NationBuilder describes itself as “Software for Leaders.” Since its public release in 2011, it has become a dominant player in the political campaign and issue advocacy space. The primary reason NationBuilder has been so successful is that it provides an organization with virtually every tool needed to run a campaign. There are more than 30 pre-built page types. The platform allows you to take online donations, recruit volunteers, manage events, create walk and call lists, send blast emails and texts, manage your voter file, identify voters, organize your GOTV efforts and much more. It also enables your campaign to organize and utilize data using tags, filters, goals and paths.

    Why is this so important? The one finite quantity in every campaign is time. And while not necessarily finite, another element that is too often in short supply is money. Why risk wasting either? You don’t want to waste time calling or door-knocking voters who aren’t going to vote for you or, even worse, who have already told you they will. Imagine the cost of sending of voter persuasion mailer to 10,000 voters you have already identified as yes votes. Yes, big-data and voter modeling is becoming increasingly accessible to down ballot races but it’s money wasted if you don’t do small-data and voter data management well.

    NationBuilder is, in essence, a “campaign in a box”...and that’s very powerful because it means all of your data is located in one place. It can also be a problem because it’s a big box with a lot of stuff inside. In this series of articles, we will try to unpack that box. We’ll explain what we believe are the essential capabilities of NationBuilder and demonstrate how you can use them to give you an advantage over your opponent.

    Let’s get started.

  • Raise More Money Using Strategic Targeting

    There are countless articles and blog posts about effective email marketing. I know. I have read most of them. This post is specifically about getting better results (Raising more money) from your campaign's existing email list by using NationBuilder filters for Strategic Targeting.

    The essence of Strategic Targeting is delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. I recently posted an article Don't Just Collect an Email. Start a Relationship which talks about how to collect email addresses so that they can be used strategically to develop and deepen relationships. This article is a continuation of that theme.

    Most of us have seen political email fundraising done wrong. If you've ever donated to a political campaign you've probably gotten an email asking:

    • "Please donate by midnight tomorrow" when you donated yesterday at 8:30 AM;
    • "Can you Chip In $5?" when your last donation was for $500;
    • "Join my GOLD Leadership Team with a donation of $1000 or more" when the most you have ever donated to the campaign was $20 or my "favorite";
    • "Friend, Can you please support my campaign?" when I have already signed up to donate monthly.

    What is wrong with all those asks? They tell the recipient that either you don't know or don't care about them and how they have supported your campaign. Don't ask someone to do something they have already done. Don't insult someone who has made a major investment in your campaign. Don't ask someone to do something they probably can't do.

    So how do you avoid "doing it wrong" and actually do it right? Use the information in your NationBuilder database and filtering to deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.

  • 4 Reasons You Need To Look At NationBuilder

    Another election cycle is already upon us. Candidates are making decisions on digital matters that include websites, voter and volunteer data management systems and donation platforms. The savviest among them will be taking the time to determine how to best utilize and leverage the avalanche of data that is going to come cascading into their campaigns in the weeks and months ahead. For these initiatives, FourTier Strategies recommends NationBuilder.

    The key reason we recommend it to our clients is because NationBuilder best supports four premises that we believe are vital to the success of a campaign.

    1.    There is no field strategy, digital strategy and communications strategy. There is only strategy.

    2.    Information in a silo is almost always underutilized.

    3.    Most campaigns should avoid “big data” and focus on perfecting their use of “small data.”

    4.    Websites should be user-centric.


    There is really nothing a campaign wants to do offline that it doesn’t also want to do online (e.g. increase name recognition, identify voters, find volunteers and raise money). Tweets, Facebook posts, emails or text blasts, literature drops, direct mail pieces and press releases are all communications. A pledge to vote page, a phone call and a door-to-door canvass all fall into the voter identification bucket. Imagine how much more efficient and powerful all of these efforts will be if they are all coordinated and tracked from one place! That can all happen within NationBuilder.


  • 10 Questions to Ask About Your Digital Campaign

    Building a website and creating social media accounts is not a “Digital Campaign”. In fact, these efforts can be counterproductive if you don’t recognize that they are part of a much bigger initiative. Simply put, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms should be viewed as a means to an end. They are online tools designed to help you implement your overall campaign strategy. The questions you really have to ask include: “How do I turn a site visitor into a supporter, a tweet into a door knocker or a Facebook update into a phone caller? Most importantly for a political campaign “How do I leverage all of my online calls to action to win votes on election day?”

    It’s actually a bit misleading, and outdated, to refer to Digital Strategy as anyway separate from overall campaign strategy. Campaigns need to learn about and utilize available tools and digital teams need to work closely and cooperatively with the rest of the campaign team.

    Here are ten key questions to ask about your digital campaign strategy.


    1. Is your digital campaign delivering the right message to the right voter at the right time?

    2. Is it fun and easy for your existing supporters to recruit their friends to become volunteers, donors and campaign ambassadors? Are they recognized and rewarded for doing so?

    3. Is your campaign able to measure the level of engagement of your online supporters?

    4. Is your campaign able to match its email list to your online supporters?

    5. Is your campaign able to monitor what supporters are talking about online?

    6. Are you using your email list to inform and maximize your social media efforts?

    7. Does your campaign have an online “rapid response” team?

    8. Does your campaign A/B test its online presence and message?

    9. Can information collected from voter interactions be added to your voter database in real time?

    10. Has your campaign purchased consumer data and added it to your voter database for the purpose of improving your modeling and micro-targeting?