the people who are most invested in your cause. Please also note you are solely responsible for producing and shipping any gifts offered through your ActBlue merchandise page.

Once you’re ready to start selling merchandise, navigate to your Dashboard. At the top of the Metrics page, click “sell merchandise.”


In the first tab, you’ll need to give your merchandise page a title, as well as provide a customer service email and phone number so donors can get in touch with any merchandise fulfillment issues.

You also need to enter a shipping time frame. This will be shared with donors, so be realistic with how quickly you can get merchandise out the door. You don’t want your donors to get frustrated with longer-than-expected wait times.

In the second tab, you can add your gifts. It’s important to note that pieces of merchandise are considered gifts in exchange for a contribution to your campaign or organization, so you’ll need to report these contributions as you usually would.

You’re required to add a description of each item, a price, and an image so that donors know what they’re buying. If you have a limited supply, enter the number you have available. After that many are sold, the option will disappear from the form.


In the third tab, you can add the usual customizations to your form, like choosing your organization’s favorite branding.


To edit or add variation to the items on your merchandise page, navigate to the “Form Management” tab. Choose the form, and click “Offerings” in the sidebar.


Here, you can add specifications, like sizes or color options, for items you’re offering on your merchandise page. Put a customization like “Size” or “Color” in the “Option Name” box. Then add the choices (e.g.: S, M, L; blue, green, red).


Once you’ve saved all that information, your merchandise page will be all set. Here’s an example of a basic form with no branding might look like:


As you can see, donors will also have the option of making a supplemental donation in addition to the cost of the merchandise when they visit your merchandise page.

We helpfully provide a CSV of all the orders your page has received, which will make the fulfillment process much easier on your end. You can download the CSV by navigating to the form, clicking the Statistics tab, and toggling open the “Additional Tools” menu.


Ad Tracking

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 campaign or organization, first visit your 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.


Embedding Video

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.

Building your Recurring Donor Program

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 ActBlue Express Lane, your link should say “Express Donate: $10 a month.” You can read more about that in our ActBlue 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.


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:


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 and organization’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.


The reality is that some donors won’t fulfill their pledge, despite our best efforts to retain them. That’s why it’s crucial that campaigns and organizations are able to effectively predict how much money is going to be coming in month over month.

Head over to your Dashboard and click on the Recurring tab in the left menu. You’ll see another tab to the right of that menu labeled “Recurring Projections.” Here you’ll find a predictive statistical model to run this projection for you automatically.


Here’s an example of what you’ll see:


Below you’ll find a daily projection chart. Keep reading and we’ll explain how to look at the chart so you can get an accurate prediction of your recurring fulfillment rates.

This pane shows both the aggregate and daily amount of revenue we expect you’ll bring in from currently active recurring contributions over the next two months. These expectations are based off a predictive model that takes into account the historical performance of recurring contributions.

We provide both the exact estimate and a confidence interval between which you can reasonably expect your revenue to be. You can hover over the chart to find the exact estimate as well as the high and low estimates.

If your committee has received enough recurring contributions to make a statistically sound prediction, then the model used to calculate the expected value of your recurring contributions is unique to your committee. Otherwise, we use a model based on data we see all across ActBlue. In either case, this model is recalculated daily to ensure your data is accurate and up-to-date.


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.

Pop-up Recurring

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.

You can also customize your pop-up recurring box, which we highly recommend. By inserting an image or some customized HTML, you can prompt your donors by showing them something that will make them excited to become a recurring donor.

Here's an example:


Customizing a pop-up box has tested well for a number of organizations, and we encourage you to try out testing some customizations on your own Forms.

If a donor initiates a recurring contribution from your pop-up ask, you’ll see a column indicating that in your CSV reports. This should allow you to keep track of how successful your blurbs are, and can help your team plan for further testing.

Over the course of a fundraising program, utilizing the pop-up recurring feature can build a large base of recurring donations.

Smart Recurring

Smart Recurring

Smart Recurring

Smart Recurring will present donors with a pop-up that prompts them to commit to a smaller monthly contribution after they’ve given a one-time amount.

To enable smart recurring, head to the Edit tab of any contribution form and choose “Use unlimited monthly contributions + smart monthly contributions” under “Recurring Contribution options.”


With Smart Recurring turned on one-time contributions will process and your donors will see a pop-up similar to the one below. They’ll be asked to commit to a slightly smaller amount every month, based on an algorithm built by our tech team.

You won’t lose your one-time donation if a donor chooses to opt out of a monthly contribution.


We recommend customizing your ask for the pop-up. Make it short and specific about why a recurring contribution will make a difference in your work.

Your donors will be asked to make a monthly recurring contribution in addition to their gift. This means that their one-time charge will process immediately, and their monthly recurring charge will start up the following month on the same day.

If a donor makes a one-time contribution of $210 or more they won’t be asked to make a recurring contribution of any amount on top of their initial contribution, since their one-time amount is on the higher end. You wouldn’t want to ask a donor making a $400 contribution to also commit to a recurring contribution.

And if someone does choose to commit to a monthly contribution using smart recurring, they’ll receive a receipt with the details of the contribution, letting them know that a charge will be processed each month.


They will also see a note indicating that the contribution will recur when visiting their contribution history.

Your campaign or organization will also be able to see who contributed via Smart Recurring from the detailed contribution list for any contribution form, or when searching for a specific contribution using the Search feature in your Dashboard.


You’ll see a note that the contribution will recur each month, along with the one-time contribution amount.


It will also be noted in CSV data when you download contribution info from your Dashboard. There will be a column on the CSV specifying whether or not the contribution was made via Smart Recurring, and a separate column noting the amount the contribution will recur for.

Weekly Recurring

Weekly Recurring

Weekly Recurring

When you’re in the waning weeks before Election Day or a big day of action for your organization, 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, or a special occasion for your organization. The donation will be charged on the same day of the week as the initial contribution — so focus on Monday and Tuesday asks if you're raising for a candidate. Donors will be signing up for a shorter commitment, and you’ll receive an infusion of cash every week when you need it most. 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 for candidates and campaigns starting eight weeks prior to an election. If you're an organization like a 501(c)4 or a 501(c)3 and you're interested in setting up Weekly Recurring, feel free to reach out to our team at info@actblue.com. Let us know which contribution forms you'd like to have it turned on for, and we'll get it enabled.

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:


Weekly recurring is a great tool, but it’s also a big commitment for donors. Enabling it too far out from big moments will discourage donors from making a recurring commitment, which is why this feature can only be accessed for limited time frames. Once the set period is over, the recurring donations will automatically cease being charged, and the feature will be turned off.

Overall Recurring Dollars

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 Dashboard by clicking on your group's name in the "My Dashboards" sidebar 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 and organization’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.

Recurring Contributions

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 campaigning and programming.

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 that can be turned on eight weeks out from an election or leading up to your organization's big day of action, allowing you to continue cultivating those strong connections with your supporters throughout your final push. You can contact us to get more information about the weekly recurring feature at info@actblue.com.



Getting the Most Out of Your Metrics Page

Your Metrics page is the home page of your Dashboard on ActBlue. The Metrics page will provide all the basic data you’ll need about your campaign or organization’s fundraising program, like how much you’ve raised in the last week, where your donors are located, and your most successful contribution forms.

In the top right of the page, you’ll see top line numbers for how many contributions you’ve brought in and how much money you’ve raised. By default, you’ll see numbers here that reflect your last week of fundraising.

Just below that, you’ll see a graph with a breakdown of your daily fundraising totals for the last week.


To see how many contributions you received on a particular day, hover over the orange line. Or, to see how much you raised on a given day, hover over the blue bars.

To change the timeframe for the top line numbers and the graph, click one of the options in the grey bar at the top of the page, or select a custom date range by clicking “other” and choosing dates from the calendar.

How Donors are Giving

The pie charts provided on the Metrics page can help you understand your donors better so you can make smarter fundraising decisions. Here, you’ll be able to see what percentage of your donors contributed through ActBlue Express, PayPal, or a mobile device in the last week.

If these features are enabled, you’ll also see charts for contributions made with an automatically updated credit card, Apple Pay, or ActBlue Express Lane. When available, sitewide averages are provided here as a point of comparison.


Scroll further for a graph of hourly volume, which shows how many donors contributed and how much you raised per hour. You can change this graph to display data for a day, a week, two weeks, or a month.


Recent Contributions

Below that, you’ll see a graph that keeps track of your contributions over the last hour. It displays information about individual donations like their amounts and which forms or refcodes they’re associated with. Next to this, you’ll also see a list of recent contributions that updates in real time.


The contributions your team has raised in the past hour are also visualized for you on our map feature. This will display the origins of your donations, sized by amount, so you can easily see where your money is coming from.


Top Forms

At the bottom of the Metrics page, you’ll see a section called “Top Forms,” which lists your forms that have raised the most money. This is helpful for figuring out what kinds of messages are resonating with your donors. To find out how to get more usable data out of your contribution forms, click here.

Adding Users

Adding Users

Adding & 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 Dashboards” sidebar 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.


Contact Information

Contact Information

Updating Contact Information

Visit your Dashboard by logging in and clicking on your candidate, committee, or organization within your "My Dashboards" side 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

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.


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.


You can also set up contribution alerts for people who aren’t administrators on your candidate or organization’s ActBlue account. This is a fun way to keep family members and friends involved, even if they don’t need to create forms or access the back-end of your account.

It’s also a great way to share fundraising progress with anyone who might be hosting a party for your candidate or helping out with your organization’s big fundraiser.

You can turn this feature on for specific contribution forms or for your entire campaign or organization. To turn it on for a specific contribution form, navigate to the Email Alerts tab of the form and click “new contribution form alert.” Then click to subscribe a third-party ActBlue user to your alerts and fill in the threshold as usual.

The process for signing someone up for a campaign or organization’s alerts is the same, but you can set them up by navigating to the User Access tab of your Dashboard.


If someone has not created an ActBlue account, they’ll get an email asking them to create a password. Either way, they’ll get a confirmation email letting them know they’ve been signed up.

Accessing Donor Data

Accessing Donor Data

Accessing Your Donor Data for Reporting

In order to be compliant with federal, state, and local laws, your team will need to file reports that provide information about your donors. ActBlue makes that process really simple -- the donor data you’ll need to complete accurate compliance reports can be found in the “Reporting” tab of your Dashboard.

Before you get started, you’ll want to read through our compliance guidelines. We’re happy to offer helpful information, but this is not legal advice, so you should consult with your counsel and compliance team when filing reports. You can find our guidelines in the “Disbursements” tab, as shown below.


After you’ve read the guidelines, you can download a CSV for a specific check or disbursement of funds, click on the “Disbursements” tab. Then, just find the check you’re looking for and click the CSV button at the right of that row.


You can also head to the “Downloads” tab of your Reporting center, where you’ll be able to export more of your CSV data. You can download contribution data for a specific time frame or a report for all of your ActBlue contributions. Your data will download in CSV format, which should work with all types of donor tracking software, including Excel and Numbers.

If you you’re going to upload the CSV into your state’s reporting software and you need it be in a different format, you can easily convert a CSV file into the format you need.


You can also download data for a specific contribution form by choosing the form and navigating to the Statistics tab. The Statistics tab will show you a table of the contributions received on the form, broken down by refcode. At the bottom of the table, you should see “Additional tools.” Toggle open the drop-down menu, and you will be able to download CSV data for that form.

You can also use the additional tools to view donor data right on screen in your ActBlue Dashboard, by clicking “View detailed contribution list.”


f you’re a federal campaign using NGP for your compliance software, you will see an option to download NGP data in addition to the CSV option, which makes reporting even easier.


Visualizing and Using Your Donor Data

Visualizing and Using Your Donor Data

Visualizing & Using Your Donor Data

ActBlue gives you the tools to create targeted email lists without having to write a line of code!

The Donors tab on your Dashboard allows you to analyze contributor data by tracking highest previous contributions and total contribution amounts from individual donors. You can select groups of donors based on their contribution histories and download their email addresses and contributor information in just a few simple steps.

Reading the Chart

You’ll see a chart that looks like this in the Donors tab:


This is a visual representation of your donors according to their highest previous contribution amount. To view a different set of data, you can opt to show your donors by total contribution amount at the top of the page.


You can also opt to show outliers (people who fall outside the scale of the graph), if you want to include those donors in your targeting.

 Using the Chart to Target Donors

You can use the chart in the donors tab to segment your email list. For example, you can target all the donors who have given donations under a certain amount on multiple occasions. Or, you could target donors who have contributed a large amount, but only donated one time. You can download a CSV of the email addresses and the corresponding contribution data from a column, row, or selected range of the graph.

 Click a dollar value or a number of donations to highlight a row or column. You’ll see the grey box in the corner with a breakdown of the total number of donors represented in the chart as compared to the amount of donors you’ve selected.

 Then simply click “Download selected” in the upper right hand corner, and you’ll have a CSV of those donors you want to target.


To select a custom set of data, drag your mouse to draw a box around your desired values, then download the data in the same way.


This allows you to do some pretty sophisticated targeting without needing to do the backend work. You can easily target donors based on their highest previous contribution and frequency of donating without knowing a line of SQL.

 Please note that values on the y-axis are rounded. For values from $1 to $5, amounts are rounded to the nearest dollar. For $5 to $25, they are rounded to the nearest $5, and from there on, tens are rounded to tens, hundreds to hundreds, and so on. This makes the information easier to use and minimizes visual clutter. Contribution numbers on the x-axis above ten are rounded to the nearest ten. It’s unlikely that you’ll have contributions ranging in the hundreds, but in that case they are rounded to the nearest hundred.

Refunds and Recurring Cancellations

Refunds and Recurring Cancellations

Refunds & Recurring Cancellations

ActBlue gives your team the ability to process refunds or cancel recurring contributions, ensuring that you can handle simple donor relations issues right away. Keep reading for everything you need to issue refunds to donors and cancel recurring contributions.

And as always, if you have questions our team is always here to help at info@actblue.com.

Issuing Refunds & Cancelling Recurring Contributions

If a donor requests a refund, you can track down their specific contribution by using the Search function in your Dashboard.


Once there, fill in any available information about the refund, and click Search.


When you’ve found the right contribution, click the order number (it will be formatted as AB########) to view all of the contribution information, like the amount, the donor’s email address, and their billing address. Choose the appropriate reason for the refund, like a wrong amount or a test contribution by your team, and click “Process Refund.”


If the contribution has already been disbursed in a check to your team, you’ll see a message prompting you to contact our customer service team.


If the contribution has already been refunded, you’ll see the date it was refunded, along with the reason (if entered at the time of the refund). You can also click the date to see who processed the refund.


If a donor has signed up for an unintended recurring contribution or would like to cancel their recurring contribution, you can take care of that, too. Click on the order number for the contribution. Then, just click “Cancel the remainder of this recurring contribution” at the bottom of the screen.


Your Refund Center

Your refund center lists all refunds made from your ActBlue account -- whether they were processed by your team, ActBlue Customer Service (in response to a donor call/email), or credit card chargebacks. To access your refund center, just select it from the sidebar of your Dashboard.

Hello, World!

There are two types of refunds, and the type of refund may affect whether you need to report the contribution.

The first is a pre-disbursement refund, which is issued before the funds are sent to your committee. This may not need to be reported, since your campaign or organization never received the funds. You’ll be able to tell which are pre-disbursement refunds because they’ll have an N/A in the “Disbursed” column.

The second type of refund is a post-disbursement refund. This is a refund issued for a contribution that was already sent to your committee, and it may need to be reported by your campaign or organization. You can click on the date listed under the “Disbursed” column to see information about the check that originally contained the refunded contribution.

If a donor requests a refund after it’s been disbursed, we’ll deduct those funds from your pending check. Once you’ve received enough money to cover the refunded contribution, you can click the date under “Recovered” to see information about the check from which the refund has been subtracted.

Our customer service team is always happy to answer any questions, as well as locate and handle any refunds or recurring cancellations for you. Just send us an email at info@actblue.com and we’ll take care of it right away!

Email Blurbs

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:

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 ActBlue Express blurb and a Thanks page blurb.

After users without ActBlue Express accounts donate on your contribution form, they'll have an opportunity to sign up for an ActBlue Express account. This blurb is your chance to pitch ActBlue 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 ActBlue 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.

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication

Two-Factor Authentication

Security is always at the top of our priority list at ActBlue, and we want the campaigns and organizations using our tools to have the safest, most secure experience possible.

That’s why we recommend turning on two-factor authentication for your campaign or organization.

What’s two-factor authentication? Two-factor authentication acts as an extra layer of protection for your staff’s ActBlue logins, which requires you to receive a code on a personal device in order to complete logging in.

If you log in from a new computer or change your password, you’ll need to confirm your login information by entering a randomly generated code sent to you via an app or a text message sent to your phone -- a best practice for securing login information.

If you’re interested in setting this up for your campaign or organization, you should reach out to our team at info@actblue.com and we’ll turn on the feature for you.

Once you’ve done that, follow the steps below to set it up for your personal ActBlue account:

After our team has turned on the feature, you’ll see a prompt like the one below after you’ve logged in to your account.

If you’d like to set up two-factor authentication you just need to follow the link.

On the following page, you’ll be prompted to enter your cell phone number:

And it’s that simple. From that point forward, if you log in from an unrecognized device or change your password, you’ll be prompted to request a text message, or to open up your authenticator app (we recommend using Authy) from your phone or computer to get a code, which should be entered in order to complete logging in.

You can download the Authy app to your computer and/or phone, and it will generate a valid code for you just like requesting a text message would. This is especially helpful if you are away from your cell phone, but have your computer. You can read more about how Authy works and download the app here.

Two-factor authentication is an optional feature, but we highly recommend it. Drop us a line at info@actblue.com and we can help you turn on and implement the feature at any time.

ActBlue Express Lane

ActBlue Express Lane

ActBlue Express Lane

With ActBlue Express Lane, donors can give with a single click right from your email or website, no contribution form needed. When an ActBlue user who has saved their credit card information with us clicks on an ActBlue Express Lane link that you’ve created, their contribution will automatically be processed and they’ll be taken to a thank you page. 

We have over 4 million donors who are ActBlue Express users who can use ActBlue Express Lane to all of the campaigns, committees, and organizations that use ActBlue with a single click.


In order to use ActBlue Express Lane, you’ll need to email us at info@actblue.com or contact us here so that a member of our team can enable the feature on your account. ActBlue Express Lane is only available to campaigns and organizations who use ActBlue exclusively — both on their websites and in their fundraising emails.

Once we’ve enabled the feature on your account, you’re all set to create your ActBlue Express Lane links and start raising money! 


Navigate to the Form Management tab on your Dashboard, and open the contribution form you want to use in your fundraising email. After selecting “Edit your form,” click on the ActBlue Express Lane tab in the Form Tools menu.


You’ll now see the link generator. Here you can select the dollar amounts for your ActBlue Express Lane links, the link text, and the refcodes. Please note that you can build your own links, but we highly recommend starting with our link creator until you learn the ins and outs of ActBlue Express Lane links. 

To start, type the preset contribution amounts you want in your links, separated by commas with no spaces, in the Amounts box. 


The “Sentence” box is where you’ll enter the text for your donation link. It’s very important that it’s clear to your donors that clicking a link will result in an automatic contribution. Your link language could follow our model, which says “Express Donate: $5,” or follow other variations such as “Click here to donate $5 immediately.” Type the word “AMOUNT” in all caps where you want the contribution amount displayed in the link. A preview of your links will show up in the blue box to the right. 


The “Other text” box should be left filled with “Or donate another amount” so that your donors can choose an amount other than the ones you’ve specified. This link is not an ActBlue Express Lane link. Instead, donors will be taken to your contribution form where they can decide how much they want to donate. Our tools will generate the proper link, but if you are building your own ActBlue Express Lane links, be very careful that you do not include the “express_lane=true” parameter in the code for the “Or donate another amount” link. Your donors (and lawyers) won’t be happy if you automatically charge people for donations they haven’t agreed to.

We highly recommend adding refcodes to your ActBlue Express Lane links so you can track which dollar amounts perform the best and optimize your links over time. Type in a refcode in the “Refcode” box and check off the box that says “Include amount at the end of the refcode” to create a unique refcode for each dollar amount. You can learn more about refcodes here

To track how well your ActBlue Express Lane links are doing, go to your form and open the Statistics tab of its Form Tools menu. Here, you’ll see each refcode listed separately with the amount raised and the number of contributions. 



Once you’re satisfied with the preview of your ActBlue Express Lane links, you can copy and paste the code from the code generator into a fundraising email or onto your website. 


When a donor clicks to give, they’ll instantly donate the amount specified by the link.

It’s extremely important that you include the first line of code, which contains important disclaimer language for your 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. Failure to include a clear disclaimer may result in the deactivation of the ActBlue Express Lane feature on your account.


Before you send the email to your donors, double check that your links are working properly and that the amount shown in the donation link text matches the amount in your code (which is what donors will actually be charged when they click).


We have some basic recommendations for selecting ActBlue Express Lane 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. 

First, it is very important to include the “Or donate another amount” option with your links. You will lose out on money if you don’t include this.

We generally recommend that you select three to five different dollar amounts for your custom links and start with the lowest dollar amount. We’ve found these guidelines to be useful from our own A/B testing.

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. 

You should look at your contribution history and see how much people have typically given to your campaign when deciding on these amounts. 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 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 ask donors that have a history of contributing $10 at a time to contribute $50.

Ultimately, we recommend testing and experimenting with different strategies to see what works best for you and your list.

Express Pass

Express Pass

ActBlue Express Pass

With ActBlue Express Pass, your supporters can donate quickly and easily from a mobile device. They don’t have to type in a 16-digit credit card number and address with their thumbs on a small screen.


If an ActBlue Express user with a mobile number associated with their account is contributing from a mobile form, we’ll offer them an ActBlue Express Pass. After they’ve selected a donation amount, typed in their email address, and moved on to fill out the rest of the form they’ll see a popup like the one below.

We’ll remind them they’re an ActBlue Express user and offer to send them a text message where they can finish their contribution.

Next, they’ll just need to click yes. Donors receive the text message, click the link, and their contribution goes straight through. It’s that easy.

If your campaign or organization has chosen a post-contribution action like a pop-up recurring box or customized redirect, ActBlue Express Pass users will enter that flow like any other user once their contribution processes. Otherwise, donors will see the thank you page like usual.

We’ve crunched the numbers and ActBlue Express Pass was associated with a 4.7% increase in conversions for mobile ActBlue Express users, a statistically significant result. That’s because ActBlue Express Pass builds on mobile-optimized forms and ensures that the entire mobile giving experience is as efficient as possible.


If your campaign or organization already has ActBlue Express Lane enabled then you’re all set. ActBlue Express Pass is automatically turned on when ActBlue Express Lane is enabled for a campaign or organization.

Please note that applicable donors will see ActBlue Express Pass on single entity and Tandem Forms, but not on event and merchandise forms. Those require extra info and will still get the regular mobile treatment.

List Matching for ActBlue Express

List Matching for ActBlue Express

List Matching for ActBlue Express

Want to know how many ActBlue Express users you have on your list? There may be members of your list that have never given to you before but have saved their information with ActBlue Express after donating to other groups. That’s why 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 ActBlue 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 ActBlue 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.

Fundraising Email

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.

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

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 ActBlue 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 or organization, 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 or cause 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

ActBlue Graphics

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 Plain 150px
Actblue Badge 150px Actblue Badge 150px

If you're using AB Charities to raise money for a 501(c)3, you can download this badge to use on your website:

AB Charities Badge 150px



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.



Example code


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>
Number one</li>
<li>Numero dos</li>
  1. Number one
  2. Numero dos
  3. san-ban
Bulleted Lists<ul></ul> <ul>
<li>Number one</li>
<li>Numero dos</li>
  • Number one
  • Numero dos
  • san-ban



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.


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.

Color Picker

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://htmlcolorcodes.com/color-picker/ and type the values in on the right side of the color picker. 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!

Color Picker

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.


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 related to your organization or candidate, as well as distracting images. Your logo is the unifying image in your campaign or organization, so it will make donors feel more at home when you use it here.


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.


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