If imitation is a form of flattery, ActBlue might take the launch of a Republican copycat — both in form and in name — “designed to combat” the Somerville-based fundraising machine as rare cross-partisan praise.
Instead, the group isn’t making much of it at all.
WinRed, a Republican-backed fundraising platform announced Monday by President Donald Trump, is being billed as the GOP’s long-awaited response to ActBlue, an online platform that facilitated billions in small-donor contributions to Democratic candidates and causes during the 2018 election cycle. The Davis Square-based nonprofit, which was launched in 2004 by MIT and Harvard graduates, was most recently credited with helping Democrats raise three times as much money in small-dollar donations as Republicans during the 2018 election cycle. And they’re not — at least outwardly — worried about their new Republican counterpart matching their success.
“Trump & the GOP have decided they want in on the power of the grassroots,” ActBlue tweeted following the launch of WinRed. “But you can’t manufacture the people power that small-dollar donors on the left have built over the last 15 years.”
Trump & the GOP have decided they want in on the power of the grassroots. But you can’t manufacture the people power that small-dollar donors on the left have built over the last 15 years. We’re excited to help them continue to make change in 2019 & 2020. ??????????
— ActBlue (@actblue) June 24, 2019
The fundraising platform also announced Monday that, in 2019, more than 1 million new users had signed up for ActBlue Express, an Amazon Prime-like tool that allows donors to save their information and contribute to candidates and causes with a single click.
“We’re focused on giving small-dollar donors the best platform possible to make millions of small-dollar contributions to Democrats and progressive organizations this cycle,” Erin Hill, the executive director of ActBlue, told Boston.com in a statement.
The group recently announced “unprecedented” first-quarter numbers, revealing that they had facilitated more than $174 million in donations and doubled the number of groups fundraising through their platform in the first three months of 2019, compared to the beginning of the 2018 cycle.
In January, top Republican officials — including Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel — reportedly made calls to similarly unite their party’s fundraising efforts behind a single, online platform. According to Politico, Republican mega-donor and casino mogul (and Dorchester native) Sheldon Adelson was also involved.
And while ActBlue is run independently from the Democratic Party, Republicans are looking to replicate its success with the backing of the official party leadership. According to its website, WinRed is supported by the Trump campaign, the RNC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and National Republican Congressional Committee.
WinRed has partnered with Data Trust, a Republican data firm that will collect and store each donor’s information so that the party can better target their 2020 turnout efforts. The new platform’s website says specifically that it was “designed to combat ActBlue.”
“WinRed was modeled after years of studying ActBlue – but combines better technology and a partnership with Data Trust that will massively improve the party’s voter model scores, benefitting all candidates up and down the ballot,” the website says.
Trump tweeted Monday that the new platform will allow him and other Republicans to “compete” with the “Democrats [sic] money machine” in 2020.
“This has been a priority of mine and I’m pleased to share that it is up and running,” he wrote.