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NationBuilder is a Los Angeles based technology start-up that develops software for political campaigns. The software uses voter data such as names, addresses, and previous voting records to allow political actors to centralise, build and manage political campaigns by integrating various communication tools like websites, newsletters, text messaging and social media channels under one platform.[1][2][3]

The software's appeal comes from the combination 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. Among other features, the software enables political parties to quickly create websites, build databases through registrations, send targeted newsletters, analyse data from multiple sources and leverage micro-donations.[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 of 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. They both claim that NationBuilder is strictly nonpartisan.[6][7]

Since its founding, the company has helped campaigns raise $1.2 billion. In 2012 the NationBuilder announced than 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 it's 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, prompting astonishment among journalists, who did not expect to "see the voting intentions of millions of people hoarded in extraordinary detail."[11]


Investors in the 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 - Andreessen Horowitz co-founder. In 2012 and it has raised $6.3 million in funding from a number of investors.[10][9]

NationBuilder received more than $1 million in 2018, from political entities including "Donald J. Trump for President" organization and other notable parties in the US from the entire political spectrum.[3]

Notable use cases[edit]

The software is reported to have played a role in some prominent public elections in Europe, the US and New Zealand.[5][4][10]

Trump election in 2016[edit]

NationBuilder was used in the Donald Trump presidential campaign to advance his election efforts and eventually win the presidential race.[9]

Brexit referendum in 2016[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 groups in the Brexit campaign have used its software.[12][13]

Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 presidential campaign[edit]

Though Emmanuel Macron did not use the NationBuilder's software to win his presidential campaign in 2017, he eventually turned to the company to win a legislative majority in the National Assembly with his insurgent political party “La République En Marche!”, with positive results.[4][12][13]

New Zealand 2017 General Election[edit]

NationBuilder's services were also used in the campaigns of both the National and Labour parties in the 2017 New Zealand general election.[14][15]


  1. ^ Brown, Meta S. (2016-11-29). "Here's How To Get Started In Election Data Analytics". Forbes. Forbes Media LLC. Archived from the original on 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2019-07-31.
  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.
  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. Forbes Media, LLC. 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 (website). Vox Media. Archived from the original on 2019-04-20. 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. Forbes Media, LLC. 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. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ 'Customer stories' on NationBuilder website
  15. ^ How NationBuilder Infrastructure Powered the National Party of New Zealand

External links[edit]