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How to set up network headquarters
How to set up network headquarters

Network HQ is a unique nation, both in terms of the functionality available and its role within a network.

Updated over a week ago

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Table of Contents

  • Implementation

  • Define supporter universe

  • Website infrastructure

  • Communication infrastructure

  • Complete headquarters setup

  • Build out your network

The hub of a NationBuilder Network is the headquarters nation. A nation is a separate and self-contained database. Network HQ is a unique nation, both in terms of the functionality available and its role within a network.

Typically, HQ will be set up as part of an implementation package. A member of the NationBuilder Services Team will help guide you through the workflow and data decisions that need to be made to create an effective network infrastructure. Alternatively, you can complete the process using in-house resources.

The Network documentation is set up to walk you through the process of creating HQ and then creating networked nations.


If you have not yet read the set up your network HOWTO, it gives an overview of this unique product. The implementation decision roadmap is a series of questions that should be answered prior to implementation.

The rest of the implementation work occurs within your HQ nation control panel. Only people who explicitly receive access can see this secure area. Six sections of the control panel are included in every nation: Dashboard, People, Website, Communication, Finances, and Settings. The Nations section is unique and only exists in HQ nations. This section is displayed after a networked nation is created.

At the heart of every organization, people work together to achieve common goals. The overview of the People section explains how to keep track of these relationships.

The next step depends on how your network operates. Does headquarters only exist to provide resources to chapters and collect information from them? Or are there unique activities supporters can take on behalf of the organization as a whole? Whatever work is done by HQ, you'll want to define paths and goals for the HQ nation and then begin to think about creating paths and goals for networked nations.

Paths are step-by-step workflows that explain how engaging individuals supports your larger goals. Every interaction is connected to a particular path on a person's profile and stored in the People section. Default paths are available to provide a framework for common tasks completed in a nation.

An organization's mission should be broken down into measurable goals, which can be tracked in your nation. The Dashboard section displays your progress toward completing your goals. 

Goals can measure community engagement through the nujmber of logged contacts, supporters, donors, donations, customers, members, petition signatures, or volunteers. Goals can also measure workflows, including the number of paths started or completed, and the total value of completed paths.

One of the unique features only available in the HQ nation is the ability to create custom field architecture for the entire network. This means that every possible custom field used across the network will be created in the HQ nation. Once the field architecture is shared, then the data within those custom fields can be synced using tag sharing. Custom field data sharing is only available within a network.

Define supporter universe

All of the contact information HQ already has should be imported to the HQ nation. There are two powerful ways to segment this universe: tags and filters. Tags describe attributes shared across multiple people within a nation. Larger organizations find creating a tag library to be extremely useful -- creating a hierarchy and naming convention for these important profile attributes. Since data is shared across the network using tags, having a standard format for creating tags is particularly helpful.

Filters allow you to gather profiles based on data in real-time. Smart tags can be added to profiles when they match filter criteria -- these are the only tags that are automatically removed from a profile. 

Website infrastructure

There are two levels to website infrastructure: creating a digital home for HQ and providing branded resources for the network. 

The HQ website can be built out using a stock theme. You can build a custom theme, or hire a NationBuilder Architect to create one for you. Next, add your custom domain.

A unique SSL certificate can be added for your custom domain. Contact your Community Strategist or [email protected] for details.

You have a lot of flexibility in creating website resources for your network. Often, it is easiest for networked nations to start from a standard website and theme. You can create a site template in your HQ nation and share it with networked nations. Sharing a site shares all of the pages within the site, including copy and images.

Additionally, you can share a theme. The theme ensures consistent branding across all sites in your network -- a theme can include a logo, brand colors, and a unique design for all sites built on the theme.

Communication infrastructure

Within a nation, outward communication is organized around broadcasters. Broadcasters are the public voice of an organization and are accessed in the Communication section. Each broadcaster can have an email address, Twitter account, and public Facebook page.

Nations in Canada and the united States can also attach a virtual phone number to a broadcaster. This number can send text message blasts, receive text keyword responses, and receive voicemail. 

Broadcasters can send mass email to supporters or prospects of the nation. Email service providers have created limitations on email blasts (also known as email marketing). For this reason, it is important to use a custom domain email address with all broadcasters. Connect the custom domain to the nation before attaching the email to your broadcaster.

It is also possible for broadcasters to receive email. This allows bulk email recipients the opportunity to reply to email and initiate a one-to-one dialog with your organization. When broadcasters receive email, control panel users can also initiate one-to-one email correspondence from the control panel.

Like websites, there are two aspects to an email blast: the content of the email and the email theme. HQ can create custom email themes and share those themes with networked nations, ensuring the outbound communication across the network maintains brand cohesion.

Complete headquarters setup

A nation can have an unlimited number of control panel users. The number of control panel users will never affect the cost of using NationBuilder. Think through the types of people who will need access and what areas of the control panel they will need access. It is important to limit the number of people with admin access, as there are no restrictions on that permission level. Five custom permission sets can be created in addition to the admin level. We recommend limiting access to the Settings section, since decisions made there are universally applied. Also, the Settings section is designed to include information that needs to be completed once. You can also limit access to any other section of the control panel.

Once permission sets are created, you'll want to invite people to become control panel users, so headquarters can get up and running. You can simplify this process by implementing single sign-on (SSO).

Your tag library should include tags associated with the types of email you plan to send. Create a signup page for people to manage their email subscriptions. It is a best practice to add a link in all custom email templates to this signup page for email subscription management. This provides a second option in addition to the unsubscribe link automatically included in all email templates. Next, add your email subscription tags as options to the unsubscribe page, ensuring supporters can opt-out of some email without unsubscribing from all email.

Connecting a payment processor allows your nation to accept donations, invoice payments, and ticket purchases on your website. It also allows you to process donations and other payments through the control panel. Each nation in your network should have a separate payment processor account.

If applicable, you'll want to set up membership in your headquarters. While these membership types will not automatically appear in networked nations, the Services Team can propagate them as part of your implementation package. 

Build out your network

Congratulations! Setting up network headquarters is complete. Now you're ready to build out your network. The set up networked nations HOWTO will walk you through the process of building networked nations.

HQ can share people with networked nations, allowing each networked nation to outreach to people in their area, using tag sharing. Similarly, data can be shared from a networked nation to HQ and other networked nations. 

You can decide to automatically import control panel users and/or supporters from all networked nations. After at least one networked nation is created, the Nations section will appear in the HQ nations. In Nations > Settings there is a checkbox to import control panel users, along with the option to add a tag to these imported people. These automatic imports can create duplicate profiles in HQ. Alternatively, you can set up tag shares in each networked nation to apply a unique tag to its control panel users and supporters within HQ. 

After setting up headquarters and networked nations, you can export data to measure network reach. Exporting network data on a weekly or monthly basis will provide details on network activity over time.

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