ActBlue and Democrats have led the digital fundraising game for years, and now heading toward the 2024 elections many Republicans are worried about the party fighting against the other side. ActBlue, an elite processing machine, and the Democrats behind it have held power due to the millions of more donors they have compared to Republicans and the party’s equivalent of ActBlue, WinRed. Now heading into the 2024 season, the Republican party is getting even worst. After online Republican donor numbers unexpectedly dropped, the expected 2022 red wave idea was extinct. Then fundraising didn’t even pick up on Election day. Now some are criticizing WinRed and their ability to stand up to their motto, “They Act. We Win.”
Some of the reasons WinRed has faltered compared to ActBlue are as follows according to RealClear Politics,
While some larger political committees see the benefit in finding new donors, most Republican candidates believe they should receive a positive ROI on every dollar spent on digital fundraising. Last cycle, some of the most well-known Republican candidates demanded a 200% return on any digital prospecting spend. But prospecting with those demanded metrics requires a reliance on current donor pools, not new ones. Unfortunately, campaigns and committees only spend about 3% of their funds on list rentals.
Campaigns are essentially start-up businesses. They start with little to no assets, and only a brand. In a business start-up, entrepreneurs raise capital to invest in acquiring new customers. Think Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary asking entrepreneurs, “What is the cost of acquiring a customer?” Yet too many candidates and consultants fail to understand that acquiring a donor is a cost – and worth the investment.
Big Tech Bias
Big Tech censorship is a significant problem for email fundraising in terms of deliverability – or as industry insiders call it, “in-boxing.” Since 2015, email service producers like Google or Yahoo have stepped up their efforts to block millions of Republican emails from reaching voters and potential donors.
Of course, Big Tech censoring Republicans shouldn’t surprise people. Look no further than your own inbox or spam folder for proof. But it was again confirmed by recent research, which found that Gmail sent nearly 80% of right-leaning candidate emails to spam in 2020, compared with just about 10% of left-leaning ones.
Lack of Commitment
Republican candidates and causes also lack the willpower for effective digital fundraising. After all, it is hard work. To be successful, candidates and committees must commit to a plan early, and then invest the time and creative talent into building digital assets that will pay off down the road.
Many candidates and their consultants don’t put in the time and effort. They treat fundraising as an afterthought, but expect it to act like an ATM. And when immediate ROI is not realized, they jump from vendor to vendor demanding questionable tactics like a “10,000x match.”
While it’s not WinRed’s fault, Republicans are lacking the number of individual donors Democrats and ActBlue has. In the second quarter of 2022, ActBlue had more than 16,000 campaigns, and WinRed only had about 5,000 in its first three years of existence altogether. Until Republicans can fix these problems, like lack of commitment, big tech bias, and poor investments Democrats will have a clear advantage in 2024 and any other election year.