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Texting to Your Group Recommendations

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Description
This training reviews recommendations on how to text your group's volunteers, including setting up a system to provide data privacy, requests to be removed, and other important advocacy considerations.
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Why send texts?

A study found that 88 percent of millennials prefer texting over phone calls. Moreover, providing a group texting service has been the most common feature request from CCL Community members. Texting your group can also be an important tool to drive engagement. 

Data privacy

Data privacy policies and protections focus on personally identifiable information (PII). PII is any data that could potentially be used to identify an individual. CCL collects PII, including member names, street addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.

  • In the US, personally identifiable information is poorly regulated. 
  • The European Union has the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - a stricter standard for how personal data should be collected, handled, and stored.
  • CCL decided to comply with GDPR, not the laxer federal and state standards in the US.

As a key element of our data privacy policy CCL only provides personally identifiable information to leaders in our organization that is necessary to conduct the normal work of CCL. 

Sharing data with a vendor

To function, CCL does need to share PII with vendors, such as Salesforce and Gmail. 

Important considerations when sharing data with a vendor are:

Who owns the data? Who controls the data?

Vendors have to agree that CCL owns the data, and CCL controls the data, meaning that CCL can view the data in the vendor’s software, can export it, and can delete it.  Also, a vendor can not share or provide access to the data to any other organization.  

The only purpose of providing PII to a vendor is so that the vendor can provide services. 

Remind.com

Remind.com is our selected vendor for group texting services. The key reasons we chose Remind.com are that it is free for the services we need, industry-tested and easy to use. 

Also, it can provide one-way messaging. This means that when you send a group text, recipients only see the message and not the other people that have been texted. If they respond, it only goes to you, not to anybody else. 

It’s also an opt-in only tool. When you send out the initial invitation for group texting to your group members, if they say no or don’t respond to the invitation, Remind.com will not include them in group texts and will not prompt them repeatedly to join up.  This is key to our commitment to minimizing the communications that our members receive. 

Seven steps for registering with Remind.com
  • Step One: Sign Up at remind.com with a phone number and email. Simply go to www.remind.com and select the “Sign Up” button. You will be prompted for an email. We suggest you use the same email that you use for CCL Community login.
  • Step Two: Remind.com will send you an email with a confirmation code. Enter it on the sign up page. 
  • Step Three: Enter your name and a password. 
  • Step Four: Accept the user agreement. 
  • Step Five: Because Remind.com was developed for the educational market it will ask you for an educator role. Select “Teacher,”  as this role is the closest to how you will use Remind.com. 
  • Step Six: If you haven’t provided your email or mobile phone number, do that now and confirm your account. Again, we recommend you use the same email that you use for CCL Community login. 
  • Step Seven: Get Started!
Getting started

Note: because Remind.com was developed for the educational market, the terminology relates to an educational environment. So when you create a group to text to, that group is called a “class”  and the group members are “students” or “parents.”

Create your class

Click on “Create New Class.” We suggest the name start with “CCL,”  so it’s clear where an invitation is coming from and then name your class exactly as CCL names your group. So, for a chapter group, an example name is ” CCL-MN-Smallville.”

Then set up a class code. There is a limit of 10 characters or less. We suggest that the code be similar to the class name, such as “smallville.” 

Select the option that you “are not affiliated with a school.”  This also indicates that you are not messaging people under age 13, which is a requirement of our data privacy rules. 

Now, click the “Create” button at the bottom. This will create your group. 

Note: Remind.com has a maximum of 150 persons per class. If you have a large chapter and want to send a group message to more than 150, you can create another class with a slightly different name, like “CCL-MN-Smallville2,” and then send the same message to both classes. 

However, you may want to first test the group texting with a subset of members, such as those that are more active. 

Downloading Your Roster

To import your group members into Remind.com, we will use the group roster. You can find a link to your group roster in the My Tools box on left side of CCL Community home page, or by using this link:  https://community.citizensclimate.org/tools/chapter-roster  

To download your group’s roster, look for the “Export” tab at the top. Select “Export List to CSV” button on the left side of the page.  This is a file type that will open in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Note: if you don’t have access to your group roster, ask a group leader or chapter admin to download it for you. 

Cleaning Your Roster

Open the roster spreadsheet, and sort it using column Z, which indicates text message opt-in (Yes) or opt-out (No) for each member. Sort it alphabetically. This will put the “No” members on top. Highlight all the No’s and delete them. We don’t want them in the texting group, as they have opted out of texts. Some members may not have indicated yes or no (the field is blank), and we can leave them in the texting group. 

To import the texting group’s names and phone numbers into Remind.com, we need to edit the spreadsheet. 

First, we need to create a new column that combines their first and last name, which are in separate columns in the roster. To do this we will use an Excel function. In the roster spreadsheet, column B is the first name and column C is the last name. First, create a new column next to column C. Name it “Full name” or whatever you want. 

Next, select the top data cell in the Full Name column. In the formula bar field at the top (with the fx label) type in the text below and press enter or return. Be sure that the punctuation is exactly as displayed here.

=(CONCAT(B2,” “,C2))

This will combine the first name and last name, add a space in between and put the combined name into the first Full Name data cell.  

Note: if you are using Google Sheets, the function is slightly different:

=(CONCATENATE(B2,” “,C2))

Now, select the cell with the combined name and copy it. Select all the rest of the cells in the Full Name column and paste. This will create combined names for the rest of the individuals in the spreadsheet. 

Next, we need to remove unnecessary data. Delete all the columns in between the new full name column and the mobile phone number column. . 

Uploading Your Roster

First, login to Remind.com. Notice the text on the upper right that says “Add People.”   

Now, go back to the roster spreadsheet. Select the full name and phone number columns and copy them to the clipboard. (Do not including the header cells.) 

Now, on the Remind.com page, click the “Add People” link on the upper right of the page. Choose Students or Parents. If you choose Parents you won’t have to confirm that all the people in your group are over 13. We recommend choosing Parents.  Now paste in the names and phone numbers (CTRL-V for PC, and CMD-V for Mac).

Check your list to make sure all the members’ data was correctly imported.. Sometimes a phone number may be missing, or wrongly formatted. So some cleanup may be necessary. 

Once you are satisfied with the list, click the blue “Add People” button at the bottom.   This will send an invite to everyone on the list. 

Be sure to delete your CSV file when you’re finished, as it contains personally identifiable information, and that should not be stored on your computer.

Additional Ways to Join

Remind.com provides several ways for members to join the texting group by themselves.

One way is to text “@” and the class code to the number 81010.  So, for example, text @smallville to the number 81010.

Another way is to go to Remind.com and use the class code like this:  remind.com/join/smallville

From the user experience end

While Remind.com will send an invite to the group members that includes your name, the group name, and some text about the purpose of the group, such as to “receive important updates,” plus instruction on how to opt-in or opt-out, it is helpful to let your group know about the texting group before you send out invites. 

How might you let your group know about Remind.com?

Before sending out invites consider: 

Letting your group know during your next group meeting

Sending out the notice with your next group email

Posting in your group’s forums or wherever you manage your group’s communication.

You may want to let your group know that if they opt in to Remind.com, they may be asked to provide their full name, if that was missing in the import. Also they will be asked if they are a student, parent or teacher. Recommend that they indicate parent to avoid being questioned about their age. 

Four main menus 

As the group organizer, when you login to Remind.com, you will see four links: Messages, Files, People, and Settings.

To send a message, simply click on “Messages” and then “New Announcement” and type your message. Send immediately or click the hourglass icon to schedule the send for a later time. 

Note: messages are restricted to 150 characters. 

“Files” displays an archive of messages you have sent.

“People” displays all the members of the group, date joined, and their status. Here you can select individuals and send them a private message, or you can remove them from the group if they request this. 

 “Settings” allows you to:

  • Update the class avatar
  • Change the class name, class code, school affiliation
  • Review class settings - be sure that “role-based” is checked. This means that group members cannot send messages to each other. 
  • Under “Class Owner, “you can add another administrator if desired. 
 Final Recommendations
  • Keep the texts clear and short
  • Only 1-2 messages per month
  • Be sure to check for responses
  • Try not to overlap CCL National Text Alerts
Length
Press play to start the video (39m 08s)
Video Outline
Skip ahead to the following section(s):
  • (0:00) Intro & Agenda
  • (2:25) Why Send Texts?
  • (4:01) Data Privacy Considerations
  • (9:21) Why Remind.com?
  • (11:44) Steps For Registering
  • (16:12) Getting Started & Menu Options
  • (35:05) Final Recommendations
Instructor(s)
  • Ricky Bradley
  • Brett Cease
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Topics
Chapter Organizing
Format
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