Whether you’re running for city council in a small town or hoping to represent thousands of people in your state assembly, your campaign will need money to help you get your message out. How you choose to raise that money will tell your potential constituents a lot about you. That’s where digital political fundraising comes in.
At ActBlue, we help Democrats connect with grassroots donors online and run people-powered campaigns. Over our 14 years as a nonprofit digital political fundraising platform, we’ve seen that campaigns fueled by small-dollar donors cannot only raise enough money to compete with Republicans bankrolled by mega-donors, but they can also widen your supporter base and increase turnout because they involve hundreds of invested individuals.
If you’re interested in using our (free) online tools to run a small-dollar donor digital political fundraising program, here are some best practices for getting the most out of ActBlue!
Perfect Your Contribution Forms
The most basic — but also most central — aspect of any digital political fundraising program is your contribution form. This is the web page supporters will use to donate to you, so it should always be easy to use and reflect your brand.
With ActBlue’s contribution forms, you don’t have to take any extra steps to ensure your donors can give to you from their phones or tablets because all forms are automatically optimized for mobile use. We also offer Apple Pay!
In 2017, 40.8% of all contributions made via ActBlue were mobile, so if your digital political fundraising platform doesn’t account for mobile giving you will miss out on the money. Additionally, our expert engineers are constantly running A/B tests on contribution forms behind the scenes. Then, we make small tweaks to buttons and layouts that will increase your conversion rates.
One area where you should take action is contribution form design because it has a big impact on donor experience.
Contribution forms that are branded to match your campaign’s look will help catch donors’ attention. That is why our Outreach Team is happy to help make brandings for campaigns of all sizes. Or, if you want to make a branding on your own, we make it easy to choose a background color or image and upload your logo. We also tell you the dimensions you need and have advice available on the best types of images to use!
Let’s Look at Some Examples
Here’s an example of a clean, professional branding that only uses a logo:
And here’s a more custom branding:
We also make it easy to customize the social share for your contribution forms (the graphics and text people will see when the link to your contribution form is shared on Twitter or Facebook). Take a look at these examples:
Customizing your form’s social share settings will help you stand out to potential donors scrolling through hundreds of posts online a day. Check out our new (and free!) template that can help you make custom social share graphics in a matter of minutes here.
Build a Strong Recurring Program
Ask for smaller recurring donations instead of large one-time contributions. This will help you connect with supporters who want to donate but can’t afford to give a lot at once. Over time it will bring in more money than a single one-time gift. But the biggest benefit of a robust recurring program is the security it gives you to plan for the future. If you know you’ll have $5,000, or even $500, coming in for the next five months, you can budget for the long haul!
Your campaign kickoff is the perfect time to ask for recurring donations. Right after you announce, ask your supporters to make a monthly contribution to help you get to Election Day!
It’s easy to set up your contribution form for recurring donations on ActBlue. We also have flexible tools that help you make recurring asks in various situations, like our Pop-Up Recurring and Smart Recurring features.
With Smart Recurring, your donors will see a pop-up after making a one-time donation that asks them to make an additional smaller recurring contribution. This gives your most dedicated supporters the opportunity to stay invested in your campaign through Election Day. The best part? We use an algorithm to determine the right ask amount, so you don’t have to do any math!
Once you start bringing in recurring donations, you don’t want to lose them to circumstances outside of your control. That’s why we offer a free integration with Account Updater that automatically updates any lost or expired credit cards used for recurring donations made on ActBlue. More than $57 million has been raised on updated credit cards since we introduced this feature in late 2016!
Use Data for Digital Political Fundraising
If you want your fundraising to grow over time, you should pay attention to your supporters’ giving patterns. Then, reevaluate what strategies you’re using as often as possible. This will ensure you’re meeting your donors where they are. This makes it as easy as possible for them to give, which will result in more money overall!
You don’t have to be a statistician to analyze your data on ActBlue. We put useful metrics front and center on the overview of your Dashboard, like the percentage of your donors who are giving on mobile or using Apple Pay.
You can drill down into mobile, recurring, and other stats for specific contribution forms by visiting their individual statistics pages.
We recommend adding reference codes (also known as “refcodes”) to all of your contribution form links. This helps you to track which links are raising the most money. It’s easy — learn how to use refcodes here!
Grow your email list with Tandem Fundraising
If you’re trying to grow your email list, fundraise with a like-minded candidate or organization! With our Tandem Fundraising feature, multiple groups can be listed on one contribution form so supporters can easily split a single donation between everyone on the form. Try having a partner like your local Democratic party email a Tandem contribution form that lists you and the party to their supporters. You’ll get new folks on your email list after they donate to you, and you’ll be supporting fellow Dems!
Over 13,000 campaigns and organizations on the left use our tools, so the options for Tandem Fundraising are endless! Just search for a group in our directory to make sure you’re adding the correct one to your form.
These are just a few of the ways you can use ActBlue’s tools to run a modern grassroots fundraising program. Everyone that uses ActBlue, from school board candidates all the way up to presidential hopefuls, gets access to all of our features for no charge. And if you need help setting anything up or want strategic advice from our campaign experts, we offer software and fundraising training for no cost (we’re a nonprofit)! Contact us at [email protected] to get started.
Want to learn more about fundraising? Takes NDTC’s FREE course on Raising Money.