Measuring Supporter Engagement Using Political Capital in NationBuilder

Measuring Supporter Engagement Using Political Capital in NationBuilder

In NationBuilder, ‘Political Capital’ (PC) refers to the awarding of points to supporters for completing various actions within your Nation. A supporter might receive 4PC for sharing a post on Facebook, for example, or 12PC for agreeing to volunteer. [NOTE: In the non-profit edition this is called ‘Social Capital’ and in all editions it can be renamed].

The most common usage of PC is for front-end gamification of a Nation, where the focus is on rewarding supporters for taking more actions and creating competition among these users for rewards. This approach is often combined with NationBuilder’s Leaderboard page-type to visualize those supporters who have completed the most actions in support of a campaign or organization.  

However, there’s a less common use that’s often overlooked, but just as valuable in its own right: PC as a backend measure of a supporter’s engagement. In searching for an analogy, the closest I could come up with is the concept of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in baseball.


In baseball, WAR is an attempt to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one statistic [FanGraphs]. WAR measures a player's contributions across hitting, fielding, and baserunning to provide a single numerical value for the player’s contribution. For instance, Jose Reyes (a very good baseball player) has accumulated 86WAR since 2001, while Nick Punto (not a very good baseball player) has accumulated only 13.8WAR over the same period.

When we look at a large Nation that has an ample amount of supporter interactions, we can start to glean which supporters are contributing the most ‘Engagement Above Average’ (so to speak).

While WAR establishes a baseline performance for baseball players (replacement level), we can establish a baseline for supporters in a Nation as being worth 5PC (NationBuilder’s default for someone who has signed up but not taken any other actions).  So if a supporter has 200PC, we know they’re contributing 195PC above our baseline. There are a number of ways that this can be helpful when organizing with NationBuilder.

For example:

  • Using PC to segregate the supporters into various levels in a Ladder of Engagement (Lowest = 5PC-500PC, middle = 500PC-2000PC, Top = 2000PC & up)

  • Developing custom leaderboards for use in the NationBuilder CRM to quickly identify fast-rising supporters for special attention and rewards.

  • Building a Social Media leadership team that can be provided early access to press releases, provided template tweets/Facebook posts and campaign talking points.

Rather than using PC solely as a tool for encouraging engagement and competition, we should step back a bit and also remember its use as a tool of analysis. PC can be set up to tell us very useful things about a supporter all in one quick glance, and we can use this info to determine potentially deeper and more exciting ways to involve people in our Nations.

originally published Monday, June 10, 2013