May 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

GOP's small-dollar fundraising platform raises $60M in April

Illustration of a pair of cupped hands holding a pile of money, with some falling through

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans raised nearly $60 million on their new digital fundraising platform "WinRed" in April, sources tell Axios, its largest single-month fundraising haul ever.

Why it matters: The GOP is on pace to bring in roughly $400 million from small-dollar donations via WinRed in its first year of operations. Republicans have for years trailed Democrats in soliciting small-dollar donations online prior to launching WinRed.

Details: In April, WinRed brought in $59.755 million across more than 1.6 million small-dollar donations. The average donation amount was $37. About 180,000 donors went on to become campaign volunteers.

  • Currently, there are 787 Republican campaigns, ranging from local races to the presidential election, that use the tool.
  • Roughly 20,000 new Republican fundraising pages have been created on the platform since it launched.

The big picture: WinRed, which launched last July with the backing of President Trump’s re-election campaign and Republican Party leaders, is the GOP's answer to Democrats' 15-year-old online fundraising tool, ActBlue.

  • ActBlue, a payment processing software used by most of the major Democratic presidential candidates, was founded in 2004. It pioneered small-dollar donations and fundraising tracking for most Democratic candidates.
  • It was used by Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 primary campaign against Hillary Clinton to solicit millions of small-dollar donations.

Yes, but: While April's numbers show enormous improvement from the last presidential cycle and promise for the future of the GOP's online fundraising efforts, Democrats still trounce Republicans in small-dollar donations via ActBlue.

  • In the first quarter of this year, ActBlue raised $533 million over 4.3 million donors, while WinRed raised $129.6 million. WinRed said more that 1 million donors gave on average 3.2 times.
  • ActBlue, as of last summer, had roughly 9,000 candidates and groups that use its platform.

Be smart: WinRed was built much later than ActBlue, so its functionality is geared heavily toward modern-day mobile users.

  • WinRed's features are highly optimized for smartphone donations. In particular, the platform uses a variety of "upsell" buttons and functions that make it easier for donors to set up things like recurring monthly payments.

The botton line: WinRed has quickly been able to mobilize small-dollar donations, helping Republicans make up for years of lost ground in the small-dollar digital fundraising arena. But the GOP still has a long way to go if it wants to catch up to the Democrat's 15-year head start.

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