Because I'm (h)API! Quick guide to NationBuilder's API

Reading time - approx 5 mins

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NationBuilder is a great, extensive, integrated product which can do a lot, covering four key pillars; People, Website, Communications, and Finances. However, each customer is different and might desire different data streams, plug-ins, apps and integrations to make their experience of NationBuilder, and their path to leadership, truly customised.


In a (very small) nutshell, our API (Application Programming Interface) allows you to communicate with different parts of the system - such as events, donations, memberships, and many others. Creating an API bridge is basically connecting two databases - your nation’s database and then the database of whatever it is you want to integrate.

 
There are several ways in which you can use our API:

1) If you’re on the Leader/Organisation package, you can do our superb NationBuilder Developer certification (we don’t open up the API to you on these packages unless you have it). It is free to do, if you dedicate time to it relatively quick to do as well, and gives you not only stellar CV points, but also means we can open up the API to you. You can therefore create integrations and API bridges between for example your existing CRM and your nation, and build out the API as you need, as well as becoming fully trained in the process. Two birds, one stone kind of situation!


In addition - if you're on the leader/organisation package and want to use the API we have an ecosystem of certified developers who you can retain for that kind of work. We will enable the API for any customer working with a certified developer regardless of their pricing level. There's also a bit of a clarification perhaps needed here in terms of defining 'access to the API'; the API is usable by anyone at any level of pricing. For example, even without a certified developer a customer at the leader plan can "use" the API if they choose to use an application from our app ecosystem. All apps follow the OAuth2.0 protocol so access to the API tab in the control panel isn't necessary. You can therefore use the API by proxy if you use a third-party app/integration. However full-blown access to the API (the tab in the control panel which allows you to generate tokens, set up webhooks etc) is only possible on Leader/Organisation if you're certified, or are retaining a certified developer.

 

2) If you’re on the Enterprise/Network package, our API is open to you. We still recommend doing the developer certification, simply because it trains you on the NationBuilder API, teaches you the ropes, and enables you to familiarise yourself with the key concepts, but you can go in without it as well. While we won’t be able to actively support you in the building out of whatever integration/API bridge you have in mind if you decide to do it on your own rather than through one of our certified agencies, we can definitely help you troubleshoot if things go wrong. This opens up a whole world of possibilities, where you can build integrations and API bridges as your nation evolves and your needs expand.


In addition to this, there are of course 3rd party integrations and app partners where API bridges have already been built; while these cost extra to your NationBuilder plan, they are a great way of adding novel and exciting features to add another layer of personalisation to your cause.


Finally, you can be paired up with one of our superb certified agencies/architects who can help you build out these integrations and API bridges. Ping us if you want to know more!


Hope you had a good read! Please feel free to post comments, ideas, and thoughts in the comments below. And, if you want to share thoughts with your developer colleagues, why not join our API Developers' Forum!

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