Scalable, Efficient Campaign Tools for Progressives
I spent four years at NationBuilder. Aside from its questionable corporate morality (the linked tweet by alt-right media figure Mike Cernovich — complaining that NationBuilder charged him for his subscription to its services — has since been deleted), NationBuilder has a very ideological take on campaign software. With NationBuilder, you do all of your main tasks inside one piece of subscription software: finance, digital, field. It’s even your website.
If you’re running your organization’s finance, digital, and offline outreach, it’s pretty nice to have all this at your fingertips. For a larger org, it’s likely to be less expensive than a bunch of different systems. (If you’re a large enough organization, NationBuilder’s hacking together features for you to do better than the average customer.)
However, NationBuilder’s biggest selling point is also its biggest flaw. Rarely are finance, digital, and field in the same department, let alone same role. And a full-fledged CRM is way too complicated for most organizations (few even like filling out their Salesforce in sales orgs). Volunteer-driven campaigns need simplicity and efficiency in everything they do.
Since leaving NationBuilder in early 2015 (I was managing partnerships with other tech companies who used our APIs), I’ve been freely considering alternative tech stacks for campaigns.
My firm’s first release was ActionSites.org, a WordPress + Action Network build to meet any early-stage campaign needs.
We recently put into production “Warp Drive,” a fundraising analysis tool for direct donor programs (AHG provides its services and proprietary technology only to progressive campaigns). Warp Drive ranks a campaign’s prospects to identify the ripest donors. It will soon leverage Accurate Append’s API to facilitate data appends such as landline and cell phone lookup.
Another tool we’re working on with campaign volunteers is Actify.Ninja, an SMS-based voter organizing tool based on postal routes instead of precincts. We believe that in addition to targeted voters, progressive campaigns should talk to everyone in their neighborhood, registering new voters and bringing the full community into the electoral process.
We are also analyzing a CallHub-Action Network stack for phone canvasses.
While with different campaigns we may leverage tools like PDI or VAN, we are strongly biased towards tools using the Open Supporter Data Interface (I’m a board member), and peer-to-peer digital organizing apps like Marriage Hero (volunteer and event attendance management) and VoterCircle (friend-to-friend email-based voter identification).
If you’re developing scalable, efficient tools and processes for progressive campaigns, I’d like to hear from you in the comments.