Project Wonderful

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

NGP VAN: A Match Made in Heaven


Peanut butter and Jelly. Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski. Beer and baseball. Some things just belong together.

For those of you less obsessed with the Voter Activation Network than me (ie everyone) let's take a step back. As it says in the press release, "VAN is the architect of the Democratic National Committee’s VoteBuilder database, which is distributed to thousands of Democratic campaigns across the nation. In 2008, VoteBuilder was used by Obama for America to manage the largest voter contact and volunteer program in campaign history." For the record, VAN (the actual product is called VoteBuidler and the company is VAN, but we use the two interchangeably) was around before the Obama campaign and it's basically a field organizer's best friend. Votebuilder is how we track and manage volunteer and voter contact data. If it's not in the VAN, it doesn't exist. It's what make us better at field campaigns than Republicans and frankly a large part of what made me good at my job. It can generate lists of volunteers or voters based on where they live, what events they've attended, even create a walklist complete with map and driving directions or a call list with phone numbers, sex, age and party registration. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Without the VAN, I'd be useless.

The one drawback to Votebuilder has always been that it doesn't effectively track donor data. It's tools are set up for field, not finance. Consequently we have needed another tool to track donor data; who has gotten an ask, who we need to follow up with, who has maxed out, etc. Enter National Geographic and Political Software. From the press release, "NGP is used by the DNC, DSCC, DCCC, DGA, and DLCC; over 75 percent of the Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate; almost all the Democratic state parties; and in total over 1,700 Democrats, PACs, and other organizations and corporations. For 14 years, NGP has helped clients succeed and win by delivering a mix of products, political and technology expertise, and outstanding client services." NGP is the gold standard for tracking finance data.

The problem is, it's possible for field and finance to be working very similar lists at the same time and not know about it. Their asks are not coordinated. When I call to ask if you'll attend a fundraiser on Thursday, I don't know that you're scheduled for door knocking that day. If I make a persuasion call to a voter and she pledges a donation, I don't have the tools to enter it in the system. Or at least...not until now...

NGP and VAN are getting married! It's true, most campaign relationships don't last, but I think these two crazy kids are gonna make it!

"NGP has focused on the financial side of campaigning (fundraising and compliance tools) and VAN on the field (voter contact and volunteer management). The combined company will offer an array of campaign technology services including systems to manage voter contact, volunteer management, fundraising and compliance, union organizing, membership management, and phone services. These services are complemented by a suite of new media tools: broadcast email, online contributions, website tools, all integrated with the VAN and NGP databases. "

Apparently this press released happened in November?! How is it possible that I didn't know about this? It would be like Perez Hilton missing a press release that Elton John got Lady Gaga pregnant. It's that big a deal. When I sent the link to an old bro-worker, amidst his shouts of glee he commented "If I had been waiting for a sign from God about something, I would have just assumed this was it." I suspect I will have to edit this post tomorrow, but I was too excited not to share. And seriously...if I found out you knew about this and didn't tell me...well...let's just say you will not be my plus one to the wedding. NationalField is gonna be so jealous!

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