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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
IndustryTechnology software
FounderJim Gilliam
HeadquartersLos Angeles
Key people
Lea Endres (Co-founder & CEO)
Jesse Haff (Co-founder & VP of Design)

NationBuilder is a Los Angeles based technology start-up that develops content management and customer relationship management (CRM) software. Although the company initially targeted political campaigns and nonprofit organizations, it later expanded its marketing efforts to include other people and organizations trying to build an online following, such as artists, musicians and restaurants.[1] The software uses voter data such as names, addresses and other information, such as previous voting records in the case of political campaigns, to allow users to centralize, build and manage campaigns by integrating various communication tools like websites, newsletters, text messaging and social media channels under one platform.[2][3]

Among other features, the software enables users to quickly create websites, build databases through registrations, send targeted newsletters, analyse data from multiple sources and leverage micro-donations. The software's appeal towards political campaigns comes from the combination of a number of previously separate campaigning services, channels and data sources into a single platform that was presented as a facile solution for non-technical users and which enabled political campaigners to quickly deploy campaigns by convincing numerous people to donate.[4][5][6][2]


NationBuilder was founded in 2009 in Los Angeles by Jim Gilliam and launched in 2011. In 2012 Joe Green joined NationBuilder as co-founder and president. He left that role 11 months later in February 2013.[4][7][8]

Gilliam was previously a movie-maker who co-founded Brave New Films with Robert Greenwald and had sought funding for his films through crowd-sourcing.[2] Green, who studied organizing at Harvard and was Mark Zuckerberg's roommate, is also the co-founder of the Causes Facebook app; he left NationBuilder in 2013.[6][7]

Since its founding, the company has helped campaigns raise $1.2 billion. In 2012, NationBuilder announced that 1,000 subscribers have used its software to amass 2.5 million supporters and raise $12 million in campaign donations.[6] In 2015 it has helped raise $264 million, recruit over one million volunteers and coordinate some 129,000 events.[9]

By 2016, the company said its software was used by about 40 percent of all contested elections at the state and national level in the U.S., which included 3,000 political campaigns. Using such software is easier in the U.S. than Europe, where comprehensive data protection and privacy laws are in effect since 2018.[4][10]

Scottish National Party was the first political party to use NationBuilder, harvesting vast amounts of data pertaining to voter activity via websites such as Facebook and Twitter. This revelation prompted outrage over privacy concerns. Guy Herbert of the No2ID campaign called the use of such data harvesting tools by the SNP "utterly hypocritical".[11]


Investors in NationBuilder include Chris Hughes - the Facebook co-founder, Sean Parker - first president of Facebook and co-founder of Napster and Causes, Dan Senor - the former Republican foreign-policy adviser and Ben Horowitz, co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz. In 2012, it has raised $6.3 million in funding from a number of investors.[10][9]

Notable use cases[edit]

The software is reported to have played a role in some public elections in Europe, the US and New Zealand,[4][5][10] as well as non-profit initiatives,[12] and political parties in Australia.[13] Notable users include Bernie Sanders, Mitch McConnell, Andrew Yang, Theresa May, Amnesty International, the NAACP and Donald Trump.[14]


La République En Marche used NationBuilder to help in the 2017 National Assembly.[4][15][16]

New Zealand[edit]

NationBuilder's services are used by many New Zealand political parties,[17] including in the campaigns of both the National and Labour parties in the 2017 New Zealand general election.[18][19]

United Kingdom[edit]

Despite better data protection and privacy laws in the UK and EU, NationBuilder was used to significant impact in a number of UK elections, most notably in the 2016 campaign for withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.[4] The company later made a public announcement that both sides in the Brexit campaign have used its software.[15][16]

United States[edit]

NationBuilder was used in the Donald Trump presidential campaign to advance his election efforts and eventually win the 2016 presidential race.[9] Jill Stein of the Green Party,[20][21] Republican Rick Santorum,[22] and independent supporters of various candidates all used NationBuilder during their 2016 runs for president.[23]

During the 2018 US election cycle, political entities paid more than $1 million for the use of NationBuilder. Among the entities paying the most are Donald J. Trump for President, Prosperity Action and the Republican Party of Tennessee.[3]


  1. ^ "NationBuilder Review". PCMAG. Retrieved 2021-06-10.
  2. ^ a b c Pickard, Jim (2013-09-26). "Westminster's tech revolution". Financial Times. The Nikkei. Archived from the original on 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2019-07-31. Alt URL
  3. ^ a b Zhou, Marrian (2018-11-05). "Midterm elections: How politicians know exactly how you're going to vote". CNET. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2019-06-23. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  4. ^ a b c d e f O'Brien, Chris (2017-07-14). "How NationBuilder's platform steered Macron's En Marche, Trump, and Brexit campaigns to victory". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 2019-05-03. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  5. ^ a b Jones, Brad (2016-12-21). "Meet NationBuilder, the mercenary software that powered Trump and Brexit". Digital Trends. Designtechnica. Archived from the original on 2019-04-20. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  6. ^ a b c Scola, Nancy; Ball, Molly (2012-05-17). "The Community Organizing Geeks Who Could Revolutionize Campaign Tech". The Atlantic. Emerson Collective. Archived from the original on 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  7. ^ a b Shontell, Alyson (2013-02-07). "Mark Zuckerberg's Former Roommate Joe Green Has Left The Startup A Bunch Of Facebook Millionaires Invested In". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2018-07-06. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  8. ^ "Correcting myths about NationBuilder". NationBuilder. 3dna Corp. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c Chmielewski, Dawn (2016-02-10). "Donald Trump's Secret Weapon in Winning New Hampshire". Vox. Vox Media. Archived from the original on 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  10. ^ a b c Pereira, Eva (2012-06-01). "Now You Can Run For Office Thanks To New Softwared In". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  11. ^ Borland, Ben (2018-03-27). "'Utterly hypocritical' SNP have been harvesting voters social media data for SEVEN years". Daily Express. Reach plc. Archived from the original on 2019-04-20. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  12. ^ Konrad, Alex. "Andreessen Horowitz Is Blowing Up The Venture Capital Model (Again)". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  13. ^ SA Ombudsman Wayne Lines refers state Liberal Party's use of NationBuilder to Office of Public Integrity
  14. ^ Halpern, Sue (October 2019). "The Wild West of Online Political Operatives". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  15. ^ a b Thompson, Barney (2018-07-11). "Democracy disrupted? UK findings on data and politics". Financial Times. The Nikkei. Archived from the original on 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2019-07-31. Alt URL
  16. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Mike (2018-08-17). "Grassroots Movements Now Built With Digital Tools". Voice of America. U.S. Agency for Global Media. Archived from the original on 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  17. ^ Hurley, Sam (2022-07-22). "NZ First Foundation case: Accused pair not guilty of donations fraud after court grants permanent suppression". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2024-01-18.
  18. ^ 'Customer stories' on NationBuilder website
  19. ^ How NationBuilder Infrastructure Powered the National Party of New Zealand
  20. ^ Volpicelli, Gian M. "How a little-known startup became global politics' secret weapon". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2021-06-02.
  21. ^ Alexandra, Jaffe (25 November 2016). "Green Party's Jill Stein Raises Millions for Election Recount". NBC News.
  22. ^ "Restoring the American Dream With Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum". Hines Digital. Retrieved 2020-07-28.
  23. ^ Chmielewski, Dawn (2016-02-10). "Donald Trump's Secret Weapon in Winning New Hampshire". Vox. Retrieved 2021-06-02.

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