"Democracy Engine is a bellwether for politics. The need is there, the organizations are there, the people are there. This is the kind of fundraising innovation the Left has been waiting for."

- Lara Bergthold, Chair of the Board of Directors, People For the American Way

"What I find most compelling about Democracy Engine is that my customers don’t need a merchant account. They can be up and running with little hassle in just a few hours. And, as a developer, the API is much easier to work with than traditional gateways like Authorize.net. I highly recommend Democracy Engine to all my US-based customers."

- Jim Gilliam, Founder and CEO, NationBulder.com

"What makes Democracy Engine such a powerful tool is its flexibility. Each time we came up with a new way we wanted to fundraise for our candidates, we discovered that the platform could accommodate our needs -- it really could go with us. … The power and simplicity of this platform allowed us to engage our existing members, significantly grow our list, and dramatically multiply our technology investment into serious hard dollars for our endorsed candidates."

- Ilana Goldman, President, Women’s Campaign Forum (2005-2009)

"In the 2008 cycle, HRC PAC started using Democracy Engine, and we were instantly impressed. Democracy Engine's system is incredibly easy to use, allows for instant updates and editing, and made reporting effortless. Many of our donors and bipartisan candidates have thanked HRC for having such a simple and useful system."

- Mike Mings, PAC Director, Human Rights Campaign

"Together, Jonathan, Erik and Josh make for a truly innovative team. They have worked hard to build a visionary yet practical platform, one that will be taking politics well into the 21st century."

- Jackson Dunn, National Finance Director,
Democratic National Committee (2001-2005)

“Integrating our processing system with Democracy Engine's API was a breeze and their technical support while we programmed and tested was exceptional.  In less than 48 hours we were ready to go ... taking new customers live now takes less than a day.”

- Chris Lundberg, CEO, Salsa Labs

"Perhaps most importantly, in Jonathan Zucker we never had a vendor or consultant, but rather another member of our own team, with the same goals and mission -- it made a huge difference to have a trusted professional on our side when launching a new and important initiative."

- Ilana Goldman, President, Women’s Campaign Forum (2005-2009)

"As a political consulting firm, we've set up a lot of clients to accept online contributions. We're used to the lengthy process that you go through via traditional gateways like Authorize.net, in which most of the time they're asking for information that political campaigns almost never have. Your sign-up and validation process could not have been easier: a simple process asking for information we have on hand and one day later our client was accepting online donations."

- Kevin Yee, Stearns Consulting, San Francisco

welcome to the future of fundraising contact us


If you are a contributor to a political organization, your questions start here.

If you are the recipient of political donations through Democracy Engine, your questions start here.

Who are you and why is there a charge from you on my credit card statement?


Democracy Engine, LLC, is a donation processor. We are structured similarly to PayPal, but specialize in campaign and nonprofit/charitable donations.  You will sometimes see us listed on "pending" charges (and very rarely on your actual posted transactions), but it can happen.  It is not that you gave us money, but that you made a payment or donation through our system (whether you realized it or not).  It is extremely rare that transactions through our system are fraudulent.

If you ever have a question about why we charged your card, you can always drop us an e-mail (support@democracyengine.com) or give us a call (202-630-6597, though e-mail will usually get a faster response than a voicemail).

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How do I know my money has been received by my intended recipient?


As a general rule, you should give your recipient a few days to receive the data, but you can always check with them if you want to verify that the donation has arrived like it’s supposed to. For recipients—such as candidates for office—who have to disclose their donors, you can also check with a regulator, such as the Federal Election Commission for candidates for federal office.

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How can I request a refund of a donation?


If you are making your request before we transfer the funds to the recipient, drop us a note at “info at democracyengine dot com” listing your full name, the recipient, the amount, the date of your donation, and the last four digits of the card used to make the donation. We’ll happily credit your contribution. If, however, we have already transferred the funds (we make transfers every Monday, except bank holidays), you will need to contact the recipient directly to request a refund.

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Can I pre-fill a suggested donation amount on my donation page?


Yes, you can. And the same tool allows you to, in effect, suppress certain recipients who would otherwise be included on the page by actively selecting some recipients to populate a donation amount. 

Please note that this tool only works with an existing page with one more more recipients. 

The query parameters used for this tool are as follows: 

?recip1=INCARNATION_ID and


You can have any number of such parameters (simply increase the number in the parameter (e.g. recip2, recip3, recip4), but they must always be used as a pair (for each recipX= there must be an amountX=), even if the AMOUNT is zero.

The URL would look like this: 

For a landing page:


For the payment page:


Where PAGENAME is the value of the page you set for the URL field of your page, INCARNATION_ID is the unique ID that our system has assigned to a Recipient for whom you wish to raise money (see below for instructions on finding the Incarnation IDs of the recipients on your page) and AMOUNT is a dollar amount you want filled in. You can continue the string for as many recipients as you wish.

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How do I find the Incarnation ID for Recipients on my Pages?


If you are using a URL to pre-fill donation amounts, you will need the Incarnation ID for each recipient on your page.  You can use the following tool to dump the Incarnation IDs for all recipients (and note that the Incarnation ID is the same across all of your pages, so once you know the Incarnation ID for a Recipient, you do not need to look it up again and again):



If you use a URL other than donate.democracyengine.com, you should substitute it in the example above.

(The output is a bit ugly, but it gets you the information you need.)

What are the Contributor terms of service and privacy policy?

You can find the Contributor (also called “Subscriber”) terms of service here:http://www.democracyengine.com/subscriber_tos

And the Contributor privacy policy is here:http://www.democracyengine.com/subscriber_privacy_policy

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What are the Contributor terms of service and privacy policy?


You can find the Contributor (also called “Subscriber”) terms of service here:http://www.democracyengine.com/subscriber_tos

And the Contributor privacy policy is here:http://www.democracyengine.com/subscriber_privacy_policy

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How do I sign up?


If you are a client of NationBuilder’s, please see our answer to that question.  For clients of Salsa or, well, anyone else, just drop us a note at support at democracyengine dot com and we’ll work with you to get everything you need in place.

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How much do you cost?


Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question.  Democracy Engine is a very flexible platform and our pricing is determined by the services offered and can include both licensing and transactional fees.  Drop us a note at support at democracyengine dot com, let us know what you want to do and we’ll be able to give you a price.

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I have received funds through Democracy Engine, where do I login to download donor data?



You login here:  http://recipient.democracyengine.com/

(If you need a login and password, please contact us via the contact form.)

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When will I get my money?


Democracy Engine generally distributes funds weekly (to ensure that our political recipients are in compliance with all campaign finance laws) or monthly.  Our weekly distributions cover a period from 12am on Monday to 11:59:59pm on Sunday ET (some slight variations with donations made between midnight and 3am ET will occur due to the different time zones in which servers exist), while our monthly distributions cover a period from 12am on the 1st of the month to 11:59:59pm on the last day of the month ET (as with weekly checks, some slight variations occur).

For those receiving a check, we cut checks on Monday and they generally arrive on Thursday or Friday for weekly checks and a few days into the new month for monthly checks.  There are no fees to receive monthly checks, but weekly checks carry a fee of $2/check (this fee is waived for campaign entities required by law to receive funds weekly).

For those receiving funds via ACH direct deposit, we initiate those transfers on Wednesdays and funds deposited in your account on Thursday.  There are no fees to receive weekly deposits via ACH.  

Out of cycle ACH transfers (meaning not part of our standard weekly transfer) are possible, but carry a fee of $10 to cover bank charges we incur.  We can also Wire funds with a fee of $40 (and potential incoming wire fees from your bank).  In all cases, we can only transfer funds that have been reconciled, which generally precludes transfers of funds donated the same day we make the transfer.

ACH transfers deposit the next business day (excluding weekends and holidays).  Wire transfers deposit the same day they are made.

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If I use a Democracy Engine hosted page, can I set the recurring donation check box automatically?


If you add the parameter "?subscription_default=true" to the URL, it will auto-check the recurring donation check box.  Here's an  example:


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Where can I find information about Democracy Engine for a Campaign Finance filing?




While we can not provide legal advice (only your committee's legal counsel can do that), we do have some informal guidance, including our physical address, for recipients of funds through Democracy Engine who have to file with campaign finance regulators.

The relevant information is at  http://www.democracyengine.com/de_guidance_zip. There are three memos in this file; just pick the one that applies to you.

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I received a check from you. How do I access information about specific donors and donations?


All of your fundraising information is kept on your account, which you can log into at http://recipient.democracyengine.com/ with your username and password.

If you do not already have a login, just drop us a note at campaigns at democracyengine dot com and we’ll set you up.

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How do I interpret the AVS codes in our transfer files?


The AVS (Address Verification System) is an anti-fraud system designed to ensure that each donation is legitimate. Democracy Engine runs an AVS check on every donation, but given our large political donor base, we do not strictly enforce AVS (meaning that we will process a donation where the address does not match the billing address on the card).  We do, however, provide the results of the AVS check in your downloadable data files.  This is mostly of use to political candidates using AVS to substantiate a claim on public funding.

This data can appear in either the AVS Code or the AVS Code 2 column in our data files.

There are a wide variety of possible responses to Address Verification, all involving a code.  The most common responses received by Democracy Engine are the following:

A, I5 or I7  = Partial Match (street address matches, but 5 digit or 9 digit postal code does not).

E = AVS is not available for this card type (or AVS data is invalid)

M, X, Y, I1 or I3 = Match (address and postal code)

B8, N, I6 or I8 = No Match

W, Z, I2 or I4 = Partial Match (street address does not match, but 5 or 9 digit postal code does)

Many card issuers do not provide automatic verification of accountholder names, but some do.  In those cases, the codes are as follows:

A1 = Accountholder name (only) match (street address and postal code do not match)

A3 = Accountholder name, billing address and postal code match

A4 = Accountholder name, postal code match (street address does not match)

A7 = Accountholder name, street address match (postal code does not match)

B3 = Accountholder name mismatch, billing address and postal code match

B4 = Accountholder name mismatch, postal code match (street address does not match)

B7 = Accountholder name mismatch, street address match (postal code does not match)


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Which vendors can integrate Democracy Engine into their websites?


NationBuilder, SalsaLabs, TrilogyInteractive, LibertyConcepts, InteractiveStrategies, and DigitalTurf have already integrated with Democracy Engine for at least one of their clients and any other vendor with developers familiar with RESTful style APIs should be able to integrate with only a few days' work.

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How do I use Democracy Engine with NationBuilder?


Setting up with Democracy Engine with NationBuilder is extremely easy and you do not need to sign-up separately with Democracy Engine. All you need to do is

  1. Login to your NationBuilder administrative controls, 
  2. click Settings,
  3. click Bank Accounts,
  4. click New Account,
  5. click on Democracy Engine,
  6. fill out the form with your information (you will need your bank account information from a check (do not use a deposit slip) or bank letter and your tax ID or campaign finance registration number), and
  7. click Save account.

We will take care of the rest of the process and send you an email (to the address you use with your NB account) once setup is complete. This usually takes one business day (and often less).

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How do I use Democracy Engine with Salsa Labs and other vendors that are not NationBuilder?


Setting up with Democracy Engine with vendors other than NationBuilder requires you to fill out some paperwork.  You should ask your vendor for that paperwork rather than contacting us directly (though if you do wish to contact us with questions, feel free, just let us know the vendor you use for your website).  Once we have the paperwork, we coordinate with your vendor on set-up and will contact you once everything is in place.  Because of the many moving parts, this process can take up to three business days, but often is done in one.

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Can I use Democracy Engine to fundraise (even for myself) without going through a vendor?


Yes!  We can set you up with unlimited fundraising pages that are either branded like your website or not.  Cost depends on what you are looking to do, so drop us a note at info at democracyengine dot com and let us know what want to do and we’ll give you a quote on costs.

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Do You Support any Tracking Codes?


We support not one, but two, tracking codes:

Source Code, which you can access via a "sc=" query parameter, and

Ref (short for Reference) Code, which you can access via a "rc=" query parameter.

In technical jargon, you simply append one or both of the following to

the URL for the landing or payment page to which you direct folks:




(where YOURCODE is any string of characters you like).  A full URL would look like this, for example:


Anyone following that link and making a donation would have

"20100608ask3" put into the Source Code field in our database.

You can also append both a Ref Code and a Source Code to the same contribution by including both parameters as follows:


This example would add "gen_email" as a Source Code and "20100608" as a Ref Code.

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Where are the most recent API Docs?


We keep them updated in the following zip file:


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What are the Recipient terms of service?