Jim Gilliam, the founder and executive chairman of NationBuilder, passed away on Friday, November 23, 2018 after battling cancer and related complications. A brilliant entrepreneur and engineer, Jim was known for his belief that, “God is just what happens when humanity is connected.” His insistence that everyone has something unique they are meant to contribute to the world fueled his work and inspired thousands of people all over the globe.

Watch Jim’s 2011 speech The Internet is My Religion

Read Jim’s epic memoir The Internet is My Religion

Watch Jim’s 2015 speech What kind of god do we want to be

  • commented 2018-12-07 15:47:10 -0500
    GOD Bless and thank you for your brilliant platform used by many Campaigns and Corporations helping us manage Social Media and Planning.
  • commented 2018-12-07 00:20:38 -0500
    Thank you for the gifts you gave us Jim. Here’s to continuing the work you inspired organizers around the world to do. I am so thankful for having met you and for having had the chance to be part of the NationBuilder community you built. Here’s to connecting people and building community with the Internet.
  • commented 2018-12-06 18:05:06 -0500
    I will forever be grateful to Jim for giving me an opportunity to join the NationBuilder team and helping jumpstart my professional career. I know folks always talk about Jim’s genius, but it’s truly his ferocity and sheer force of will that will persist in my mind. Thank you, Jim. I will miss you dearly.
  • commented 2018-12-04 11:48:24 -0500
    I have to admit that I didn’t know Jim or his beliefs until today – December 4, 2018. I was looking for a job being a fantastic customer experience manager for an ethical, customer focused company, and came across NationBuilder and saw this page and watched Jim’s last speech. It embodies all that is right, and wrong, with our world, and this country, especially right now. I wish I knew about him earlier in my life – but I am THANKFUL for having come across him today. Thank you Jim.
  • commented 2018-12-03 21:18:49 -0500
    I first met Jim through Twitter in 2013. I was the ED of a legal advocacy group looking for software to help us scale our public engagement and NationBuilder really fit the bill. I wrote about the experience of using NationBuilder and Jim reached out directly and thanked me for writing about the software. Two years later, I was interviewing for a lead organizer job at NationBuilder and sitting in Jim’s casual and comfortable office in DTLA. In that first brief real life interaction with Jim, I really felt his drive, brilliance, calm, and humanity. Over the next 3 years working at NationBuilder, I watched Jim’s integrity come forward time and time again. I had never met someone so focused, so driven, so values based. He was so clear with his vision and believed so strongly. He inspired drive and passion in everyone at NationBuilder. Like many visionaries (especially ones living on borrowed time), he struggled with delays and did not suffer fools easily. I certainly saw him lose his patience a couple times over the years. We me, however, he was nothing but generous, even when his health was declining. I remember one trip to LA after the 2016 election, I asked if I could have 30 minutes of his time to discuss the mission, Trump, etc. He generously offered it. I remember sitting on a couch at the NationBuilder office and asking him if he really thought we were doing the right thing with the mission. He spoke so passionately and shared his views of the future and the present. He did so in such a humble, thoughtful way. It was the most generous and supportive thing that any CEO could do.


    I left NationBuilder more than a year ago, to go be a CEO myself. I have brought so much of Jim’s wisdom and system to my new gig. Over the last year, I have often reflected on his life and role at NationBuilder. I reflected on all the tough calls that he had to make and deep belief in his values that he lived by. I have come to feel that is the role of a good CEO – tough calls and values. Jim taught me that and I am forever grateful. I am so sad to see you leave us Jim. Thank you for everything you gave me. I am very glad to have known you.
  • commented 2018-12-02 21:29:58 -0500
    I met Jim at Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) in 2014. It was my first time at PDF and I asked him who he thought was really changing the game in this complex and evolving landscape. In true humility and support he named a few incredible emerging players in the civic tech space. I was really taken aback by how sharp and committed he was to nurturing this community and really making a difference in every person’s life and every person he had the privilege of speaking with. Truly a remarkable human.
  • commented 2018-12-02 16:18:58 -0500
    In December 2003, having been laid low by a compound fracture of my right ankle and therefore unable to join the anti-war marches in San Francisco, I went on a desperate search for some way to contribute to the protesting via the internet. Shortly thereafter, I answered an email blast from MoveOn.org and applied for a position as an unpaid researcher for an undisclosed documentary on the topic of media bias. The documentary eventually became OUTFOXED: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism, directed by Robert Greenwald. Once enlisted, eight of us, all women, spent many months carefully documenting thousands of examples of propaganda masquerading as news. After the movie was released, we wanted to continue what we came to see as vitally important work calling out FOX on its daily distortions. Jim Gilliam, whom we had come to know as the technology guru for the documentary, suggested we start a blog. None of us knew what a “blog” was. With the patience of Job and an irrepressible sense of humor, Jim helped us launch News Hounds in July 2004. With his invaluable help, we learned about bandwidth, HTML scripting, YouTube videos, dealing with trolls, etc. Over the years as News Hounds flourished, Jim became our indispensable and beloved “Blog Father” to whom we turned for advice, trouble-shooting and, yes, comfort in times of darkness. I particularly remember one morning receiving an email from Jim, warning us that the images that were attached would disturb us and telling us that he wanted us to see them privately before they hit the media because he knew how strongly affected we would be. He was right. I still remember clicking the attachment and reacting in horror, disgust and blistering anger at the sight of prisoners being tortured at Abu Ghraib. Without Jim’s personal commitment and caring guidance, News Hounds would never have manifested and its voice would have remained silent. Even though I’ve known for years about Jim’s intense medical struggles, I am heartbroken to learn that he has lost the final battle with the disease that stalked him for so many years. The world has lost a quiet, gentle and persistent champion for the rights of humankind.
  • commented 2018-12-02 15:07:09 -0500
    I am just a NationBuilder user. When I ran for city council last year, I needed all the support I could get. Using NationBuilder and taking the “How to Run for Office” course largely taught by Jim, made the whole thing much less scary. I appreciate Jim, his goals, and the work he shared with all of us. Blessings friend.
  • commented 2018-12-02 03:24:11 -0500
    I remember being extremely inspired by his “internet is my religion” video (still one of my fav talks) and was anxious to interview with NB.


    That day Inended up being late for my interview and I completely bombed it. It didn’t help that I was struck that I was interviewing w Jim. Needless to say I never had the chance to work w NB but always think back to Jim’s story and his understanding of what you can make possible if you can have people come together with the same point of view. For better or worse that ended up being the same story of NB itself as different groups came together with the platform, yet the power of the vision is undeniable.


    I have Jim to thank for pointing out that power through his video, works and NB itself and am genuinely sad to know he is not longer with us. My condolences to his family and loved ones and everybody who had the opportunity to work with him more closely.
  • commented 2018-12-02 01:37:34 -0500
    I came to work at NationBuilder in June 2014 at a pivotal time in my life. I was at a crossroads in my story and didn’t know how I was going to bring the previous version of myself to the table.


    Jim and Lea together created a space for me that I will be grateful for the rest of my life. When I was at the company I ended up in a position where I got to share my story with every new hire who joined, along with Jim. We sat next to each other for countless new hire story circles and listened to each other’s story again and again. His life of determination, passion, brilliance and grit are indelibly marked on my heart.


    I close my eyes, and I’m right there next to him again. Stunned that my story was given a seat at such a beautiful table.


    Jim was simultaneously fierce and kind. He held nothing back. He listened. He deliberately created space to let employees share crushing perspectives to him and about him, because he knew it would make him and the company better. I have never seen anyone, much less the leader of a company, be willing to go through that for the sake of growth.


    He earned my trust and love. I had the privilege of sitting with him on some dark days and he was steadfast in his passion and belief.


    I am so sad that he’s gone. This world needs more people like Jim. More courage. More leadership. More hope. More hard work. More love. More connection.


    He was beautiful and flawed and brave, the very best parts of what it means to be human. And I personally am more connected to the world around me because of how he lived.