Here’s how MN350 used text messaging to build an engaged list of 2919 young climate activists, and organized them to take further action towards climate justice.
The organizers at MN350 saw positive response rates over 22% while texting targeted segments of their contact list.
When Greta Thunberg arrived in New York by sea in late August of last year, she was greeted by hundreds of fellow climate activists and supporters.
With the reality of climate change setting in, It was clear that young people were ready to fight for the issues that mattered to them.
Cut to a few weeks later, climate advocacy groups were organizing rallies around the world, in over 4,500 locations, across 150 countries. They were mobilizing over 7.6 million supporters and ordinary citizens, and making their voices heard.
One such rally took place in Minnesota, organized by 350.org.
Mobilizing supporters for the climate strike
“For Americans living abroad, additional steps are required to request, to register, to have their ballot sent outside of the United States and then cast their ballot. We are responsible for reaching out to them and making sure they have the support they need to vote. It’s a little bit more complex than an American who in their hometown goes down the street to a local voting center and is able to vote there.”
Part of a larger coalition of organizations worldwide, including the Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion, their main demands in the USA were enacting the Green New Deal, and transitioning to more sustainable forms of energy.
In short, activists were looking for real, lasting change.
But first, the organizers in charge of these rallies had to overcome their primary challenge. Getting people to show up. Young supporters of the climate movement were accustomed to taking action online, but volunteering or showing up for offline events was different.
How do you activate a dedicated online base of young supporters and bring them out to not just one event but multiple, over a period of time?
It meant keeping them engaged and energized.
They needed to be able to have relevant, two way conversations with supporters. For example, to:
- Reach out to targeted age groups for volunteer recruitment.
- Reaching supporters in different cities for specific events.
“I am a senior in high school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When the UN released the IPCC report in 2018, I realized climate change was a threat to me, my classmates, and all future generations and decided to get involved with the Youth Climate Strikes. When 6000 people attended our strike in September, I knew the rest of our generation felt the same way. “
Deciding on a mode of outreach
In a study, almost 75 percent of American Gen Z’ers and Millennials said they would rather talk over text messages.
For Priya, and other organizers at MN350.org, the path to their goal was simple. They needed to engage supporters of the movement and bring them out to future rallies and events. That meant getting a list of contacts to keep engaged.
Of the roughly 6000 people that came to the first strike on September 20th, 2919 attendees opted in by SMS to their text message communications.
According to Priya, this was done by making the call to action very p
What is an opt-in campaign?
Gathering data for future communication during an opt-in
Collecting data through automated conversations:
Using the data for better message targeting
Importing data to CallHub:
Efficiency was key
How do you reassign agents?
Using texting to reach supporters
What is peer-to-peer texting?
A personalized initial text, asking supporters if they were willing to become organizers was sent out. Over 22% of the people who got the message replied positively. They received a followup message with a link.
Mobilizing event attendees on the 6th of December
That meant uploading segmented lists as phonebooks into CallHub, and setting up campaigns for each list. In this case, the supporters living in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area were invited to a separate rally before the statewide event.
The campaign inviting people to the main rally went out to everyone in the list.
Over 10% of the 2919 people who were contacted via peer-to-peer texts said they would come to the rally.
Reaching supporters with time-sensitive asks
Art builds from the Climate Strike. Source: @changeclimateofficial
What is mass texting?
Mobilizing supporters for further action
Building lasting relationships with supporters means keeping them engaged, by keeping them involved.
Organizers continued to keep up with the contacts on their lists, with the help of low barriers asks like signing petitions.
The last petition sent out received a positive response rate of 22%!
Evident from the high response rates, supporters appreciated being kept in the loop.
Getting people to take action offline, be it volunteering, attending a rally or dropping off a petition, meant not only using a channel that was best suited for their supporter base, but also one that offered personal and engaging communication.
By engaging their list of supporters regularly through text messaging, that’s precisely what the organizers at MN350 managed to do.
We asked Priya what a channel like text messaging meant for for a youth led movement: