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First Somali-American elected to the Minneapolis City Council

abdi Warsame
Abdi Warsame

A little over a week ago, local elections swept the country. In Minnesota, Abdi Warsame won a seat on the Minneapolis City Council representing Ward 6. He took nearly 64% of the votes in his run against the 11-year incumbent, Robert Lilligren, to become the first Somali-American city council member in Minneapolis and the highest-elected official of Somali descent in the United States.

The city has experienced a recent influx of Somali-Americans, and voters and political activists alike have a lot of hope that Warsame will help bridge mainstream Minneapolis and the burgeoning Somali community residing in the south eastern Ward. 

Warsame has been working towards this goal since moving to Minneapolis just a few years ago and he's already accomplished a great deal. 

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Lindsey Horvath joins NationBuilder as VP of Communication

lindsey-horvath.jpgWe are thrilled to announce that a gifted storyteller with an extraordinary dedication to service is joining NationBuilder as our VP of Communication. Lindsey Horvath is a rare combination – an exceptional communicator, community organizer, and servant leader – and we couldn’t be more excited to have her on our team.

For almost a decade, Lindsey has been creating award-winning campaigns for movies and television as an entertainment advertising executive, while also holding public office and numerous leadership roles in her community. She was the founding President of the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Chapter Director in Los Angeles for the Truman National Security Project, and has served in leadership for the California Democratic Party, Women Against Gun Violence, and the NOH8 Campaign, to name a few.

Lindsey currently serves as Chair of the Transportation Commission in West Hollywood and as the Regional Coordinator for the V-Day One Billion Rising Campaign. She is co-founder of The Bridge Project, an advocate for A Window Between Worlds and CARE, and serves as the Los Angeles Advisory Council Member for Running Start.  

Organizing starts with a story. To learn more about Lindsey’s story, check out her website at lindseyhorvath.com.

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10 ways candidates gain a big advantage using NationBuilder: Part 1

Paola Bailey, Psy.D.

Like many lifelong organizers, I got my start working on political campaigns. What started as helping a student get elected to the local city council in college quickly accelerated into managing Congressional races. In the winner-take-all environment of US politics, all good campaign strategists are constantly on the lookout for an advantage they can grab. 

So, to my fellow campaign hacks of all levels, here's a roadmap to out-organizing your competition with features only found in NationBuilder.

Here are the first 5. Tune in next week for the second batch.

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Not just a geeky tech dream: NationBuilder makes a splash in the UK

Over the last month, Jim, Emily and Henry have been in the UK attending conferences, chatting with the media, and doing trainings to get the Brits ready for elections in the spring. 

Henry made new friends at the Trade Union Congress in Bournemouth, Emily trained folks at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow and at the Labour Conference in Brighton. The tour ended with the the Conservative Party Conference, a four day event in Manchester.

After trying to get to London without a valid passport, Jim appeared on the BBC's Daily Politics. He spoke with Andrew Neil about how political parties in the UK are harnessing the power of social media and storytelling to organize campaigns from the ground up, building communities online to mobilize for offline organizing. Check out the clip:

During his two day endurance test of a visit, Jim also kicked up a few other stories: 

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NationBuilder Platform launch

NationBuilder was always meant to be a platform – something other developers could build apps on like Facebook, Windows or the iPhone. For the past few years, we have been working to make this a reality.

Today, with the official release of our API, we are incredibly proud to announce an unprecedented offering – a nonpartisan, open platform with free access to the nationwide voter file.

Thank you to all the amazing developers who are already investing in the NationBuilder Platform. These are all working implementations that anyone can start using right away:

  • ActionSprout: Convert social actions on Facebook into email list opt-ins
  • Amicus: Match your nation's supporters to the social graph and use call tools and peer-to-peer postcards to build your movement
  • CallFire: Texting and voice blast campaigns
  • CanvassNow: Map your voter data and log contacts on your mobile device
  • Change.org Relay: Tap into an engaged online community for new donors, advocates and volunteers
  • ControlShift: Member-led petition campaigns
  • CrowdHall: Spark conversation and participation with moderated Q&As
  • Distrify: Turn a movie preview into a point of sale, with customer data synced to your nation
  • Mobile Commons: Mobile advocacy tools, synced to your nation
  • One Click Politics: Email advocacy tools targeted at Congress
  • Organizer: Mobile canvassing app that requires no data entry and syncs in real-time with your nation
  • Theme Sync for Mac: Download themes to your Mac and edit them with your favorite text editor
  • Veracity Targeter: Add turnout scoring to your voters
  • Veracity Editor: Batch update blog post tags, authors, publication dates and more
  • Veracity Importer: Import your WordPress, Drupal or Joomla blogs

If you are a developer interested in building your own app or integrating with NationBuilder, check out the API documentation, our developer forum, or contact Adriel Hampton to get started.

Together we are building an independent infrastructure for democracy. It's incredibly exciting.

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More flexible control with permission sets

Last week, we quietly released a major update to one of our most important features. Today, we're thrilled to share permission sets with you. 

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Veracity Media's new visual endorsement map

Paola Bailey, Psy.D.

Ryan Morgan is a Partner at Veracity Media where he develops cutting edge tools and websites to help campaigns and nonprofits. 

Voters look to community leaders - particularly in smaller elections - for guidance on which candidates to support. Local endorsements can be the difference between winning and losing a tight race, so it’s important to showcase them. That’s why one of the most useful NationBuilder features for political campaigns or non-profits is the endorsement tool. In-district voters, community leaders, activists, and organizations can publicly pledge their support. These endorsers are added to a list, and over the course of a campaign the list grows. At Veracity, we've created an endorsement map to visualize these supporters. 

Our approach was to create a dynamically-updating endorsement map displaying the entirety of a nation's endorsements. Your supporters can add their information and instantly see their endorsement on the map. Our tool clusters endorsements together so visitors can see all the endorsements in a specific area. It's a great way to graphically demonstrate your support.

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Endorsement map

You can also set featured endorsements that have their own special map icon, and even show custom content, like a video or image, in the individual endorsement popups.

If you'd like to talk about using our endorsement map for your campaign or organization, email me at ryan@veracitymedia.com. We can tweak it to fit anywhere on your site, set custom map icons, use your existing list of endorsements (filtered to any level of privacy you'd like), and more. 

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NationBuilder's new website: Turn your life into a movement

Every day at NationBuilder, we get to hear incredible stories from the world's most extraordinary people -- you. 

You are advocating for free education in Pakistan, for child care workers in Australia, and even for bacon-wrapped matzoh balls two blocks from our office in downtown Los Angeles.

We've never been more proud to serve you, so we felt it was time to redesign our website and put your faces front and center. Check it out!

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We know there are many more communities already using NationBuilder, and we want to highlight all of them. If you are interested in being featured, please send us an email

Thanks for being a part of NationBuilder.

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Digital Field: creating your ideal campaign organizing workflow

Whether you're running for your local school board or working on a campaign for state governor, direct and ongoing dialogue and engagement with your supporters is key to success. We created followups to make communicating with supporters an integrated part of the workflow of everyone on the campaign - from staffers to interns and even volunteers. 

Having customization is extremely valuable for organizing. For example, you can match your campaign’s fundraising program to specific contact types. It allows for each member of your staff to know when and why they need to follow up with each of their assigned contacts in your nation.

Follow-up view
Follow-up view
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Taking the UK by storm at the party conferences

Emily in London
Emily in London

The party conference season kicked off this week in the United Kingdom and we're really excited to take part in it this year. From Bournemouth to Glasgow to Brighton and Manchester, Henry and I will be traversing the UK to attend several of the conferences.

We're really looking forward to meeting many of our customers and other folks who want to learn more about NationBuilder. With the UK national elections a short 20 months away, we’ll be showing activists and attendees how NationBuilder can help them take their digital ground game to the next level. 

If you're going to one of these conferences, we'd love to meet up with you! Here's where you can find us:

The Trade Union Congress, Bournemouth - September 8-11

Meet up with Henry Mackintosh if you are there! Click here to RSVP and he will follow up to set a time to meet. 

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Securing nations

Many of our political customers in Europe are having their conferences this month, so last night I headed to LAX to hop on a red eye to London. It wasn’t until I was on the shuttle from parking lot C that I realized my passport had expired. Which is how I ended up at the Passport Agency office at the State Department in Westwood early this morning.

Today is 9/11. After walking past the Homeland Security van parked outside, through the metal detectors, and into the DMV-style waiting room, I sat down to wait for my number to be called. Instead of numbers, I heard names. One name after another coming from the tiny TV set. And then at 7:28 am, a minute of silence. The exact moment, twelve years ago, that the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about our customers and national security in the last week since the horrifying revelations that, in an effort to spy on potential terrorists, elements of the intelligence community in the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have engineered backdoors into core encryption standards relied upon by every internet user.  

These encryption standards are the bedrock of internet security, and the basis of the public’s trust in the internet. Undermining this trust doesn’t just put secure bank transactions or the free flow of commerce at risk. It puts the global spread of democracy at risk -- a far more important long-term national security objective than catching a few terrorists. 

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Your solidarity megaphone: NationBuilder for unions

United Voice of Queensland Big Steps campaign rally
United Voice of Queensland Big Steps campaign rally

Digital organizing is the future of union organizing. Amplifying your union's online voice around current issue-based or political campaigns is how middle class workers create change. We've seen it work. Let me give you a few examples. 

In March, Australian union United Voice of Queensland organized thousands of childcare workers to win the largest funding increase in early childhood educators’ wages in history. By running a tight field operation, they were able to collect petitions, parent pledges of support, and track volunteer recruitment.

"We used NationBuilder to mobilize more than 12,000 of our supporters and 5,000 members to lobby politicians, both online and in the community. The petitions and social media integration really helped us win," said Steven Miles, the Coordinator of Comprehensive Campaigns at United Voice Queensland.

Labor councils such as the Sacramento CLC are organizing member events and running successful voter registration campaigns. During the 2012 election, they were able to recruit over 800 volunteers to canvass homes, phone bank, and register voters both online and in the field. 

"We have several thousand people in our NationBuilder database. Whether it's for election day canvassing or our upcoming labor day BBQ, being able to pull a list of folks tagged as volunteers is an excellent way to do a quick call to action," said Teresa Villasenor, Office and Events Manager at Sacramento CLC.

The manual labor and time associated with administrative activities -- whether it be data entry, email blasting, or donation upkeep -- can be exhausting. It requires numbers of people and hours of planning to make one event a success. With NationBuilder you can aggregate all administrative activities, including social media outreach and online engagement to one central location, making face-to-face contact and on-the-ground mobilization so much easier. 

NationBuilder is a robust and powerful tool. There's so much more an organization or political campaign can do when they don't have to use different tools to segment lists, send emails, track donations, and manage social media. Here's how unions can get the most out of NationBuilder:

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Showing off NationBuilder Magic at Magic Market Week

Magic in Las Vegas!
Magic in Las Vegas!

NationBuilder has customers everywhere. We cover politics, back room bars, restaurants, bridges and activists. As an organizer, I get sent to some very interesting conferences. I've been at NationBuilder for 3 months now and am so excited to attend my first event with NationBuilder: Magic Market Week in Las Vegas. 

Let me tell you a bit more about why I'm going and how NationBuilder's social media integration, text blasting, and all-in-one email magic can help your brand soar. 

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What am I called to do? Investigating the 'story of self'

ganz-and-chavez.jpgWe all have a story to tell. Let me give you a little of mine: When I was 18, I graduated from high school and didn't know where to go from there. I knew college wasn't for me quite yet and I knew working as a waitress and staying in Tulsa, Oklahoma wasn't the right move either. I was inspired and motivated, but didn't know where to direct my energy.

This was in 2007. That February, Obama had just broken into the national spotlight announcing his run for presidency. I was curious, so I signed up to volunteer in Chicago. I was fairly active in politics growing up. My father was an elected official for a brief period of time. I had an idea of how politics worked. When I joined the Obama campaign, I didn't really know what I was getting into, other than that I was embarking on an adventure. During my first week, I quickly learned the ropes of a national campaign but also realized there was more to it: we had to tell our story. I didn't even know I had one worth mentioning. 

The "story of self" has been used for many years for persuasion, organizing and content creation. But where did it come from?

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9 ways to attract people to your nation

crowd of people in Paris
Photo by James Cridland,
Creative Commons license via Flickr

Every generation has a unique identity. Or so marketers who make a living crafting unique selling points for each generation say. 

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently reported on a study from Achieve Guidance called the 2013 Millennial Impact Report. It's available as a free PDF download and is chock-full of good advice. But don't expect these tactics to only attract people under 35. The advice ranges from website upkeep to email design to volunteer management and donor cultivation. There's no reason that these modern digital organizing best practices can only be applied to the youngest adult generation. 

The key theme of the report is this: focus your message how your organization impacts the world rather than how you make the sausage. People are far more interested in movements than they are in organizations. The study found that people prefer to give money on a secure website and are open to making small, recurring donations if they understand how their money will be used - and in particular who it will impact. 

Translating the best practices highlighted in the report, here are 9 ways to attract people to your nation.

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