Act Blue is an Democratic online clearinghouse that has raised over $25,000,000 since 2004. Its uniqueness lies not only in its success, but in its form as well. While large campaign organizations are using the clearinghouse to raise money, small, community-based groups can have their own web page on the ActBlue website, and from there conduct their own broad and/or targeted fundraising. ActBlue then collects the donations and funnels them to the designated recipients.
Though ActBlue's founders say that its relative influence will be greatest in down-ticket races, this is their first venture into the Democratic presidential primary. Former senator John Edwards of North Carolina uses ActBlue for all his online fund-raising. As of yesterday, he had raised $3.6 million from 44,120 supporters on the site, the vast majority on a page set up by the campaign. In all, Edwards has raised $23.1 million.
But Edwards has also raised about $1 million through individual fund-raising pages that ActBlue allows users to create -- some with tiny tallies. One, Desert Rats for Edwards, had raised $225 from three donors as of yesterday, while a page called Pizza for Progressives had raised $830 from 27 people. Rahn and DeBergalis say that's just how ActBlue should work: low-dollar contributors banding together.
"It's really an important change in terms of strengthening democracy [and] getting people of lesser means into the process," said Joe Trippi, a senior adviser to Edwards who helped Howard Dean build his novel online fund-raising system in 2004. "Not a bunch of people can contribute $2,000 or buy $2,300 dinner tickets."
The Boston Globe described ActBlue's office "...with its tangled cords, leftover Deval Patrick signs, and 20-somethings tapping on white MacBook laptops, is what a political campaign would look like if it shared space with a dot-com start-up." The George Bush "Liar, Liar - Pants on Fire" doll hanging from the ceiling of the ActBlue office (see above) is a nice touch, and indicative of the 'no apologies' fervent zeal with which this organization is moving out into Blue America.
Since it's a PAC the donations are not tax deductible - which probably isn't a big concern for the "Desert Rats for Edwards" contributors. These are real people, with real concerns, participating and contributing towards the business of returning America back to its 'real democracy' roots.
With Clinton's ability to raise money from the deep pockets and Obama's now legendary ability to move and motivate mainstreet America into financial action, ActBlue is taking an internet-based dot com approach towards building on Howard Dean's past online fundraising successes, and is succeeding. It's all adding up to a very powerful "Blue Move" for 2008.
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!