How DemTech Supports Digital Organizing Around the World

By Jesper Frant | May 10, 2023

Large Photo
Small Photo
DALL-E generated image of a women sitting at a desk doing a water color in front of her computer.

Digital organizing is a key component of any successful political campaign. It involves using technology to mobilize supporters, raise funds, communicate messages, and get out the vote. It can also be a powerful tool for governing. Digital tools enable members of parliament to manage constituent correspondence or even manage interactions with citizens. However, not all digital organizing tools are created equal. Some are tailored to specific contexts, while others are better suited to business or sales applications.

That’s why the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) Democracy for Technology (DemTech) team, decided to invest in developing and supporting the open-source platform CiviCRM. CiviCRM is a constituent relationship management (CRM) system that can be used to conduct many democracy activities, including conducting surveys and running campaigns, as well as basic CRM activities like managing contacts and sending emails. CiviCRM is a good fit for our partners that don’t have a lot of money to spend on digital campaigning tools, which is most of them. For partners with little experience with digital organizing, CiviCRM also provides a hands-on opportunity to introduce the concept. Partners who complete the training have the option to continue to use CiviCRM at no cost through DemTech’s DemCloud hosting service. They can also migrate their CiviCRM site off DemCloud to their own hosting environment, decide to use another CRM solution or simply choose not to use a CRM system at all.

For DemTech, one of the biggest advantages of CiviCRM is that it can be easily localized to a new country. It has been translated into dozens of languages, including Catalan, Dutch, French, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish. Not only can our partners use the tool in their own language, but they can adapt it to their specific needs and challenges. For example, CiviCampaign is a component of CiviCRM that allows users to create and manage advocacy campaigns, and it can be tailored to suit different electoral systems, voter registration processes, and campaign strategies.

DemTech has supported the use of CiviCRM across a wide variety of contexts. For example, a group of organizations in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) used Civi to survey key target audiences about their policy priorities as they prepared to launch broad advocacy campaigns in the runup to 2023 elections. 

DemTech also maintains relationships with technology vendors that specialize in supporting the tool such as iXiam and CoopSymbiotic

CiviCRM is not always the right digital organizing tool. NDI looks at a wide array of tools available such as MailChimp, NGP VAN, NationBuilder and Salesforce, and makes recommendations based on the ease of localization of the tool, how the tool has been used by democratic organizations, ease of use and cost. We are always exploring new contact management tools or opportunities to partner with companies that support digital organizing.

DemTech’s mission is to provide tailored support and advice on topics related to the impacts of technology on democracy, the use of technology in democratic development, and applying human-centered design approaches to democracy programming. We believe that digital organizing is a powerful way to empower citizens and strengthen democracy around the world. That’s why we support CiviCRM and other contact management tools that can help our partners achieve their goals.