Click on the questions or search below to learn the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the fundraising program.
+ Why is this better than my group incorporating ourselves and opening a bank account?
Trust us, since we just incorporated our own organization: incorporating takes a lot of time, reams of paperwork, and hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars in fees. On top of that, each type of non-profit has a variety of legal restrictions—for example, 501(c)(3) organizations are generally prohibited from taking part in elections. By using the national Indivisible fundraising system, you won’t have to worry about managing your donations, and we’ll handle a lot of the paperwork on the front end.
+ Can I use the Indivisible Fundraising system if my group is already incorporated?
Groups that are already incorporated are welcome to join the fundraising program. However, in many cases, incorporated groups can simply fundraise on their own without going through this system. It's up to you!
+ Why is Indivisible keeping 10% of the donations that my group raises?
Groups across the country have been asking for support with fundraising, so it was important to us that we develop this program. However, it is very expensive to maintain this distributed fundraising system—including lawyers and an accountant to ensure the money is handled and spent legally and to fill out any necessary regulatory reports; staff time to manage the vendors and provide fundraising resources; credit card processing fees through the ActBlue platform itself; and the cost of the debit cards to allow you to spend the money.
We think this is an important service to provide, and we’re trying to keep the cost to you as low as possible. That’s why, starting June 1, we’ll lower the portion of funds that we take from 15% to 10%. We’re going to be running the program at a loss to us, but want to make it as useful and accessible to as many groups as possible.
+ How will donors decide if they want to donate to our group or to the Indivisible Project (our national organization)?
Donors will have the opportunity to contribute to local Indivisible groups, our national organization, or both! We view our local and national fundraising efforts as collaborative and promised in our fundraising philosophy back in May that we will try not to compete with local groups’ fundraising efforts. We want your fundraising efforts to be a success and to support your group’s activities, and we will be providing toolkits, resources, and campaign ideas to help you do the most effective fundraising you can. Within ActBlue, you will have direct access to everyone who’s donated to you so it’s easy for you to follow-up with your supporters.
At the same time, we’re proud to be fueled by small dollar donations at the national level because it ensures we’re most accountable to the millions standing indivisible across the country. We’ll continue to pursue donors across the country, including those who give to your local groups. We are also giving local groups the option to opt-in to sharing a higher percentage of their fundraising with us, so that we’re able to roll-out bigger and better programs across the country next year.
+ Will groups be able to opt-out of the program if they try it and decide it doesn’t meet their needs?
Groups are free to leave the program if it does not meet their needs.
+ When will we receive our matching contributions?
Matching funds will be transferred the first week of each month. The amount you receive will equal the total funds that you fundraised over the previous 4 weeks, and we won’t take the 10% fee out of the matching gift. So if you raised $100 the first two weeks of June and nothing the rest of the month, you’ll get $90 on your card in mid-June and then receive $100 for the match in early July.
+ Can I edit my ActBlue page?
Yes! We will create a template ActBlue Community page for you, which you can use as-is. If you prefer, you can directly edit your ActBlue page, now or later. Please note that you cannot create new community pages—only use the one we have created for you. If you need help with ActBlue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, ActBlue has put together some useful tips to help you take advantage of all the features they have to offer, which can be found here.
+ Are there any restrictions to the language we use on our ActBlue page or in solicitation emails/social media posts?
Receipt of funds raised through your group's ActBlue community page is contingent on signed agreement to and adherence to the policies outlined in the Grant Agreement that Indivisible shared with you.
A federal court decision in August 2018 has expanded the scope of donor disclosure for 501(c)(4) organizations spending money on federal elections. Now, a 501(c)(4) is required to disclose any donors who give more than $200 in a calendar year to influence federal elections, regardless of whether their contribution is earmarked for a specific federal candidate. What this means for you: we recommend that your group not tie your distributed fundraising asks to federal elections. The safest fundraising ask is one that doesn’t mention elections at all, but if you are going to mention electoral activity, we highly recommend that you avoid using language that ties the the ask to any federal election or federal elections in general. If you would like more information about the ruling and implications, please feel free to reach out to email@example.com.
+ Can we accept cash or check donations, or does everyone have to donate through the ActBlue page?
We prefer that all donations come through your group’s ActBlue page. Funds donated online are the easiest for us to process.
If you have donors that would prefer to contribute via check, we are able to accept checks of $50 or more. Your group is responsible for taking in all checks and ensuring the following guidelines are met:
- Checks must be made out to “The Indivisible Project.” Please note that contributions to Indivisible Project are not tax deductible as charitable contributions or as business expenses under IRC Section 162(e).
- The name of your group must be included in the memo line.
- Checks MUST be accompanied by a deposit form that can be downloaded here.
- Mail the check(s) and deposit form to the address listed on the deposit form.
The deposit form and your group’s name in the memo line are the only way we can distinguish between a gift that is intended to support your group versus a general gift to Indivisible. Please keep in mind that a 10% fee still applies for checks.
We are unable to accept cash donations through the distributed fundraising program.
+ Can we sell merchandise through ActBlue?
No, unfortunately you cannot use ActBlue for merchandise sales. However, if you have group merchandise, you can offer t-shirts or other items as a thank-you gift to donors that make a contribution if this is something your group wishes to do.
+ How do our donors know that they’re donating directly to our group?
Each group will have a customized ActBlue page connected to our national organization, the Indivisible Project. 90% of donations that come through that page will be transferred to the debit card as a grant to your group, and no other local groups will be able to access those funds.
+ Does ActBlue send email receipts to donors when they donate?
ActBlue does send email receipts to donors.
+ Will groups be able to see a list of their donors with contact info to send thank yous?
Groups will have access to a list of donors that gave through their ActBlue page, but the level of information is dependent on what the donor puts in. At minimum, there'll be an email address so they can write a thank you email, and most should also have an address where they can send cards or notes.
+ We’re holding a non-political event (an event that’s only focused on issues, not supporting or opposing political candidates) and a candidate for office showed up. What should we do?
As always, don’t panic! First, when you advertise the event, make sure that you make the purpose of the event clear and even tell folks that it will be an event about proposed legislation, not candidates. Then, at the event, it’s always a good idea to remind everyone in the room that you're there to discuss issues and strategies for winning support for our positions on those issues. Here’s a helpful script:
“Hey everyone, I just wanted to make everyone aware that the purpose of the meeting today is to discuss issues, not to discuss supporting or opposing candidates for office. We may have discussions about candidates at a later date, but the purpose of this meeting is going to focus strictly on issues.”
If the candidate chooses to ignore that disclaimer and talk about him/herself as a candidate, politely remind them that it is inappropriate to talk about candidates at this particular event and try to refocus the discussion around the issues you’re there to discuss. Sometimes people are stubborn or just don’t get it, but your job is to ensure that the organization’s purpose is made clear and that the meeting does not get hijacked for other purposes.
+ What kinds of expenses and fundraising are not allowed?
In order to help local groups fundraise, it’s necessary that the funds be donated to Indivisible Project, our national organization, and we then grant the majority of the money to your local group for your group activities. For that reason, the money can only be spent on activities that are legally permitted for an organization with the tax status that Indivisible Project has. Because we are a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, there are certain things that this money cannot be spent on.Permitted expenses:
- Public education, voter registration. This includes most of the work that Indivisible Groups do to educate the public about proposed legislation, or to communicate with elected officials about important issues. You do not require pre-approval to spend funds on these costs. Please note: certain states may require you to register and report any spending on lobbying state or local officials or asking others to do the same.
- Group building. This includes any normal activity of supporting your group’s day-to-day operation, such as meetings to plan agendas and discuss overall group strategic direction.
- Independent political spending on federal elections are permitted but require pre-approval. For federal reporting purposes, partisan political spending includes any activity conducted to influence the election, selection, nomination, or appointment of any individual to a federal office; to an office in a political organization or political party; or as a delegate or elector for President or Vice President. This may include, for example, ads that explicitly seek to support or oppose a candidate for federal office, or voter outreach that explicitly supports or opposes a candidate. You may notice a theme here: supporting or opposing a candidate for federal office. More general work related to elections, like get-out-the-vote activities that don’t mention a candidate, are not considered partisan political spending for federal reporting purposes, as noted in the section on voter education and voter registration above. Any activity that qualifies as political spending MUST be pre-approved.This is because Indivisible must file reports on this spending with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), sometimes within 24 hours of the money being spent. This is why it is extremely important that you get pre-approval for political spending, and work with us to get the information we need to file with the FEC. The political spending pre-approval form is here.
- Coordinated political activity or direct contributions to campaigns. This card cannot be used to make direct financial contributions or offer other direct financial support to a candidate, political party, or PAC. This includes spending that is done in coordination with candidates, political parties, or PACs. Spending is considered coordinated if it is done at the request or suggestion of a political party or candidate; if a candidate or campaign representative was materially involved in decisions regarding the expense; if members of a campaign had substantial discussion about the expense; or if the expense was made through a common vendor with a campaign or committee, or with the guidance of a recently departed ex-employee of a campaign or committee. NOTE: This also means that there are restrictions on what kind of fundraising requests can be made. Please do not ask people to donate money so that it can be spent on any specific candidate’s campaign or independent expenditure campaign.
- Political spending on state or local races. The card cannot be used for any political activity directed towards influencing the outcome of state or local races. Indivisible cannot provide support for legally-mandated reporting associated with these races.
- Unrelated personal expenses or personal enrichment.
- Drugs or alcohol of any kind.
In many cases your card simply won’t work at places where these kinds of purchases are made, but it is your responsibility to make sure you follow these rules. If you do not, Indivisible will close your card and you will have to return the funds that were misspent.
+ Can we hire staff, independent contractors, or vendors?
Groups cannot use the funds raised through the distributed fundraising program to hire staff or independent contractors. You can, however, hire vendors such as caterers for events.
+ Can we use the money we raise on influencing state and local elections?
No, the only electoral activity that you can use funds for is activity related to a federal election—House of Representatives, Senate and Presidential races. Indivisible cannot provide support for legally-mandated reporting associated with these races. However, the funds can be used for state and local lobbying activity, with the understanding that you are responsible for understanding and following relevant local laws.
+ What about spending money to influence state or local decisionmakers outside of elections?
While not prohibited, this spending may be subject to reporting and registration requirements depending on your state or locality if you spend the money to ask a decisionmaker to take action or refrain from taking action on specific legislation or if you ask others to do the same. It’s a good idea to check state and local lobbying rules before taking such action because it is your responsibility to make sure reporting is done properly for such expenditures.
+ What if my group does want to make donations to campaigns? How can we fundraise for that?
Stay tuned! We are hoping to share a lot of tools around how groups can engage in elections, and this is a question we get a lot so we’re thinking about it. But, donations to federal and many state and local candidates can’t come through 501(c)(4) organizations like ours, so they would require a different fundraising structure.
+ My group has endorsed a candidate for office. Does that change how we interact with someone in office for that position, who is also a candidate?
Anytime you work with a person who is also a candidate, you should be clear up front that you’re interacting only about issues, and not about the person’s campaign for office. Once your group has endorsed a candidate for office, this separation becomes even more important. Sometimes it becomes impossible to avoid candidate interactions after an endorsement, but you should always make clear that those interactions are strictly limited to issue advocacy and that you do not want to discuss any campaign for office. It’s usually a good idea to not only make this clear in person, but also to make it clear in any written correspondence about the issue advocacy. Also, please note: if you spend money on any issue advocacy with regard to a clearly identified candidate, federal or state law may put requirements on such communications and you should probably check with a lawyer before doing so.
+ How do I get pre-approval for political spending?
All spending for political activity requires pre-approval. Just fill out this form here and you’ll receive a reply promptly after your request has been reviewed.
+ What is True Link?
True Link is a third-party vendor that provides debit cards. When you sign up for a card, we’ll be creating your account with True Link, and they will send you a card in the mail. Indivisible will be transferring 90% of the money you raise in ActBlue to your True Link card as a grant to your group so that you can buy supplies and other materials to support your group’s activities.
+ I’m having trouble using my True Link card. What do I do?
If you have any issues with the True Link platform or card, you can contact their customer service at 1-800-299-7646 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The support team is fully staffed Monday - Friday 7AM - 5PM PT. True Link also has a smaller staff on the weekends that returns voicemails and emails during business hours. If at any time you try to reach True Link and are not able to, you can leave a voicemail or send an email, and True Link will return your message in a timely manner.
+ How do we access the money we raise?
Each group will receive a debit card that you’ll be able to use to access the funds you raise through your ActBlue page. We’ll send you the card after you start raising funds through ActBlue. We will receive funds you raise through ActBlue every two weeks, and you will see it live in your debit card soon after. Please note that we are unable to transfer less than $5. If this is the case, these funds will be added to your next transfer.
+ When will I get the funds on my card? How can I check my balance?
We will transfer funds from ActBlue to your True Link card every two weeks. However, the first transfer may take longer because you will have to receive your card in the mail and set up your account before True Link can add the funds to it. Please note that we are unable to transfer less than $5. If this is the case, these funds will be added to your next transfer.
You can check the balance on your card using any of the following ways 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:
Phone call: You can check your balance anytime using True Link’s phone system. Simply call 1-800-299-7646. You can also hear recent transactions or request to speak to a representative.
Online: Visit www.truelinkcard.com and click the "Login" button in the top right corner. Then click the link that says "Cardholder log in." Provide the last 4 digits of your Social Security number, your date of birth, and the last 4 digits of your True Link Card number. You will then be able to see your balance, monthly statements, and recent transactions.
Text message: As long as True Link has your mobile number on file, it is very easy to check your balance from your phone. (Standard text message rates may apply). Send the word "balance" to 1-800-299-7646. If you receive an error message, please call their Customer Support team at 1-800-299-7646 to make sure your number is on file.
+ Where do I submit my monthly financial report? When is it due, and what needs to be included?
Each month, you need to log into the True Link website (www.truelinkcard.com) and download a copy of your transactions for the previous month. This report is available on the 5th and a reminder email will be sent to all treasurers that need to submit this report. A report is only needed if you spent funds the previous month.
+ What happens if I don’t submit my monthly report?
It’s important for audit purposes that you submit your monthly report on time every month. Your report is due on the 15th day of the following month. As noted in the cardholder agreement, failure to submit accurate and complete monthly reports may result in your card being canceled.
+ Do I have to submit a monthly report if I have no expenses?
If you do not have expenses for the previous month, you do not need to submit a report. We will send an email around the 5th of each month to treasurers that need to submit a report for the previous month's expenses.
+ Do I have to save my receipts?
Yes! Please save all of your receipts in a file with a note about what the expenses were for. Indivisible is required to conduct random audits of group expenses to make sure that folks are complying with the rules above, and we may ask you to send us your receipts when doing so. Like most organizations, Indivisible also conducts an annual audit, and our auditors may ask to see your receipts for various purchases.
Please contact one of our fundraising team members here if you have more questions that were not covered above.