When some Democrats started forwarding to their Facebook pages photos of celebrities mourning the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Monday, an influx of donations following the Supreme Court justice’s death arrived almost immediately. ActBlue, the online fundraising platform that uses data, social media analysis and outreach to increase campaign fundraising, saw the show of emotion immediately, with accounts tied to the actress Chrissy Teigen, Serena Williams and Salma Hayek all appearing among the donations that weekend.“This was a tipping point. We saw an immediate spike,” said Ellen Mungo, a New York-based ActBlue employee who worked on the Ginsburg fundraising effort. “That surge was spectacular. It definitely broke the site record for donations.”
The most prolific recipients of Ginsburg’s donations in the first 36 hours after her death were Politico, Vox, Amazon, Ustream, the mayors of Boston and San Francisco, Real Clear Politics, Reddit, Judd Apatow and the DC-based advocacy organization Disability Rights Campaign, according to Mungo. ActBlue tallied nearly 18,000 donors giving $7,000 each, and the site went into a tailspin Monday night.
“The dynamic of the response and conversations that we had inspired us to create this program was fascinating,” said Jonathan Ostroff, chief technology officer of ActBlue.
In the hours after Ginsburg’s death, Mungo said, the site received 30,000 donations from ActBlue accounts, or roughly one dollar for every $7,000 that the fund was raising, according to Mungo. By late Tuesday, ActBlue had received 17,000 donations. ActBlue said its next goal is to raise $15 million.“Given the age of Justice Ginsburg, it’s important that the American people give their voices as well,” Mungo said. “It’s an opportunity for both grassroots donors and larger donors to show their support for Congress and the Supreme Court.”
ActBlue, which was founded in New York in 2006, is used by Democrats who are looking to raise money in the weeks after an election or shortly after a nominee is nominated. This week, Democrats have begun gathering donations on ActBlue and from progressive groups and Democratic candidates’ campaigns.
ActBlue has been a platform for political candidates and a platform for public figures and celebrities who are aligned with the campaign, but lately it has opened up to activists. One of ActBlue’s leaders, Josh Levin, was heavily involved in making the MoveOn.org donation ring from Oprah Winfrey available after President Donald Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May. Now, several musicians have partnered with ActBlue to raise money on the platform after Clinton’s loss.
Republicans have also been able to raise money on ActBlue in the lead-up to a confirmation process. Earlier this year, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s election opponent, San Francisco Supervisor London Breed, was a major target of ActBlue, and she received nearly $34,000 in the first month of the campaign. Breed later earned more than $1 million for her bid.“While Democrats are likely looking for ways to raise campaign money online, much of that money is non-profit,” Levin said. “We are open to standing up to Republicans and building a political movement from every direction.” — With assistance by Allison Miller