Data Processing and Automation Auxiliar Tools

Contributor: Alonso Hernández

One of the greatest challenges faced by any organisation committed to leading change is how to manage and use the massive amount of data that the movement (which sometimes involves millions of people) generates. This is not an easy task - it requires complex systems, effective tools, and intelligent strategies, all of which must work without going against the ethical guidelines of the organisation. Not working with data, however, is simply not an option today. There are many tools that help with these objectives in mind. We are presenting some tools and insights that can be useful in these areas.

One of the most powerful uses of data is to help sustain the different supporters' journeys within the organisation and facilitate the relationships that the supporters establish as relationships build hope and trust with the movement.

  • We want our supporters to deepen their commitment to the movement and find their place within it. To achieve this, we need a system that helps us to classify and connect our supporters with the ideal people and spaces for them along their supporters’ path. Everything based on the information that we are collecting manually and automatically.
  • Also, we will want assistance in building relationships with our supporters. One of the keys here is to maintain consistency through the different interactions. Like the "raccord" in the cinema (french term for continuity), we want any personal or automatic communication with our supporters to make sense and add up, so our data system has to help us maintain this raccord.

There are many tools that help with these objectives in mind. Organising CRMs (NationBuilder, EveryAction, Action Network, etc.), of course, are the most effective platforms in this area, and we recommend that any activist organization build its tech stack around an organising CRM. But there are cases where some additional support or tools are necessary, for example, when we need to address the below situations:

  • Data is coming from different sources (online tools and offline processes) and we need to organise everything together.
  • We need to complement activities with automation and advanced processing to best reinforce our available staff.
  • Our structure is distributed and we cannot always give our distributed groups access to the tools used by our staff.

We want to present some tools and news that can be useful in these areas.

- NationBuilder Groups. Recently launched, this is a very promising new feature that will allow a higher level of distributed-ness operating with your NationBuilder platform.

- Zapier integration for EveryAction. As we mentioned in previous TON Newsletters, Zapier is one of the best known and most interesting tools to connect the different pieces of our tech stack and allow data to flow through our system in an intelligent and synchronised way. While NationBuilder already has its own integration, we love hearing that EveryAction is putting its own to work as well.

- Integromat, as an alternative to Zapier, is another very interesting automation tool to have our system working as a whole, especially when we want to implement more complex logic.

- Parabola. We love how this platform can help organisers with any level of tech skill automate manual processes and carry out advanced data processing. It has a super intuitive automation flow creation panel that allows us to get much more juice from the data that we are accumulating on different platforms and greatly lighten the workload involved in doing so. Basic preprocessing tasks such as combining data, doing calculations, filtering, sorting, cleaning, formatting, but also more advanced ones such as connection with APIs, conditional logic, etc., are very simple to carry out in an automated way with Parabola. The possibilities are immense.

- n8n. It is another tool that we love and are even considering using internally. While a little less intuitive than Parabola, it is perhaps more powerful (especially if you have a coder on the team). n8n is the best option for those organizations that have high standards in terms of privacy management, since it is open source and allows you to store the platform on your own server. This also means that it is free, because n8n only charges if you want cloud services with them.

There are many other interesting platforms, and we will continue to present them to you over time. But we really want to emphasise the importance of allocating resources for developing and implementing a defined automation and data management strategy in your organisation. Whatever the size of your organization, there are tools to get the job done. After all, digital organising lives in the digital dimension, and digital is produced and fed by data.

We would love to know how you deal with these challenges and how we might help you along the way.  Feel free to reach out to [email protected], let’s talk.