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Blazing trails in the cannabis reform movement

Medical marijuana neon sign
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. 

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New NationBuilder apps

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.

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NYCLASS puts animal rights at the forefront of NY politics

Paola Bailey, Psy.D.
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. 

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Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, visits NationBuilder

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!”  

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How organizing technology can save the US labor movement

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.) 

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Aaron Marquez breaks Democratic fundraising record by $10k

Aaron Marquez and volunteers at the Gaudalupe Veteran's Day parade
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.

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How NationBuilder helps alumni groups organize from the ground up

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
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.

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New! Advanced search+targeting

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.

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. 

Update: All of the advanced search functionality is now available directly from the People section. Click on the filter button (filter_button.png) to get started.

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Helping code the future of South LA teens with URBAN TxT

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. 

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Jim Gilliam talks "bravery" at Creative Mornings LA

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:

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Digital organizing for restaurant owners: How to build a community of regulars

Restaurant.jpgThink 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.

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Did you know NationBuilder runs on NationBuilder?

community-creation-model002.jpgAt NationBuilder we’re building the infrastructure for everyone to have the opportunity to create what they were meant to create. We know what it takes to grow a community because we’re doing it too. And we’re not just building the infrastructure, we’re actually using it to operate our own company. Yup—NationBuilder runs on NationBuilder.  

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NationBuilder Experts shake up politics in Marseille

Patrick Mennucci
Patrick Mennucci

In recent years, the economic crisis in Europe accelerated a fiscal, social, and geographical divide in the French city of Marseille. Patrick Mennucci, a left-wing candidate native to the city, made waves in early November after advancing to the second round of voting only 300 votes ahead of the third candidate—a member of the Prime Minister’s cabinet. When you consider the national notoriety and greater access to media Mennucci was up against, his victory over the third candidate is nothing short of remarkable. The team at La Netscouade attributes the win to more effective field organizing and mobilization strategy using NationBuilder features and analytics.

Mennucci's biggest opponent in March is incumbent Jean-Claude Gaudin, a member of the right-wing conservative party—UMP (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire)—the party of former President Sarkozy. Let's take a closer look at the tactics Mennucci's team used to inspire voters from the left so effectively, many are wondering how Gaudin's team will compete.

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What is a Community Organizing System?

COS.pngNationBuilder is a Community Organizing System—all that means is we help you bring people together around a common purpose so you can do the thing you were meant to do. And we recently redesigned our website to convey how it all works.

The four key components—website, people, communications, and finances—make up a unified platform that puts the tools of organizing in the hands of anyone. If you haven’t already, take a moment to explore the new website, take the feature tour, and learn how NationBuilder can help you grow your community.

How do you use NationBuilder to fulfill the thing you were meant to do? Leave a comment with your story so we can feature you on one of our community pages. Or better yet—show us. :)

  • Add a suggestion box to your website to generate feedback from your community.
  • Make your database more dynamic using NationBuilder Match to automatically link email addresses to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Klout.
  • Send a text blast with keywords to let supporters take action from their phones.
  • Recruit donors and view their progress with personal fundraising pages.
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Hey ladies! Women make a splash in the November elections

Kshama Sawant
Kshama Sawant

Election days are big for us at NationBuilder. From school board and city council races, to mayoral elections, thousands of candidates were voted into new positions earlier this month. 

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, in 2013 only 21.8% of women hold political office in the United States. That number rings extremely low, illustrating our need for more women to represent us at the local and national level. 

From the November 5th elections, I've read many inspirational stories about amazing women candidates and their journeys to positions in civil service. Today, I've profiled three prolific women who will soon occupy positions as a School Board member in California, the first Socialist City Council member in Seattle, and a new mayor in Dayton, Ohio.

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