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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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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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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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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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Setting up a phone bank

Setting up a phone bank run by volunteers and staffers can be a vital tool for getting your community to take action. Whether it’s a follow-up to direct mail, a fundraising drive, or a GOTV operation, a phone bank can help you connect to your community using genuine 1-on-1 conversations.

In this new HOWTO, learn how to use NationBuilder to organize a phone bank.

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How to build a nation, Scotland edition

Yes or no

In February 2011, a few months before Jesse and I were set to release NationBuilder, I received an email from a guy named Kirk Torrance. He had gotten wind of what we were up to and wanted to chat about his plan for the Scottish National Party. We connected on Skype and he told me that the new digital infrastructure they had been building for over a year was nowhere near ready, and time was running out. Their election was in 3 months and they were down by 15 points in the polls. Could NationBuilder help?

Ha! Sorry, no way... NationBuilder was still very much in alpha, it wasn’t even ready for the U.S., definitely not Scotland. But Kirk was persistent, so I agreed to do a demo for his team, completely convinced that they would see how buggy it was and leave me alone.

A few days later, Kirk skyped me and said he had gotten the whole team on board. NBD. I couldn’t believe it... and I couldn’t say no. We talked about the logistics and at the end of our conversation he said something that I will never forget. “Jim, I think NationBuilder is going to be the thing that gets us what you got 250 years ago.”

It took me a few seconds to realize what he meant.

Less than 3 months later, the SNP won a historic landslide election, securing a majority in the Scottish Parliament. They vowed to hold a referendum on declaring independence. All of Europe was stunned.

Now, two and a half years later, that day has arrived. Tomorrow, the polls will open and while the whole world watches, Scotland will get to choose. No bombs, no blood shed, just a simple yes or no vote.

Unlike 3 years ago, today, much of the UK political world uses NationBuilder, and they are organizing get-out-the-vote efforts right now on both sides of the independence referendum. But whichever side you are on, this is an undeniably beautiful moment for democracy. Every 16-year-old in Scotland will grow up having had the opportunity to make this historic decision themselves...and their concept of what is possible in the world is now radically different.

And so is ours.

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Surveys and survey pages

If you use surveys regularly, you probably noticed a recent change in their design. Surveys are now separate from survey pages. 

A couple of key changes:

  • surveys display on a single page on your website
  • a particular survey page can be used to display different surveys (one at a time)
  • responding to a multiple choice or yes/no question can trigger a workflow

Curious about these new features? Details can be found in the creating a survey HOWTO.

Stay tuned for more survey news. With the changes we're developing, they just may become the backbone of your organizing efforts...

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Maps now do clustering, auto-turfing and real-time filtering

It's almost election season, which is an exciting time for us at NationBuilder. Please enjoy these upgrades to map view and the turf cutter this Labor Day weekend!

  • Clustering. When there are too many points on the map to make sense of things, they now cluster together.
  • Auto-turfing. Those clusters? Turn on the turf cutter and they instantly become your default turfs. Want to start from a clean map? Just hit the clear button.
  • Real-time filtering. If you change your filter while cutting, your turfs will dynamically change their counts with no page reload.

Learn more in our map view and turf cutting HOWTO.

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