I’ve spent more than four years using NationBuilder every day, and I’m here to tell you about the tool’s most important feature. It’s the simple seed from which the most engaged communities grow. It’s called Point People.
The idea of a Point Person is simple: Each staffer or volunteer in your organization is responsible for a subset of prospects or supporters. Before we get into how it works, and why it’s effective, consider its symbolic value: As an organization, you’re sharing responsibility for your most valuable asset, relationships with supporters. Distributing this responsibility is the first step in recognizing your staff as leaders in their own right. Eventually, we’ll learn how to move your supporters along a ladder of engagement that turns them into Point People too.
Every signup record in NationBuilder has a Point Person. This relationship enables the Point Person to know whenever their folks take action. If I’m responsible for 100 supporters, whenever any of them take action — from retweeting us, to donating, to calling the office — NationBuilder notifies me, and prompts me to follow up. Imagine, every time you engaged with an organization that you support, your point of contact there responded? This kind of 1–1 interaction is what creates human relationships, and builds loyalty and retention among supporters.
For example, I’m a point person for Jay Godfrey. When Jay calls my organization (whether that’s a front-desk line, or a direct line to me), NationBuilder sends me an email notification, notifying me about the call:
Where to start?
If you’re new to NationBuilder, or just new to using Point People, the first thing to do is make sure everyone in your organization has access to your nation. Everyone from the Executive Director and Board Members, down to entry-level admin staffers, should be a control panel user — you can use custom permission sets to give appropriate access, based on role.
Once a staffer is a control panel user, you can start assigning certain supporters to them. Some organizations do this geographically, so everyone in a particular state or region is assigned to that region’s designated leader. If the regional model makes sense for you, here’s how you would carve out access.
1. Use filters to segment your supporter list by region. For example, here’s everyone in my nation who lives California. Note, I’m filtering out my major donors, because I want to assign all top donors to my Development Director, regardless of geography.
2. Once you Filter for the right group of people, add them to a list, and use the batch update function to update the Point Person to the correct regional director.
3. You can customize notifications for all of your Point People, but I recommend that you invite your Point People to customize their own notifications. Customizing the notifications is important. By default, your Point People will get notified when their assigned supporters do just about anything, which can overwhelm the inbox. So, instruct your Point People to log into your nation, search for their own profile and navigate to the ‘Notifications’ tab. There, they can decide if they want to be notified when an assigned supporter does any of 18 actions, from donating, to commenting on your website. You could also signup for notifications whenever anyone takes one of those actions. A Development Director, for example, might want to get notified for all donations, not just for those by people to whom they are assigned.
Automatically assign new supporters to the right Point Person
For future supporters, you can automatically assign Point People based on any website actions. Every NationBuilder website page can trigger Point Person assignment. When a page is assigning a Point Person, note that action takers who already have a Point Person will not be affected — it only applies to new supporters. For example, a new supporter who donates can be automatically assigned to a Development staffer. Below, you can see in the settings of my Donate page, I’m assigning all new people who donate on this page to Jason Meer:
Make sure your Point People also have Broadcasters
A Point Person in NationBuilder is anyone with control panel access, who has people assigned to them (if you have access, but nobody assigned to you, you’re a Control Panel User, but not yet a Point Person). Your most active Point People should also have a Broadcaster. A Broadcaster is a communication voice of your nation. Broadcasters can send email, including 1–1 email, blast email, or as autoresponses to page actions. I recommend you think first about your autoresponses. Every page on your website, by default, will send an auto-response from your nation’s primary broadcaster, using pre-populated generic text. You should always customize the content of your autoresponses, and make sure it’s coming from the right person. For example, your donate page might trigger an auto-response from your Development Director, whereas a Petition page may trigger a response from your Advocacy Director.
Now, acknowledge your leaders
As your Point People engage their supporters, you can use NationBuilder’s virtual currency, Social Capital, to measure each Point Person’s level of engagement. With Social Capital, supporters earn points with every action. You can weight your most valuable actions like donations so they are worth more than other actions, like website comments. Among the actions that trigger Social Capital are 1–1 interactions, like phone calls, emails, and logged contacts from in-person interactions. Each time a Point Person emails, calls or otherwise engages 1–1 with one of their supporters, they earn social capital. You can celebrate that Point Person engagement with a custom Leaderboard, which can be set to display only staffers, like this one called “Top Staffers” pinned to the Dashboard in my nation:
All Point People will also see their impact on your organization’s collective goals when they log-in. Your Goals dashboard will automatically show each person’s contribution to your goals. For example, my organization had a goal to make 100 1–1 contacts. When I log in, I see that collectively, we’ve exceeded our goal, and I’ve done most of the work to get us there:
Now that you have active Point People...Get More!
Think about your Point People as your organization's leaders. Now, think about what it would be like to have more of them. What if you could double the number of people doing the work of your best Point People? And then, what if you could double that number? I like to think of granting someone control panel access to my nation as the ultimate expression of trust in my top supporters. This orientation also lends clarity to your organization's ladder of engagement. Instead of thinking of, say, donating as the culmination of your supporter's relationship journey - make "Active Point Person" the final step.