January 13, 2017
Eight years ago, we saw a freshman Senator use technology beautifully to enable activists to organize their own communities in a “snowflake” model where everyone was empowered. MyBarackObama.com turned on many activists to technology for the first time, and brought technology creators into political activism as well.
Today, we have a bombastic, disgraceful disaster about to take office as President. He uses technology as a weapon to attack union leaders by name, to praise sycophants, and to oppose others’ free speech. Trump’s campaign also used digital targeting to gleefully depress voter turnout through vicious, untruthful attacks on Hillary Clinton.
As a progressive movement, we need to not only resist Trump using technology, but stand up for our values with every tool available. Here at the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI), we’re working to create the glue for our movement to use technology as a force multiplier to not only take on Trump, but advance progressive values at every opportunity. He can use fear and division. We’re using love and collaboration. He’s using crass marketing and TV bombast. We’re using open source platforms and sharing our work on Github.
OSDI helps progressive technologists work together faster and more productively to create tools for the moment. In just the past few weeks, I’ve used OSDI-enabled tools to raise $40,000 in grassroots donations for the “District 13 house” to oppose Trump with direct actions in DC, organize volunteers and raise $17,000 for a first-time progressive candidate in Berkeley, and organize support for the progressive slate that won a majority of seats in San Francisco’s Democratic Assembly delegate elections. Because OSDI technologies sync donors, for example, I can target email asks using Action Network with data from ActBlue.
How can you get involved in using technology to further the movement in the face of Trump’s threat?
What are some platforms that are using OSDI now, and how can you plug in?
– Adriel Hampton
October 12, 2016
Shortly after the monumental general election on November 8, thousands of organizers will gather in DC for the annual RootsCamp conference. Fresh off the campaign, many will be looking for their next gigs; and, if the cycle’s anything like 2012, some will be putting together their own firms based on innovations created for the Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns.
One big difference this round is the availability of OSDI and its growing library of dozens of lightweight programming resources for organizers and technologists looking to hit the field faster. In recent months, both ActBlue and NGP VAN increased support for OSDI – last week I was able to connect up ActBlue donations and Action Network for a large mayoral race by simply emailing my API key. A confirmation email came back, and, bam, we were done with CSV file imports!
Jason Rosenbaum, Director of Technology at Action Network, recently worked with NGP VAN’s OSDI hooks for events to provide a solution that lets the AFL-CIO work more nimbly between the two systems.
Action Network is a nonprofit digital organizing platform that supports petitions, email, donations, events and more – and its ecosystem also includes a beta plugin for direct integration with WordPress which we’re also piloting with the aforementioned mayoral campaign.
“OSDI’s interoperable API specification really saved us time and money, cutting expected development time for VAN events integration from two weeks down to one,” Rosenbaum said. “Being able to get features like this into the hands of our partners more quickly is a big win for us and for them.”
While scores of large agencies and organizations support and participate in OSDI, ActBlue and NGP VAN are two of the largest technologies driving Democratic and progressive organizing. ActBlue earlier this year also announced new support for charities and nonprofits, and VAN notably expanded its own APIs after buying one of the tech darlings that emerged from President Obama’s 2012 campaign, NationalField.
OSDI’s growing adoption and specifications sharply cut down on the time it takes to move progressive technology further and contributes to the left’s dominance in the organizing space. OSDI is supported by large-scale organizing platforms and other tools that support campaign organizing, including data append vendor Accurate Append, distributed one-to-one texting tool Hustle, and the SMS and calling software CallHub. While the spec is open, a progressive board and tech coalition determines priorities and integration paths. The 48-member OSDI coalition includes Netroots Nation, the Sierra Club, Democrats.com, and, as an industry supporter, Microsoft.
“OSDI’s first steps were at RootsCamp 2012 beginning with an exciting panel of experts and customer discussion on the topic,” said founder and chair Josh Cohen. ” Since then, OSDI has completed our Specification V1 and achieved significant adoption in the industry. Our coalition has grown to almost 50 members as well as multiple liaisons and we look forward to meeting with more prospective members at RootsCamp 2016!”
RootsCamp-driven collaborations have been a big part of OSDI’s growth, and members and leadership will be in DC in November to workshop with other campers. If you’d like to get in touch before the event, email email@example.com.
The Open Supporter Data Interface (“OSDI”), a coalition effort to define open API standards and data structures for progressive technology interoperability, is coming of age with new implementations by commercial vendors ranging from activist toolsets to data providers.
OSDI began as an outgrowth of the 2012 Washington United for Marriage campaign after proponents experienced frustrations due to a lack of interoperability between the hodgepodge of tools needed to win progressive victories. After an initial conversation instigated by Josh Cohen, the director of technology for that campaign, and campaign vendors like Amicus, OSDI has grown considerably and is now led by volunteer technologists from across the U.S., in implementer roles at nonprofits as well as management positions at technology companies including NGP VAN. OSDI’s membership includes unions, advocacy organizations, nonprofits, political strategists and vendors.
August 18, 2016
Congratulations to Hillary for America and each one of you who helped make Secretary Clinton’s historic nomination possible. Bernie supporters, too, get a shout out for helping create the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Let’s make sure new tools we build this cycle are more reusable by having standardized connectors with OSDI.
The next phase of this election is critical – and even more prone to risk. We’ve already had multiple security breaches and hacks threaten our efforts, and as campaigns of all sizes scale up and get into the field, the risk for data loss or sabotage increase. Don’t be that campaign manager who loses a phone without a security pin code and freaks everybody out!
Because we’re stronger together, OSDI members have collected our top field security tips for campaign technologists:
Make IT policy real. All new employees or volunteers who have access to campaign systems like websites, VAN, PDI, Organizer, etc must sign an IT policy form. You can find online templates for security and internet policies from CSO here. ~ Josh Cohen, chair of OSDI
2FA all the things! “2FA” stands for two-factor authentication. It means that when you try to make changes on your campaign Stripe bank account, for example, you’ll get a code by text message that allows you to proceed. You can read all you ever wanted to know about 2FA here at Lifehacker. And do it for all mission critical software. ~ Jason Rosenbaum, CTO at online organizing toolkit Action Network.
Password-protect important documents before sharing them. It’s dead simple to forward an email full of campaign plans. Make it a bit more difficult for the wrong party to pick up your secrets by encrypting and password-protecting documents. Check out the guide for Microsoft products such as Excel spreadsheets here and for Adobe PDFs here. ~ Chris Nichols, president of phone append vendor Accurate Append.
Would you want your mother to read this on the front page of The Times? Recent email dumps have reminded us that if you wouldn’t want it read on the news or going viral on Facebook, don’t say it/write it in an email. That goes for Slack chats, too. ~ Adriel Hampton, CEO at The Adriel Hampton Group
Lock up the keys. Use a tool like Meldium for password sharing within the campaign. ~ Seth Bannon, CEO at digital organizing software provider Amicus; Store passwords securely in a vault like KeePass or Password Safe. Use your password storage app to generate strong passwords that you don’t have to remember or even see. ~ Mark Paquette, President of nonprofit software provider The Data Bank. Check out LastPass.com as well for password generation and storage ~ Joe McLaughlin, data geek at Citizen Action of New York
Use encryption. Without encryption, usernames, passwords, survey data, voter data etc. travels in plain text. When data travels in plain text, it is easy for anyone in the network to read it. All volunteer sign-up, membership sign-ups must be over a https. Campaign websites must be served over https. Internet Security Research Group now gives free SSL certificates. There is no reason for campaign websites to be available without encryption. In addition, all data flow between the different IT components of the campaign, like website to CRM, CRM to phone dialers, canvassing apps to CRM etc., must flow through an encrypted channel as well. Campaigns should avoid using software that does not provide an encrypted communication channel. ~ Augustus Franklin, founder of telephony provider CallHub
Require PIN codes on all personal devices and laptops: “A member of senior staff drops their phone while shopping for volunteer food at Costco. Their phone does not have a PIN code. What’s in their email? What lucky supporter of your opposition picks up their phone and wins the jackpot? How many clean pairs of underwear is this worth?” ~ Josh Cohen
Do not share accounts. Only one person should be assigned to any account for any services or databases you use. If there are multiple users on an account, and one leaves, then the others have to be locked out until a new password is distributed. If more than one person is on an account, there is no way to tell which user may be responsible for mistakes, breaches, or possibly malicious use of the system. ~ Mark Paquette
Happy campaigning, and be safe out there!
May 18, 2016
Running comprehensive online campaigns just got a whole lot easier for Democrats and progressive organizations, with synced online fundraising with ActBlue and Action Network. A new OSDI-powered integration between the two platforms automatically mirrors ActBlue fundraising pages on Action Network and stores donation data when someone makes a contribution on ActBlue.
The new integration will immediately benefit netroots giant Daily Kos.
“We rely on ActBlue to raise the funds that help keep Daily Kos running, and we rely on Action Network to keep in touch with our network of activists. It was crucial for us that these two tools work together so we could continue to provide tools and information to our community and allies,” said Daily Kos President Will Rockafellow. “We’re extremely excited that today this integration is a reality.”
ActBlue is among the largest progressive fundraising tool available, used by everyone from county party candidates to Bernie Sanders’ national grassroots fundraising. It recently passed $1 billion in total donations through the platform and added access for nonprofit groups to raise money with its simple and elegant standalone donation pages. ActBlue’s support for OSDI means that any progressive technology vendor can easily integrate ActBlue donors with other organizing tools.
“We’re very excited to be taking a big step forward in helping our users move data more easily,” said Nate Thames, Technical Services Executive Director at ActBlue. “Our new Action Network-OSDI integration is the latest in a string of API integrations we’ve done in concert with the campaigns and organizations who use our software. They’re always always looking for great organizing technology, and we believe getting your data from one of those systems to another shouldn’t be a chore, and it shouldn’t be a paid upgrade. Our movement wins when we work together, and when our technology works together.”
Organizers can now use Action Network’s rich query tools on ActBlue data, to target petitions, event invites, email blasts and other action requests from its rich toolset to donors automatically synced from ActBlue. Action Network is an early adopter of the OSDI API and already integrates with the social organizing tools Attentive.ly and ActionSprout, email and phone append vendor Accurate Append and more. The platform — free to use for individuals and smaller organizations — partners with unions, environmental groups, and other large progressive groups, and also offers action syndication and network features for federated organizations.
Jason Rosenbaum, Director of Technology at Action Network, said their early adoption of OSDI APIs has made it easy to expand the platform’s suite of integrations and to serve the complex needs of large customers.
“We like to focus on doing one thing well — digital organizing — which means our toolset needs to integrate with other tools that do other things in order for our partners to do their work effectively,” Rosenbaum said. “OSDI allows us to build up that ecosystem of tools, all sharing data effectively and automatically. Integrations like ActBlue, which has been highly requested by our partners, really supercharge our toolset and expands our market.”
ActBlue’s adoption of OSDI’s fundraising profile allows all OSDI implementers to easily add ActBlue data to their applications.
Technology vendors can explore OSDI’s growing library of API resources on Github. If you are a progressive customer or a vendor that serves progressive customers and you’d like to learn about ways to participate in OSDI, sign up here.
April 5, 2016
“Keeping track of all the data!” is a familiar refrain for any professional working with nonprofit or political technology. And when asked if they had data integration wishlists, just about every hand shot up at our session last month’s Nonprofit Technology Conference.
VP of Membership Seth Bannon and VP of Marketing Adriel Hampton were speaking at the WordPress Day organized by Cornershop Creative, on how nonprofits can meet their goals using OSDI-compatible technologies and open standards for interoperability. So your WordPress sites talks to your CRM talks to your donation platform talks to your events management talks to your petitions. Easy!
While many of OSDI’s members are focused on progressive political technology, our audience of WordPress developers and fans had an apolitical target in mind for better integration: Blackbaud, the $3 billion software behemoth. We’ll take that as a suggestion and make another attempt to invite Blackbaud to OSDI.
They also voiced support for more OSDI work with CiviCRM, a popular open source constituent relationship management platform that came out of the Drupal community. (OSDI worked with a Google Summer of Code student to create an alpha version of a Civi module.)
Following on the conference in San Jose, Joe McLaughlin, VP of Education, and Adriel met with one of the attendees, a co-founder of the PurposeWP project, to discuss the future of Civi tools and the OSDI standard. PurposeWP aims to create a one-stop-shop for nonprofit technology needs, fully portable and open source.
At WordPress Day, Seth and Adriel showed how to use the free organizing toolset Action Network with WordPress. They performed a live demo using a new OSDI compatible service from Accurate Append, and an OSDI Gravity Forms plugin to to seamlessly sync validated and enhanced contact data from forms directly to an Action Network database.
While politically-oriented tech brands such as Organizer double-down on OSDI with new releases, we urged nonprofit developers to get involved with the coalition by signing up as members and to ask their vendors to support open standards for progressive tech. Every hour saved wrangling data is an hour devoted to working on the causes we care about.
April 28, 2015
“Data nerds, your job should get easier soon” – Colin Delaney, ePolitics
A broad coalition of progressive vendors, customers and experts proudly announce the release of Version 1 of the Open Supporter Data Interface specification. (OSDI). OSDI is a community-governed specification that defines common formats for essential resources including like People/Supporters, Donations, Events, Forms, and Petitions.
The OSDI specification will help progressives exchange data easily between organizing technology systems, allowing for increased innovation, collaboration, and success as progressives take advantage of the ability to transfer their data to exactly where they need it quickly and simply.
At the time of the release of the specification, the following vendors have committed to implementation. As time moves forward, look for more implementation commitments on the OSDI site.
“NGP VAN’s Voter Activation Network (VAN) product will support OSDI in the summer of 2015” — Aharon Wasserman, VP Creative & Marketing, NGP VAN
“Action Network will support the OSDI V1 specification in the summer of 2015. It currently supports the pre-standard version” — Jason Rosenbaum, Director of Technology, Action Network
The Mobile Commons platform will support a 2-way data integration to any CRM system that adheres to the OSDI specification in the Summer 2015 time frame.” — Benjamin Stein, Director of Software Development, Upland Mobile Commons
“We are excited to announce that Organizer’s mobile application will support the OSDI standard in the Fall 2015 time frame” — Daniel Zauber, Product Director, Organizer
“Amicus will proudly support 2-way API-based data integration with any CRM that’s OSDI compliant by end of year 2015.” — Seth Bannon, Founder and CEO, Amicus
“ShareProgress intends to adhere to the OSDI specification and will be updating our API accordingly in the coming year.” — Jim Pugh, CEO, ShareProgress
In addition to the implementation commitments, OSDI has broad industry support and active specification development from its members.
“Action Network aims to be a great online organizing tool at home in the progressive data ecosystem. OSDI aims to make connections between systems easy, allowing our partners to pick the best tools for each specific job and wire them together, so their data is never far away. We’re proud to be an OSDI implementer.” — Jason Rosenbaum, Action Network
“OSDI lets progressives focus on innovations instead of integrations.” – Seth Bannon, Founder and CEO, Amicus
“OSDI is an important step forward, and another example of how progressives are moving the needle forward on all things data and tech.” — Yahel Carmon, Director of Insight Products at Blue State Digital
“OSDI represents a heroic effort to advance technology integration standards and best-practices that will accelerate development, improve collaboration and lower the barriers to new innovation.” — Jeff Crigler, Chief Technology Officer, Catalist
“The Databank has provided CRM, fundraising, and advocacy services to progressive nonprofits and political organizations since 1998. With an API built to the OSDI specification, our system becomes more useful than ever to our clients, to their users, volunteers and members. Our data is consumable on more devices and platforms, and more interchangeable with different vendors. Everybody wins!” — Mark Paquette, Co-founder and CTO, thedatabank, inc.
“Mobile Commons knows the pain of maintaining data integrations all too well — our team currently maintains over 10 completely different API integrations to support our progressive customers. OSDI will be a total game changer; a common interface will dramatically improve Mobile Commons’ ability to integrate with new and emerging platforms, all the while reducing development costs and time to market.” — Benjamin Stein, Director of Software Development, Upland Mobile Commons
“NGP VAN is eager to build and extend the technological edge that Democrats and progressives enjoy. OSDI promises to lower the cost of integration among progressive vendors, and implementing the OSDI specification for the VAN is therefore an excellent way to further our mission. We’re excited to see what kinds of applications and advances in progressive organizing will be made possible by this effort.” – Shai Sachs, NGP VAN Innovation Platform Director
“Organizer’s mobile application is used throughout the progressive movement – both domestically and internationally – therefore a data sharing standard like OSDI is essential for our customers and our mission” — Ian Magruder, Director of Business Development, Organizer
“Equality Federation members across the country have been fending off over 100 anti-LGBT bills this year alone. The last things they need are the headaches and costs of syncing data in systems that do not easily integrate. Ultimately, open standards will help our members better achieve their missions in less time and with fewer costs.” – Mark Snyder, Director of Communications, Equality Federation.
“As a digital consultant solely working with progressive clients, one of my biggest frustrations has been having to deal with sets of tools that we use in the progressive movement that don’t mix and match very well causing my clients and me many a headache over the years. I got excited about OSDI and got involved because the idea of leveraging a system that allows us to package a set of tools easily that will play well with each other on the data side to do what a client needs to get done is heaven” — Beth Becker, Partner, Becker Digital Strategies
“Citizen Action of New York is excited to be able to link up and update our contact data with many different sources and partners using OSDI. As users of CiviCRM, the open source contact relationship management platform, and as customers of NGP VAN, Catalist, Salsa, CallFire and other vendors, we’re eager to move quickly to implement OSDI.” – Joe McLaughlin, Citizen Action of New York
Today, customers are faced with serious challenges integrating essential different systems and their data. The lack of common standards introduces unnecessary complexity resulting in:
Person-time Costs – Extra staff, or consulting hours must be paid for, volunteer time is wasted
Suboptimal targeting – without being able to correlate data between systems our ability to target voters and supporters is diminished.
Data loss – with varying columns and field names, as well as semantic differences in those fields across systems, we often throw them away to make the data import/export possible.
Inability to leverage new products and services – We often have to limit our choices to the set of products and services that have built one-off connector modules.
Innovation Suffers – Due to the high costs of building and maintaining integration connectors, smaller vendors are unable to support the wide set of CRMs and systems in this space.
The Vision – If Safari, Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer can work with any website, why can’t progressive technology systems work with each other?
They can. It merely requires the will to work together and for customers to insist on it.
OSDI addresses these challenges by standardizing the formats and APIs that systems use to integrate. An investment in a single OSDI connector will allow integration with any system that supports OSDI.
To see a concrete example scenario that OSDI will bring, watch this two minute video, which demonstrates a WordPress signup form that pushes data into multiple online contact/organizing databases, also known as constituent (or customer) relationship management systems (CRMs).
A quick 2 minute demo.
With v1 out the door, the committee is now entering the design stage for our next version. This will evaluate new areas including Social Analytics, Field Canvassing, Dialers and Phones, Advocacy, and others.
If you are a progressive vendor or customer with an interest in participating in these discussions, please see information below about joining OSDI.
Are you a progressive org or vendor that progressive customers depend on? Want to join us?
visit https://actionnetwork.org/forms/join-osdi or email firstname.lastname@example.org
OSDI is defined and governed by a broad coalition of customer orgs and vendors to reduce costs in the progressive community.
Our members include: Act Blue, Act.tv, The Action Network, ActionSprout, Amicus, The Analyst Institute, Attentive.ly, Beth Becker Strategies,Blue State Digital, BroadStripes, Catalist, The Center for Popular Democracy / Action for the Common Good, Citizen Action of New York, ControlShift, CornerShop Creative, DSPolitical, Equality Federation, FasterCampaigns, Indigo Strategies, Microsoft Corporation, Mobile Commons, LGBT Netroots Connect, Netroots Nation, NGP VAN, New Organizing Institute, Organizer, Revolution Messaging, Salsa Labs, ShareProgress, Sierra Club, Sunlight Foundation, TargetSmart, The Data Bank, The Quad, Trilogy Interactive, UFCW, Veracity Media, Washington 43rd Democrats, Washington United for Marriage, Wide Eye Creative, Winning Mark.
For questions or more information,
For questions about product implementation schedules, please contact your vendors.
October 15, 2014
In case you missed it: Colin Delany of ePolitics and Campaigns & Elections dropped an OSDI teaser into his recent Campaign Insider tech update column:
A common problem in data-heavy campaigning is getting the various platforms to play well together, particularly when it comes to sharing information. It’s frustrating when your volunteer database and donor database are walled off from each other, and neither integrates with the voter file without you having to hand-edit spreadsheets.
Enter the Open Supporter Data Interface (OSDI), a coalition of progressive technology companies and practitioners that’s developing standard data structures and an API to allow campaigns to gather their grassroots, fundraising and other data silos together.
Stay tuned for details about the upcoming version 1 release. Click here to keep in touch with OSDI.