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NationBuilder field offices…Canada or bust! (and Austin and Oakland)

field-office-moose-tank.pngThank you for helping us pick locations for NationBuilder field offices last week. We were totally shocked by the number of responses that came in. Based on the feedback, we have decided to move forward immediately with offices in the following cities: Toronto, Vancouver, Oakland, and Austin. That’s right, we’re coming to Canada!

Do you know any great tech-savvy and fearless potential organizers in those cities? Please encourage them to apply! We are accepting applications immediately for politics and advocacy, nonprofits and universities, and brands/small business organizers. There are more details on how to apply at those links.

If you have a friend who is interested but doesn’t live near a city on the list, don’t worry—ask them to fill out this form and let them know we will be opening additional offices over the course of the next year.

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Top Three Finishers in CA District 26 Primary use NationBuilder


Eight states held primaries last Tuesday, including California. Primaries are especially competitive in California because of term limits and a unique open primary system where all parties are on one ballot and two winners advance to the general election. That means California can have Democrat vs. Democrat or Republican vs. Republican general elections, making primaries really interesting. 

People following closely couldn’t take their eyes off the State Senate race in CA's 26th district, where five strong candidates emerged, but only two could win. The top three finishers were NationBuilder customers Ben Allen, Sandra Fluke, and Seth Stodder, followed closely by Betsy Butler, who redirected parts of her own site to NationBuilder action pages.

All candidates were within a mere 6.3 percentage points of each other, and no one beat the next best finisher by more than 2.2%.

Given the strength of showing for the candidates using advanced digital organizing tactics, it is worth dissecting what might have made this very narrow difference in such a social media heavy district. First, we'll look at external-facing digital organizing tactics, and then we'll take a peek behind the scenes at the data.


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New NationBuilder Apps - Walkathons, Raiser’s Edge, Voter modeling, and more

We believe communities can create things that were never imaginable before. And yet, every day, I’m in awe of just how skilled and talented the NationBuilder community is. There are now over 40 apps in the directory. Check it out—here are a few of the latest to come online:

You can find the full list in the directory, and the new sync icon shows the apps that automatically update your nation’s database. If there are apps you’d like to see integrated, or whole new areas of functionality you need, please let your organizer know.

And if you’re a developer interested in building your own app or integrating with NationBuilder, we’re here to help. Check out the API documentation, our developer forum, or contact Adriel Hampton to get a free developer sandbox nation.

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CityZen, the newest NationBuilder theme

We’re pretty excited about the new theme from our friends at Tectonica, though I was a little confused the first time Jesse told me they wanted to call it CityZen. City? Zen? ...Huh?

The mockups looked great, but I remained perplexed until the end of the meeting. Ohhhhh, I get it! Citizen, a theme for governments!

So, yeah, that happened.

If you’re looking for more space to show off your content, CityZen is the first NationBuilder theme to feature a slide-out sidebar. You can choose from four different color variations—and because it’s responsive, CityZen looks great on any device.



See all of CityZen’s features in action on the demo site, or visit our public theme gallery for more info.


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Update from NationBuilder on denial of service attacks

NationBuilder began experiencing a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Monday, resulting in a full service outage from 1:07pm to 5:35pm PT, and intermittent outages through Tuesday morning. These attacks did not compromise any of your data or financial information.

We responded immediately to get all sites back online, and have been implementing a variety of countermeasures as fast as we can to ensure full service availability.

A DDoS attack is when a large number of computers (a “botnet”) flood the network. This clogged the pipes that lead to our servers, preventing access to NationBuilder. Technically, our servers were fine during the attacks, people just couldn’t reach them.

As we stated yesterday, we are reasonably certain one of our customers was targeted for their political beliefs and the attacks were an attempt to disrupt upcoming elections.

NationBuilder exists to provide the infrastructure for organizing – and that infrastructure must withstand any attacks.

And this week, we failed. We are deeply sorry.

The only good news to come of this is that we are dramatically stronger than we were before, both in our technical infrastructure and in our effectiveness as a team. We cannot promise this will never happen again, but we can promise that we will continue to invest heavily in our infrastructure to withstand any and all attacks.

We know we can’t make up for something that has immeasurable impact. However, we will be issuing you a credit equivalent to one week of service on your next bill because it is the right thing to do.

Thanks for all of the words of support and encouragement during this time. As always, our organizers are here to help. If you have additional questions, call us at 213-394-4623 or email help@nationbuilder.com.

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NationBuilder’s response to the DDoS attack

NationBuilder began experiencing a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack yesterday, resulting in intermittent service outages. Your data and financial information is secure, and we will not rest until service is fully restored for everyone.

We are reasonably certain the attack is directed at one of our customers for their political beliefs, and is meant to disrupt upcoming elections.

We know the impact is immeasurable, and we are very, very sorry. We are fiercely committed to serving all of our customers. Everyone has the right to organize – in fact, this is the very reason NationBuilder exists. We are grateful to all of you who have been communicating your support.

Our organizers are available 24/7 to help. Call us at 213-394-4623, or email help@nationbuilder.com. We will keep everyone informed through Twitter and you can monitor current availability as always through status.nationbuilder.com.

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New: Household targeting with NationBuilder

Have you ever opened your mailbox and discovered four of the exact same flyers? That’s what happens when your snail mail list has not grouped all the people who live in the same house together. The industry lingo for that is “householding.”

NationBuilder now does that automatically. All the details are in the HOWTO.

On top of that, NationBuilder also allows you to target people based on the makeup of their household. For example:

  • a household with one Republican and one Democrat
  • a household with only one donor
  • a household where everyone voted in the last primary election

Targeting by household works with any information about a person in NationBuilder…and then you just specify whether it’s everyone, no one, or one/two/three/four people in a household.

Three extra flyers won’t get you four more years, and it’s expensive. We hope you enjoy the update.

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Customize your walk+call sheet themes in NationBuilder

Have you ever wanted just one more field on your walk sheet? Has your candidate ever screamed about not knowing the assistant’s name for that big donor? Have you ever gone home late at night and cried over not having enough clipboard space?

We have. But not anymore.

Fully customizable call and walk sheets are now available in NationBuilder, and there are eight public themes you can use right away. If you want complete control, you can create your own custom theme using the liquid templating language, just like website and email themes.  

All of the information about a person is available including:

  • donation history
  • contact history
  • demographics
  • party affiliation
  • custom fields
  • anything in your nation

We hope you enjoy the update. For more info on creating a custom theme, check out the HOWTO

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How to figure out your fully loaded cost of technology

Screen_Shot_2014-04-29_at_12.18.51_PM.pngWe often speak with organizations that are considering upgrading their technology with NationBuilder, but have some concern over the cost. For the Executive Director, CFO, or COO of the organization, there is a more holistic way to view the costs of technology—including opportunity cost and staff efficiency.

To illustrate, I put together an example of a mid-size nonprofit with an annual budget of $2 million, 8-10 staffers, and an email list of 100,000 people they want to grow to 200,000. Let's see what happens financially when they bring on the NationBuilder platform.

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Updates to people targeting in NationBuilder

We combined advanced search and filtering into one interface. Just click on the People tab, and all the advanced search functionality is right there inside the little icon that looks like a funnel.

There will be a notification to point it out when you first sign in to your control panel. You may also notice a few other usability improvements there as well. We hope you like them.

P.S. A few months ago we dramatically improved how targeting works. If you haven’t had a chance to play around with it, check out the HOWTO for more details.

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Collective: a new responsive theme from NationBuilder

The NationBuilder design team is on a roll—they just released Collective, our second responsive theme in a month. It’s versatile, modern, and great for showcasing photos. Collective also features a completely redesigned blog page, and eight different styles. Check out the demo site...it’s hot.


You can switch to Collective from your control panel under Websites > Theme > Switch to a public theme > Collective (v2). If you are upgrading from a v1 theme and your site has pages with custom templates, you’ll get a warning and have the ability to restore the default v2 templates. Unless you've made drastic changes to your templates, it is recommended that you restore the v2 defaults.

Have fun! You can view all the public themes and styles in the gallery.

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Important changes to monthly donations

A few weeks ago we released staged donation pages, and now we've made a few more changes and enhancements to how donation pages work. The biggest change is that monthly donations are no longer tied to paid memberships (I can hear a few of you weeping for joy...) So, instead of creating a paid membership page, just create a donation page and turn on monthly donations.

We also added a few more features:

1. Monthly installments. We made it easier for people to contribute to things they care about without having to drop a lump sum of money all at once. If you’re running for office in November, people can commit to a $500 donation and pay for it through installments every month between now and the election. Or, let’s say your congregation needs to build a new church—people can commit to donate $2400 and pay a hundred dollars every month for two years.

2. Infinite donation pages. This isn’t actually a new feature, but it’s worth noting because it’s so unique. Create a special donation page for each of your board members, or give your top fundraisers their own page—because there’s no limit to the number of donation pages you can create (or any page type in NationBuilder). 

3. Fixed donation amounts. Imagine what you can do with a donation page when you can specify exactly how much someone can donate. For instance, you can set up basic store functionality by offering a t-shirt for a $20 donation. And since you can create as many donation pages as you want, you can run a crowdfunding style campaign with multiple levels of rewards. Each donation page tags people differently, so you can keep track of which reward to send them.

Things to note about monthly payments: 
You must be using a payment provider that supports recurring payments such as Authorize.net and PayPal Express. If you have any existing donation pages with custom templates, you need to make a few template updates that are documented here. Or, you can create a new one—donation templates that have not been customized on a theme will automatically inherit these new features.

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Using a Recruiter page to increase engagement

NationBuilder has 29 pre-built page types to choose from, so you can create a website that's as functional as it is beautiful. A lot of organizations need a Donation page, a Volunteer page, and a Blog page, but I'd like to spotlight another page type that can add a crucial layer of engagement to your website—the Recruiter page. 


Creating an action-oriented website that allows supporters to participate is important, and enabling people to share those activities across social media takes online engagement one step further. However, organizations and supporters alike also want to know when they’ve been successful. This is where the Recruiting page can help.

The first thing to remember is that any supporter who joins your nation is automatically assigned a recruiter id that can be used in many places from Leaderboards to Personal Fundraising pages. I'm frequently asked, "How can I include share buttons in my email blast?" The short answer? We have a page type for that.

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How to run a cutting-edge digital field campaign with NationBuilder

I work with a lot of political customers, and I often hear, “NationBuilder is a great system for engaging with people online, but can you really use it to run a field campaign for a major election?” The answer, of course, is yes! A resounding yes, in fact, because NationBuilder allows you to do things campaigns couldn’t even have attempted just a few short years ago. 


Every political operative knows that a field campaign has two main tasks:

- Identify voters as supporters, undecideds, or non-supporters.
- Engage supporters, both to ensure that they vote and to turn them into volunteers and leaders.

Excelling at one task will positively affect the other, creating a virtuous cycle that builds momentum for your campaign. Traditionally, field campaign success was attributed to a high volume of phone calls and door knocking (and those are still important), but NationBuilder opens up a slew of new possibilities for effective engagement. So, where do you start?

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Find donors who haven't contributed recently

The response to the new advanced search + targeting has been great, and based on your feedback, we realized there was one important thing missing: relative date searches. 

Instead of having to search for a specific date, you can now search by activity in the last six months, not in the last three weeks, or anytime within the last year. This makes it possible to:

  • Find active voters who are on the fence and haven’t been contacted recently.

  • Search for supportive donors who haven’t contributed recently.

  • Reach out to people with memberships that are expiring soon to ask them to renew.

Learn more in our HOWTO, and let us know what you think. 

P.S. We also added the ability to search people based on the number of Facebook posts liked, and the number of times they've retweeted or mentioned you on Twitter, amongst a few other social things. 

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