How is Blue Utopia different from NationBuilder?

NationBuilder has done a nice job with their technology and with building their company. There are a lot of differences between NationBuilder (NB) and Blue Utopia. Here are a few of the key differences.

Progressive Mission There's only place to start the conversation of the differences between us and NationBuilder and that's that they have made it a big part of their mission to serve Republicans.  Starting in 2012, they partnered with the Republican party and in 2016, served many of the Republican presidential nominees, including Rick Santorum and the eventual president-elect, Donald Trump.  This approach might be okay for large utility services (e.g. MSFT, Facebook, Google, etc) but is entirely not okay in the market where a client is trying to win partisan political campaign. 

Pricing. At first glance, it would appear that Blue Utopia and NationBuilder have very similar pricing. And for a new startup campaign or organization, with no specific needs, this might be true. However, NationBuilder segments their offering to draw clients into higher priced packages.  Additionally, they have raised prices consistently over the past couple of years. Blue Utopia, by contrast, prides itself on never having raised prices on existing customers. Even when we have raised prices, we have grandfathered in existing clients at their current price level.  It's an entirely different approach to the way we treat our customers.

Product Differences.  NB has invested significantly on developer tools and a robust API.  In this area, they far surpass Blue Utopia as of this writing. For organizations that need complex integrations to 3rd party services, this a key feature that will and should continue to bring NationBuilder business.  They also have an open website template system, designed to allow website developers to add tweaks to their system and earn revenue.  They have done a very good job with their technology and deserve credit. All that being said, their platform is more focused just on the online tools for campaigns.  They don’t delve very deeply into the CRM (or back-office) tools of a campaign such as managing donors, tracking finances, compliance, managing volunteers, etc – all capabilities in the Blue Utopia system.  

Comprehensive System.  Unlike Blue Utopia, NationBuilder does not go very deep into the donor-management functions like managing calltime, tracking your offline pledges and contributions. If you need a common report like Lapsed Donors, which inherently requires a view of online and offline donations, you just don't get that with NationBuilder like you do with Blue Utopia. The same goes for traditional tools like FEC compliance. If you have NationBuilder and need FEC compliance, you'll need an entirely separate system, which is likely to cause you hundreds of more dollars per month. With Blue Utopia, it's just a simple add-on - easy, inexpensive, and fully integrated.

Pros

  • System is easy-to-use
  • Robust API system
  • Very solid online organizing tools

Cons

  • Pricing is deceptive and quickly escalates
  • Not Dem/Progressive (why is this important?)
  • Very limited CRM system for offline or traditional activities

Bottom Line.

In fact, NationBuilder has good tools and they've had success in the marketplace for a good reason. However, providing technology to win political campaigns is not like a utility service like facebook. Data and knowledge is constantly improving based on serving a critical mass of campaigns. Progressive organizations should be very weary of supporting a tech/data company where the benefit of that knowledge goes to both sides. In addition to that, there are very significant cost benefits to Blue Utopia. Having to purchase an additional system for compliance and donor-management systems can cost a campaign a significant amount of critical budget.