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What is NationBuilder?

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NationBuilder is an integrated technology solution for agencies, officeholders and cities that includes a content management system to build your whole website, a people database for logging contacts and tracking issues, and a communications hub for managing email newsletters, text alerts and social media.


What kinds of agencies use NationBuilder Government?

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Anyone can use NationBuilder, but we think it’s especially well suited for communications officers, officeholders and their constituent relations staff, public safety agencies, recreation and parks departments, customer service operations, municipal governments, and school districts and sites. Whether you’re an officeholder, a state agency, township, village, city, county or school site or district, using NationBuilder Government will help you achieve great things. 


How do you use NationBuilder?

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NationBuilder is designed to be simple enough for anyone to contribute to managing constituent relationships and updating your website. You can create your own workflows without coding and your website can be customized using CSS and HTML. NationBuilder allows staff across your organization to coordinate activities like customer service, events, blogging, email and social media communications. 


Can multiple departments use one NationBuilder account?

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Yes! NationBuilder has customizable workflows that make it easy to create contact types for multiple departments and to coordinate constituent interactions and followups. Not only does NationBuilder become more powerful when used to break down silos between departments, there is no additional cost for adding more administrators to your nation.


How does NationBuilder support open government?

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NationBuilder helps you create and preserve unified records of interactions with constituents across communications channels. You can export basic details for all your people records at any time, and take a manual snapshot of your entire database in postgreSQL .dump format. NationBuilder also makes it easy to create interactive blogs and web pages for keeping constituents up to date and for taking comments and feedback.


Do I need separate hosting?

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No. NationBuilder provides full hosting for your nation’s website and people database. No downloads are required and you can log in from any internet-enabled device.


Can I build my website on NationBuilder?

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Yes! NationBuilder includes a full-featured content management system (CMS) for building your website. You can even have multiple websites for your nation. Our standard templates can be modified with HTML and CSS, and we also use Sass and Liquid in our templating system.


We already have a website, why would we use NationBuilder?

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f you’re looking for a refresh of your website and want to take advantage of an efficient cloud solution that seamlessly connects website interactions with your people database, NationBuilder can support your full website. We also support quick-to-launch microsites for special events, programs and projects, such as seasonal park events, officeholder initiatives, and construction projects. You can customize NationBuilder microsites to look just like your existing web properties.


NationBuilder is also a robust constituent service workflow management tool, automatically creating citizen-centric records of email and social media communications and making it easy to log phone and meeting notes. You can manage constituent interaction from any internet-enabled computer without downloading any software. If you’re using something like Excel to track constituent interactions, or need a solution for email and text alerts, NationBuilder is for you.


Can I manage community events?

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NationBuilder supports both free and ticketed events, including RSVP management and integration with Facebook events. 


How can NationBuilder help with customer service?

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NationBuilder supports customizable customer service workflows that help track citizen service across agencies and between staff members. We provide rich contact logging tools, including automatic integration of email, text and social media communications on a constituent’s private profile. NationBuilder’s Followup feature allows staff to prioritize future contacts, and our real-time activity stream, contacts view and advanced search support structured and ad hoc reporting.


What database fields are supported with NationBuilder?

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NationBuilder supports scores of pre-defined data entry fields, including detailed geographic and demographic information. We also support custom tagging with nearly unlimited options, including assigning custom tags based on survey responses and activities on website pages.


How do you set up a workflow in NationBuilder?

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Workflows in NationBuilder center on contact types, which you can customize in the settings for your nation. Once you’ve created the appropriate contact types for common requests and followup activities, you can use those to create followups which appear in your followup dashboard when due.

In this video from NationBuilder Live, C.J. MinsterCheng explains how to set-up a workflow and how it can make your organization more efficient. 


Can you provide data about my constituents?

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In many states, constituent management is an acceptable use for voter registration data. NationBuilder has a nationwide voter database and up to 100,000 records are included free in all of our plans. You can make a voter data request at elections.nationbuilder.com. Email us at info@nationbuilder.com with any questions.


How do I track constituent requests using NationBuilder?

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NationBuilder’s communications hub allows you to link email and social media accounts and automatically create followups when an email or tweet is received. Using the Followup View, you can keep up with pending contacts and requests, and route them appropriately within your organization. A concise activity log is associated with each constituent, allowing your team to see the entire history of a constituent’s interaction with your organization. NationBuilder’s “point person” feature also allows any logged in constituent to see the contact information for their assigned contact person.


Can we transfer existing constituent records into NationBuilder?

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Yes! NationBuilder supports imports of any .csv file, including multiple custom tags.


How do I back up my NationBuilder database?

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A nation owner can take a database snapshot at any time. NationBuilder also has disaster recovery plans that include real-time backups. Our standard plans do not include automatic scheduled backups.


How does NationBuilder protect our data?

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You own all your data, and we even set up each nation with its own isolated database so your data is completely separate from everyone else, and your data is never shared with anyone unless you decide to do it yourself.  You can export a spreadsheet of your supporter data, donation data and survey data at any time. We believe your ownership is important and we've made the exporting process very simple. NationBuilder uses secure pages for all database transactions and has round-the-clock systems monitoring and a regular security audit schedule.

Note that with the NationBuilder subnations feature, you can automatically share your supporter and staff data with another nation. You can read more about subnations here. If you've become a subnation and want to change that, just email us at billing@nationbuilder.com.


How does NationBuilder protect citizen privacy?

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NationBuilder has some of the strictest privacy policies in the industry and is self-certified with the U.S.-E.U. Safe Harbor Framework. Each nation’s database is distinct and data is not shared between nations unless both parties agree to that sharing (such as a city that wants to share a single email list while each department administers a distinct NationBuilder account).


What communications tools does NationBuilder offer?

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NationBuilder organizes communications around “broadcasters” and allows multiple staff members to manage a single social media account, and for a single communications officer to manage multiple social channels. Twitter, Facebook and Meetup are fully integrated, and NationBuilder websites also include content sharing features for Google+. NationBuilder Mailboxes supports one-to-one email management that integrates with Outlook and Google Apps, email blasting for newsletters and other mass communications, and virtual phone and texting solutions that allow citizens to opt-in for alerts on their mobile phones.


What’s different about NationBuilder for email?

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There are plenty of email providers out there - what NationBuilder provides is an affordable, integrated cloud solution that’s fully integrated with your website and social media. Our new Mailboxes feature allows you to send emails to thousands of people and then easily route and prioritize one-on-one responses.


NationBuilder staff are also experts in managing email deliverability. According to Return Path, twenty percent of email in the United States and Canada does not make it to the inbox, and three percent goes to junk folders. Using a closely monitored pool of IP addresses, NationBuilder is able to send tens of millions of emails per day with some of the highest deliverability and quality scores in the industry. We also support custom email IP addresses for customers who want to monitor their own email reputations.


How does NationBuilder work with Facebook and Twitter?

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With NationBuilder, we don’t tack on share buttons and call that social media - Facebook and Twitter are deeply integrated with your websites and people database. When people “like” your Facebook posts, the activity is automatically logged in your communications hub, as are your own posts to Twitter and Facebook Pages. You can also track Facebook event RSVPs in your nation’s calendar.


How does NationBuilder help governments manage their social media?

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NationBuilder provides a communications hub that lets you review all your linked Twitter accounts and Facebook Pages in one place, and where those accounts can be co-managed. You can segment who has access to broadcasting from which accounts, and NationBuilder is designed to separate your personal use of social media from official “broadcaster” channels.


How does NationBuilder’s phone and texting integration work?

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NationBuilder supports virtual phone numbers, which can be forwarded to any desk or cell phone. The virtual number also allows constituents to text keywords to sign up for alerts, email updates and RSVP for events. Voicemails can be recorded directly to constituent records within NationBuilder’s control panel, and incoming texts are also logged. You can also set up email alerts for any voicemail messages left on your virtual phone line.


How can NationBuilder Mailboxes transform our workflow?

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With NationBuilder Mailboxes, you can get away from an address-centric email management system (such as conversation threading) and start managing contacts with a constituent-centric model. Whenever you receive an email, it will automatically be linked to the sender’s profile and can be flagged for the appropriate followup action or actions. NationBuilder’s own teams use Mailboxes to manage hundreds of contacts per day, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.


Can I create a public alerts system with NationBuilder’s texting solution?

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Yes. NationBuilder’s standard plans support up to 3,600 messages per hour with each phone number in your nation. If you have more advanced needs, please contact us at government@nationbuilder.com.


Can I use NationBuilder as my intranet?

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Yes! NationBuilder’s Followup and Mailboxes features make it easy to coordinate intra-agency communications and we support document storage and private web pages accessible only to administrative users.


What email systems do you integrate with?

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NationBuilder can be configured to work with any existing email setup, including services such as Outlook and Google Apps. If you’re using NationBuilder Mailboxes to manage email communications, we recommend setting up archives on your existing mail client (details).


Can I store documents and files on NationBuilder?

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Yes. NationBuilder supports common document formats such as .jpeg and .pdf with limits of 2mb and 10mb per file, depending on whether its attached to a page by an administrator or uploaded by a user (such as a photo with a petition signature).


Can you create reports with NationBuilder?

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NationBuilder includes pre-defined data reporting views, such as seeing how many people have been contacted within a fixed period of time, and by whom. You can also review real-time contacts and interactions, and create custom reporting criteria with advanced searches. There is not a report formatting function.


How many administrators can we have on a NationBuilder account?

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You can create additional administrative users in your control panel with no additional cost, and there is no hard limit to how many of your staff can have control panel access. Our larger nations in general have 20 to 30 people with access at the intern, leader and staffer levels, in addition to an administrative owner of the nation.


Can we customize NationBuilder website themes?

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Yes! NationBuilder themes are customizable using standard HTML and CSS. High-level administrators have full template access and can also modify the SaaS and Liquid templating elements. We also support a large network of consultants who specialize in NationBuilder custom themes.


Can we customize our emails?

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Yes. NationBuilder’s blast email feature includes several standard templates, each of which can be modified and saved for reuse using HTML and CSS.


Are there companies we can hire to build our NationBuilder website?

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Yes! There are a number of certified NationBuilder Architects and Experts who can provide contract services to help with your NationBuilder implementation. However, there is no advanced knowledge required to create a NationBuilder website and set up your database. We have many on-demand training resources and are also happy to assist any of your current contractors in becoming skilled in the NationBuilder platform.


How do I get started?

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Getting started with NationBuilder is as easy as starting a 14-day free trial. You’ll be prompted to install your nation with basic details and you can get started with setting up web pages (if desired) and connecting email and social accounts right away. If you need to speak with a specialist from our government team, call 213-394-4623 or email government@nationbuilder.com.


How much does it cost?

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The NationBuilder Government Edition is priced at our nonprofit rate and all but the largest agencies and cities can expect to pay less than $200 a month for our full suite of features, including add-ons like texting.


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