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The 8 most important things to know about NationBuilder...

  1. We are a software company, not a social media company. The business models of tech companies are sometimes opaque and exploitative, with users frequently unaware that their personal data is being collected and sold. Social media companies in particular often provide “free” services that are monetized by collecting data and displaying ads. These companies are incentivized to keep people on their sites, ultimately gathering as much data for their own uses as possible. This is not just antithetical to NationBuilder’s mission; it’s antithetical to our business model. We are a software company, not a social media company. We don’t sell data and we don’t sell ads. Our business model is simple: we make software and the people that want to use it pay us to do so.

  2. Your data is yours. One of NationBuilder’s founding principles is leaders must “own their own data.” From the start, we set out to disrupt the power of companies that would insert themselves between a leader and their supporters. That principle is not just reflected in the design of our software, but also in NationBuilder’s underlying technological architecture. We give each and every customer a completely separate, secure, and self-contained database. The only people with access to it are those our customers give permission to. The sanctity of our customers’ data is at the heart of everything we do; we don’t sell it or share it, and we interact with it only when asked to. There is no “NationBuilder database” or dataset. Your nation and the data within is strictly yours.

  3. Access is everything. NationBuilder was founded on the belief that everyone should have access to the tools of leadership and organizing. In 2012, our starting price was $19/month, and today it’s $34/month. Access to the power of our platform has always been our most defining value, so we work hard to keep our starting price low. We set out to create software that could be used by all types of leaders—from those just starting out to those running massive, international efforts. That’s why we created our “pay as you grow” pricing: the more value and use our customers get out of our software, the more they pay us. If we do our job well, our customers are more successful. As they grow, so do we.

  4. Our customers are not anonymous. While anyone can choose to post messages anonymously all over the internet, leadership requires visibility. The people and organizations using NationBuilder are speaking out, building communities, and leading movements. The premise of their work (unless safety requires a different strategy), is to be seen, to make it easier for people to find them, to join them, to support them. They are visible to both their supporters and their detractors, encouraging participation in the democratic process. Our customers are not anonymous—not to the public, and not to us. While we may not know every single one of the many thousands of leaders using NationBuilder personally, each is bound by our Terms of Service (ToS) and Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).

  5. We are nonpartisan, not neutral. We are and have always been a fiercely mission driven company. Our founders came from the nonprofit sector and set out to answer the question: how can we get the tools of leadership into the hands of millions of people? At the core of that question is the belief that solving the unprecedented challenges we’re facing as a connected humanity will occur only with the participation and leadership of millions of citizens around the world. Our answer was to create the technological infrastructure to make that possible at scale—to, in the words of our founder Jim Gilliam, democratize democracy. The tools of leadership and organizing are part of the core infrastructure that facilitates democracy; they are not owned by one country or one country’s political party. Thus, we’ve been nonpartisan since the beginning, and built the company on the core value of serving all communities. This means that we frequently vehemently disagree with people or organizations using our platform. The fact that they can and do use our platform despite this is a reflection not of neutrality, but of our full-throated commitment to the values of free and democratic societies.

  6. We are a global company. One of our first beta customers in 2011 used NationBuilder to run a historic campaign in the UK, which made it clear from day one that—ready or not—our software was going global. Since then, leaders in over 100 countries have used NationBuilder, further deepening our unwavering commitment to serving communities all around the world. In a changing regulatory environment, we’re proud to have led on both advanced privacy and consent, which are cornerstones of effective leadership in this era. We encourage all our customers—not just those impacted by the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—to build real, authentic, lasting relationships as the foundation of their campaigns, organizations and movements.

  7. The pace of organizing moves at the speed of real relationships. The pace of posting or viewing social media is dramatically different than the pace of organizing and leading people. One of our most important product principles is “put people at the center.” NationBuilder’s software is not about broadcasting, viewing, or consuming; it’s about organizing. Organizing is not about manipulation, it’s about consent. It’s not about tricking people, it’s about inspiring them. It’s not about bots, it’s about real people. Effective leadership—especially in this era—requires real connection and real community, and moves at the speed of real relationships. Leaders are out doing the hard work of having innumerable conversations, sharing their story, facilitating events, raising money, asking for volunteers, assigning tasks, aligning teams, and equipping supporters to recruit other supporters. Our software puts those interactions at the center, keeps track of them, helps leaders design custom pathways for each supporter based on those interactions, and makes it possible to do that at an unprecedented scale.

  8. Everything above has been true since our founding. Founder Jim Gilliam began working on the source code of what would become NationBuilder in October 2009 with the intention to give back to the connected humanity that had saved his life. In February 2010, Jesse Haff joined Jim in building the product, and Lea Endres began working with Jim on his book, The Internet Is My Religion. The three met together in person for the first time at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum in NYC where Jim shared his powerful story. In early 2012, the company received its series A funding, Jesse moved from New York to Los Angeles, and the founding team got to work building the company. Read about NationBuilder’s first 10 years in our retrospective here.