Frequently Asked Questions
How do I stop receiving texts?
Text alerts to control what kinds of texts you receive or stop to cancel the service entirely.
How can I change the payment method for my monthly donation?
Use the SUBSCRIBE keyword from the platform where you subscribed initially, e.g., texting 50409 or Messenger. If you see a link to start a subscription, it means you used a different platform. Try another 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 all their 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 was a one-time donation.
How can I end my monthly donation?
Send SUBSCRIBE END to the bot however you subscribed initially (e.g., texting 50409 or Messenger) to cancel your monthly donation.
How do I change my name, address, email, or title?
Send account to edit your account information!
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 we will add your city soon! Typically it takes us a few days.
Do you have a petition for [topic]?
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 do I start a petition?
Can I get the contact information of the people who signed my petition?
To protect the privacy of our members, we don’t give personal data to anyone for any reason. However, Resistbot will text signers that choose to follow you about your future petitions. See our guide for organizers for more!
I changed my mind. I don’t want to send my letter.
Once you text send your letter is sent immediately and can’t be recalled. If you didn’t send yet, discard will cancel your letter in progress. You can send another letter to follow up with your officials if you’d like!
Help, my messages to my officials are coming back as gibberish!
Each carrier handles SMS 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 switch to iMessage or Telegram.
I’m getting a “Service Access Denied” message.
Some carriers, like T-Mobile, block “shortcodes” 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. 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! Newspapers don’t accept anonymous editorials so you need to be comfortable with them publishing your name and town.
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 counts.
I’m getting [texts or emails] from [group] now, what gives?
Why do you include my phone number in your letters?
Most offices won’t accept letters without them. Also 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 your officials respond.
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 to be read aloud on the House or Senate floor. We may reject excessive profanity, punctuation; and threats.
Will my message count?
Yes! According to Kathryn Schultz, who interviewed 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!
A fax was a workaround for busy phone lines early on, but as more joined Resistbot, it became self-defeating. Congress wasn’t staffed 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 Resistbot will send your message; 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 email, postal mail, or even calls. However every office is different, we can’t guarantee a reply. But, Resistbot will tell you when it sends your message, 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, or mixing up your letter on its way to us, so 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. 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 Resistbot will send it, but not every office can process it. We raise this issue regularly with House and Senate staff.
How do you make money?
Resistbot pays for texts, faxes, postage, calls, and servers are 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 enter my credit card. How can I donate?
Resistbot Action Fund
260 1st Ave. S.
Suite 200 Box 51
Saint Petersburg, Florida 33701
However, we can’t award coins or monthly benefits for donations not made on our site.
Can I deduct my donations?
No. Our primary activity is delivering your communication to officials which the I.R.S. considers lobbying. So despite our mission, we can’t be a charity. Donate to VoteAmerica, a 501(c)(3) charity that drives voter turnout each year, to make a deductible contribution.
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 an actual 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?
We don’t have scripts but have member-created petitions you can sign, or you can use the nearby keyword to see what your neighbors are writing. Writing an original letter, though, is a great way to be individually heard; it 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. Please don’t paste phone scripts into Resistbot, your officials will likely discard them.
Who should I write to?
When in doubt, use congress for any national issue. Federal legislation must pass both the House and Senate, so this will cover your bases. Use state for state issues and mayor for local issues. Our user guide has more targets.
I want to contact representatives outside my district.
Congressional staffers throw away letters from people they don’t represent; hence, we don’t allow this. 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.
I’m an American living abroad. Will Resistbot work for me?
Yes! 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, and governance falls to its board of directors: Gina Bianchini, Jason Putorti, and Eric Ries. Read our mission and values and user bill of rights. We’ve also been fact-checked by Snopes, twice.
Are you going to spam me?
No. We don’t have ads or solicit business, which is why we’re a non-profit. We rely on your donations, not outside funding, so keeping you happy is the only way we stay online!
If you mean texting you a lot, no. You’re in control of the texts you receive with the alerts keyword, and we don’t give numbers to anyone. Text stop to cancel the service and all texts entirely.
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 entire user experience.
How can I help?
Donating, especially monthly, is the best way. If you’re part of an advocacy group or democratic club or know an activist in your community, please share our organizer guide with them! You can also volunteer to program (Python, NodeJS, AWS, Terraform, Docker, Postgres, and iOS especially), write articles, submit letters to the editor, work on our upcoming live talk show and podcast, or just let us know what you’d like to do!
I have another question not listed above.
Email email@example.com, and our volunteers can help with any problems you’re having.