Can a database platform really blow your mind? We hope so!

Can a database platform really blow your mind? We hope so!

nb-logo-header.pngIt’s been an interesting few weeks for tech platforms: Etsy went public. Twitter is on a downward financial spiral. Many don’t think it will survive. Rumors abound that Salesforce is being eyed for a takeover. Given this news, it might seem like odd timing to write a blog post on our new tech platform, NationBuilder. I’ve been working with the platform since I’ve started with YNPN. It’s got some features that I’m super jazzed about. I think your chapters will be just as thrilled by the system as I am.

Sometimes, it’s really all in a name. What images come to mind when you see the word NationBuilder (2 words)?

Let your mind wander … Come back!

NationBuilder will allow YNPN to capitalize on its pre existing network infrastructure to build a “Nation”. NationBuilder will help YNPN ensure that our network is solid, sustainable, and future facing. In short, ensuring that we build a resilient and influential YNPN. A connected nation: both internally, and externally.

How can a tech platform build a “Nation”? Good question! NationBuilder was built as a community organizing tool. Any community, anywhere in the world, with minimal funding, can use the system to create or grow a network. Originally, the system zeroed in on the political arena. The platform’s creators set an ambitious agenda of leveling and changing access to the political arena. The hope was that any politician could use the platform to easily build an online presence. Through NationBuilder they could also accept donations, create a website, maintain a database and cultivate a network. All completed with minimal tech skills. And, most importantly, do it cheaply.  This led to an easy to use content management system (CMS) that has a powerful customer relationship management (CRM) backend. The combination of the two allows users to target donations, conduct surveys and promote activism, among many other things.

Finally, someone realized that these were the same things that the nonprofit sector needed. Now, 40% of NationBuilder’s clientele are nonprofit organizations.

A lot of NationBuilder’s capabilities are the things you have seen before, but spread around on different platforms. Now, everything is one place – membership, engagement, donations, communications, mapping tools, website and content management.

I’m going to quickly highlight some of the features that I think are super cool.

Membership: NationBuilder allows you to create multiple membership levels, track renewal periods, auto respond and automate renewals. With a little bit of elbow grease, your chapter can easily define relationships between members and/or organizations, and vice versa.  In addition, once someone’s profile is published on the system, you can easily track contacts with that profile. This tracking allows multiple users to monitor the relationship, and follow up as necessary. The system also has a pretty rad deduping function, helping to maintain a clean database.

Donations: Your chapter will be able to receive donations directly from your website.  The data will be added to your database and the system can send auto acknowledgements. Luckily, there are a few payment processors for your chapter to use! And, not to worry – the donation page on NationBuilder has an SSL certificate.  For accounting purposes, you can also add a “tracking code” to donations. Once you download the data with the tracking codes, it should easily integrate into your accounting software.

Event Registration:  Your chapter can create event registration, sign up volunteers, charge for the event, and even construct a conference site from your website. Just check out the forthcoming #ynpn15 site, which has been created using NationBuilder! (Also peep EPIP’s conference website).

Communications: NationBuilder has a functionality called the “Broadcaster.” The Broadcaster allows your chapter to centralize communications within your CMS. The functionality can specify target audiences, automate messages, create newsletters, post blogs, etc.

Social Media: According to me, social media integration is NationBuilder’s baller feature. You can easily sync up your organizational and personal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. After organizational accounts are linked, social media activity is integrated into your chapter’s NationBuilder dashboard. Your chapter’s Facebook and Twitter followers will be pulled into your database. The chapter can share events back and forth between your Facebook and NationBuilder accounts.

One other dope thing is the “social capital” feature. Your chapter can assign points to specific actions and track member engagement and activity through “social capital”. This can provide insights into your chapter’s most active members.

Profiles: NationBuilder will create a profile for each email address and/or social media account that gets imported or registered on the system. Not to worry: a user’s profile won’t immediately display on the front end and be searchable. The user has to “sign up/register” and create a “public” profile. The system also has an auto populate function once someone has a public profile and is logged on.

Data: I’ve been hearing from some chapters that just getting on a database is an exciting prospect. Other chapters are on a database, but don’t love it. Imagine how exciting it will be to have everything on an easily manipulated database. That day is here! And you know what else will happen? Through some shared tags, we will be able to have data from the entire network in one place. We will finally be able to tell the YNPN story, backed up by data.database-management-systems-219-300x212.jpg

Surveys: Do you survey your membership annually? Have you thought about doing so, but didn’t want to deal with another platform or data storage? Not to worry- NationBuilder has a built in survey functionality!

Website and Content Management: NationBuilder has some built in design themes that your chapter can use to style your website. In addition, we will have a theme developed for National that chapters are free to use. The out of the box tools that NationBuilder has available should make your content creation and management easy peasy. There are a bunch of different types of pages at your disposal, including blogs!

The other awesome thing is: we are constantly finding out new things that the system can do. The above are just a sampling of functionalities that you chapter can play with once on the system.

Do you think these features sound awesome and want to experience them yourself? Feel free to email me at elana@ynpn.org to get access to our NationBuilder sandbox. Most importantly, pay attention to information about the Chapter Operating System (COS). NationBuilder is the lynchpin of the COS, and we will be announcing plans for general onboarding onto the COS soon. And: GET EXCITED for NationBuilder!

Onward,

Elana