Welcome to Action Network, the progressive movement's premier digital organizing toolset! This document outlines some general concepts that are useful to keep in mind when working with Action Network.
Rather than trying to be all things to all people, Action Network focuses on doing one thing well: digital organizing. In that spirit, we don't offer websites, we're not set up for offline organizing, field campaigns, or more general CRM work, we don't do text messages, etc... Rather, we offer integration points (such as our API, a sync with Salesforce, and embeddable actions) that allow you to connect together multiple systems if you choose, while picking the best system for each task.
That means that activists loaded into our system must have an email address -- it is impossible to add someone without one. It also means that activists are automatically de-duplicated by email address, and this is the only de-duplication option. De-duplication happens when activists take action, when you upload files, when you add people individually -- everywhere. For digital organizing, these rules help keep your data very regimented and regular, eliminating the typical duplicate and data problems of other systems.
Beyond email address, Action Network can store a small number of "core" fields: first name, last name, street address, city, state, zip/postal code, and country. You can add any other custom fields you'd like to store additional data, such as phone number. Like core fields, activists can have only one value per custom field, so an activists who take action and enter new data in a question on a form (which stores that data in a custom field) will overwrite the data already there.
Keeping these general concepts in mind as you get started will help you understand how your data is organized and how your program will run best.