NationBuilder exists to ensure that everyone has the tools they need to organize their communities online, which is of the utmost importance during local and global crises. Given the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic, we’re offering free access to software and services to state and local governments, their contractors and agencies, and NGOs organizing essential service provision and emergency response over the next three months.
Whether or not you’re an experienced organizer, this guide will walk you through the most helpful ways to use NationBuilder to serve your community during this emergency.
Create a website to identify needs and gather resources
Quickly build your NationBuilder website to serve as the action center for all your relief efforts. Consider structuring it around two key web forms: one for people seeking services, and another for people who can provide those services.
Once people sign up via either form, their details will automatically appear in your integrated database. Then, you can gather additional information from volunteers on what types of aid or resources they can provide for your emergency response.
On every page on your website, you can amplify your reach by prompting users to share each action they take—whether that's volunteering, donating, etc.—via Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp or email. Every time someone shares, they will raise awareness throughout their networks about how people can assist during this global pandemic.
Customize readymade action pages
NationBuilder comes equipped with a variety of action page types that we recommend using to organize during the COVID-19 crisis. All of these pages allow you to use tags, paths, point people, and auto-responses to ensure your digital organizing efforts are as effective as possible.
Signup page - Collect information on the people who need assistance within your community and let them self-identify what they need assistance with—from groceries, to meal collections for children, to prescription pickups for people in the most at-risk categories.
Volunteer page - Gather information from people who can assist in providing essential services to those who need it in your community. Give them the opportunity to identify the skills and resources they’re best equipped to contribute, like rides to hospitals, meal pick-up locations, pharmacies pick-ups, etc.
Feedback/ Suggestion pages - Solicit any public suggestions, feedback or requests from the people you want to serve. For example, you can create a feedback form where people who are looking for help can share with you exactly what they need, then triage requests using a path in your nation.
Event and Calendar pages - Though you won’t be organizing in-person events, you can use event pages to plot local needs on a map and collect ‘RSVPs’ from people who can assist in providing any of these resources. For example, you can share geographic locations people can use for pick-up and drop-off of school meals, etc.
Blog post - Share ongoing updates that impact your community and advise people as soon as relevant changes take place.
Petition page - Collect signatures from people willing to stand alongside your cause during this crisis. For example, we have seen a number of people use this page type to help promote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations on social distancing.
Donation pages - While fundraising is not something that all groups will be doing to coordinate emergency responses or essential services, you have access to fundraising tools for whenever you need them.
Organize digitally using an integrated database
Our software allows you to build relationships with your community at scale, and to coordinate emergency responses or essential services. You’ll have a central database where you can organize people who need help based on what they need the most. You will also be able to scale operations using the information provided to you by people who want to help—such as how they’d like to be contacted, and what support they might be able to provide.
These are the building blocks for your emergency response coordination infrastructure:
Importing - The first step is generally to upload a list of any people in your personal or organizational networks who have provided you with their contact information over the years. You can then engage with those people using our communication tools.
Tags - Use tags to categorize people who are able to help, based on the skillsets they are offering. You can also tag people automatically based on the selections they make on your website to help save you time.
Paths - Custom engagement paths offer a holistic view of the progress of your team’s outreach workflows, and allow you to digitally triage new signups from your website.
For example, a path could be created to track the status of requests from your community and help make sure no one slips through the cracks. You’ll be able to move people along the path as you complete steps in the process.
If you need to manage incoming requests from community members in need of things like rides, food, dog walks, etc.—paths can allow you to assign those members to volunteer leaders in charge of each activity. The leader can then deal with the logistics and put them in touch with one of the volunteers available.
Relationships - It is important to have an understanding of your community leaders and identify how they are able to assist those in your community who need it most. With this feature, you will be able to track the relationships and communication between these cohorts.
Logging contacts - During this crisis it will be imperative to track the conversations happening within your community. This ensures that everyone can be supported in alignment with guidance from government bodies and agencies.
How do you find your people?
Filtering - Once people have started to sign up on your website you will be able to use filtering tools to segment your community using a number of different criteria. For example, if you need to find all volunteers that signed up to help with meal pick-up within 5 miles of a specific school, you can use the following filter:
Stay in communication with your people
Our software includes broadcast capabilities via email, text, and virtual phones. During this global pandemic, it is vital that you are able to communicate with your community. You will be able to send email and text blasts to update people, allow them to sign up and volunteer, have them share what they are able to assist with etc. You will be able to segment all of these communications to break out your messaging between people who need help and those who want to help.
What digital tools should I use to communicate?
Texting - Send and receive text messages to people in your community using text blasts and text keywords. With these tools, you can create a text message “hotline” that points people to resources for essential service provision/emergency response based on their zipcode.
Text keywords are a great way to organize within your community. When someone sends your nation a text keyword, it triggers a response. By creating multiple keywords, you can walk your community members through layers of questions and give responses tailored to their answers.
These conversation trees will enable you to more efficiently organize your community. For example, a person in your community needs to have student meals picked up from an approved location and delivered to their home.
- They text using your text keyword SCHOOL, which then triggers an automatic response prompting them to select which school they need the meals picked up from, using an A/B/C option.
- They respond with A, which triggers another autoresponse, prompting them to select 1, 2 or 3. They respond with 2, indicating that they need 2 meals picked up.
- A final text asks them for their address so the delivery can be completed.
Blast texts can help you disseminate information during a crisis. There are a number of daily changes that can impact your community and this form of communication allows people to receive vital information immediately.
Phone number (virtual) - Use a virtual phone number for inbound call forwarding or voice mail. This will enable your community to call to receive vital information with a pre-recorded message and then leave a voicemail for you to follow up with them on.
Mass Email - Share important content with your community via this medium, including necessary calls to action, like soliciting people who are able to volunteer and gathering information for those that need help.