NationBuilder is one of the fastest growing businesses in the US when it comes to poli-tech and community organizing. We were fortunate to get a chance to speak to the VP of Organizing at NationBuilder Emily Schwartz about all things non-profit, the importance of relationships and the continuing growth at the company.
Can you give me a brief overview of your role at NationBuilder?
Emily: I am the Vice President of Organizing at NationBuilder. I am responsible for expanding the breadth and depth of the NationBuilder community through launching new products, events, and communications.
From a non-profit organizing point of view, where do you see the big stories coming from in 2016?
Emily: I think we are seeing nonprofits turn back to an organizing model. If you look at traditional marketing, it is about the breadth of communication - how many eyeballs can you get on a particular message. Organizing is about building relationships. Nonprofits thrive when they build relationships with their donors and supporters and make specific, timely asks of them. I hope the trend will be less mass communication and more relationship building in 2016.
How is NationBuilder responding to the changing needs of non-profits and helping them to achieve their goals?
Emily: NationBuilder is an inherently people-centric software. This is most obvious in the single profile view for an individual - donor history, email history, call history, social media, etc. We are making the organizing model of relationship building easier and more obvious in the product with the introduction of new features like paths and goals. In addition, we have created more educational materials like our course in how to digital fundraise: http://nationbuilder.com/course_fundraising
So you have worked in Europe in previous roles and continue to work with international clients. What have you been able to bring back to the US with this international perspective?
Emily: European political parties are much stronger institutions than U.S. ones. As such, they provide a lot more direct support to their candidates in terms of tech, messaging and data. I am particularly impressed with the UK Labour party and the Liberal Democrats who provided a uniform look and feel to their local candidates and regional offices through NationBuilder websites this last election. Their ability to set overarching goals and cohesion at the national level while not dictating their everyday activities is something that any distributed organization can learn from.
You have been with NationBuilder from virtually the beginning. How do you think the company has evolved during this time and what sets it apart from others attempting to provide a similar service?
Emily: The company has evolved a ton even just the obvious like there are about 100 more people! From the get go it has been a mission-driven company, set on providing technology to all leaders regardless of political affiliation or belief. It hasn't always been easy but staying true to that vision is pretty amazing in my opinion and I think sets us apart.
Listening to our current users, we are aware that there can be an internal struggle of team management when it comes to organizing quickly. To get people out on doors, the back and forth over Whatsapp, Messenger, and (insert other apps here) can be endless. We aim to streamline this process for you with Ecanvasser. Now organizers can commit via the Walk app (their canvassing app!) and get notified in the run-up to the event so that they don’t forget. By building it into the door knocking process life has gotten a lot easier for campaign managers.