Technologies for mass communications beyond email

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-David Taylor Tech Director Avaaz

--Communications with big and smaller organizations.

--People's ideas thoughts communicate from one to many?

--What tools? Methods beyond email SMS.

Questions --Advocacy emails who reads them? Fundraising campaigns why do they suck?

--Others bringing up SMS, other technologies. Click to call.

--One to many that isn't just broadcasting, more of a cross talk.

--What do we need to try and explore?


--Email people use it because it works--fundraising letters, they provide more revenue than cost? We know that their are broadcast technologies that work, SMS for mobilizing, direct calls.

--A lot of orgs have got locked into email because it's cheap and it works (somewhat). Cost, access, efficacy.

Global Adoption.

--US people widely use it, though younger people, newer internet users don't use it--Whatsapp has greater penetration, other social media platforms. Some markets are not accessible.

--Facebook basic access--email doesn't work they use phones. Can send SMS but there's a scaling problem.

--Case study 13000 people mobilizing against airport muslim ban in Bay Area, $5000 USD per blast--very expensive. Baseline costs were too high.

Corporate Control

--Facebook has invested heavily into Messenger, but not open.

--Whatsapp--how do you use it to mobilize your base? Not sustainable or scalable, not easy to pivot and adapt to them.

Non-email mediums:

Peer-to-peer messaging

--In US, questions of efficacy.

--Loophole in law someone pushes a button to initiate a call through volunteers--allows for millions of mass SMSes.

--Hustle, relay. Volunteers can have conversations. Used by political campaigns ¢5 a message cost.


--VOIP apps, call power. --Trilio has a .org wing building advocacy tools.


--Not many case studies of orgs using these non-email tools for fundraising. Only in case of disasters when a portion of phone bill goes to charity when you send an SMS.


--Audiences in global south that don't even use SMS but WhatsApp.

--Medium needs to be context dependent for different kinds of activities.

--Figuring out baseline for metrics is difficult over time.

--How did we end up using email?

--Only technology available at the time.

--Dream platform using multiple mediums based on user responses and behavior.

--Platforms exist that allow user to choose which platform that they want to use. Nationbuilder access social media, email, SMS various platforms to build user profile.

Problems (and advantages) of email

--Has there been an "abuse" of email campaigns?

--Political campaigns don't care about lists and long term relationships.

--Email is good for testing content. It can help to mobilize people once they've been engaged. Hard to do it with 150 characters.

Problems of SMS, similar platforms

--Demoralizing for volunteers.

Beyond Email Case Studies

--Using snapchat with youth. When filters were being used, there was a campaign that was active. Awareness raising. Using geo filter.

--Chinese social media landscape might offer some examples.

--Facebook messenger API was open at one time, allowed people to send mass emails. Platform locking, you can't send message beyond a few people.

--Moveon Spoke--version of Hustle.

--Signal has APIs that allow you to go around carrier and cost limitations.

--HOPE more like a conversation. Can engage and build relationships through multiple messages/ SMS.

--Browser push notifications, how can we leverage them? A free way to do mass-messaging.

--Platform for donations. Ways for non-profits to communicate with donors. Donors are empowered to reach out to orgs.

--Limit constraints to pro-active communications. Does sending a limited number create greater value for each message.

--Similar to or gofundme

--If you can get users to install an app, it can be possible to do push notifications?

--Does this positively impact how people interact with and communicate with orgs?

Global Topics/Themes

Warm vs Cold --Methodology, processes

Short vs Long Messages --Room to grow

Broadcast vs Conversation --Distributed conversation and volunteers. --Room to experiment how to manage.

Adoption of Alternative Tech --How do they use, get to use.

Hacking existing app platforms --Hacked piece can be hugely empowering. --Can legitimize and empower smaller orgs to adopt jury-rigged platforms, over larger solutions. --Documentation and discovery of hacks. --Whatsapp hacks,

--Wechat --Nextdoor --Platforms can be very language, cultural, and geographic context specific. --Technology platforms aren't universal. --From one to many, few to more.

--How to communicate directly, how to spread your message, what do you want from that?

--So using mass communication tools beyond emails is still very expensive!

--Treating all donors as major donors. Email can identify people who are interested.