Programs in three states have deployed alert projects that focus messaging on very specific issues and/or segments of the population. During last year's Super Storms, Wisconsin and Oregon created text alerts for shelters: when they open, how many beds are available, and where to go for assistance in finding an emergency shelter when all standard shelters are overpopulated. Time-sensitive messages that help groups of individuals in precise ways have done tremendously well. Both projects remain live and will ramp back up as we move towards a new season of storms that experts are already predicting will be bigger than last year. While these programs occurred 2,000 miles apart in two different states, they share one extremely important statistic - not a person cancelled the messages. In mobile communication terminology, no one "opted out".
This is great news for any agency looking to capitalize on the sms boom. 2-1-1s exploring partnerships with the state or other health agencies can provide assurances about reach as well as efficacy. This data clearly demonstrates that group messaging can be just as meaningful to the end user as getting a live one-on-one message from a contact center specialist. We are seeing similar results with other issues. For instance, this past summer the state of Idaho launched a summer lunch program where individuals text a keyword to opt-in for the closest meal. They are auto-queried for their zip code and then the system sends out the closest meals that are open and available for lunch (some resources offer breakfast and supper too!). And after the first few months, this project has also enjoyed a zero percent opt-out rate!
A Florida 2-1-1 is providing a tax assistance program that helps educate citizens about free tax help and how they can maximize their return and avoid falling victim to tax scams and advance return programs that unfairly target the poor. Additionally, they have partnered with state universities and colleges to help educate high school juniors and seniors about the critical life-choice of "going2college". The program sends tailored content to subscribers that helps them meet application deadlines to their chosen institution as well as FAFSA, the two most critical pieces in the process. Again, two programs that focus on very specific populations and provide alerts that are highly tailored to each group's unique needs.
Other 2-1-1s have implemented fire alerts within moments of a statewide disaster designation. A California 2-1-1 provides incoming college students with time-sensitive education about the issues of alcohol and campus violence. Texts with facts, tips and resources are sent on the weekends just as students are keying up for a big night of partying.
These agencies have also shared their protocols with each other in an effort to improve response during disasters and create best practice. Text offers new ways to educate communities about services offered by 2-1-1 and make them lifelong advocates and users of your services. Getting tips about going2college can lead to tips about finding a job, which may lead to an I&R encounter on how to find local public transportation which leads to alerts about parenting and so on and so forth.
At its core, 2-1-1 is about people helping people. And 898211 is helping 2-1-1s open their door to a new generation of help-seekers. At our core, we are about helping nonprofits increase their value to their communities by empowering and enriching the lives of individuals and their families. Text offers many exciting, new ways to make that possible.
There are many new projects coming online over the next several months! We plan to share about them and the profound impact they will undoubtedly have on their communities.
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Or text MYTEXT to 898211 and see how secure, enterprise texting is changing how health and human services engage the public!