NationBuilder’s people database is dynamic and customizable. We released custom fields last year and one of the biggest requests was to have a multiple choice option. So, we’ve added multiple choice in addition to the existing text, yes/no, and number fields.
Tags and custom fields work well together—and it’s important to know when to use one or the other. For example, let’s say you have a bed and breakfast in Big Bear and want to keep track of your guests. You would use tags to know whether a guest is a skier or snowboarder and a custom field to find out what they want to eat for breakfast.
Learn more about creating custom fields here. You can always ask your organizer for more examples of how custom fields can help streamline your data...or for tips on where to shred some pow pow at Big Bear.
Stories are the key to organizing. I’m talking about authentic, personal stories in particular—in civic life, it’s public narrative; in spiritual life, it’s a testimonial. They give meaning to our experiences and help us connect with other people. You can't build a community if you don't know each other.
At NationBuilder, we try to practice what we preach, so storytelling has become deeply ingrained in our company culture. I radically underestimated the kind of impact this would have—in sharing our stories with each other we've become more than a company.
This week, Forbes published an article about our storytelling culture. You can read the full article here.
Organizing is about creating meaningful relationships, turning supporters into volunteers, voters, and donors. NationBuilder is great for that. But sometimes, particularly if you're a political campaign, you just need to reach everyone in your district as fast as humanly possible—and digital advertising is a cost-effective way to do that.
Thankfully, there are companies that specialize in targeting advertising just to voters, so you don’t waste money on folks who can't vote for you.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the bright men and women who are helping establish the tech community in Latin America. We’re talking about go-getters: those involved with local startups, co-working spaces, accelerators, and social enterprise models in technology hubs across Colombia (my hometown!) and Argentina. Communities in Mexico, Chile, and Brazil are quickly following suit.
image courtesy of campuspartycolombia
Before joining the organizing team at NationBuilder, I worked with digital ad agencies followed by a handful of opportunities in politics and nonprofits. Those experiences helped me understand that real change takes place at the intersection of community and technology—a concept that inevitably emerges in my daily interactions with young entrepreneurs across Latin America. I've collected their feedback to come up with a few key takeaways that I want to share with you—everything from tips for cultivating the best talent to understanding the relationship between the Latin American tech movement and the United States.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Numerous polls have shown increasing public support for decriminalization of marijuana. But public support alone isn't enough to change the law - you have to organize communities to win political fights. And that's exactly what's happening now.
Despite the downsizing of marijuana dispensaries in California since last May, online organizing has increased and dispensaries are finding new ways to reach potential customers. In addition to organizing as a small business strategy, the internet is also helping advocacy organizations reach out to local communities to generate support for decreased reform and more favorable legislation for this growing industry.
It’s still the early days and the NationBuilder Platform is really growing fast. New apps are coming online daily, so I wanted to point out a few of the latest that might be helpful. Check out the app directory for the entire list.
123FormBuilder: Add custom forms and surveys - for free - to any website and the data will automatically update in your nation.
Accurate Append: Match email addresses and premium phone numbers to people in your nation.
BillTrack50: Track the legislation that matters to you, including all 50 states and Congress.
CallHub: Voice broadcasts in 200+ countries.
Care2 Connector: Recruit supporters from Care2's global audience of 24 million members.
Crowdtilt: Group fundraising for everyone that automatically adds funders to your nation.
smartCommunicator: Surveys and custom forms for phone, web, mobile, and email.
Summit Political Apps: Custom iPhone and Android mobile apps for campaigns and constituent outreach.
Telephone Town Hall Meeting: Reach tens of thousands of voters simultaneously with an interactive call.
If you’re a developer interested in building your own app or integrating with NationBuilder, we are here to help—and get you a free developer nation. Check out the API documentation, our developer forum, or contact Adriel Hampton to get started.
Organizers with NYCLASS & Anybody But Quinn
Last November, NYCLASS had a monumental victory. During the fall municipal election, organizers of NYCLASS persuaded over 40 candidates for city council and all but one candidates for NYC mayor to support animal rights issues within their campaign platforms. Their movement elevated animal rights in political discourse, making them a deciding factor in the outcomes of key races.
Last Friday, we welcomed Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, to the NationBuilder office as part of his nationwide book tour. Founded in 2005, Reddit is not only a platform for social news, it’s also one of the internet’s most fascinating examples of democracy in action. His new book, Without Their Permission, is an inspiring and practical guide for what it takes to “make the world suck less.”
You can check out the complete fireside chat with Jim below, complete with memes, personal anecdotes, and manifestos, such as “Thou shalt not impose hierarchy on the internet!”
I went to my favorite local Italian restaurant over the holidays with a couple of leaders and consultants close to the US labor movement.
Inevitably our conversation shifted to the topics of organizing, technology, and all the stuff political people do all day in between writing sarcastic emails, pacing back and forth, and talking on their cell phone. I was mostly interested in the excellent Dolcetto I brought (it was a BYOB place) until one particular statement caught my attention—and I haven’t forgotten it. After the usual lamenting of labor’s decline, a particularly brilliant strategist said, “Well, I think NationBuilder could save the labor movement.”
Initially I thought this was a pretty bold, if not exaggerated, statement. But then I changed my mind. She was absolutely right and I felt compelled to write a blog post explaining exactly why. Now you’re reading said blog post. (Thanks—keep reading.)
Aaron Marquez and volunteers at the
Guadalupe Veterans Day parade
Aaron Marquez is a candidate of firsts. He's the first Afghanistan War Veteran to run for Arizona State Senate. It's his first run for office. And he's the first Arizona Democratic candidate to raise $44k during the first election cycle.
Last September, Marquez put his job on hold to make running for state legislature in Phoenix his full-time commitment. He spent his time cultivating a field plan to mobilize his community, which includes South Phoenix, Laveen, the Town of Guadalupe, as well as portions of the Gila River Indian Community and Tempe.
"I knew if I made this crucial decision to focus primarily on running for Arizona State Senate, I would have to fundraise every moment of my day," Marquez expressed.
The incredible ground operation that he's building – from new donors to volunteers and existing supporters – is also the first of its kind in District 27. "I'm mobilizing my close network of supporters by asking them to visit our website and make a pledge," he said. When Marquez and I spoke, he was beginning his nightly round of canvassing in an area of the most likely voters on the south side of Phoenix.
A fellow alumni recently asked one of our board members, "What if our alumni network worked more like the Obama campaign?"
The idea that groups like University alumni networks can organize with the same success as the Obama campaign is not only plausible—it's pretty much the perfect introduction to NationBuilder.
Yale Women Global Conference via Yale Flickr
Many alumni groups focus their attention on people who have the most money—but real change works from the bottom up. In fact, throughout history, the most impressive organizing movements have been successful because they operated around the belief that everyone has leadership potential.
YaleWomen, a community of female graduates committed to advancing women’s voices and perspective, uses NationBuilder to easily identify the movers-and-shakers within their alumni network. They’ve turned their website into an interactive portal, using email broadcasts and social media to move members up the ladder of engagement and create a leadership-rich environment in which their local chapters will thrive.
I cannot even describe how excited I am to tell you about the new NationBuilder advanced search and targeting. We've been testing it internally for a bit now and it's both 10x more useful AND 10x easier to use. It's like you're constructing a sentence. You just have to see it.
Watch this short video from our CTO, Dan Walmsley:
A lot of folks on our team have worked on this. Please thank Dan, Chuck, Kumie, Jason, Jacob, Kathy and Bianca. And C.J. wrote some more detailed documentation here.
It's live now for nearly all of our customers, and should be available to everyone by the end of the week. Just click on People > Advanced search in your control panel.
Arion teaching teens and parents at URBAN TxT
Last Saturday, I spent the day with URBAN Teens eXploring Technology (URBAN TxT), a revolutionary nonprofit in South Los Angeles that I've been volunteering with since April. URBAN TxT uses coding as a leadership development tool, and more importantly, encourages and inspires young men of color to be role models and catalysts of change in their communities.
Over the summer, I served as a coach for URBAN TxT's coding academy. For this event, I enlisted Arion, one of NationBuilder's best developers, to help me introduce the kids to our Community Organizing System, and to teach their parents some basic HTML skills.
On November 8th at 7:30am, dozens of young creatives lined up outside Flagship's Kim Sing Theatre on the edge of Downtown LA to attend Creative Mornings, LA - a showcase of what makes Los Angeles one of the most creative and exciting cities in the world. Host John Setzen asked NationBuilder Founder & CEO, Jim Gilliam, to speak about bravery.
Check out his talk here:
Think about your favorite restaurant. What draws you to the place?
Mine is a humble downtown Los Angeles restaurant, Maccheroni Republic. The chef there turns out a Bolognese that braises in my mind when I haven’t had it for a few weeks. But what really keeps me going back is the owner, Jean Louis, who likes to stop by the tables and pull up a chair. One night, as my wife and I lingered past closing, he sat with us while we told him about the gelato shop we’re opening a few blocks away. He gave us an hour’s worth of food business wisdom.
The cooking at Jean Louis’ place won over our palates. His personal connection to us locked in our loyalty.
At NationBuilder, we understand the key ingredient to success in the restaurant business - honest, real relationships with a community of people. Organizers create movements by identifying early supporters, moving them up the ladder of engagement, and ultimately turning them into evangelists for a cause. NationBuilder gives food business owners the digital tools to do the same thing with their customers.