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There's an App for Giving Obama Your Money

Blue State Digital pushes mobile fundraising product Quick Donate

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As we head in to what is expected to be the most expensive campaign cycle in history, candidates are trying to exploit every possible advantage to raise the cash necessary to keep the wheels turning another day. One such avenue, mobile, is new to this cycle, and has campaigns drooling over the possibilities of soliciting almost instantaneous donations from citizens on the go.

The problem, however, is well documented—when it comes to Internet behavior, people are notoriously lazy. Especially when they’re being asked to give up their hard earned money.

Yet, Jascha Franklin-Hodge and the team at Blue State Digital, an organization that specializes in online fundraising, advocacy, and social networking, think they may have a solution. And that’s music to the Obama campaign’s ears. Founded in 2005, by Franklin-Hodge and several former Howard Dean staffers, Blue State Digital provided key measures of technological infrastructure to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign and is working in a similar capacity this year.

In the last few months, Blue State Digital has rolled out their Quick Donate platform to provide one click giving options to political campaigns (like Obama's) and non-profit clients. According to Franklin-Hodge, every consideration behind the technology aims to make donating money as painless and easy as possible. “My big pet peeve with sites are the drop down menus where you have to add information like, Mr., Ms., or Dr.,” he said. “I look at that stuff and say, you are costing yourself money, here. You don’t need to know this.”

Franklin-Hodge claims that Quick Donate is the first platform that will allow users (after a quick signup process) to respond to a link in a text or email and immediately donate a set amount to a campaign (previously, charitable orgs were allowed to use mobile carriers to donate, but the process was slow and carriers often took large cuts of the donation, up to 30 percent). On top of the quick donations, Blue State Digital can also monitor the information and donor usage patterns to tailor donation requests in order to achieve optimal results and even sign up more users. “We’ve found the best time to ask people to do something that is annoying is right after they’ve already made a donation because there is an emotional high that comes from something that is a bit altruistic. It’s a good time to ask people.”