A Custom, User-Friendly Database

The Canadian Society of Safety Engineers (CSSE) works across multiple industries “ but shares one common goal: Ensuring our colleagues make it home safe at the end of the workday.” Part of maintaining one’s membership is that keeping their credentials up to date and being involved in the community. With 5,000+ members, the CSSE needed a system that could handle tracking this progress.

To track membership and payments they decided to move to NationBuilder.

NationBuilder was the right price point and is a great option for many organizations looking for a clean web design, easy-to-use database, and membership tool. However, each organization comes with nuanced differences that can’t be handled by an out-of-the-box data system. A proprietary or custom database can make up for these downfalls but they tend to be quickly outdated and expensive to upgrade.

When NationBuilder isn’t quite right…

To make NationBuilder more flexible, the CSSE needed a custom membership tracking system that would integrate into their membership and points system. The points system allows the society to track their members’ community work and credentials; however, the intricate system was much larger than NationBuilder’s membership fields.

There’s actually more wiggle-room in NationBuilder than meets the eye, but in this case, we were able to support the CSSE’s transition by building a custom app which lives on a server outside of NationBuilder but integrates with NationBuilder via the API.

We built a login-accessible front end and needed the ability to upload supporting files that worked with conditional logic for a variety of scenarios. Audit functionality allows admins to give auditors a different level of access to select user profiles that need auditing. Everything in the app is self-contained.


Starting from the ground up we worked with CSSE staff to create a flowchart representing the allocation of points users were collecting in their courses and work experiences.

Improvements were made to the user experience and wireframes were built. The app design started with a prototype that mimics the look and feel of the primary NationBuilder site.

Reworking systems like NationBuilder to meet your exact needs isn’t impossible but it is difficult — often taking custom apps. If you are looking for features that don’t automatically exist on NationBuilder, chances are they can be built in.

We were able to remove the stress of building a proprietary data system by adding a custom app to NationBuilder.

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