What is NationBuilder? How the Software Works and Who Can Use It

While many people have heard of the popular platform, they often are confused by what exactly NationBuilder is and how they can use it. Is it just a website builder? Is it only for politicians? In this blog, we’ll answer common questions about NationBuilder and explain what it is and why your organization can benefit from using it.

What is NationBuilder?

NationBuilder is a full website platform designed for candidates, nonprofits, corporations movements and activists to engage and mobilize their base and users. Originally started in 2012 by Jim Gilliam, it’s evolved to become a popular CMS and CRM, allowing users to create not only websites but gather key data and store user records for effective marketing and data collection.

While the software has roots in the political space with campaigns and politicians, it’s grown to become a platform that corporations, non-profits and community leaders actively use. Because of its CRM capability, organizations find it helpful to capture and store customer records and follower data for easy access.

How Does NationBuilder Work?

One of the common misconceptions about NationBuilder is that it’s similar to CMSs like WordPress or Squarespace. In fact, NationBuilder is much more than just a website builder; it’s a robust platform that contains functionality like donations, client management and payment processing not found natively in other CMSs. It also includes features found in other CMSs like blogging, page editing, a WYSIWYG editor and forms.

How is NationBuilder Different From WordPress?

WordPress is often the CMS that developers, marketers and campaigns managers are most familiar with. But while WordPress is primarily a blogging software, NationBuilder is not. It’s also not open source, which means users who want to fully customize NationBuilder (including the backend) will need to be aware of some limitations.

If you intend to use NationBuilder like WordPress, there are several things to know. First, the programming language is completely different. While WordPress is built using PHP, NationBuilder is not; it also uses the Liquid HTML templating language to control content and design functionality which is different (And we’d argue, better.) than PHP.

One of the main benefits of using NationBuilder is that because it’s a platform, it comes with built-in functionality that WordPress does not. Features like event registration, email automation, CRM and database storage, fundraising technology and data analysis are all included with NationBuilder. These functionalities would have to be added to any WordPress website through custom programming or plugins, making NationBuilder a more effective and scalable choice.

WordPress also has many themes that allow users to get up and running quickly with a website. NationBuilder has several free themes available, but design and customization is very limited. To build a custom NationBuilder theme most organizations hire a Certified NationBuilder Architect like ASUN Digital who understands the software and how to maximize it for your organization. While a good developer would likely be able to figure NationBuilder out, certified architects build custom themes quick and correct and ensure your organization takes full advantage of the many features of NationBuilder.

How Much Does NationBuilder Cost?

The cost of NationBuilder depends largely on the numbers of users in your database. While a local campaign or smaller non-profit could fit in the lower $29/month plan, statewide or national campaigns and larger organizations will need a custom quote from NationBuilder that can exceed $500+/month.

The price to develop a NationBuilder website is generally higher than a WordPress website. WordPress’s popularity means there are many companies and developers who build websites with the CMS. Building a custom NationBuilder theme requires a company with experience in the platform and knowledge of its programming language. This specialized skillset means NationBuilder websites have a higher initial cost, but the tools included in NationBuilder will last your organization for many years and ultimately save you time and many because you can move away from many tools and just use NationBuilder.

Although NationBuilder is more involved on the programming side, users can be assured they will be able to easily use and interact with the website and CRM. Logging into NationBuilder and managing users, sending emails, editing page content and adding blog is simple and straightforward.

If your organization or campaign is looking for a NationBuilder website, ASUN Digital offer our clients affordable custom themes and integrations. We not only build the website but we guide our clients through the entire set up and management as well as offer support if you need additional edits or customizations.

And as a Certified NationBuilder Architect you can trust our team to build the website with expertise to help you influence and grow your movement.

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