Back in 2011, the White House launched an e-petition tool called We the People. Inspired by the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” the new tool was designed to give Americans a direct way to do just that -- petition their government. The idea was beautiful in its simplicity.
By 2014, however, it was abundantly clear that We the People had become a “ghost-town.” According to Dave Karpf, a professor of political communications at George Washington University, the vast majority of petitions had fewer than 2,000 signatures. Over half had fewer than 500. Petitions that cleared the 100,000 signature threshold might or might not get a response from the White House. The problem with We the People? People weren’t exactly showing up, and the government wasn’t exactly addressing any grievances.
That whole experience begs the conundrum: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or, to the point: If someone publishes a petition on the internet and no one is organizing around it, does it make a difference? [Crickets]Read more
How do you create a website that's not just beautiful but built for action? That's the focus of our Architect Spotlight Series, featuring insights from certified NationBuilder Architects. This week we hear from cStreet Campaigns of Toronto.
1) What are the most important elements of an awesome digital campaign?
People! As the old organizing idiom goes, “the question isn’t ‘What are our issues?’ it’s ‘Who are our people?’”. Compelling digital campaigns inspire, excite, and compel people to take action by honestly and transparently making the connection between the actions that people take and the change the campaign wants to see in the world.
This is as true when you’re trying to get someone elected as it is when you’re trying to end bullying. I’ll give you two examples; when we worked on Olivia Chow’s Campaign for Mayor of Toronto we created an experience where our online presence brought in thousands of supporters from across the city who were then encouraged to join neighborhood-based teams (using a snowflake-model), but for folks who preferred to take action online, they were presented with an evolving dashboard of activities they could undertake that would help Olivia win. As they took each action they were reminded (through NationBuilder flash notifications) about the role they were playing in helping to elect a Mayor they believed in.
With The Bully Project we opened up the ladder of engagement in a way that supporters could take a look and see where on the ladder they currently stood - and what they could do to move up. If a campaign is going to have a ladder they might as well tell their supporters what they need to do to be successful in the campaign.
Is your email list spread out over a bunch of Excel files? Do you only guess about the number of donors who follow you on Twitter? Are you volunteers cold calling groups of people with no background information?
If so, it might be time to get all your data in one place!
By merging all of your data together, you get a 360 degree view of your community members. You can see your donors, volunteers, followers and members. You'll be able to learn about your supporters to personalize your organization’s interactions.
To learn about how to create rich and detailed profiles of each person in your database, read on.
My book, The Internet is My Religion, is out today!
This was a five year effort with my co-author, Lea Endres. We started with a vague concept of “The Internet Way,” and then we kept digging and digging and unearthed something much deeper and far more personal. It’s a memoir – nothing like a normal business book from a tech CEO. You won’t find my Top 10 Leadership Principles, or a Framework for Movement Building, or even the Ten Commandments of the Internet.
Instead, you’ll experience my life as I figured out who I am, why I’m here, and what I believe in. Nothing is too personal or too embarrassing. You will laugh, you may cry, and you will definitely cringe.
I owe a special thanks to Ben Horowitz–my mentor, investor, and the best-selling author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things–who wrote the foreword, which you can read in Fortune magazine.
This book is meant to be shared. People say that all the time on the internet, so it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s the reason I turned down the old-world publishers. I wanted people to be able to share the book for free. So if you buy the book, you can then get your own link to share with your tribe so they can get the ebook for free. We’ll even put your name on the homepage so folks know it’s from you.
Aspire. Forward. Tomorrow. Hope is Growing. Stand Up. Making History. They’re the names of major fundraising campaigns that have become the lifeblood of many nonprofits and universities. They hint at the extraordinary burden that development professionals -- as well as countless leaders who’ve “fallen” into fundraising -- bear on behalf of their institutions.
Let’s begin where we need to, then, with empathy. Fundraising is grueling work.
Just how grueling? Nonprofit philanthropy consultant Katharine DeShaw, who runs Philanthropology, calls it a crisis. All you need to do is look at the short tenures and stubborn vacancies across the development profession. 52% of Chief Development Officers serve 1-2 years on the job, according to a recent study; the average vacancy for a development director position is 21 months for organizations with a budget of $1 million or less and 10 months for organizations with a budget of $1-5 million.
Imagine being invited by a software company to create a mural distilling the concept of "leadership for a connected humanity." Now imagine having two days to develop your idea before presenting it directly to 125 employees. It's an invitation that would make many artists wilt, but an LA-based artist named Allison Kunath was up for the challenge.
Allison created the mural -- titled "Cat's Cradle" -- for a sunny atrium in NationBuilder's downtown Los Angeles headquarters on the second floor of the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Check out her time lapse-video and blog post about the process:
Named after the string game played around the world, "Cat's Cradle" depicts lifted hands connected by colorful, taut string. It evokes the idea that leadership fundamentally involves connecting people and lifting up new leaders from among them. As NationBuilder CEO Jim Gilliam recently described it, “Find what you are meant to create. Offer it to the world. Help others do the same.”
The NationBuilder Education team brings you an update to our email documentation. Check out the revamped "How to create an email blast."
Learn how to create a blast – add recipients, choose a theme, and enter content. Preview your blast before sending or schedule it for a later time.
Take a moment to look at some of our related documentation like "How to optimize email deliverability." Or, learn about how to pull in detailed information about your supporters by using "Liquid variables available in email."
“Donors don’t give to institutions. They invest in ideas and people in whom they believe.” – G.T. Smith
Many people consider fundraising to be a necessary evil of charitable work. But it doesn’t need to be painful! In 2014 Americans gave $358 billion, 72% of which came from individuals. The opportunity for organizations to get a piece of the pie is bigger than it’s ever been.
So how do you build scalable fundraising models that yield big contributions, prevent distracting capacity issues, and don't make you hate your life?Read more
“Change is a funny thing. It’s often prompted by a small action that takes on a much larger cultural meaning, and can catch us by surprise with its utter simplicity.” - Susan Sarandon
Check out these 7 organizations that are leading communities around the world to advance women’s welfare.
WOMEN'S VOICES NOW is amplifying the voices of all women living in Muslim-majority societies by promoting their free expression.Read more
Ever pondered how you can design on the NationBuilder framework AND run your business within the same platform? Many certified NationBuilder Architects have, which is why I wanted to relay a couple of ideas on how you can dogfood NationBuilder.
Take a cruise through how to steer your studio by dogfooding NationBuilder
Have you thought about creating a newsletter-style email blast with multiple columns? Well, our Education team published a new HOWTO!
Check out: How to create a multi-column email layout.
While you are busy creating an email blast, don't forget to take a look at our How to optimize your email deliverability.
Can’t decide what book to throw in your pool bag this summer? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Here are some recommendations from nonprofit leaders taking advantage of the extra time in the sun to gain a few insights about running their organizations, becoming better leaders, and harnessing the power of community.Read more
Some people are already tired of the presidential campaign season. The negative ads are already flowing like the sewage they sling. Horse race news coverage makes us long for American Pharoah's actual horse races. Presidential email blasts are gearing up, and we all know how fun those are to get multiple times a day.Read more
I’m a big fan of two very different shows about politics: Veep and The West Wing. Yes I know, one is semi-mocking the other, but they’re both great commentaries on what it’s like to be a staff member at the White House.
And whether it’s Gary and his shoulder-aching bag or Sam Seaborn and his crush-inducing opposition articles, the underlying theme from both shows is actually the same. The staffers work hard. They set up meetings, anticipate needs, follow-up with the press, plan events, take the heat. You name it, they do it.. and usually without praise or acknowledgement.
So if you’re running for office or even running an office, are you doing all you can to avoid a staff "Amy-level" meltdown (for those of you who don’t watch Veep, by that I mean: an epic, demoralizing “I quit” speech right before the election)?
How can you take care of your staffers?
No idea? Here are a few suggestions.
E.B. White --one half of the Strunk & White behind that specter of a book, The Elements of Style-- once said in an interview...
“I admire anyone who has the guts to write anything at all.”
The same could be said for anyone who makes an album, film, a body of art, or frankly anyone who starts a small business. It takes singular vision, extraordinary discipline, and guts to create your own thing in the world.
It’s no surprise then that many creatives have neither the appetite nor bandwidth for proactively building their audience. I remember having coffee with a fairly successful author one afternoon. We were talking about his current book project. “What’re your plans for publicity?” I asked. He smiled at me the way a parent smiles at a child who asks how babies are made -- with that mixture of amusement and impatience. I knew I’d asked the wrong question. “I’m still writing,” he said.
That was it.Read more