Frequently Asked Questions
How do I stop receiving texts?
Text alerts to manage the types of alerts you receive, or stop to cancel the service completely.
How can I change the payment method for my monthly donation?
Use the SUBSCRIBE keyword. But you need to text it from the account where you originally subscribed, e.g. SMS or Twitter. If you see a link to start a subscription, it means you used a different account. Try a different platform until you see, “Thank you so much for giving monthly!”
Why does my credit card statement say recurring charge when I donated once?
Banks make assumptions based on data from their other customers and may add a “recurring” label to your donation regardless of if it was or not. Look at the charge description, if you see “ONETIME” then it is a one-time donation.
How can I end my monthly donation?
Send SUBSCRIBE END to the bot however you originally subscribed (e.g. texting 50409, Messenger, etc.) to cancel your monthly donation.
How do I change my name, address, email, or title?
Send account to see your current account settings and change what you need.
What Mayors do you support?
Try the mayor keyword, if we have your city, you’ll be able to contact your Mayor; if not, we’ll be alerted and your city will be added soon! Typically it takes us a few days.
Do you have a petition for [topic]?
See the list of recent and trending petitions or you can search Twitter for letters to sign on any topic you like. Remember though you can write your own letters or start your own petition easily too.
How do I contact my elected officials? What can Resistbot do?
You contact your officials by sending a single keyword to the bot for the officials you want to reach. See the keyword guide for a complete list.
How much does it cost?
Resistbot is free to use. If you text the bot at 50409 (SMS), you’ll need to pay whatever your mobile carrier charges you for text messages. We’d prefer you don’t use SMS as texts cost us a lot of money even if they’re free for you. Donations pay for the texts, calls, faxes, postage, and servers.
I changed my mind. I don’t want to send my letter.
Once you text send your letter is sent immediately. It doesn’t matter if it was an e-delivery, a fax, or a postal letter. There is no way for us to cancel it. Being heard in a timely manner is important, so we do not delay delivery.
Help, my messages to my officials are coming back as gibberish!
Each carrier seems to handle message encoding a little differently. You can fix this by removing all “special” characters from your message: return breaks, directional quotes / apostrophes, symbols like % or $, etc. Alternatively you can stop texting and switch to iMessage or Telegram.
I’m getting a “Service Access Denied” message.
Some carriers, like T-Mobile, block “short codes” like 50409. You can dial 611 from your mobile and ask them to fix it, or if you have an iPhone use the iMessage version instead. Android owners can use Telegram. Both are faster, offer a better experience, and are free to use.
I’m a Google Fi customer and my messages are being cut off.
This is a problem on Google Fi’s end. If you’re using your phone’s stock messenger app the messages will come through properly. However Google Fi Android Messenger version 2.8.040 or below, will break apart the messages before getting to Resistbot. Either upgrade/try a different messaging app, or use Telegram instead, which works much better.
How do letters to the editor work?
Send editor and our volunteers will transpose the last letter you wrote to your government officials into a letter to your local paper. If you don’t choose a paper, they’ll pick one near you. Volunteers may make minor edits to help your message make sense as a letter to the editor. Members of Congress (and their staff) definitely notice when they turn up in the newspaper! Note that newspapers don’t accept anonymous editorials so you need to be comfortable with your name and town being published.
If you change your mind within 24 hours, use the retract keyword to tell our volunteers to cancel your submission.
Why do you need my info? What do you do with it?
Elected officials delete messages and voicemails without information to verify that you’re a constituent, everything we ask for is so we can match you to your officials and deliver your messages in a way that actually counts.
I texted you and now I’m getting [texts or emails] from [group] what gives?
Why do you include my phone number on your letters?
Most offices wont accept letters without them, also staffers tell us they are helpful. One such staffer told us, “at least once a month I had a designated block where I called constituents in order to follow up on their letters, especially if they’d written in about something personal. And I know some offices have the Member of Congress do that from time to time.” The information on your letters whether phone, email, or address is so you can get a response.
Why did you reject my message?
Real public servants read your letters, so we want our service to respect the hard work they are doing, and for your letter to be fully considered. We understand that you may be upset (we are too, that’s why we made Resistbot) but please write something you’d want read aloud on the House or Senate floor. Profanity, excessive punctuation, and threats may be rejected.
Will my message really count?
Yes! According to Kathryn Schultz, who interviewed, among others, Brad Fitch of the Congressional Management Foundation:
Contrary to popular opinion… written communications are an effective way of communicating with Congress, as are their electronic kin. “Everything is read, every call and voice mail is listened to,” Isaiah Akin, the deputy legislative director for Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden, told me. “We don’t discriminate when it comes to phone versus e-mail versus letter.” As it turns out, some less egalitarian offices do discriminate, but not in the direction you might expect. According to a 2015 C.M.F. survey of almost two hundred senior congressional staffers, when it comes to influencing a lawmaker’s opinion, personalized e-mails, personalized letters, and editorials in local newspapers all beat out the telephone.
You used to fax everything, what happened? Faxes are harder to ignore!
Fax was a workaround to the problem of busy phone lines early on, but as more joined Resistbot, it became self-defeating. Congress wasn’t designed to handle the volume of faxes our members were sending—over 5 million pages in six months—so many offices pulled the plug.
Today the bot first tries to deliver electronically directly into the Congressional electronic message system, or equivalent state system. We worked with Congress to make this possible, it is the fastest and most reliable method, and easiest for staffers to handle and tally. If delivery fails, the bot will next try to fax, send your letter through postal mail, or volunteers will deliver by hand in that order. You do not have to think about how your message will be sent, it will send it in the most efficient way possible. Read more or about the effectiveness of different methods.
Will I get a response?
Many, many members report quick responses by e-mail, postal mail, or even calls. However every office is different, we can’t guarantee a reply. But, we will tell you when your message is sent, and we deliver your message in a way that can be read and responded to by your officials.
My district is incorrect!
We try our best to get these right, if your Congressional district is incorrect use the congdist keyword, for your state legislative district, use the legdist keyword.
How can I put paragraphs in my letters?
Use the return key on your mobile keypad, not the send key, and you can insert paragraphs where you need them. On a desktop, holding down shift while pressing enter usually does the trick.
You did not get my letter, parts of it were cut off, or my letter is mixed up!
Your mobile carrier is cutting off, breaking up, and/or mixing up your letter on its way to us and there’s nothing we can do. You don’t need to send it all in one text. Send your letter in multiple, shorter texts of no more than 160 characters, as many as you need. Be sure to use the preview command before send to make sure your letter looks right. Use clear if you need to re-write it. Better: Use Resistbot on iMessage or Telegram instead of SMS, as those platforms don’t have this problem.
Are you sending the letters to my address?
We don’t send anything or share your mailing address. However you may receive a letter by postal mail from the officials you wrote.
Why are you asking me for a gendered title?
The Congressional email system requires a title, and the only ones universally accepted are Mr., Mrs., Ms., and Dr. When the bot asks you for your title, you can reply with Mx. and I’ll send it, but it may not be accepted by every office. We raise this issue regularly with House and Senate staff.
How do you make money?
The money to fund the texts, faxes, postage, calls, and servers are paid for with your donations. Unlike many other tech companies, you are our customer, not our product. We do not sell your data or personal information and are a non-profit organization.
I don’t want to give you my credit card, how can I donate?
Resistbot Action Fund
260 1st Ave. S.
Suite 200 Box 51
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701
Can I deduct my donations?
No. Since our primary activity is delivering your communication to officials, that falls under the IRS’ definition of lobbying. So despite our mission, we can’t be a charity. To make a tax-deductible donation, donate to VoteAmerica, a 501(c)(3) with an outstanding voter turnout program.
I want to edit my letter! I have a typo!
Editing isn’t supported, but it matters less than you think. The occasional typo shows staffers that your message is from a real human and not a copied script. The best way around this is to clear your message, copy and paste your texts back in, and make edits that way. You can also add to your message.
Do you have scripts? What do I say?
Your letter doesn’t have to be complicated, just a few genuine sentences with a clear ask, and perhaps a personal story about why it matters to you. Don’t worry about typos or mistakes, they show you’re a real human. If you want an example letter use the nearby keyword to see what your neighbors have been writing or see existing campaigns created by other members. Please don’t paste phone scripts into Resistbot, they’ll likely be discarded.
Who should I write?
When in doubt use congress for any national issue. Since legislation is often considered in both the House and Senate, this will cover your bases. Use state for all state issues, and mayor for local issues.
I want to contact representatives outside my own district.
Congressional staffers throw away letters from people they don’t represent, hence this isn’t something we allow. Here’s more from the Congressional Management Foundation, a non-partisan civic education group. You can however start a petition and share it with friends outside your district so they can send it to their officials.
I’m an American living abroad, will Resistbot work for me?
Yes! Please use the bot on iMessage or Telegram. When prompted, provide the address where you’re registered to vote / get your absentee ballot from. If you don’t know, use the last place you lived in the United States.
Who’s behind this?
Over 800 volunteers have contributed since 2017, all passionate about democracy, government accountability, and voter turnout. Resistbot is a non-profit, non-stock organization with no owners. Governance falls to its board of directors: Gina Bianchini, Jason Putorti, and Eric Ries. Our mission and values and user bill of rights are a quick read;
Are you a scam?
No. We’re volunteers from across America working hard every day to deliver your words to your officials. We’re not one of “those” bots.
Are you going to spam me?
No. We don’t have ads or solicit business of any kind and don’t want to, which is why we’re organized as a non-profit. Since we rely on your donations to stay online, keeping you happy is the only way we stay online and able to effect change.
If you mean alerts or texts, you can control what the bot will text you with the alerts keyword. Every text costs us money, and your time, so we don’t actually want to text you more than you want us too.
I texted STOP, why are you still texting me?
If you text stop you are revoking the bot’s permission to text you for any reason, including replying to commands. If you do not text the bot after you stopped, you will not hear from it ever again. However, by texting resist or another command after, you’re granting permission again—otherwise the bot wouldn’t work.
Do you work on Facebook and Twitter?
We no longer officially support either platform. Facebook and Twitter don’t fully support all Resistbot features, and both have had substantial reliability issues. iMessage and Telegram are both faster, have better privacy, and deliver the full user experience.
I have another question not listed above.
Email email@example.com and our volunteers can help with any problems you’re having.
How can I help?
Donating, especially monthly, will keep us going. If you’re a member of an advocacy group or democratic club, tell them about Resistbot. We’re happy to support you and send you swag, just ask! You can also volunteer to program (knowledge of Python, NodeJS, AWS, Terraform, Docker, Postgres, iOS are all especially valuable), write articles, do outreach, submit letters to the editor, work on our podcast, or just let us know how you can help!