In late 2014, the South Bay Association of Realtors launched a website dedicated to its advocacy and government affairs programs. As a public facing portal of information, the site located at advocacy.southbayaor.com was intended to be a landing place for all information related to SBAOR’s efforts at lobbying, advocacy and grassroots mobilization.
The site was hosted on NationBuilder, an outstanding and all-encompassing portal for websites serving nonprofits, political campaigns, and issues of all sorts. NationBuilder is a comprehensive universe containing things like list management, donation tracking, payment processing, and task delegation to a far-flung network of folks.
SBAOR fits the mold of “far-flung”, serving more than 4,000 real estate agents across ten cities in a region of a quarter million residents. While all of NationBuilder’s services are great, it nonetheless requires significant resources to manage all of the programs and realize its full potential.
Bringing it in-house, managing resources and preserving the brand
SBAOR’s leadership reallocated resources in the fall of 2016 launched www.southbayaor.info, a site built on WordPress that is fully responsive and includes heavy customizations, specialized page templates and external assets like jQuery tools and third party APIs.
Finally, the news/blog portion of the site, while featured prominently on the front page, is actually less important than the other content. SBAOR’s new government affairs site was designed to provide “evergreen” content to working Realtors who need something at a moment’s notice: local signage ordinance, tax information, meeting agendas.
These different parts of the site come together to fulfill SBAOR’s need to serve relevant information to its members, all while keeping the original branding and look-and-feel of SBAOR’s main site at www.southbayaor.com. With ‘.info’ is built on WordPress and ‘.com’ built on a different PHP solution, some brand inconsistencies are evident. Still, the new government affairs website fits SBAOR’s requirements while responding to changing needs in resource allocation and saving costs over time.
And what about NationBuilder?
NationBuilder is a strong system – an entire universe of services that many campaigns, including partisan political campaigns, are using extensively. I highly recommend it for the right project.
The folks at NationBuilder chose to provide their services to all comers, whether Republican/Democrat, liberal/conservative, or whatever. This is a controversial strategy. It causes leaders of deep-pocketed political parties and their hyper-partisans to look at NationBuilder with suspicion. However, it still seem to be a sound strategy, even with these risks that may impact their future cash flows and customer revenues.
Now, in the fallout of the post-November 2016 election, the political landscape may change in ways that would leave it unrecognizable. The liberal-conservative divide may give way to a rural-urban divide (not the same thing), or a haves-havenots divide (really not the same thing). My crystal ball got smashed along with everyone else’s, so where we go now is anyone’s guess. However, NationBuilder and similar services may attest that there are business opportunities out there, just waiting for someone to jump.