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NationBuilder -- the One-Stop Shop for Online Campaigning NationBuilder -- the One-Stop Shop for Online Campaigning

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NationBuilder -- the One-Stop Shop for Online Campaigning

April 19, 2012
It may not be known as the oldest profession in the world, but community organizing has a long history.

"Moses was a community organizer," said Jim Gilliam, the founder and CEO of NationBuilder, an online community organizing system for advocacy campaigns and political candidates.

Launched in April 2011 and based in Los Angeles, NationBuilder centralizes all the high-tech tools campaigns use in one place. The company provides website development, social media tracking, fundraising and voter data. It also follows campaign activity on a real-time newsfeed.

The price tag starts at $24 a month and scales up depending on the size of the campaign. A congressional campaign might cost $250 to $300 a month.

"It's like a gym membership," Joe Green, a co-founder and president, said, referring to the cost for a small campaign.

While the price allows NationBuilder to appeal to the entire market, it has the most potential to boost local campaigns when an election can turn on a few hundred votes, Gilliam and Green told the Alley over coffee on Capitol Hill. The rapidly-growing company, which had six employees at the end of last year and will have 22 as of next week, has attracted over $6 million in investments and has 580 paying customers from across the political spectrum.

Gilliam, who has a tech industry background, spent a year and a half building the software, a project he provided the seed funding for. He saw the power of online organization when it helped him market films he made as a co-founder of Brave New Films and when an email drive and personal blog helped him find a doctor who would perform a double lung transplant on him.

Green, a Harvard graduate, had more political experience. He won a seat on the local school board while a high school student in Santa Monica and was a political organizer on campaigns. He also helped launch the Facebook app Causes.

As part of their trip to Washington, they have been interviewing candidates to establish a business development office here. 

And a note to political consultants out there, NationBuilder considers you the customer, not the competition. The company does software not consulting - they can tell you, for example, how to upload a video, but not which one to choose, Green said. Their underlying goal is to fully tap into the Internet's political potential.

"Fundamentally, this is about changing the political process," Gilliam said.

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