How to set up your election

Robust campaign tools are built into your nation. To take full advantage of these features, you'll want to first set up your election. Someone with access to the Settings area of your control panel should be responsible for this process, usually an admin. 

Enable voter features

In your control panel, when you go to the Settings area, you should see a Political option.

Political Settings in NationBuilder

If there is no political option under Settings, go to Settings > Defaults > Basics and check the box next to "Enable voters." Then click the "Update addons" button at the bottom of the page to save your changes.

To ensure that you see the correct setup options, also make sure your country is set correctly in Settings > Contact.

Define your election

Go to Settings > Political > Elections

Setting up your election is the important first step in the process, as several features are built on the information provided here.

The election to a single office can be broken up into several stages. Therefore, each time people vote is defined as a separate election. For example, members of the U.S. House of Representatives are elected every two years. For a particular seat, there is a primary election and a general election. Here is how defining elections would look for a candidate in the race for California's 33rd Congressional District:

define election example in NationBuilder

Election cycle: Typically, this is defined as the year in which the final election period occurs, and is a required field.

Election period: Options are primary, general, special, recount, runoff, convention, previous campaign, or other. 

Voter registration deadline: Click in this field and a calendar will appear to allow you to select the date by which voters much register for your election.

Election day: Click in this field and a calendar will appear to allow you to select the date of your election, and is a required field.

Maximum donation per person: the maximum amount of money a person may donate to your election per the rules governing your election.

Click the "Save election" button to save your input.

Once you save an election, it will appear in a list on the right side of the page and can be edited or deleted. 

Automatic donation splitting for elections within an election cycle

When two elections are created within the same election cycle, donations will be split automatically once a donor reaches the maximum contribution for the first election.

For example, within the United States, an election cycle typically has two elections: the primary election and the general election. Many jurisdictions define a maximum donation per person for each of these elections. If I set up a primary election and a general election and label the election cycle as 2015 for both of them, donations will be split between these two elections.

Contributions are always counted toward the current election first. Once the donor reaches the maximum contribution amount, the rest of her donation will be attributed to the upcoming election. 

If you'd like to encourage recurring donations during an election, we recommend installment payments. Installment payments are monthly, recurring donations with an end date. On the donation page, you'll be able to include a maximum total donation (the total amount donated from all installments), as well as maximum time frame.

Please note that for recurring donations, only the initial transaction is checked against contribution limits. The subsequent transactions are processed directly by your payment processor

Political settings

Once you have defined your elections, go to Settings > Political > Settings. Here is where you select the candidate. Please make sure the name on the profile is as it will appear on the ballot. Next, indicate party affiliation and the next election.

example of defining political settings in NationBuilder 

Enter the candidate's first name and last name in the first two fields.

The party drop-down menu depends on where you are located. There is an FAQ describing location-based party support. Remember to set your country in Settings > Contact. 

Donation maximum per cycle: this is the total maximum amount a person can contribute in a given cycle. For example, if the individual limit in the 2014 primary election is $2,600 and the limit in the 2014 general election is $2,600 then you should enter $5,200 in this field. That way, any amount contributed during the primary above $2,600 will be designated for your general election. Your donation pages will make these adjustments automatically when you complete the election setup. 

Guidelines for using donation maximum per cycle:

  1. Create each election in the cycle in Political > Elections
  2. Include the "Maximum donation per person" in each election
  3. Define the "Donation maximum per cycle" in Political > Settings
  4. Do not enter a maximum donation amount when creating a new donation page - it will be set automatically based on which election you are in. 

Automatically update Federal & State Districts when an address changes: We recommend keeping this box checked to allow auto-districting to occur. This is useful for understanding a voter's current district; but may vary from the place where she is registered to vote.

Enable Custom Precincts: This checkbox only displays on nations within the US. If you import voter information from the NationBuilder Election Center, leave this box unchecked and you'll be able to work with the NBEC precincts. If you import a voter file, check this box to work with those precincts. 

Ignore Federal Do Not Call list: We do not recommend checking this box, but in some states it is legal for political purposes to ignore the national do not call registry

Click the "Save settings" button to save changes you make to this page.

Political office

Once you complete the political settings, go to Settings > Political > Office

Defining the office name and geographic location gives your nation the ability to automatically determine whether new people are eligible to vote in your election. You should only fill out the fields that are relevant to your election

  • The office name is required
  • Only fill in another field if it is relevant to your race 
  • Click the "Save settings" button to save your changes


  • If it's a statewide race, there is no need for county or city, just put the state.
  • If you are running for Congress, just put the state and the federal district.
  • If you are running for Mayor, just put the city and state.
  • If you are running for school board, put the school district and state.

Here is how the Office area is filled out for Jane Smith, who is running for Congress in California:

setup political office example in NationBuilder 

Staging locations

Since your campaign is located in a geographic area, you'll want to make sure in-person activities occur throughout your voting area. Staging locations can be used with events and are particularly useful for get out the vote (GOTV) efforts.  To setup staging locations, go to Settings > Political > Staging locations.

setting up staging locations

Naming each staging location is the only required field, though we recommend filling out as much information as possible to help people find them.

How auto-districting works

How to import a voter file

How to import voter history

How to set up a phone bank

If you’re unclear on how this feature works, please ask a question. If you would like to see changes to this feature, please submit a suggestion.