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Helping O2 build a social movement using ‘Obama style’ digital organising

Today's guest post was written by Sam Lockwood of the UK based studio and NationBuilder architect, Brand Response. It was originally published on their company blog. 

How do you build a movement empowering your employees to tackle youth unemployment, close the digital skills gap and save the planet?

Brand Response has been working with Telefónica UK (O2) and their partners the National Youth Agency (NYA) to launch a new platform called MyThinkBig.co.uk.


Created with NationBuilder, MyThinkBig.co.uk enables over 11,000 interested UK employees to find opportunities to get more involved in Think Big.

With 300 million customers and 300,000 employees worldwide, Telefónica is well placed to act as an engine for economic, technological and social progress wherever it operates. The Think Big blueprint is Telefónica's sustainability strategy for people and planet.

It’s an incredible initiative that has already helped tackle important issues across the UK like youth employability, the digital skills shortage and climate change.

From small micro-volunteering tasks like recycling initiatives and reviewing CVs, to more involved activities like mentoring or skills sharing - MyThinkBig.co.uk enables O2, Telefónica and Capita employees to share their talents with the wider community.

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Membership directories come to NationBuilder

This is such a requested feature that word leaked out on Twitter as soon as we put it live late last week. Yes, directory pages are here!

It’s very simple right now – we wanted to get it out to you as quickly as possible so we can hear your feedback. You can create a public page on your site listing everyone with a certain tag or set of tags. 

If you can tag them, you can create a page for them. For example:

  • Members of your alumni group
  • Directors on the board of your nonprofit
  • Faces of the people who pledged to vote for you
  • People who bought tickets to your next show
  • Donors to your organization
  • Signers of your petition

A few notes:

  • Only supporters with public profiles will be included.
  • If someone is marked a supporter who shouldn’t be, you can mark her support level 4 or 5 and she’ll become a non-supporter.
  • For people who prefer to not to be listed on the website at all, you can turn off their public profile individually or batch update everyone.
  • You can have as many directory pages as you want.

For more info on creating directory pages, check out the HOWTO.

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You can now update primary address

A person's profile contains a plethora of information. You can include up to seven types of physical addresses in a single profile. Since a person can only be at one place at a time, a single address is used to place the person on a map and define her household. This is her primary address

Primary address is determined automatically - typically it is the first addresses added to a profile. Now you can update a primary address in a person's profile or via batch update. 

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Introducing #GivingTuesday Office Hours

Drop in to NationBuilder’s office hours every Tuesday from 12-3 p.m. ET (9-12 p.m. PT) between now and Dec 2, 2014 for tips and free one on one advice in preparation for this year’s #GivingTuesday campaign (or end of year giving efforts more generally.) Just call 213-873-8325 or email Rachael on our Nonprofit team at rcaine@nationbuilder.com

All signs suggest #GivingTuesday is here to stay – more nonprofits are participating and more people are giving. According to a study quoted in Forbes, in 2013 donations were up 90% and the average gift was higher by almost $50 compared to the year before. But, with your budgets betting on December 2nd this year you should consider two things:

  • How to make sure you can get your message out amidst the din.

  • How to make #GivingTuesday more than just a day by translating that momentum into consistent support and engagement every day of the year.

You can also use the steps outlined below to start building momentum, right now.

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Texting for Election Day turnout efforts

Right now, inboxes across America are bombarded with political emails and phone lines are flooded in battle ground races. One simple method of communication can cut through the clutter: a text message.

There are many ways to use texting as we near Election Day, but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Send a last minute volunteer ask, with a text keyword to sign up.
  2. Drive up small dollar donations by texting a link to your donate page.
  3. Coordinate Election Day poll checkers and volunteers with wake-up reminders and text replies to confirm they've arrived (this is much easier than a phone tree!)
  4. Send emails with text keywords to sign petitions and capture those mobile numbers. Remember, half of the emails you send are being read on a phone!
  5. Get folks off of the couch with a text message Election Day vote reminder.

If you're like me, you're doing everything you can for that extra dollar, volunteer, and vote. Set up your GOTV strategy in half an hour, so you can focus on the most important thing: getting your supporters to the polls.

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Why I left my dream job to work at NationBuilder

peter2.pngFriday, September 19th was my last day as Pivot Legal Society’s Executive Director.

I turned off my email, canceled my voicemail, and said goodbye to the team of amazing lawyers, storytellers, and organizers that I had been working with for the past nine years. I love Pivot. During my time there, I loved the organization more than almost anything else in my life. It is one of the most powerful non-profit organizations in Canada, complete with a compelling vision, fierce tactics, and a real community connection. The people who come into the organization – staff, volunteers, donors, and clients – are brave, compassionate, wise, and lovely.  

The day after my goodbye party, I was at another event chatting with a very well respected non-profit leader about my decision to leave Pivot. He said, “So, NationBuilder. Databases…really? Why would you leave Pivot to go work there?”

NationBuilder is so much more than databases. Sure, it has built an amazing online toolkit for non-profits, political campaigns, and small businesses, but at its core NationBuilder is a bold social change organization. It is an audacious experiment focused on providing the infrastructure for a world where people can step up, connect, create, and lead. It is this experiment and the values underpinning it that compelled me to join NationBuilder.  

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How to set up a vote pledge page in NationBuilder

More people have internet than land line telephones. So, while you're identifying supportive voters by phone and by door, you can also do it online with the NationBuilder Vote Pledge page.

A Vote Pledge page will give website visitors and supporters on social media an easy way to express their support and share it with their friends. Plus, you capture their contact information, so you can turn them into volunteers and donors, too.

Here's how to set up a Vote Pledge page: 

  1. Go to the website section of your Nation
  2. Click "new page" and select "Vote Pledge"
  3. Click the provided links to fill in the text you desire, how you want to tag voters, and what data to require
  4. Publish your page

Now you're collecting ID's online! Pro tip: Email your supporters, signups, and social media followers across the district who haven’t been identified in your voter file, and ask them to confirm their support and share with friends.

If your Nation doesn't have a voter file, you can request one here

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Early voter data in NationBuilder

Voters across the U.S. are receiving their early ballots, and we know this is super critical data you need to organize in the final weeks before the election. Want to know who requested an absentee ballot in your area? Or which voters already cast their ballot? We’re working to make that data available to everyone using NationBuilder – but collecting the data from every county and state quickly enough to be useful is a massive undertaking.

We need your help. (how many times have you seen that in an email before!)

Seriously though, our thought is this: if every campaign that could use early voter data just had a volunteer go pick it up at their local county office, we could solve the problem in no time. So, if this is something you can commit to, please fill out this form. Our team can tell you where to go, and we'll import the data into your nation for free, right away. We’ll also update your nation with tags to identify everyone who has already voted, so you can target your GOTV efforts.

It's really easy – most of the time you just have to contact a local office and they will either email it to you, or ask you to pick it up. Frequently there is a fee, but it is generally nominal. Then send the data to us.

Sign up to collect early voter data here: http://signup-nbec.nationbuilder.com/

We currently have (and are continually updating) early voter data for the following states: Alaska, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Utah.

And we should have data shortly from these states: Arkansas, DC, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

If you're in any of those states, just reply to this email. Your organizer will share the tags with you and, like magic, they will appear in your nation. This is part of an exciting new feature that allows you to share tags between nations...we'll tell you more about that later! And if your state isn't listed, please fill out this form and contribute it.

The NationBuilder data blog has daily updates, so keep up to date there.

P.S. In your GOTV efforts, don't forget about all the folks you can only reach online. To help, we created a Digital GOTV HOWTO. It only takes 30 minutes to get up and running.

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Expanded permission sets: manage control panel users

Our customizable permission sets are designed to provide complete control over access to your nation. Control panel user profiles are treated differently from other profiles for security reasons. In the past, only admins could edit control panel users or add a control panel user with a different permission set. With the addition of "manage control panel users," you can provide more people with these abilities.


Remember that the admin permission set exists automatically and has access to everything in your nation. You can create up to five additional permission sets. By default, "manage control panel users" is set to no for permission sets that currently exist.

The below table explains the difference between manage control panel users and add control panel users. 

Permission set

Add profile with same permission set

Add profile with different permission set Edit control panel user profile Reset control panel user's password*
Add control panel users yes no  no no 
Manage control panel users  yes yes  yes  no
Admins  yes  yes yes yes

*Anyone can reset her own password following the prompts on a nation's website, triggering a password reset email. Only admins can reset another person's password by editing it on a person's profile within the control panel. 

Theoretically, a person with this permission could take over another user's account. We recommend reserving this permission for your most trusted control panel users. 

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Create a digital GOTV strategy in half an hour


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Understanding support status

Every person in your database has a support status. It's either supporter, non-supporter, or prospect. Do you know how that status is set? 

Check out what is support status? for the full scoop.

In related news, you may want to read the companion article what is support level?

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GOTV: Using NationBuilder to find your most influential supporters

Political leaders have poured resources into the study of why and how people vote. And after years of research, this fact remains true: sporadic voters are much more likely to head to the polls if they think their friends and neighbors are voting, too.

Use this knowledge to your advantage by finding your top social influentials and engaging them directly to spread your GOTV message.

All campaigns want to communicate with as much of the turnout universe as possible, and in districts where many addresses can’t be canvassed (think apartment buildings full of young, educated voters) – engaging people online is essential. Start by encouraging your most socially influential supporters to spread the word. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Go to the People section of your nation

2. Click the filter icon






3. Click “Add Criteria” & type "Supporter"

4. Click “Filter”

5.  From the "Sort By" drop down, select either "Twitter followers" or "Klout"

Once you sort and rank supporters by social influence, it’s easy to figure out who you need to reach out to first. Pro tip: It might also be useful to sort people by city and target geographic regions separately. 

Let your organizer know if you have any questions.

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ICYMI: New NationBuilder strategy HOWTOs

We've got a bunch of new HOWTOs that highlight a variety of strategies you can use while building and growing your nation. Check 'em out!

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Grassroots advocacy for your nation

Grassroots advocacy encourages people to send individual messages directly to decision-makers. An app can help you streamline the process and track actions in your nation. More deets in our grassroots advocacy apps HOWTO.

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Faster, error-free data entry with scannable sheets

In the lead up to election day, campaign field offices are susceptible to an all-too-common syndrome known as DEWD - Data Entry While Drunk. DEWD can result in bad data quality, high error rates, and in some cases, 50% minus 1 on election day. :(

You can prevent DEWD by using the new NationBuilder scannable walk+call sheets. It ensures painless and accurate data capture, works with nearly every scanner, and doesn’t require you to find tablets with wireless connections for all your volunteers.

Watch how it works in this fun video from our Product Manager, Jason Meer.

We are releasing scannable sheets in beta immediately, and would love your feedback. Note that walk and call sheets can be tied directly to surveys – which can assign point people, trigger followups, and tag supporters based on survey results. That means your entire workflow can be automated off a piece of paper. Check out the HOWTO for more details.

Kicking back after a long day in the field is a time-honored campaign tradition, but don’t be that DEWD. Let the computers tabulate your canvasses and phone banks for you.

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