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Using digital to get to know your people

Paul_Simpson.jpgPaul Simpson leads the digital practice at the UK's foremost independent public affairs company, Lexington Communications. He uses NationBuilder for all of his client's communication needs, and in today's post, offers up his thoughts on the evolution of public affairs and communication strategy. Learn more about Lexington Communications and others in the public affairs community

NationBuilder is designed to help people organize a community around whatever it is they want to do. But, you can’t build community without telling your story, and many organizations have no idea where to start. That’s where good communications steps up—it helps people, organizations, and brands authentically tell their story, and deliver that message to the people who care about what they’re doing. 

But, the communications strategies we used two years ago are old news. Is your press release pulling buzzwords from the marketing lexicon of days past? If the answer is yes, there’s a strong chance your audience will never hear your story – because they’ve already scrolled past it, clicked on something else, or changed the channel.

While the traditional methods are still important, nothing can beat digital for building a relationship. I'm not saying traditional channels don't have a place, because they do – for example, people are still listening to the radio decades after the TV came along. It is just that digital is often more effective in reaching people faster. The key is using digital to get to know your people and build real relationships, so you can engage them further.

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August Experts Roundup!

experts-ribbon-new-logo.pngWe added some insanely talented folks to the Expert directory this month. Congrats, everyone! 

Jose Iriarte has a background in international relations and recently joined forces with Tectonica. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and a conversational German, French, and Japanese speaker.

After more than a decade working with the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, Joe Newlin founded vsbly.org, a nonprofit and advocacy consulting firm. He has led community engagement campaigns in the LA area and spent the early part of his career at consumer watchdog. 

Christopher Breene is a DC based progressive political activist ready to provide in-person services for customers across the east coast. For more info, check out Millenial Might.

Aj Valenzuela is a progressive campaign operative relatively well connected in Ventura and Santa Barbara politics. 

A former Republican party chairman, Tom Swatzel has a long history of issue advocacy work in NC. He is currently focused on issue campaigns, candidates, and media relations, and works exclusively with conservative causes and candidates. More info at Swatzel Strategies.

With a background in acting and real estate, Joel Doerfel is a great candidate for brands, businesses, and other groups looking to adopt NationBuilder.

Calum Handforth is a London-based expert focusing on international development, charities, and nonprofits. He has a masters degree in international development and most recently started work on Christian Wolmar's campaign for mayor of London.

Michael Spitzer-Rubenstein is eager to help medium sized campaigns and nonprofits – the sort of groups who are large enough to have staff, but may not be making the most use of their nation. Check out Spitzer-Rubenstein Strategies.

Francophone customers, rejoice! Lyne Robichaud is a social media and online presence consultant based in Quebec. She is fluent in both French and English.

Vanessa Byrem-Tangy is another great addition to the Expert + Architect firm, Mosaic Strategies – a full-service agency ideal for larger customers looking to carry out complex migrations. 

Marcy Rye and Katy McCreery are resident Experts at Wire Media, a local nonprofit and business consulting firm with an emphasis of socially responsible organizations. 

Johannes Fischer is a Tennessee-based part-time political operative and full-time student currently working on Jim Cooper's congressional campaign.

Jhanixi Arellano is a system engineer and our first Venezuelan Expert. She generally works with non-profits and other non-political clients through Kluge.

Lupe Chavez is an LA local eager to gain experience working directly with customers. View his work at Nation Launcher.

To view our entire list of certified NationBuilder Experts, check out the directory

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Stripe + eWay payments added to NationBuilder

In addition to the processors we’ve supported for a long time -- Authorize.net, Democracy Engine, PayPal Express, PayPal Payflow Pro, and Sagepay -- NationBuilder now supports Stripe. And because so many of our friends in Australia and New Zealand wanted eWay, we added that, too.

This means that organizations based in 29 countries (!!) can now accept donations and payments through NationBuilder in their native currency from anywhere in the world.

Each processor has its pluses and minuses, so check out this HOWTO for all the details. If you want help figuring out which one makes the most sense for you, don’t hesitate to contact your organizer.

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Do this if you're running for Mayor in 2015

mobile-endorse.pngWhile most political pundits are focused on federal elections and developing story lines of billionaire-funded independent expenditures, another hugely important political effort is underway in many of America’s major cities—the battle for control of the Senate. Right now, 2015 mayoral elections are shaping up in Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, and other key metropolitan areas.

With federal government at an impasse for the foreseeable future, many people believe city governments have more impact on our day-to-day life, making mayoral races important battleground for policy innovation. Here at NationBuilder, we've been hard at work providing the organizing technology for dozens of major municipal efforts, not just in the US, but in Europe, Australia, and South and Central America, too.

You wouldn’t compare a five-year-old Blackberry with a touchscreen smartphone purchased last week. The same idea applies to campaigning—from a technology perspective, tactics used by candidates in 2011 will likely be completely insufficient in 2015.

In that spirit, here are some cutting-edge tactical suggestions for candidates quietly gearing up for next year's contests.

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NationBuilder website themes: now 100% responsive

NationBuilder websites are about people taking action—signing a petitiondonating to a crowdfunding campaign, or volunteering. And it's important for people to be able to do those things anywhere, whether they are waiting for the subway or waiting for a footlong at Subway.

Responsive themes make that possible because your website automatically adjusts to fit the size of any device, whether it’s a desktop, iPad, or smartphone. For the last six months, our team has been designing new v2 responsive themes, and beginning today, we will be removing all v1 themes from the gallery—unless you are already using one. Custom themes will not be affected at all.

So, check out our full suite of responsive themes, including two beautiful additions designed for visual creators and writers.

Headliner is ideal for showcasing visual media. With an oversized image slider, Headliner puts your photos and video on center stage, and embedding your content is super easy. It also features an animated sidebar and an event calendar perfect for anyone hitting the road. Check out the demo site.

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Publish, a theme designed by our friends at cStreet, features unique typography, colors, and design details that will make your written content stand out. See what’s possible on the demo site.

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You can view the entire selection of v2 themes in our public theme gallery.

Currently using a v1 theme? Don’t worry! Your site will not be affected. If you have additional questions about the transition, contact your organizer.

P.S. For some impressive design inspiration, check out Blueprints—a place for NationBuilder Architects to showcase their latest designs.

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Integrating new tech spurs action in Latin American politics

map.pngI was fortunate enough to work with three presidential campaigns fighting for El Palacio de Nariño (the Colombian equivalent of the White House) during the last round of elections in my beautiful home country of Columbia. During the experience, I saw the potential to truly engage and mobilize communities using integrated community technology.

Before I wrote this blog, I spoke with Andres Achury, the technology administrator for the campaign Peñalosa Presidente. Andres and his team used NationBuilder to enhance his online community and create a space where Colombian citizens could be part of the democratic process. Together, we developed the three most important takeaways from the our campaign experiences.

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Nueva tecnología e integración promueven movilización en Latino Americana


Peñalosa.jpgEn esta última ronda de elecciones Colombianas tuve el placer de trabajar con campañas presidenciales  en mi bello país. No solo aprendí acerca de los procesos que existen dentro de la política Colombiana, también vi el potencial para movilizar comunidades usando tecnología que se enfoca en entender y activar al/a seguidor/a.

Esta experiencia me motivo a compartir con ustedes tres cosas que aprendí, y para darle más contexto a estas lecciones hable con Andres Achury, administrador tecnológico para la campaña de Enrique Peñalosa, ex-candidato a la presidencia de Colombia.

Andrés, sus programadores y estrategas usaron la página web de Peñalosa Presidente como un espacio con varias metas:

  • Activar e informar seguidores de Peñalosa y el Partido Verde

  • Registrar testigos electorales

  • Aprender sobre los votantes y sus temas de interés

Bueno, acá les comparto los resultados de mi aprendizaje en Colombia:

1. Integración apoya la acción.

“Ejecutamos una campaña de testigos electorales, donde vimos lo que es tener todo integrado, en ves de que cada herramienta (correos masivos, bases de datos, página web, etc.) sean islas. Yo pude ver un registro en tiempo real de todas las acciones que se estaban tomando,” explica Achury.

En un lapso de 2 a 3 días Achury y su equipo registraron 400 testigos electorales, y si hubieran tenido mas tiempo, habrían podido registrar más.

“Una persona que hace un labor tan importante como ser testigo electoral, lo hace por que quiere y no por que le toca,” dice Andrés.

2. Mejor tecnología promueve mejor trabajo en equipo.

Esta frase lo dice todo: “integración de correos, pagina web, hosting, bases de datos en todo un sitio, me ayudo a despreocuparme por los temas individualmente.” Achury me contó eso cuando tocamos el tema de cómo alguien en su profesión implementa y usa una nueva tecnología.

Al no preocuparse por los detalles pequeños Achury y su equipo de programadores le pudieron dedicar más tiempo y energía a la estrategia, segmentación de votantes/voluntarios, y aplicación de la tecnología como tal en la campaña. El potencial de compartir datos entre usuarios y miembros de la campaña ofrece la posibilidad de abrir miles de puertas en como una campaña crece y se vuelve más eficaz al mismo tiempo.

3. Segmenta, comunica, moviliza.  

Algo muy bello pasa al poder segmentar comunidades, y es que uno aprende y entiende más. Con Achury estructuramos la base de datos de tal forma que el pudiera agregar la información que ya se tenía, segmentar los votantes y voluntarios de diferentes formas, y después ir a comunicarse con ellos y ellas para aprender más sobre sus temas de interés y poder hacer un seguimiento más adecuado.

“Mi uso de NationBuilder se enfocó muchísimo en el proceso de movilización, el cual es  el máximo objetivo de búsqueda al trabajar en una campaña política y buscando plataformas integradas para la política,” dice Andres Achury. “Centralizamos toda la comunicación y nos mantuvimos en contacto con el elector  interesado de una forma muy personalizada, ya que la base de datos permite segmentar.”

Bueno, en estas últimas elecciones se aprendió bastante. Espero tener más oportunidades como estas, y de poder ser parte de crear más acceso a herramientas como NationBuilder para movilizar.

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Welcome our newest Experts!

experts-ribbon-new-logo.pngCertified Experts are well-versed in using NationBuilder and possess a unique skill set to help communities organize online. They are qualified to provide consulting services to NationBuilder customers, and eligible for referrals from NationBuilder Organizers.

Last month, we added several new Experts to the lineup:

  • Chris Robinson is a Hill staffer and activist turned digital organizer. Based in DC, Chris has experience working with the Peace Corps and members of Congress.

  • Linda Wu Pagano is the resident expert at BackOfficeThinking, a Pennsylvania based non-profit consulting agency focused on growing medium-large sized non-profits.

  • Imran Moin is using his background in business development and finance to help local musicians and artists build their audience with NationBuilder.

  • Brad Hover is a LA based business professional helping small businesses grow their customer base and operate more efficiently.

  • Garrett Stark is a Tennessee based labor organizer with over ten years of grassroots experience. He's worked with a variety of unions, including SEIU, and also enjoys cross-sectional labor campaigns.

Check out our complete directory to find an Expert who can help your organization with exceptional workflow strategy, website setup, and data management.

Know NationBuilder like the back of your hand? Use your knowledge to consult and manage nations for organizations of all types and sizes—get certified today. 

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Big upgrade to the NationBuilder Member addon

We made a few big (and exciting!) changes to how memberships work. Key features of the free Member addon include:  

  • Multiple memberships per person (highly requested)
  • Both free and paid membership types
  • Automatic monthly renewals
  • Unlimited membership pages
  • Better automated email management: customizable reminders to renew, etc.
  • Members-only access to portions of your website
  • Give memberships automatically on any kind of page - including event RSVPs, petition signers, and endorsements
  • Import membership information from other systems

In addition, you’ll leverage core NationBuilder features like mapping and automatically syncing to Facebook and Twitter accounts. This makes it easy to personally engage with your members and identify the leaders you can ask to be more involved. Check out the Memberships HOWTO for more details.

There are a lot of ways to use the new Member addon -- here are a few to get your wheels spinning:

  • Monthly paid memberships: create a Donation page, check monthly payment, and set the membership expiration date to never.
  • Annual dues for your club: create a Donation page, check one-time payment, and set the membership expiration date to one year. You can customize the automatic renewal reminder they’ll receive when it is about to expire.
  • Free membership for one year: create a Signup page and set the membership expiration to one year.

If you are currently using the old paid membership pages, read the HOWTO for information about upgrading or contact your organizer.

If you’re not using memberships yet, now is the perfect time to start. The Member addon is included with your NationBuilder subscription at no extra charge, you just need an admin of your nation to turn it on under Settings > Billing & addons. And if you’ve got an old membership database laying around, we can help you migrate it for free.

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Busy? We’ll import your data for you.

There’s a feeling you get when you know your data is safe. It’s all in one place. Life is wonderful.

We want to help you get there faster.

Starting today, we are now offering *free* manual data importing during the trial period. And for the next month (until the end of July), we’re extending that offer to all existing customers.

You know that email system, your Google contacts, your old donor database, that random fundraiser you had two years ago with all the RSVPs in an Excel spreadsheet? We’ll take care of it.

And once it’s in NationBuilder, it will automatically sync to Facebook and Twitter. Instead of only email addresses, you’ll see pictures and bios and friends. It’s the first important step to building those relationships and organizing your community. And it means sleeping easy at night knowing your data is protected.

Our team of data specialists is ready to make sure it gets into your nation perfectly—just contact your organizer with a general idea of what you want to do, and we’ll take it from there. 

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Using NationBuilder to connect filmmakers with their audience

Last year, I went to a screening of Fruitvale Station—a film based on the events leading to the death of Oscar Grant. During the Q&A, screenwriter and director Ryan Coogler recounted how the film came together through the participation of the community and the people who personally knew Grant. They organized around a common desire to share his story with the rest of the world.

In order to successfully produce a film, filmmakers need to promote content, connect with their audience, and manage their digital presence—but not every project has the budget to hire a high-profile agency.

That’s where NationBuilder can help—by turning your website into an interactive portal, you can create meaningful relationships with existing fans while expanding your supporter base at the same time. In fact, films like The Invisible War, The Bully Project, and Dear White People are just a few examples of how filmmakers are using NationBuilder to organize and promote their projects...with huge success.

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NationBuilder field offices…Canada or bust! (and Austin and Oakland)

field-office-moose-tank.pngThank you for helping us pick locations for NationBuilder field offices last week. We were totally shocked by the number of responses that came in. Based on the feedback, we have decided to move forward immediately with offices in the following cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Oakland, and Austin. That’s right, we’re coming to Canada!

Do you know any great tech-savvy and fearless potential organizers in those cities? Please encourage them to apply! We are accepting applications immediately for politics and advocacy, nonprofits and universities, and brands/small business organizers. There are more details on how to apply at those links.

If you have a friend who is interested but doesn’t live near a city on the list, don’t worry—ask them to fill out this form and let them know we will be opening additional offices over the course of the next year.

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Top Three Finishers in CA District 26 Primary use NationBuilder

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Eight states held primaries last Tuesday, including California. Primaries are especially competitive in California because of term limits and a unique open primary system where all parties are on one ballot and two winners advance to the general election. That means California can have Democrat vs. Democrat or Republican vs. Republican general elections, making primaries really interesting. 

People following closely couldn’t take their eyes off the State Senate race in CA's 26th district, where five strong candidates emerged, but only two could win. The top three finishers were NationBuilder customers Ben Allen, Sandra Fluke, and Seth Stodder, followed closely by Betsy Butler, who redirected parts of her own site to NationBuilder action pages.

All candidates were within a mere 6.3 percentage points of each other, and no one beat the next best finisher by more than 2.2%.

Given the strength of showing for the candidates using advanced digital organizing tactics, it is worth dissecting what might have made this very narrow difference in such a social media heavy district. First, we'll look at external-facing digital organizing tactics, and then we'll take a peek behind the scenes at the data.

 

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New NationBuilder Apps - Walkathons, Raiser’s Edge, Voter modeling, and more

We believe communities can create things that were never imaginable before. And yet, every day, I’m in awe of just how skilled and talented the NationBuilder community is. There are now over 40 apps in the directory. Check it out—here are a few of the latest to come online:

You can find the full list in the directory, and the new sync icon shows the apps that automatically update your nation’s database. If there are apps you’d like to see integrated, or whole new areas of functionality you need, please let your organizer know.

And if you’re a developer interested in building your own app or integrating with NationBuilder, we’re here to help. Check out the API documentation, our developer forum, or contact Adriel Hampton to get a free developer sandbox nation.

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CityZen, the newest NationBuilder theme

We’re pretty excited about the new theme from our friends at Tectonica, though I was a little confused the first time Jesse told me they wanted to call it CityZen. City? Zen? ...Huh?

The mockups looked great, but I remained perplexed until the end of the meeting. Ohhhhh, I get it! Citizen, a theme for governments!

So, yeah, that happened.

If you’re looking for more space to show off your content, CityZen is the first NationBuilder theme to feature a slide-out sidebar. You can choose from four different color variations—and because it’s responsive, CityZen looks great on any device.

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See all of CityZen’s features in action on the demo site, or visit our public theme gallery for more info.

 

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