Democrats' Billion-Dollar Fundraising Juggernaut Is Tucked Away In Somerville

The nondescript brick building that houses ActBlue’s headquarters in Somerville belies the nonprofit's mega-sized role in Democratic fundraising.

But the group that helps Democratic candidates, organizations and charities bring in cash with easy-to-use online tools has become a political juggernaut.

ActBlue has pulled in more than $3.3 billion — more than half of which has come in during and since the 2017-2018 election season. The average contribution is just shy of $40.

Republicans have scrambled to match ActBlue’s success, but so far they haven’t been able to bottle that lightning. But they’re trying: In January, after losing the House of Representatives in the midterm elections, the GOP launched its latest effort, called Patriot Pass.

But Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who has worked on the party’s efforts to build better grassroots fundraising apparatus, said ActBlue’s success isn’t just about its platform. It’s about the buy-in from the base.

“What makes ActBlue powerful goes beyond technology,” O’Connell said. “It has buy-in from the candidates, causes and grassroots donors. It is that trust between the participants that makes it truly a success.”

O’Connell said Republicans have gotten in their own way when if comes to efforts to duplicate ActBlue’s rise. Previous attempts to duplicate ActBlue’s model have been hampered by “big egos, infighting and counter-intuitive business considerations by GOP consultants and Republican campaigns,” Ford said.

“Patriot Pass is not the first Republican stab at trying to level the playing field with ActBlue,” O’Connell said. “There’s really a fiefdom mentality among the Republican players. Now, if Patriot Pass can overcome these internal roadblocks, then it will succeed. If not, it will be back to the drawing board."

Read more from Kimberly Atkins at WBUR

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Analysis & Political Strategy