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Get more supporter action with click2call

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Automate your supporters’ “call your legislator” actions.

Do you work for or with an organization that sends out action alerts for supporters to call their legislators, a company or anyone else to ask for their support for LGBT equality?  When you do, how many supporters actually take action? I’m guessing the answer is "not enough."  Do you want to increase that number? Is your organization using Salsa / Democracy In Action? Yes? Read on…

When we send out action alerts with an ask for the supporter to make the call, our email blasts usually say something like:

Contact your both of your Senators by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 (two calls). Tell the operator your state and ask to speak to your Senator. When you are connected to your Senator’s office, ask for the staff member who works on Health and Human Services appropriations. To locate your U.S. senators’ names, click here.  (From Queers for Economic Justice)


Contact your senator today to ask them to sign onto the Whitehouse letter in the Senate. To contact your senator, please call the Senate switchboard at 202.224.3121, tell them your state, and ask to speak to your senator.  (From LGBT Taskforce)

Approaches like this still depend on the supporter doing a bunch of manual steps to take the action. Look up your legislator. Look up a local branch of a company. Type the number into your phone. Call a switchboard, and ask who your legislator is, then ask to be connected. Possibly wait on hold for them connect you when dialing a direct number would be faster. These are all potential blockers to your supporter taking action.

Is there a better way? Yes.

Enter Jalapeno Click2Call for Salsa

I go to alot of technology and developer conferences for my day job and for activism work. When I find interesting tools that can help us win equality, I’ll pass them along. Click2Call is a tool that can help.

Jalapeno Click2Call for Salsa is a tool that will let you automate the process for your supporters. Now instead of those manual steps, they can take action just a few clicks on your website.

They don’t even have to dial a phone number.

If your organization is using Salsa/DemocracyInAction this tool is integrated directly into the platform.  As a campaign manager, you can create everything you need from your Salsa dashboard.  By adding their package from the Salsa Marketplace and a simple setup, you can get started quickly.

By using this tool, your email blasts go from this:

Contact your senator today to ask them to vote for DADT Repeal To contact your senator, please call the Senate switchboard at 202.224.3121, tell them your state, and ask to speak to your senator

to this instead:

Contact your senator today to ask them to vote for DADT Repeal. To get started, click:

c2c start

With the Salsa platform, the system can figure out your supporter’s legislator so when they click the dial buttons, it will call the right place.  Once they click this button, they will be taken to a screen where they are asked for relevant information.  Their information will also be saved into your Salsa supporter database.


Once they fill out the required information and click the start button here, they are shown the dial page.  The dial page shows who their legislator is.  The supporter can click the “Click to Call” button OR dial it themselves if they would rather do that.

imageWhen the supporter clicks the call button, the system will call them at their phone number entered on the previous page.  When the supporter answers the call, they will be greeted with a message, asked to hit any key (to make sure they are human) and then connected with the legislator.

The page also has a script for them to follow, as well as a form to record the “score” and notes on the legislator’s response. If the supporter has more than one legislator to call, the system will walk them through multiple calls when they click the “Submit and Continue to Next Call.”

You can theme your pages with CSS and the usual Salsa templates.  When supporters take an action it is recorded in the supporter database attached to their record.    The C2C application is available in the Salsa marketplace and will provide detailed reporting of usage.

I put a screencast together that shows the supporter experience using C2C.  It’s under 4 minutes.

If you would rather try out the demo action in the video yourself, click here:

c2c start

Note:  The demo is hosted on developer test accounts, it may have intermittent downtime.

How it works

The C2C service is a salsa integrated front end with Twilio on the backend.  Twilio is a telephony service that provides the actual phone calls.  So, when you use the service, you pay a per campaign fee to C2C plus minute based charges for the Twilio service.  C2C takes care of integrating the billing, so you don’t need to deal with two vendors.

C2C actions are integrated into the Salsa advocacy campaigns.  When you set up a new action, you can create it as a C2C action.

There is also a WordPress plugin you can use to embed these actions on your own site.

The current introductory pricing seems reasonable.  If you have a supporter list of 3k-25k, you pay $50 for the action plus 0.05 per minute.  Thankfully, you can limit the maximum call time that supporters can make.

  Unlimited Campaigns
Supporter List Size Per Campaign** Monthly* Annual*
< 3k $50 + 5¢/min $150 + 5¢/min $1,650 + 5¢/min
3k – 25k $75 + 5¢/min $225 + 5¢/min $2,475 + 5¢/min
25k + $100 + 5¢/min $300 + 5¢/min $3,300 + 5¢/min

For the most up-to-date information visit New Signature’s website.

If you are interested in contacting me, click here.


Family Guy #fail on Transgender episode

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Check out the recent Family Guy episode "Quagmire’s Dad". You can watch the episode here:

In it, Quagmire’s dad, who’s a decorated war hero, get’s a sex change.

image image

I was expecting the usual funny episode:  a bunch of funny moments that push the limit, followed by an ending which teaches the right lesson.  The setup of Quagmire’s dad, of all people was great.   I watched this episode and was surprised.  I’m a fan of family guy.  I am usually pretty flexible in appreciating their humor even when some of the jokes (if taken by themselves) are homophobic, racist or otherwise discriminatory.  Often they are funny representations of how people react in the real world to these situations.  However, what was different about this episode is that it was missing the usual part where they come around on the issue and show those responses to be unenlightened.  Instead the episode ends on a negative note, with Brian frantically washing himself in the shower to "wipe off" his experience of having sex with the transgendered person (Quagmire’s dad is now Ida).  The closing scene is him getting his ass kicked by Quagmire. 

Brian is usually the character most likely to see through phobia and see people and accept them for who they are.  That he didn’t makes me wonder where the heads of the creators of Family Guy.  I had to rewind and re-watch the end to check that there was no finale that I missed or at least a "to be continued".

The Other Side of the Rainbow writes:

I am making a complaint and setting up a facebook page to boycott Family Guy. The series used to be ok but over the last year or so has been getting more and more intolerant of all marginalized people.

The creators of Family Guy should be called on the carpet to be address this.  The boycott is our natural response to these kinds of offenses.  However, I hope that we can add some demands that can turn this into a positive experience.  Perhaps have the petition demand that the creators do something that helps the community.  Pulling the episode is one option.  Making a follow up episode where Brian comes around is another.  At the least, they should publicly help educate people in transgender issues, assuming they are teachable. 


Protected: Stuff I don’t like

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

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See our side’s first commercial!

Monday, October 12th, 2009

My contribution: $


HRC Donates $10K to Approve 71 (nice flower)

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

HRC has donated $10K to Washington State’s Approve Referendum 71 campaign.


It’s great to see HRC contributing to state efforts like ours.  The cutest part is the “starter check” from their newly created PAC.  I love the sunflower and hand typed “HRC Approve Ref. 71 PAC” name on top.  Oh!  So Cute!

Thank you HRC!


Joshalot “Off Message” T-Shirt

Monday, August 17th, 2009

see my cafepress store


The Storm Gathers in Washington State

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

No, No, its not a rainstorm.  Like that’s something worth blogging about, Ha Ha.  It’s also not our women’s basketball team, “The Storm.”  This is a much worse kind of storm.

On April 15, 2009, the WA state legislature passed SB5688, the  DP expansion bill.  The bill expands the Domestic Partner benefits to be on par with Marriage.    The bill is currently awaiting the signature of the governor.

This week, on April 22 2009, The Stranger, Seattle’s only newspaper, published “Parasite Pastor”  on the emerging effort to bring the question of repealing the these benefits to the ballot box.  The new effort is being coordinated by the Faith and Freedom Network

randall fixed The champion of this effort is Gary Randall (closet-case, right), their president.  Gary is a Christian talk show radio host, ordained minister,  and former Youth Pastor, giggle. 

Oh Jeez, isn’t this a familiar story.  Let me just take a shot in the dark here.  I see a man who in previous days was, let’s say, a little too chummy with “the boys”.  Faced with the self-hatred inducing disapproval of the church, even in his own teachings, I’m guessing, he’s a closet case.  Rather than accept what he is, he’s expressing his own self-hatred by doing his part to keep the gays down. I’m seeing shades of former Florida State Representative Bob Allen.  Remember him? Closeted self-hating closet case cracks down on gay rights, gets strung up by own petard on a park bathroom. *rolls eyes*, I’ll need to look in to this more.  Perhaps Lane Hudson can find us some juicy IM chat logs from Randall.


Coming back to rainy Washington, this initiative is apparently already raising money and will start gathering signatures once Kick-Ass-Governor Christine Gregoire (right), signs the new DP bill.  You’ll notice I haven’t yet used words like “Initiative”, “Proposition”, “Amendment”, or “Referendum”.  That’s because as of yet, its not yet clear which one it will be.

In Washington state, we spend most of our time passive aggressively bitching about the rain, smugly looking down our noses at California, arguing over the Monorail year after year and then doing nothing about it, and drinking lots of snooty over-caffeinated coffee, er, Espresso.  We’re very, very uptight.  So, just like everything else here in Seattle, our system for “Power to the People!” i.e., taking things to the ballot box, is over engineered and  ridiculously complex.  There’s actually 3 options here, as explained to me:

  1. A Referendum to repeal the passed-currently-awaiting-governors-signature domestic partner expansion bill.
  2. An Initiative to repeal ALL domestic partner benefits in Washington state law.
  3. A Legislative Initiative to direct the legislature to do so.

Viva La Revolution! Just fill out one of these forms…


This referendum takes the decisions of the executive and legislative branches to the ballot box. The No on Prop 8 people cite wrong-way ballots as a problem due to the “No” vote required to keep gay marriage.  In Washington, it will be the reverse.  This would put the following question to the people:

“Do you want to keep the new DP bill that both houses in the legislature passed and the governor signed?  Yes or No.”

So, we’ve got a “Yes campaign”.  You’ll need to vote Yes on it.  So, even though we’re fighting the initiative or referendum, you must vote YES on it.  I suspect we’ll have our own wrong-way problem. 

The plus side is we can say “Yes!  I approve of equality for all!”, “Yes to Gay Marriage”  “Yes, Gay Marriages for everyone, whether you like it or not!!!”

The Referendum would require gathering about 90k signatures within 90 days after the legislative session ends. 

Initiative to kill DP

The first kind of initiative that can be created is one to enact a repeal of ALL DP benefits.  This would invalidate DP benefits in all Washington laws.    The impact to LGBT couples would be disastrous.  Not to mention the complexity of dealing with existing DPs and how employers would be required to deal with this. This would be a huge step backward.

This would require approximately 240 thousand signatures before 90 days after the legislative session ends.

Legislative Initiative

The third option, which frankly I am still researching, is a longer term plan to let the people tell the legislature what to do.  For example, they might pass an initiative to direct the legislature to pass a law to kill gay people, you never know with this crowd.  However, assuming that they just kill DP benefits, the Legislative Initiative would command the legislature to do their dirty work, while the plain Initiative would do it directly. 

This option would not be on the ballot until 2010.   I’m still not clear on what happens if the legislature does not have the votes to pass it.  I’ll report more on exactly how this works soon. 

Starting Early

We’re starting to get the wheels rolling on defeating this attempt at bigotry and we’ll need as much support as we can get.  Hopefully we can have a successful “Decline to Sign” campaign and it will never reach the ballot.  We’re also tracking them to see if this is a war-chest building effort for future tyranny.

One thing we learned from California, is that complacency and starting late can kill us.  So, if you have friends or family in Washington state, start now, give them a ring, share your story with them, and tell them that this is important to you. 

This is stake in the ground, lets learn how to win these battles!    Let’s use the lessons learned from Prop 8 and improve our game*.

* Hopefully someone from the No on Prop 8 tech team will put drive and share the results report of a post mortem report like the campaign leadership did.  I’m surprised, I would have expected the reverse.  *nudge* *nudge*

Stay tuned! Find out what happens next in the next episode…

PS: Don’t forget to check out Equal Rights Washington.