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Grow your community with text messaging

There are a variety of ways to use your nation's virtual phone number to connect with prospects and supporters. Using one of these tactics can give your nation a great boost - viewing them holistically and as an organic extension of your other efforts can fundamentally change your relationship with your community. 

For example, the majority of US mobile phone owners use text messaging and some people, particularly those 24 and younger, prefer communicating via text, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. You can take advantage of this preferred method of communication with the following tactics:

  1. promote texting JOIN to your nation's number
  2. set up text keywords for all action pages on your website, especially to RSVP for an event and to sign a petition
  3. incorporate text messaging into pre and post event planning
  4. when developing a social media ambassador program, give people the option to receive communication via text

In this video, I discuss how to create a holistic texting program for your nation:

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Beautiful, powerful new websites launching on NationBuilder

Here at NationBuilder, we get really excited about new sites launching on the platform. We email them to each other, tweet about them, take screen shots of their homepages and gush over how they keep getting better and better. 

This week my inbox was filled with links to beautiful, powerful new websites. Here's a look at a few of them. Idle_No_More.png

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Get efficient! Volunteer Management tips from the field

Volunteers with A Big Project in Valenciennes, France
Volunteers with A Big Project in Valenciennes, France

At NationBuilder, I work with campaigns of all sizes. Consistently, I have noticed one thing: regardless of size, many campaigns  are not using the simple but extremely useful volunteer tools NationBuilder has to offer. 

But it's not too late to start!  

You can easily create an awesome volunteer sign-up page. From recruiting for specific volunteer roles to setting up automatic follow-ups, anyone can run a sophisticated volunteer recruitment program. 

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Transparent communities achieve goals faster

open graphic
Photo by opensourceway,
Creative Commons license via Flickr

A lot of organizations and movements are built around a hierarchy that obscures access to information. At each level, a supporter receives expanded access to the vision, strategy and tactics. Compartmentalization is promoted as a way to keep people focused on assigned tasks. Executives wonder why an intern should be given "inside information" about strategy and managers who spent a few dozen years getting to their current position find it disconcerting to explain their work to younger colleagues.

That philosophy flies in the face of the openness nurtured by the internet. Here at NationBuilder, we have weekly staff meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page. It's quite refreshing how frank our founder Jim Gilliam is, especially around information that cannot be shared publicly. It sets a standard of respect, accountability, and shared vision that permeates everything we do.

Glenn Lopis expands on the idea of transparency helping to create a shared vision in 5 Powerful Things Happen When A Leader Is Transparent on the Forbes website. While his examples are from for-profit companies, his points are equally important for nonprofit and public sector organizations. He summarizes his article with a simple formula:

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Fire up your nation's MVPs with social capital and leaderboards

Leaderboard_NationBuilder.pngSocial capital (also called "political capital" or "PC") is NationBuilder's currency system. With a little bit of planning and some creative thinking, you can use political capital (or whatever you'd like to call it in your nation) to motivate your supporters to take different actions in support of your organization. 

For example, Greenpeace India used their version of PC, "karma points," to drive support for the Junglistan campaign - an effort to stop the Indian government from clear-cutting huge tracts of land for coal. They set up a leaderboard to rank and recognize the petition signers who were able to recruit the most supporters and campaign leaders from their networks and communities. Ultimately, they mobilized more than a quarter of a million people to take meaningful action in support of the campaign. 

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Growing roots in the heart of the Silicon Valley

Ask a Sista filled the house on Saturday
Ask a Sista filled the house on Saturday

What a weekend. Sunday morning there's a feeling of sadness in the air and I find myself asking "what happened?"

The information and socializing at Netroots moves so quickly: after the parties, hundreds of 15 second conversations, and business cards, we need time to process. And so today, as we all return to our homes and back to our normal ebb and flow, is a good day to reflect on the highlights from the conference.    

Thursday afternoon, NationBuilder Taxonomist Rachael Stern, participated on the panel Moving the Needle: How We Won Gay Marriage in 2012. 

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NationBuilder at Netroots Nation: Do you know the way to San Jose?

Howard Dean & JulieThe drive was long. Chandler, my lovely coworker, and I were on our way to Netroots Nation in San Jose. We grew bored pretty fast so to occupy ourselves, we sang pop-forty songs and made a few stops at California tourist destinations including the mountainous landscapes of Santa Barbara and "Garlic County" off the 101. Northern California was a majestic blanket of sun washed hills busting out of the earth. This scenery and car ride left me at peace, fully engulfed in thoughts as I thought about the weekend ahead: what's going on at Netroots?

Well, today was the first day of the conference where over 2,000 progressive activists gathered in the halls of the San Jose Convention Center. Seven of our NationBuilder organizers are here to share the story of what we do and to share literal sweet M&M treats, too. And to my delight I got to give them to folks like Howard Dean and hip hop artist / blogger / designer, Laguardia, from Miami.

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Behind the deli counter or on Reddit: Rep. Diane Russell knows how to rally support

Diane Russell
Maine Rep. Diane Russell

Representative Diane Russell is a connector.

Long before assuming office in 2008, Russell had a fundamental belief in connecting one-on-one with her community. After college, she worked full-time as a cashier at Colucci's, a local Italian deli in Portland, Maine. Her approachability and multi-disciplinary engagement won Russell her campaign for Maine House of Representative in 2008 and reelection in 2012. Today, she continues her presence at Colucci's, working behind the counter once a week to keep a local presence. 

Since taking office, Diane's organizing savvy has expanded her influence way beyond the boundaries of her district. 

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Challenge machine politics with NationBuilder

Dan Cowen at community meeting
Dan Cowen (left) at community meeting.
Photo courtesy of the Cowen campaign

Dan Cowen recently graduated from Syracuse University and is running for Syracuse Councilor At-Large. His campaign challenges the machine politics of upstate New York with an integrated online and offline organizing strategy. 

His communications director, Andrew Bauer, explained why they chose NationBuilder as the backbone of their political infrastructure to Information Space, the Syracuse University School of Information Studies blog:

NationBuilder has provided us with an invaluable, holistic approach for building Dan’s campaign. Above all, it is incredibly cost-effective. The platform allows us to manage everything from donor lists contributions to retweets on Twitter, and everything in-between.

I recently spoke to Andrew to get more insight on how they're running their campaign's nation. "Prompting a supporter to tweet after a giving a donation generated more leads for our campaign than any other activity," Andrew explained. "There's no better platform for running a campaign," he added.

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For Father’s Day, Boys to Men gives the gift of community support to boys who need it

In college, I was a mentor six months out of the year for students at Roberto Clemente High School in Humboldt Park, Chicago. I used visual art as a medium to empower and educate teenagers. I collaborated with other artists, mentoring students about art and mural painting, listening to stories about their day and the latest Lil Wayne song. I remember last Father's Day, during my final weeks at Roberto Clemente before moving to LA, one of my student's was dreading that Sunday.

She had no dad at home.

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Dan in London, encouraging women in STEM

Ungrounded_Ideas_Mismolens.jpgOur VP of Engineering, Dan Walmsley, participated in the Ungrounded flight from British Airways last night. The 'hackathon' involved getting 100+ innovative thinkers on a plane and forcing them to chat without wifi about expanding the ranks of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professionals.

Though we were incredulous that someone would create an event without internet access and call it a hackathon, Dan had a good experience. When he returns from across the pond, Dan will be able to provide a fuller account of his travels. Here's his brief summary: 

The flight was a chaotic, 11-hour brainstorm in which a diverse group of CEO's, teachers, techies and people of all stripes pitched in on dozens of ideas, with the highest-voted selected for further development. The outcome was not just viable plans to improve opportunities in STEM for people all over the world, but the creation of a community committed to meaningful change. My experiences at NationBuilder, because of our unique mission, were helpful in framing what's technically possible and the importance of providing opportunities to grassroots leaders. What could have been perceived as gab-fest among the Silicon Valley elite was instead a moving and inspiring experience, and it all came down to who was in the room, and expert facilitation by IDEO.

Dan was on Team Altitude and focused on encouraging women in STEM. You can see some of the 22 project ideas being pitched on the plane in this photo by Michael Smolens. With stickers, the participants cast votes on which projects should be developed further. Four projects will be presented at the G8 Innovation Conference and DNA Summit tomorrow. One of the winning projects, AdvisHer, an online mentorship community for girls, already created a website, Twitter handle and Facebook page. (Though I'm sure I'm not the only one eager to transform the community into a nation.)

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Get visual by embedding Instagram!

So there's something you should know about me: I snap a lot of photos. Everyday, I obsessively document my surroundings, my mundane routines, my adventuring on Saturday's, my friends, and of course, lots of artwork. When I joined the Communications team at NationBuilder, I insisted we keep a visual tab on our day-to-day work life and culture of NationBuilder. So we started an Instagram. 

For those other nation builders out there that are as jazzed about visual documentation as I am, did you know that you can embed an Instagram onto your website? It's true! You can embed a feed of photos from an Instagram handle or hashtag into your nation's website. In this video, Adriel Hampton walks you through the process. 

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British Airways has hijacked our geeks to help change the world

BMmSVayCQAETEGi.jpgToday, our VP of Engineering, Dan Walmsley, is taking off on a flight unlike any other. He's been hijacked along with more than 100 leaders and prominent thinkers who will take part in British Airways inaugural "Innovation Lab in the Sky," or as we like to call it "A Giant Geek Party in the Sky."

These founders, CEOs, venture capitalists, and Silicon Valley game-changers will work on global challenges at 30,000 feet, aboard a flight from San Francisco to London with NO WIFI. 

The group has been tasked with addressing the misalignment between where science and technology talent is emerging and where opportunity exists for talent to realize their potential. They will work to design a platform to inspire and connect this talent with civic and commercial opportunities, and to accelerate innovation in communities around the world. 

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Visualize your nation's metrics with growth view

When you log into your nation, you are taken to the control panel which is the hub of a nation's organizing efforts. You could spend hours reading about people's interactions with one another from Dashboard > Activity; but there are several other views available within the Dashboard that can be incredibly useful including followup view, finance view, calendar view and contacts view

Growth view is the most recent addition to this section. It shows growth in key categories of your nation - recruiters, members, fundraisers, donors, volunteers, supporters - in a bar chart representing monthly new people in those categories. This monthly growth view can also be narrowed down to a particular point person in your nation. And you can compare growth from all point people in various time frames from Dashboard > Growth > Point people. 

NationBuilder Growth view

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NationBuilder's Adriel Hampton named to Rising Stars of politics

Adriel_Rising_Stars.jpgEvery year since 1988, Campaigns & Elections has recognized the best and the brightest in politics by crowning a new class of Rising Stars. The inaugural class included David Axelrod, James Carville, Alex Castellanos, and Ben Ginsberg among its ranks. 

We're excited that our very own Adriel Hampton has been included in this year's group of 25 remarkable leaders who are making an impact in the political community. The list includes people from across the political spectrum including democrats and republicans, as well as nonpartisan and international folks. You can read Adriel's story of how his challenging run for congress led him to his current role as NationBuilder's VP of Community. 

The list also includes individuals that we've had the pleasure of working with at NationBuilder including Tom Rossmeissl of Trippi & Associates, Henri Makembe of Beekeeper Group, and Victor C.E. Richardson of BuzzMaker. 

Congrats to all of this year's Rising Stars!

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