Introducing Petitions
Published January 14, 2020 / Updated February 10, 2024

Introducing Petitions

The easiest technology for direct response ever created. All organizers need to do is make a petition, and share the text code. Resistbot handles the rest.

by Resistbot

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Instagram post from Lily Collins asking her followers to text USPS to 50409

Lily Collins asking her followers to sign one of thousands of Resistbot petitions that have been created by our members.

Why We Built This

In watching most people try to organize online, one thing is painfully clear: the asks organizers make are usually too difficult and confusing for most people, and they take so long that the people being organized end up doing nothing at all. You've heard it before: Google your officials, contact each office, read from this script, copy and paste that one, call, leave a voicemail, write, this way is better than that, etc. Try to organize an effort across all fifty states; now, everything is fifty times as complicated. If the majority doesn't speak up, lobbyists and other intermediaries fill that vacuum, and we all lose.

The insistence that only calls matter means a large dropoff of people that could have been tallied because most don't want to—and you lose out on being able to turn them out to vote in the future. People should be able to engage and be counted in a meaningful way, in a manner that’s intuitive and straightforward.

How it Works

Enter our petitionCreate a new petition or return a list of your current ones. feature. Now activists and organizers can drive hundreds or thousands of contacts to Congress, every state government, or even thousands of city mayors with a single and simple call-to-action. Spend more of your time getting your message out and attracting people to the cause and less time hand-holding.

Starting your petition is easy! If you already wrote a letter for yourself, text petitionCreate a new petition or return a list of your current ones. to the bot, and follow the directions carefully. If you didn't write your letter yet, that's where you need to start:

  1. Write your letter, the same as you're used to, to whatever government body you like:

    president for the President;
    state for all U.S. states and governors;
    congress for all officials in the U.S. House and Senate;
    federal for the President and the Congress;
    governor for all U.S. governors;
    houseContact your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives or senateContact your senators in the U.S. Senate for all Representatives or Senators, respectively;
    mayorWrite or call your Mayor for city mayors; or even
    SCOTUS for the U.S. Supreme Court (see all here)

    Ensure your letter would make sense for any official receiving it and any signer sending it. (See examples.)
  2. When prompted to turn your letter into an open letter, reply, "Yes"
  3. When asked how you want to deliver your letter, you can choose "email"
  4. When asked if you want others to be able to sign your open letter, reply, "Yes"
  5. You may be asked to add a subject if you haven't already. A good subject contains the ask of the politician, assuming they read nothing else. This also helps get people to sign it!
  6. Share the image and code returned to you when you finish. That’s it! You can make a huge impact with your thumbs in a few minutes. You can also send individual invitations via text or email and buy coins to fund texts of your petition to other Resistbot members.

You'll get this when you're done!

Tell the U.S. Congress: Pass the Direct File Act. Text Sign PVZDBG to 50409

Resistbot petition share image

And every signer will get a personalized image to share, too!

Text Sign PVZDBG to 50409 to join Jason and tell your officials to pass the direct file act

Resistbot signature card

Your friends, family, and followers can deliver that to their officials by texting sign followed by your unique code to 50409 or Resistbot on any platform. Every petition also has a web page.

The feature may be called a "petition," but it's so folks you're organizing know what to expect. It's not a piece of paper with hundreds of signatures that someone must deliver manually. Every person who "signs" your petition sends a copy of your letter to their officials. A petition to federal would be delivered four times for each signer, one to the President, and three for each of their members of Congress. (Think of this when you’re sharing. If you want to run up the tally with specific officials, focus your efforts on their districts or states.)

Why We Do This Better

Diagram of how Resistbot petitions grow. It starts with an organizer sending texts to her followers. Those followers are asked to sign. The signers will promote petitions with coins, share them, and invite others. This in turn drives more followers for the organizer, and more letters to government officials.

An illustration of the Resistbot effect. 1. A campaign starts with texts to an organizer's followers asking to sign. 2. Those followers that sign will often promote, share, invite others. 3. The promotions drive more signers, more followers, and more letters to officials.

In politics, numbers matter. Something easy to do that takes 1-2 minutes will always drive more people than something complicated and time-consuming.

Resistbot's model generated over 4.5 million deliveries per petition, twice, and over 33,000,000 cumulative deliveries since 2017. For every signer, some number will not only sign but create more signers through shares, promotes, Instagram reels, TikToks, and more. Telling someone at the end of a TikTok to text a code into the phone they're already on is immeasurably easier than going to a website and filling out a form or making 3 phone calls. Telling people to text, say, USPS, to 50409 is also easy to communicate verbally; a URL is not.

The "top of the funnel" is the most important part to get right.

It Counts

At the Congressional level, constituent management software uses a unique identifier to specially tally our letters, making them the fastest way for staffers to know how many people support your idea. Fewer people engage at the state and local levels, and there are fewer constituents per official, so a little goes a long way.

Tweet from New York State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal that reads, "ran the count. My office has gotten 1,987 emails and counting, today alone supporting police reform. Hundreds more calls. I can't overstate how rare and massive that is for a state legislature."

Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal on the receiving end of a Resistbot campaign.

So let's not overthink it, meet people where they are, get their positions tallied by Congress, and help them take the first step in what’s hopefully a lifetime of civic engagement. I've heard too many times to count how people went from never writing their officials to doing it hundreds of times, then looking up their officials' local offices, attending rallies, and all kinds of civic actions. Everyone has to start somewhere. And remember, everyone gets pulled into Resistbot's get-out-the-vote program that's been academically tested eleven times. We can debate how effective citizen advocacy is, but whoever gets the most people to the polls chooses who's making the decisions for you. Everyone can agree that's more important.

We're Here to Help!

If you need individualized help organizing, come by our Discord or email us, and we will respond quickly. Or read our next article on doing this for turning out votes or creating successful campaigns and lasting organizing power.

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