Progressive Tech Edge Grows with Increased OSDI Adoption

October 12, 2016

RootsCamp unconference board

Wellstone’s RootsCamp in DC this November is going to be big! Register at http://rootscamp.wellstone.org/ and see all your Open Supporter Data Interface friends. (Flickr photo by Red Mum)

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 info@opensupporter.com.

- Adriel Hampton

About OSDI

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.

Read Specification Documentation | Contribute to the Specification