Table of Contents:

  1. What is NationBuilder?
  2. Segmenting your database
  3. Manage your relationships
  4. Begin phone banking and canvassing
  5. Sending mass communications
  6. Fundraising on NationBuilder
  7. Use your website to move people to action
  8. Customize your needs with our apps and integrations
  9. Additional resources

What is NationBuilder?

NationBuilder is a community engagement platform that powers thousands of the world's most high-stakes movements and campaigns. Our software is designed for any individual or organization that needs to lead, engage, and mobilize a community of supporters at scale.

We understand that your supporter community is the lifeblood of your mission. Without an active, committed community in your corner, advancing your cause would be impossible. NationBuilder helps you build meaningful, sustainable relationships with your supporter base to grow your effective reach, move people to action, and create more leaders.

On NationBuilder you can:

  • Inform every decision with integrated, real-time data by creating lists, filters, and tags in a database that dynamically updates with every supporter interaction
  • Build your site in minutes with readymade themes & templates to inspire, capture, and seamlessly track actions across your site while prompting deeper community engagement
  • Send the right message with advanced communication tools and personalize email, text, and field outreach to supporters based on their interests and history with you
  • Raise more with fundraising pages & payment processing and seamlessly collect and process one-time and recurring donations to maximize contributions and streamline work

To learn more, you can read more about the list of features here. And, be sure to get an overview of the control panel by watching the video below:

Segmenting your database

Organizing and sorting your data is extremely important, as you want to make sure that your community is accessible and easy to contact. This allows you to target the right people at the right times for the right things.

There are many ways in which you can organize all the people in your NationBuilder database using filters, lists, and tags. You can use all of these organization methods together in an integrated way to get the most out of your database.

Filters are dynamic groupings of people who match certain criteria. You can create filters to target people in your database by specific criteria. When you filter people, you can save the filter for future use, export the results, or add people to a list. A saved filter is dynamically populated with the people who match your criteria in real-time.

Tags are like virtual sticky notes that you can attach to a person’s profile to highlight certain criteria or characteristics. Tags are key to organizing your community and ensuring that you are targeting the right people. Plus, they're used to find people who have characteristics in common, so you can generate lists and filters, and group people according to your needs. For more tagging tips, check this out.

Lists, which are created in the People tab, are static groups of people who match certain criteria based on the database at the time the list is created, and will not change over time. Lists can be populated by a single filter, or manually and are used to send blast emails, batch update information, print walk sheets, view the information in call view, or in data entry view. While lists are key to segmenting your community so that you can communicate with them effectively, filters and tags should be the primary sorting mechanisms in your nation, due to the static nature of lists.

Manage your relationships

Communities are created through relationships, which is why we made it possible for you to track & manage relationships within your nation, primarily through paths and logging contacts.

Paths can serve as a map of where a relationship currently stands and operates as a step-by-step workflow to complete a chain of actions. Paths define reasons for engaging supporters and creating alignment and accountability within an organization. Paths appear in the People section of the control panel.

By default, your nation has some paths already set up in your nation that you can use or edit how you see fit. Then, you can assign paths or steps to a specific point person, add due dates, enable path values, and more to help keep your team aligned.

Logging all contacts in your nation creates transparency and provides a historical record of the interactions between your team members and the people in your database to help you build relationships and sustain communities. There are four key components to logging a contact: method, path, notes, and status. These elements describe how you contacted someone, why they were contacted, and the result of the interaction. Contacts can be logged in single-person view, data entry view, call view, or when importing scannable sheets.

Phone banking and canvassing

Field organizing has been traditionally done through door knocking and phone banking with the ultimate goal to contact voters, identify those who support your campaign, and get them to cast their ballot for your candidate or referendum on election day. You can run your entire field program right on NationBuilder by generating lists for volunteers to phone bank and walk sheets for your canvassers.

Phone banking

Setting up a phone bank run by volunteers and staffers can be a vital tool for getting your community to take action.

Phone bankers can call people straight from the control panel by going to People > Lists > and click edit next to the list they want to open. Open call view at [number] people > Call view.

As phone bankers make calls, they can enter the data directly into each person’s profile. After each call, the callee will automatically be removed from the list and the volunteer will be taken to the next person on their list.

If your phone bankers don’t have access to a computer, you can print a call sheet from any list. They can record call information directly on paper. Once the phone bank is over, a control panel user with access to the list can enter the data using data entry mode.

Then, the fields entered will automatically update the contacted profile with the new information which you can then filter for in the future.

Canvassing

Map view helps with planning in-person activities. Using the turf cutter in map view, you can quickly save people from a map to a list which can then be used to print walk sheets for your canvassers.

To view people in your nation on a map, go to the People section and click on the map button. When you view people on a map, everyone with an exact address in their profiles is shown. There are two ways people are displayed on the map: in clusters (groups) and as points (individuals).

Turf cutting is the process of defining customized boundaries on a map and the more you zoom in on the map, the more you'll be able to get specific with your turf selections. Then, once you cut turf, you can select the people within the turf and save them to a list.

Once the turf has been cut, you will be able to save it to a list and access it by going to People > Lists > select the edit button next to the list you'd like to create a walk sheet for. You can create a cover sheet, walk script, or other introductory information for the sheets by going to the Settings tab within your list and enter this information in the "List Description" field.

Sending mass communications

Sending mass communications is a powerful engagement tactic that allows you to quickly and effectively message your subscribers with calls to action. In NationBuilder, you can do these primarily via two mediums, email blasts or text blasts.

Email blasts

In NationBuilder, there are three simple steps to creating and sending email blasts. First is to find your target audience, then create your email blast and add your content, then follow-up appropriately.

To personalize the content in your email blasts you can use smart fields that use data from your NationBuilder database to dynamically populate text in your email content.

We know how important it is to send emails and not just any emails, but really good ones. If you’re in charge of sending emails, you may face the need to increase your open rate, click-through rate, and/or conversion rate. NationBuilder allows you to really dig into data and send targeted emails to people in your nation. Here are more tips and tricks to level up your email game:

How to optimize email deliverability
Understanding email consent
How to maintain a healthy email list

And, if you need to send one-to-one emails to someone in your database you can do so by going to the Dashboard of the person's profile and click Email. This option will only appear if an email address is associated with the person's profile. Once you click the email button, you will see a text-based email editor.

Text blasts

People are with their mobile phones 24/7. On NationBuilder, you can use bulk text blasts to get your message opened faster, and text keywords to sign people up easier.

To use text messaging, you will have to set up a phone number in your nation. Determine how many text messages to send and receive per month by clicking on your profile icon > Contacts and billing > Plan.

📌 Note: SMS text features are available to customers in the U.S. and Canada. Depending on your plan type, 350 texts/month are included free, and more can be purchased.

Use text blasts to send nation updates to your supporters. Or, use them to coordinate small groups of people. Simply add your content and choose recipients to send a text blast.

Then, you can attach keywords that allow your supporters to take action from their cell phones. Action pages in NationBuilder let you set up text message keywords that users can text to take the action linked to the page.

When a supporter texts a keyword to a broadcaster, some automated messages will be sent out to gather profile information. Then, the broadcaster will send the autoresponse indicated when the keywords were created. Once the profile is complete, a supporter will only receive the autoresponse.

Fundraising on NationBuilder

You can keep track of all pledges and donations, online or offline, received by your organization using your NationBuilder database. Plus, by using NationBuilder's database to track information from your donors you can easily keep up with their involvement, the avenue through which they might have found your organization (e.g. through a friend, family, etc.), and their specific interests. With all this information in one place, it’ll make it that much easier for you to reach out for their help and ask them to become your first donors.

Pledges are promises received from supporters to donate money in the future. Verbal pledges can be recorded in your control panel. You can view a list of all current pledges in your nation from Finances > Pledges > Listing. From here you can add a new pledge by clicking + New pledge. You can also gather pledges via a moneybomb page.

To add a donation for a new donor, visit Finances, and click the New donation button. When you are adding a donation for a new donor, you can create both a new donation AND a new profile through the Finances section of your control panel. Once you save the new donation, you will find the new donor profile in the People section.


When you are adding a donation for an existing donor, you need to start in the People section of your control panel since you want to connect the donation to a person that already exists in your database. All you need to do is search for the person in the People section > go to Finances > New donation and insert the donation information.

All donations will be recorded in the Finances section of the control panel and in the donor's profile. Note: Both of these methods are for logging offline donations.

If you want to track online donations, you'll need to first make sure you have a payment processor set up in your nation and then attach that payment processor to your Donation (v2) page.

And, like offline donations, if a donation is submitted through your front-facing website and the donor already has an existing profile in your database, the profile will be updated to reflect the new donation. If a new donor makes a donation through your front-facing website, it will create both a new donation and a new profile for them in your People database. All credit card donations must be processed through the front-facing website.

In addition to one-time donations, on NationBuilder's donation page you can process monthly or annual recurring donations through your website. To view your recurring donations, you can go to Finances > More > Recurring plans. Then, you can filter for if a recurring donation is active, completed, or canceled.

Use your website to move people to action

On NationBuilder there are several page types that you can choose from. When any supporter takes an action on your website it will create a new profile for them in your People database, or if they already have a profile in your People database, it will update that record to show the completed action.

And, all action pages, where your visitor is asked to take an action like sign a petition, make a donation, or RSVP to an event, has settings that can be activated when a visitor takes an action on your site.

These automated settings include tools that will tag people, assign a point person, add people to paths, etc., which can make you and your team's lives easier. Setting them up will allow you to search more efficiently for people, quickly view information about them, and communicate to them in a more meaningful way. Here are more resources for creating and editing web pages to fit your organization's needs:

Edit content on your pages

Include images/videos on your pages

Configure featured content sliders
Sharing your site on social media
How to create a website theme with NationBuilder

Customize your needs with our apps and integrations

Check out our apps and integrations to further your use of NationBuilder. There's everything from canvassing apps, phone banking tools, and more!

And, we also have pre-built themes and NationBuilder professionals standing by to help you with designing your website.

Additional Resources

If you're looking for some more strategies and guides on how to advance your organizing efforts:

Customer stories

How to Run For Office Webinar

How to run an effective GOTV strategy on NationBuilder

Social distance canvassing

Four steps to transforming your volunteer program

How to organize a successful petition campaign

Our Support team is here to help! Our phone support hours are Monday through Friday 6 am to 6 pm PST and they can be reached at help@nationbuilder.com or by phone on:

Los Angeles: 1-213-394-4623 New York: 1-646-350-1508 Vancouver: 1-604-256-8419 London: +44 20-3807-0849 Sydney: +61 2-8188-3760


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