Person

Matt DeBergalis

Matthew (Matt) DeBergalis is the co-founder, president, and chairman of the board of directors of ActBlue PACActBlue LLCActBlue Charities, and ActBlue Civics. DeBergalis and Ben Rahn launched the ActBlue website in 2004 as a fundraising platform for left-of-center organizations and political candidates. The ActBlue website is a way for left-wing organizations and candidates to raise money through small-dollar donations.

In addition to his work with ActBlue, DeBergalis is the co-founder and the chief technology officer of Apollo, a data graph technology company. DeBergalis graduated from MIT. [1]

Early life

Matt DeBergalis was born in 1979. He graduated from MIT.

In 2003, DeBergalis ran unsuccessfully for city council in Cambridge, Massachusetts. [2]

ActBlue

After his failed city council bid, DeBergalis sought a better way to organize fundraising and support for candidates. DeBergalis wanted to find a way to tap into existing social circles. [3] In 2004, DeBergalis created ActBlue as a way for left-wing candidates and organizations to fundraise. [4]

In a 2007 interview, DeBergalis explained the ActBlue model: [5]

The whole thing is built around using existing social networks: whether they are coworkers asking each other to do things, friends, or existing communities built around e-mail lists or blogs. But we aren’t trying to direct people to give money to any particular place, we’re just trying to facilitate connections that already exist. Our feeling is that everyone has some sphere of influence and that set of people will respond to appeals from a person far more actively and frequently than they will to a top down national advertising campaign. We’re just trying to harness that.

Originally, ActBlue would list every Democrat running for office in a state where ActBlue was active. A user would select which Democrats they wanted to support. The fundraiser would use their social circles and encourage people to donate to that candidate. ActBlue would process the credit card and send the money directly to the candidate or organization. [6]

DeBergalis saw ActBlue as a counter to the traditional Republican advantage in direct-mail fundraising, saying, “The other big tool however has been direct mail — it works particularly well for the Republicans, they’ve always had a large advantage in direct fundraising by mail. ActBlue is a nice counter-example: our model, where everyone can use their own language and own pitch for why they’re supporting a candidate, actually works better for the democratic party than for a republican party.” [7]

ActBlue became even more prominent in the 2018 midterm elections as it was the primary vehicle for record fundraising for Democratic candidates. The platform raised over $1 billion for Democrats in the 2018 election cycle. It enabled many Democratic candidates to forgo support from business-related PACs and to raise the bulk of their money from small-dollar donors. It also enabled candidates to receive contributions from outside their states and districts. DeBergalis continued to serve as the president and chairman of the board of ActBlue during this time. [8]

“It’s an extraordinary time in politics,” said DeBergalis, “I’m proud that we’re part of it. I’m proud we’ve built what we have, and frankly, I think we have a lot of work to do.” [9]

References

  1. Wiggers, Kyle. 2019. “Apollo Raises $22 Million For Graphql Tools And Services”. Venturebeat. https://venturebeat.com/2019/06/12/apollo-raises-22-million-for-graphql-tools-and-services/. ^
  2. Sacks, Danielle. 2007. “Marketing Election ’08: Q&A With Matt Debergalis, Actblue”. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/76812/marketing-election-08-qa-matt-debergalis-actblue. ^
  3. Sacks, Danielle. 2007. “Marketing Election ’08: Q&A With Matt Debergalis, Actblue”. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/76812/marketing-election-08-qa-matt-debergalis-actblue. ^
  4. Sacks, Danielle. 2007. “Marketing Election ’08: Q&A With Matt Debergalis, Actblue”. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/76812/marketing-election-08-qa-matt-debergalis-actblue. ^
  5.    Sacks, Danielle. 2007. “Marketing Election ’08: Q&A With Matt Debergalis, Actblue”. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/76812/marketing-election-08-qa-matt-debergalis-actblue. ^
  6. Sacks, Danielle. 2007. “Marketing Election ’08: Q&A With Matt Debergalis, Actblue”. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/76812/marketing-election-08-qa-matt-debergalis-actblue. ^
  7. Sacks, Danielle. 2007. “Marketing Election ’08: Q&A With Matt Debergalis, Actblue”. Fast Company. https://www.fastcompany.com/76812/marketing-election-08-qa-matt-debergalis-actblue. ^
  8. Atkins, Kimberly. 2019. “Democrats’ Billion-Dollar Fundraising Juggernaut Is Tucked Away In Somerville”. WBUR. https://amp.wbur.org/news/2019/04/17/actblue-democrats-somerville. ^
  9. Roarty, Alex. 2018. “How Online Money Is Reshaping The Democratic Party”. Mcclatchy. https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article217164250.html. ^
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