Resistbot for Organizers

Resistbot for Organizers

An organizer's guide to using all the features of Resistbot to pressure elected officials or send voters to the polls.

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Crowded protest in New York City featuring a protestor holding a sign that reads "Text UOBFYZ to 50409"

Photo by Chris Gelardi

At Resistbot, we've released many new tools to help individual organizers, activists, and small groups over the last few months. This article is a how-to guide you can use to organize pressure campaigns on elected officials or turn out votes to get them out if they don't listen to you. Keep this bookmarked; we'll continue to update it as we add more campaign types.

1. Getting Started with the Bot

First, if you haven't used Resistbot before, it isn't a website or app; it's a "chatbot" that sits on one side of a text conversation, with you on the other. It responds to simple keywords and runs on several platforms: plain SMS (use 50409 for the phone number), iMessage and Telegram. If those aren't available, it will also respond to direct messages on Twitter and Messenger from Facebook (though those platforms are less reliable.)

All of the keywords below work on any of these platforms. You can tailor the instructions you share to people you're trying to organize based on what works best for your audience and the platform you're sharing on. On Twitter, it could be easier to tell people to direct message; on a hand-painted sign, you're going to want to advertise texting. Indeed, the easiest way we've found in nearly every situation is to tell people to text X to 50409. It's universal, and everyone already knows how to text; it's harder to explain how to initiate a message on the other platforms.

2. Deciding on Free or Paid

Before you invest lots of your time in organizing with Resistbot, you should figure this out. While you can run successful form letter campaigns without being a monthly donor, being one gives you features that are very useful for organizers that want to run multiple campaigns over time; here's why:

You Can Build a Following

For every person that signs a petition you created, if you're a monthly donor, they'll also be asked if they want to follow you, which in the world of Resistbot means the bot will text them the next time you launch a petition, it looks like this:

Do you want me to text you if this organizer publishes another campaign?

So let's say you start a petition, share it on Twitter, inspire Instagram stories and TikTok videos, invite friends with emails and texts, and generally work hard to get to 100,000 signatures. So far, about 30% of people answer "yes" to the question above after signing a petition. So the next time you start a campaign, Resistbot would send 30,000 texts to your followers announcing your new effort; followers that may sign, share your campaign, etc. If you don't become a monthly donor and claim a keyword, you will start from zero.

Your Own Keyword & Profile Page

A typical call to action to sign a petition looks like this: to text a six-letter code to 50409.

Since our petitions (or form letters) are member-created, and there are tens of thousands of them, we assign random characters for easy creation and to make sure members signing are signing your petition and no one else's. You may have seen calls to action that don't look like this, e.g., text ELO to 50409. Every Last One is a monthly donor, and they claimed the keyword ELO. 

Texting GO ELO or just ELO by itself (this works as long as someone doesn't claim one of our existing keywords, like CONGRESS) will prompt texters to sign their active petition or petitions. In addition, Every Last One can direct their fans to text FOLLOW ELO to 50409 to build followers instantly, without the need for a post-petition question or to their page on Resistbot.

Increase your Campaign Reach

With every dollar you donate, monthly or not, you receive a certain number of Resistbot coins you can spend on promoting your campaign to members that have subscribed to rewarded alerts. For example, a $5 donation will give you 363 coins to spend. You can get your petition texted to 100 people for 200 coins. You can make a one-time donation to get coins, but the promotions are more effective if you've claimed a username: anyone signing will be prompted to follow you, boosting your future reach. You can promote your petition with the promoteUse coins to promote a campaign you care about! keyword.

If these are features you're interested in; monthly donations start at only $5/mo. Why so cheap? Resistbot is a non-profit organization, and our goal is to give the most power we can for the lowest cost. We know that real grassroots issues and fighting wealthy corporate interests don't get you the big checks; with Resistbot, you don't need them. Text subscribeBecome a Resistbot monthly donor to become a monthly donor and then claimClaim your own custom username you can use for your petitions and vote drives. for your keyword.

3. Pressure Elected Officials or Turn Out Votes

Although principally used for public policy campaigns, Resistbot can drive letters to officials and get voters to the polls.

Letters to Officials

Although called petitions in the product so that non-organizers generally understand the mechanics and expected effort, Resistbot "petitions" are actually instantly delivered from letter campaigns. A petition is typically a single document signed by many people, which the organizer then must deliver to the target(s). One petition to the Congress with 1,000 signers might go to the Speakers' office and leadership, and the representatives of those signers may never know how they feel about that issue. A Resistbot petition to the Congress with 1,000 signers has already been delivered 3,000 times: to each signer's Senator and House rep. Deliveries are real-time and handled by us electronically, or by fax, or postal mail if necessary. A full fax machine or flooded inbox definitely signals to legislators that the issue matters to their constituents.

Here's how you get started:

  1. First, you need to write your letter to the desired officials. Here's a complete list of keywords you can use to target the letter. The most popular options are Congress (both chambers) and Governors and State Legislators together. Text the appropriate keyword to the bot to get started, and follow the prompts.
  2. Remember, the letter needs to work the same for you as it would for the next signer. Do not write qualifiers into it like, "I'm a constituent in Boston, Mass," or, "I'm a mother of two," etc. Limit the content to the specific request you're making of your officials. Use stories or persuasive arguments that won't be limited to just you or a few others; you want everyone to feel comfortable signing it and sending it in.
  3. Once you send your letter, you should be asked to make it open, and then, signable by others; answer "yes" to both. If you're not asked, text petitionCreate a new petition or return a list of your current ones. at any time after you send your letter, this will start the process.
  4. Answer the questions the bot asks you, and you'll be done before you know it! Once your petition is live, you'll get a six-letter code. You can use this code in your social media posts like this. If you'd like an image from us to use for social media, text signedUse with a petition code to check the number of signers a petition has followed by your petition code: this will give you the stats of your petition and ask you if you'd like to generate a wide, square, or tall image for stories. You can do this as many times as you need if you want multiple images. You'll also get a web page to share too!

Voter Turnout

The quadrennial U.S. Presidential election in 2020 saw a fantastic amount of turnout effort from what seemed like everyone. But what about a Mayor's race in your town, state legislator seat, or a Congressional primary? You know that same effort isn't there for those races, and one vote in an election with a 25,000 vote turnout matters a lot more. Enter Resistbot, where winning votes for candidates doesn't need six-figure ad buys funded by Corporate PACs; it just needs you and some effort.

  1. Text driveCreate your own voter registration and pledge drive to Resistbot and follow the directions. You're going to choose the race you want to turn out votes in and then create a voting drive for your favored candidate to gather vote pledges.
  2. Vote drives are almost the same as petitions: You'll receive a six-letter code to share, and anyone who texts it is making a promise to you, or a pledge, to vote. Members who text your pledge code will be asked to confirm they're registered to vote (which they can do instantly over text), and then Resistbot will remind them to vote closer to Election Day. The more pledges you win, the more texts I'll send. Get 1,000 pledges, and I'll send 1,000 reminders. These texts have been proven every time they've been tested to boost turnout. The smaller the race, the more effect they have, as voters see fewer reminders elsewhere. Nobody else, that we know of, offers a free voter outreach texting program to organizers.

We're Here to Help

Have any other questions or need personalized help getting started? Need a petition or drive edited after launch? Email and our volunteers will be excited to help you. Want to help us keep all of this going and support low-cost tools for grassroots activism? Donate! Your donation subsidizes everything here and allows us to pursue our mission of empowering local organizers to resist injustice everywhere.

Support the ’bot!

Grassroots donors are all that keep the ’bot online for the organizers that need us. Please give if you can.

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