Jim Kenney’s email donation tech was a first for a mayoral campaign

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Were you one of the Jim Kenney campaign’s e-mail “Friends”? If so, you were watching next-generation campaign donation technology at work.

The campaign of the newly-minted Democratic mayoral nominee pulled off a first for a mayoral campaign — it says it’s the first in the country to use ActBlue Express, an instant donation technology used in emails.

In its frequent emails to supporters and others always beginning with “Friend –,” Kenney’s campaign asked for small, repeat donations from his allies through the ActBlue service, a one-click donation tool embedded in emails that saves donor information to make repeating donations simple.

Kenney campaign spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said ActBlue is the best tool for soliciting individual donations because other Democratic campaigns have used it. This means that when a user saves their credit card payment information when they donate to one campaign — like Tom Wolf for Governor — they can then use one click to donate in the future to give to another campaign that’s also using ActBlue, like Jim Kenney for Mayor.

She said that about 11 percent of the campaign’s online contributions came through ActBlue Express one-click donations, and 72 percent of the people who gave online ended up saving their payment information with ActBlue. She wouldn’t elaborate on the dollar values those percentages correlate with, and final campaign finance reports haven’t yet been filed.

But in the campaign’s most recent finance report, it recorded paying ActBlue $173.63 on February 1 for processing fees. On March 1, it paid the company $487.80, on April 1 it paid the group $582.16 and on May 1 it paid them $1,304.24.

Because ActBlue earns 3.95 percent from every individual contribution made through their service (not overall contributions), it’s difficult to ascertain what dollar amount those figures might correlate with — but ActBlue usage for the Kenney campaign increased more than ten-fold from February to May.

When supporters received an email from Kenney’s campaign, it looks like this at the bottom of the message:

(Yep, you can donate 500 bucks from one click. Technology!)

Hitt also said average fundraising per email increased by about 20 percent once the group started using ActBlue Express. She added that about 30 percent of one-click donors gave from a mobile device, which is about a 10 percent higher rate of mobile giving among donors who weren’t using the one-click feature — meaning this service made it easier for people using their cell phones to quickly donate to the campaign. 

The service that saves payment information from users has been utilized by campaigns ranging from Tom Wolf for Governor to Elizabeth Warren’s campaigns for U.S. Senate. ActBlue — geared toward liberal campaigns and PACs — has been around since 2004, raising $739 million in small contributions to campaigns along the way (and taking a 3.95 percent transaction fee on every contribution).

In October, The New York Times outlined how ActBlue has become a force in campaign fundraising across the country, pointing out that, “in 10 years, more than $619 million has passed through the start-up on the way to Democratic candidates and causes. For comparison, over the same period, the august Democratic National Committee brought in a total of $1.4 billion.

The service has become so popular in the last several years that, according to The Times, its filings actually tied up the Federal Election Commission’s servers last year because so many individual donations were reported. There are more than 27,000 people nationwide who have donated more than 50 times using ActBlue since just 2011.

In its most recent campaign finance report filed May 8, the Kenney 2015 camp reported having raised $1.38 million in total — online-only contributions aren’t separated out in that report.

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