21 June, 2020

Scan this to recruit volunteers

icon Chatbots,QR codes

How to recruit supporters during a pandemic:

Recruiting supporters at an event is hard. Lot's of people, activity and little time. How can it be done easily with little time time, money and technical skills? Here is a simple way using QR Codes, chatbots and texting.

This idea originated from a request by Stephanie Moore, a candidate to become the State Representative in Michigan's 60th district. She is running a grassroots campaign with few resources and wanted to collect contact details from potential volunteers at a campus event as they gave out T-Shirts.

Solutions: QR Codes, chatbots and texting.

QR codes are machine-readable codes that are found on many products. They can also be used to have people do something by scanning the coee with their smartphone cameras. For instance, the QR code below asks the user to register to volunteer for a campaign by sending a text. More on QR Codes and how to create your own for free here.

Chatbots are small programs that serve as your personal assistant. For instance, chatbots can accept incoming texts, ask the person a series of questions that you've defined and save the answers. In this example the bot asks the volunteer who texts in by scanning the code a series of questions and then saving the answers into a Google Sheet. More on chatbots here.

Peer-To-Peer (P2P) texting is a way to interact with people by having volunteers text them. In this example, the campaign follows-up with the people who registered by having volunteers text them. More on affordable P2P texting here.

Scanning the QR code generates a text to a chatbot that collects voter information.
Scanning the QR code generates a text to a chatbot that collects voter information.

How all the pieces work together to win over volunteers:

1. A QR code is generated with a free app and printed on flyers posted at the event. This code includes the phone number to text along with the message to send.
2. Potential volunteers at the event scan the QR code with their smartphone camera. This launches the texting app on their phone with a pre-filled with a request to volunteer.
3. Volunteers can also volunteer by manually texting 'BLACK' with their regular phones.
4. Text messages with the volunteer inquiries are accepted by a waiting chatbot. The chatbot can handle hundreds of conversations at the same time. Chatbots to handle inquiries by voice calls, text or Facebook Messenger can be created for less than $500 with apps such as Twilio. More details on bots here.
5. The chatbot responds with a greeting and asks the volunteer questions that the campaign has defined.
6. Volunteers' answers and contact details are immediately saved to a Google Sheet (database).
7. Campaign staff use the list of registrants in the Google Sheet to handout T-Shirts.
8. The information collected by the chatbot in Google Sheets is exported into other systems such as Text Per Cent to follow-up with new recruits with peer-to-peer texting.

Take away
Fund raising is never easy. Innovate with new cost-effective apps to accomplish more with less.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

DemLabs, a project of the Tides Advocacy Fund, is a SF-based, progressive hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation with free and affordable apps. Donate here to support our work.

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