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Social media strategies for non-profits

Submitted by Emerson on March 21, 2016 - 5:09pm

This morning I got the opportunity to learn about different ways of boosting a non-profit's visibility through social media from Laura Tierney and Gail Marie of the McKinney Ad Agency. As it becomes increasingly necessary to have an online presence, knowing what to share and how to share it can be the difference between successful and unsuccessful engagement. There are several great strategies for engaging the public with your non-profit via social media. These strategies are broken down into two categories: input and output.

Your Campaign's Tumblr Page

Submitted by Kady on August 13, 2015 - 10:41am

A Tumblr blog is fairly simple to use, which means you may be able to add a few functions to it to help it serve as a simple campaign page.

Getting Started

If you already have a tumblr account (with an appropriate email address) that you will use for this campaign, skip this step.

You need an email address to create a tumblr. Get an email address appropriate for your campaign. Visit and fill in the email address, a password, a username, and click Sign Up.

A good Domain Name

You probably do not want to call your campaign tumblr "" -- the .tumblr. in the middle is extra typing to no purpose. If you already own an appropriate domain name then skip to the next step to associate it with this tumblr -- but if not, buy one from an appropriate hosting service ( e.g. )

Below, we will call this hosting service your 'registrar' since it is where you have registered your domain name.

Using Git with Pantheon

Submitted by Kady on July 30, 2015 - 11:35am

Set up a Pantheon Account

First, make sure you have your own Pantheon Account.

If you don't, go get Pantheon and follow the instructions.

Once you do, make sure you're set up as a team member on a site.

Install Git

Install Git on your computer. Don't worry about setting up a repository just yet. Just make sure you have Git installed on your computer.

Set up your SSH Key

  1. Open Git GUI.
  2. Click on Help > Show SSH Key.
  3. Click "Copy To Clipboard".
  4. Go to your Pantheon dashboard and click on "Account".

Choosing the Right CRM

Submitted by Kady on July 28, 2015 - 11:13am

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.



An open-source CRM powered by Drupal, Civi can be customized to do nearly anything for your organization. Civi is powerful, but requires significant Drupal developer knowledge to get off the ground, and is not the easiest system for someone without tech skills to pick-up quickly.


Plenty of basic features bring both CRM and CMS together in one relationship. Although NationBuilder gives add-on access to the voter file, this file is lacking in comparison to the VAN file. NationBuilder has plenty of room for customization on the CMS side, but offers a standard menu of CRM options like: queries, supporter tagging, mass email messaging, etc.


Extremely straight-forward and easy to use, almost anyone willing to spend a little time learning can become a master of the ActionNetwork CRM. Integrates forms into any CMS using iframes and HTML embeds, which can be an up or a downside at times. Offers very basic options, with little room for custom solutions, or powerful engagement.

Choosing the Right CMS

Submitted by Kady on July 21, 2015 - 12:52pm

Have you ever spent what feels like an eternity researching the correct tools for your organization, and just ended up feeling like it was just a big blur? Let us help you sort things out.



Drupal is an open-source CMS that can be customized to do nearly anything. It is powerful and modular (you can find a Drupal Module for almost anything), but does require significant developer knowledge to get started. It has a relatively steep learning curve compared to the other CMSes detailed here. However, it is a very common CMS with a large and helpful community support system.


Wordpress is a very common CMS that, like Drupal, has many plugins to customize the site and a large support community. It's more user-friendly, but less customizable and powerful. Wordpress works best for blog-centered sites.

Raleigh chapter hosts littleBits event

Submitted by Kady on July 14, 2015 - 2:03pm

Saturday, July 11, marked the beginning of a brand new adventure for the Raleigh-Durham area. The first ever meeting of Raleigh littleBits chapter took place. People of all ages and disciplines explored the world of electronics in an open and open-source environment. The Triangle area, which has been referred to as the Silicon Valley of the East by Newsweek, is the perfect fit for a a littleBits chapter, where tech enthusiasts can gather and create.

The theme of this first event was part of a national littleBits campaign called the BitOlympics. The goal of this challenge is to create or modify an existing Olympic sport using the automation that littleBits provide. The session resulted in a wonderful degree of brainstorming. From the creation of a littleBit operated mini-skier (you can see his trial runs in this video ), to a littleBits powered ski lift cleverly designed by a chapter member in the third grade!

Includes: The Building Blocks of Code

Submitted by Kady on June 30, 2015 - 12:37pm

NationBuilder's webfiles are organized into various levels of .html files, each pulling in different pieces of the site at increasingly more granular levels.

The meta-level file is called "layout.html". This is the file that pulls in the Doctype information, and includes the head of the site, as well as the opening and closing body tags, and is used by nearly every forward-facing page template.

Within the layout.html file, other pieces of the site are pulled in from separate .html files via liquid "include statements". These statements appear as such in the code: {% include "filename" %}, where the "filename" is an html file saved elsewhere on the site. This system keeps the meta-level code neat and well organized.

NationBuilder has its own standard set of "Includes" which it uses in its default templates. You can access and modify those files by going to the "Theme" tab under "Pages". At the bottom of the default templates page is a list called, "Includes". One example of this is the code for the top navigation, which is called in via an include called "nav". Find that include statement in the layout.html file: {% include "nav"%}.

Breadcrumbs: Not for the birds.

Submitted by Kady on June 23, 2015 - 9:44am

In the vast world of the internet, it's easy to lose your way. One way to help your users stay grounded is to use breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumbs are a method of navigation that shows a user where they are on your site.

In NationBuilder, the breadcrumbs.html file controls the navigation within the site pages. It typically follows this format: page / subpage / sub-subpage. With the Buildy breadcrumbs.html, all of those page links are clickable - making site back-navigation more simple and intuitive.

Having site breadcrumbs is a good design practice, and is helpful for SEO.

Most of the popular platforms for website development have methods for implementing breadcrumbs. Resource links follow. Make sure you scroll past them to see a code snippet of our implementation of breadcrumbs in NationBuilder.

The Importance of CRMs

Submitted by Kady on June 18, 2015 - 11:11am

CRMs, or Customer Relationship Management platforms, are key elements of most organizations. A good CRM will help your organization to easily keep track of how supporters interact with you. You can track things like donations, in-kind donations, event attendance, volunteers, and other people who may interact with your organization, like direct clients.

Having a dedicated CRM will help your organization keep track of, segment, and target all of its contacts from one central location. This is a very important feature for any growing organization, as it allows you to target specific requests to specific groups of people relatively easily. It helps you find allies and supporters who may have inadvertently slipped between the cracks, and it facilitates mass communication via emailing. Having all of that information in one database, instead of spread across several, will cut down on duplicate data, duplication of effort, and general confusion, while improving organization and ease of access to data.