A community engagement firm used ThruText to directly text more than half a million Alabama residents with vital vaccine information.
CBG Strategies, a community engagement firm in Birmingham, partnered with the Alabama Department of Public Health to help boost minority COVID-19 vaccination rates throughout Alabama. With ThruText, they quickly reached 540,000 Alabama residents to help them learn more about the vaccines, find their closest vaccination site, make appointments, and even get free rides.
The team was facing a huge challenge getting public health information out in a state with numerous rural areas and major vaccine hesitancy among minority communities. Peer-to-peer texting (P2P) with ThruText ended up being a game changer, helping them reach more than half a million people with just 3-5 paid staff members working on the campaign at any given moment.
If you’re trying to have something that's very responsive, something you can collect data in real time, and hit a swath of people across all age demographics, we know peer-to-peer texting is the way to go.
Lindsey McAdory, CEO Chief Strategist CBG Strategies
“We know that vaccine hesitancy is really high across the board, but definitely once you get down into minority communities, even moreso,” said Lindsey. “So we used ThruText as the vehicle to communicate with vulnerable populations throughout the state.”
Not only was ThruText key in allowing the small team to contact a huge number of people, it also appealed across age demographics and allowed them to get real-time feedback from the people they contacted. For example, when people texted back saying that they wanted to be vaccinated but couldn’t get a ride to a site, the team put together a partnership with Lyft in order to give ride credits that would make it possible. That type of insight only comes from campaigns with direct contact.
“Without peer-to-peer texting, without ThruText, the means of outreach is direct mail and in person contact, which in a pandemic is incredibly hard to do safely,” said Daniel Deriso, the CEO of Deriso Digital LLC, which also worked on the campaign. “We can’t have mass community gatherings where we’re getting information out, canvassing is a lot more difficult, and people are less likely to open their doors.”
It took little more than a 10-minute training session to get everyone up and using the system, and that ease of use was crucial in reaching out to a large number of people quickly.
“The usability makes us more efficient, which means it saves the campaign money, which means we can put the money back into the campaign to contact even more people,” Lindsey said. “The reporting is simple and straightforward, so it makes the process a lot easier, which saves us time, which saves us money.”
In the end, Lindsey’s team went with ThruText because of its ability to directly communicate data with the VAN database.
“There’s no downloading a file here and uploading it somewhere else and hoping that everything translates over,” he said. “There’s other peer-to-peer texting platforms available, but it makes our job a lot harder because of data syncs and systems not talking to each other. Without ThruText we would absolutely not be able to have reached as many people as we’ve reached thus far.”
The usability makes us more efficient, which means it saves the campaign money, which means we can put the money back into the campaign to contact even more people.
Lindsey McAdory, CEO & Chief Strategist, CBG Strategies
Lindsey said he was most surprised by the low opt-out rate with the campaign. “We have a very low opt-out rate, which I think tells us that people want the information. People want to learn more, even if they’re hesitant.”
Daniel added that for some of the people they were contacting, this was “their first touch with anything public health-related, probably, in a long time.” That lack of familiarity could have made it difficult for the message to get through, but in reality, he said “people were really thrilled to get the text.”
Looking for more examples of how P2P texting for nonprofits can change the game? Check out our ACLU case study to see how peer-to-peer texting helped the ACLU launch a historic campaign at a crucial moment in American history.
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