One database to rule them all - cStreet Campaigns

One database to rule them all

It’s no secret that change requires money, and the best changemakers are often the ones who don’t just go online to get their supporters to donate, but are also smart about it.

What do I mean by smart? Smart means keeping your donation history clean, organized, and centralized. It means making it easy to mine in order to gain a better understanding of your donors, and to better cultivate them (and others like them).

Luckily, plenty of products (or far too many?) exist for both getting donations and organizing the information that comes along with them. But it's not always easy to get this ecosystem of applications, software, and hardware to talk to each other in a productive manner.

Enter application programming interfaces (APIs).

NationBuilder has a very accessible API, both in terms of the breadth of the information you can access in your Nation's database and the relatively few hoops that need to be jumped through to gain access. It also provides clear documentation and tools that make life infinitely easier in figuring out what needs to be asked to get the desired information.

What this means for our clients is that I can get NationBuilder to talk to other applications on the web. We frequently have clients who use external donation processing programs and/or customer relationship management (CRM) solutions that they want to keep, for any number of reasons. As long as whatever application they’re using has a similarly robust API, we can work with them to ensure their donation information gets housed in one place: NationBuilder.

This was the case with our recent client Vision Vancouver. They had been using the locally-based BeanStream as their payment gateway, and wanted to keep it for certain types of transactions while also having it seamlessly integrate with NationBuilder. So we at cStreet built them a custom application named the BeanStream-NationBuilder Bridge (BNB) to facilitate this process, as BeanStream had an API framework that provided us access to Vision’s donation records. Using our BNB app, we could then reorganize those records and send them to NationBuilder in a meaningful way.

Not only that, but the BNB we built is smart enough to raise flags in the event that there are errors with the provided information (like improper syntax in the email address), or in cases where either NationBuilder or BeanStream hasn’t responded properly. This way, either Vision or cStreet can go in and use the application’s interface to clean up the data, and then resend it to NationBuilder to fix the error.

With all of this information in one place, Vision is better able to harness NationBuilder’s power in helping changemakers understand their supporters, letting them tailor their message and calls-to-action in order to achieve their goals.

This is because NationBuilder understands that, in order to be a successful product, it needs to play nice with everyone else through an open and accessible API.

originally published Wednesday, June 25, 2014