Save money. Do good. Crowdsource texting campaigns to low income American workers.

7 mins read

Save money. Do good. Crowdsource texting campaigns to low income American workers.

Crowdsourcing lets campaigns text more people for less money by hiring remote, low-income American workers and giving back at the same time.
Campaigns save money with crowdsourced texting and help low-income American workers at the same time. A win-win solution.

What is crowdsourcing?

Crowdsourcing matches online workers with simple micro-tasks that can be done remotely. It works bests for tasks that require little training and where the volume of work may fluctuate a lot. Texting for campaigns is the perfect use case as a large may have to be contacted at short notice and hiring a large number of temporary workers isn’t feasible. Campaigns often use volunteers for their texting needs, but finding volunteers at short notice for a critical campaign isn’t guaranteed.

Campaigns benefit by having a large pool of crowdsourced workers available to text for them when needed. Low income workers, students and retirees can work remotely when they have time and make money through crowdsourced work. Campaigns cut their cost of sending texts to 2 cents/text with crowdsourced labor (1 cent/text) and Text Per Cent (1 cent/text).

Crowdsourcing isn’t new. General ElectricWalmart and Krogers have used it for years to meet their need for workers on demand. Firms such as SamaSourceiMerit and Mechanical Turk offer marketplaces where employers can find online workers for specialized tasks. This blog describes how low income workers in Michigan are texting Louisiana residents reminders to complete their census.

Power Coalition’s texting campaign reminds Louisiana residents to complete the census

The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice is a black women lead organization. It uses an integrated civic engagement strategy that amplifies the voices of those who have historically been ignored, and organizes them into a unified movement. The coalition had to respond quickly when the census deadline was cut back to Sept 30th, threatening to leave many under-represented Louisiana communities uncounted in the census. How do you contact tens of thousands of people quickly? Especially when it has to be done quickly on a small budget with little few staff?

The Power Coalition was connected to texters trained by Mothers of Hope in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Mothers of Hope is a non-profit that empowers and strengthens women, families, and communities to rise above the effects of substance use disorders, poverty, violence and systemic inequities. This win-win solution coordinated by DemLabs enabled the Power Coalition to quickly send out census reminders while helping low income workers in Kalamazoo at the same time.

Crowdsourced workers tackle large jobs remotely. This cuts the cost and time needed to complete the task to be done.

Manipulating the census which determines political representation and federal funding

“These last-minute changes to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the U.S. threaten the accuracy of population numbers used to determine the distribution of political representation and federal funding for the next decade. With roughly 4 out of 10 households nationwide yet to be counted, and already delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, the bureau now has less than two months left to try to reach people of color, immigrants, renters, rural residents and other members of historically undercounted groups who are not likely to fill out a census form on their own.

We need the extra time to be able to ensure that the hardest-to-count communities are including in the count. That is what the Constitution requires,” says Vanita Gupta, a former Obama administration official who now heads The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “There is no other reason for the Trump administration to be rushing the census if they didn’t have a partisan or illegitimate motive.” – NPR

How crowdsourcing tackles large projects and cuts costs

Power Coalition chose TextPerCent, an affordable texting platform which costs 1 cent/text. Mothers of Hope in Kalamazoo, Michigan workers can text about 35 texts/minute with Text Per Cent which is about 2,000 texts/hour which lets them earn $20/hour.

Costing analysis:
People to contact = 200,000
Software cost (Text Per Cent) = 1 cent/text
Labor cost to text = 1 cent/text
Total cost to text 200,000 people
= 200,000 x 2 cent/text
= $4,000

Time to text 200,000 people with 6 workers
Texting rate/worker = 2,000 texts/hour
Time needed = 200,000 / (6 texters x 2,000 texts/hour) = 17 hours
= Approximately 3 days

Affordable Peer-to-Peer (P2P) texting

Peer-to-Peer texting is a manual process with humans (not programs) doing the texting. Good crowdsourced P2P texting systems:
– Are easy to learn and train new workers
– Can be used immediately without software installation
– Works with any list of contacts including a Voter File
– Privacy is enhanced by not displaying phone numbers being texted to workers
– Workers text from a single list of contacts at their own pace
– The campaign can create their own messages to text
– Messages can be customized to the recipient
– Detailed logs of texts sent by each worker are kept

Text Per Cent is an affordable P2P texting that costs one cent/text. Text Per Cent uses Signalwire‘s groundbreaking technology and can be used immediately without having to install any software. This demo shows how easy it is to select a message and send it from a laptop and how the text appears on the recipient’s phone. Learn more about the Text Per Cent platform here.

Text Per Cent (www.textpercent.org) is an affordable, peer-to-peer (P2P) texting platform.

TakeAway: Crowdsource texting to save money and support low income American workers at the same time.

Increase civic engagement. Save money. Do good. What more could you ask for?


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


Democracy Labs is a hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation that serves progressive campaigns and organizations at the national, state, and local levels.

Our focus is on long term, sustainable and affordable solutions. An approach that is longer than an election cycle, and isn’t purely dependant on volunteers, can enable more qualified candidates to run for office and for more issue groups to bring about positive social change.

Democracy Labs is a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund.

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