NationBuilder in Canada - BC Municipal Election Results


NationBuilder has been working with folks in Canada for years, but we’re excited to finally have a presence on the ground. While our official Vancouver launch party is not until January, it felt like things really took off last weekend, as nearly 40 candidates using NationBuilder crossed the finish line in the BC Municipal elections. There is no better inspiration to hit the ground running in Canada (and in person!) than to see so many of our customers earn the big W.

In this campaign, candidates from across the political spectrum used NationBuilder to engage people throughout BC. And this election was particularly significant – up 10% from 2011, voter turnout was the highest it had been in ten years. When I went to vote at Coal Harbour Community Centre the line was impressive, and it was exciting to see so many people engaged.

Several folks using NationBuilder won in some of the largest and hotly contested mayoral races including Vancouver, Victoria, New Westminster, and North Vancouver. These successful campaigns (and the many others across the Province) were the result of blood, sweat, and tears of all the people involved. We are so excited to be on the ground in BC to continue working with candidates and campaign teams to connect, build relationships, and build political engagement across the Province and Western Canada.    

Congratulations to everyone who ran and deepened our Canadian democracy! We look forward to continue working with you.   

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Going digital with your union local

union-book.pngDigital organizing technology has transformed what’s possible for your union local. You can build and maintain better relationships with your community and your members, and get rid of those dusty filing cabinets at the same time. Learn how to get started by reading our new HOWTO: Eight steps to digitize your union local.

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First time candidates: run your campaign like a pro

The world of campaigning can be a daunting one for first time candidates. As a former first-timer myself, I understand how much there is to keep track of, and how hard it is to stay focused on your campaign goals. That's why I put together this guide for first time candidates using NationBuilder. By following a few basic steps, you can set up a lasting infrastructure that will make sure you build real connections with your community so that you can exceed your campaign goals.

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Setting up email for your nation

mail acceptance
Photo by Seth Anderson, Creative Commons license

Can I be honest? It's hard for me to remember what it was like to be brand new to NationBuilder. I was a customer in 2011. I think I have a rhythm now for explaining how to use new features. But seeing the gaps in what I wrote two years ago? That can be difficult.

Luckily, I was able to observe Henry training new organizers and talk about custom domain quandaries with Dana. Which led me to revise the HOWTOs on setting up email for your nation

Here's the thing: your broadcaster's email address can be used to send email blasts. It can also be used to receive replies to those blast emails and initiate one-to-one correspondence. By receiving incoming email for your broadcaster, you unlock an entirely new way of communicating via email.

I'm sounding hyperbolic, yeah? Stay with me. Traditionally one-to-one email happens between two inboxes. When you leave your job, or stop volunteering for an organization, all of the relationships you've built through email are lost. Maybe your successor has access to your old email address, but she's probably too busy picking up the pieces to really do anything with it. 

Now imagine if instead of confining the email to inboxes, it was stored on profiles within a database accessible to everyone building your organization. Your ED and development director won't trip over each other connecting with major donors because they can see every email, tweet, and logged contact in one place. Prospective volunteers won't vanish when your volunteer manager leaves. Transparency really does strengthen community. Ever wonder how we're able to keep on top of your support questions? All of our customer support relies on receiving email in our nation and logging info on our phone calls and face-to-face meetings with you. 

I hope these revised HOWTOs will help you strengthen your community.

How to connect an email address to a broadcaster

Benefits of receiving email in your nation

How to send and view one-to-one email


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Tips on using browser shortcuts with NationBuilder

browser_tip.pngWhen you're building that thing you were meant to build, every keystroke counts. Luckily, NationBuilder and your browser can work together beautifully to make sure you're able to focus on getting work done, rather than searching for that settings page for an eighth time. Here are some tips about how to use browser shortcuts with NationBuilder.

Now go crush it!

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The intricacies of processing donations

Using NationBuilder, you can create personal fundraising pages, accept one-time donations, allow people to make installment payments, and even give the same amount on a monthly basis. Do you know how those donations are processed? If you're like me, you haven't spent a lot of time thinking about that question. 

Our 20 new FAQs on managing donations are a unique resource into how payment processing works. Developer Rafia Qutab wrote them based on the commonly misunderstood aspects of managing one-time donations and recurring subscriptions. If you are your nation's finance manager, I highly recommend reading all of them. You can find them in the "managing donations" and "managing monthly donations" categories in our finances overview

To whet your appetite, I think understanding how a donation is processed and what receipts are created for donations are particularly useful. 

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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


Created with NationBuilder, 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 - 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 weekday 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

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:

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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