The Aunt Bertha Blog

Why You Should Log In

While we don’t require users to login to search on Aunt Bertha, we think users - be they a person seeking help, helping others, or providing services -  absolutely should log in (but we are admittedly biased). Give us a quick moment to try to explain.

Why Users Should Log In:

Individual users who log in to AuntBertha.com get special features that are unlocked with a free account.

  1. Save your favorite programs - Skip the search for your favorite programs each time you come in.  Save your favorites and organize them into folders for quick access.
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    Figure 1.  Make Folders of Your Favorite Programs

  2. Manage referrals - View and manage the status of referrals that you have made for yourself or on behalf of someone else.
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    Figure 2.  Manage Referrals That You Make

  3. View analytics -  View a detailed search history and get special reports on programs and searches in your area.  With individual reporting you can get answers to questions like: What new programs have been added to my area? Or what search did I do to find that program I liked?
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Figure 3.  Individual Search History

In order to access your new reporting and analytics tools, first you have to create an account and log into Aunt Bertha.  If you haven’t created an account yet, you can do so here.

You will have to complete some searches in order to have a search history, but make sure you log in each time in order to keep your data current.  

Once you’ve built some history, you can find your reports in the navigation at the top of the page. Just click the link called “Analytics".

If you manage a program that helps others in need, you should take a look at how Aunt Bertha helps direct service providers, too!

 

Why We Don’t Require You to Login

We know that people are often searching on Aunt Bertha at their most vulnerable times.  It is in these moments that our mission to remove every barrier between the person in need and the program that can help them is most important.

In an effort to minimize or remove all barriers, we never require a login to access the Aunt Bertha program search.

This is not a “business first” decision, it is a “seeker first” decision. By not requiring a login, we assure that people in need can:

  1. Find help fast. A zip code is all you need to find programs of support.
  2. See all the key info. No program information is hidden to a user who is not logged in.
  3. Find help barrier free.  Creating an account or remembering your password are barriers - we recognize that and have removed them as a requirement to find help.
  4. Search in private. Search for sensitive information without the feeling that your searches are tracked or your privacy is lost. 

So while there are benefits to logging in, we don’t force it. We believe that by not requiring a login we are living our value of putting seekers first, and we hope you agree!

 

New Free Reports Available to Direct Service Providers

Aunt Bertha recently launched free interactive reports available to direct service providers who claim their program listings. These visually appealing, easy-to-share reports enable providers to learn from real-time data and answer questions like:

  • How often were my programs returned in search results (indicating need for services)?
  • How many people viewed my programs (indicating need for services)
  • What actions did visitors take to demonstrate interest in my programs? (i.e. clicked on my website, started a referral, printed information about my services, etc.)
  • What did these searches look like over time, and what does this tell me about changing interest in or need for my services

How to see your report:

1. If you haven't yet claimed your program, go to http://about.auntbertha.com/claims to quickly find and take ownership of your programs. If you are not yet in our system, just suggest your program to us and then claim once you have been added.

2. Once you have claimed and logged in, go to the "Analytics" tab at the top of the page.

3. Click on "Program Activity Report" to see your new reporting dashboard. If you have more than one claimed program, you can select it by using the "Filters" bar at the top of the report.

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Figure 1.  Claimed Program Report

If you want to share this report, you can print the page or click on individual elements of the report to download a CSV file of the data. 

This report might be a great addition to your next board meeting, or an addendum to the next grant proposal you submit! 

Do you have feedback on or ideas about other reports that could be useful? Email champions@auntbertha.com and let us know your thoughts.

Remind me, why is claiming my programs important?

Claiming your programs gives you a better way to connect your social services with the people who need your assistance. In addition to being able to edit and manage key content that is displayed about your program, claimed programs are also able to manage referrals and to access the new reports described above. Appointment scheduling functionality and other exciting free features will also be launching in Fall 2017. If you have any questions about claiming, email us at support@auntbertha.com and we will help you through the process. Thank you! 

Data On The Need for Social Program Diversity

I was recently asked why Aunt Bertha places such a high value in having a depth and breadth of free and reduced cost agencies listed in our database.  “Don’t people just need to know 10-20 really good resources they can send patients to if they have complex social needs?”

The short answer is: No. Data repeatedly shows that a small number of programs, even really good programs, do not meet the diverse needs of an entire community.

One of the great things about Aunt Bertha is that with over 25,000 users conducting over 135,000 searches and referrals every month we get a unique view of needs and search patterns throughout the country.   This real, demand side data tells an interesting story.

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We took a look at one of our client’s activity in the Washington DC area and found that in February alone 716 unique programs were clicked on or referred to and the top 20 programs only accounted for 35% of total activity.  

Of the organizations I speak with I have heard two consistent themes that may explain this:

  1. There is diversity in the population they serve which could have wide variation in income, age, and other factors that create a variety of social needs.  So a senior with mobility problems will have needs that differ from a single mom that is struggling financially.  
  2. Healthcare organizations that increasingly serve people from a wider and wider geographic area.  Many hospitals see patients not only from multiple zip codes or counties, but in some cases from multiple states.

Some medical conditions and treatments are common, but each patient is unique which is why there is a diversity of treatments, medications and specialists available.

DataTeam.jpgNot all people who need social assistance will be able to be served appropriately by the same programs. For this exact reason, Aunt Bertha has invested heavily in our data operations and will continue to do so. If we list a program that only a few people get that help from every year - it’s worth knowing about that program and it’s worth listing.

We’re constantly forming partnerships with key social program agencies in your community and have technology and strategies to support this.  Reach out to us to find out more about how we can help you help the clients you serve.

Request a demo ›

Topics: need-based programs data social programs

Improved Search Filters Make Finding the Right Program Easier

Our team at Aunt Bertha is creating much more than just the most comprehensive social services directory in the United States. We are committed to our mission of actually connecting people in need and the programs that serve them.

One of the ways we do this is by designing product features that bring our users closer to finding programs that are the best match for their needs. We recently re-designed the location, look and feel of our search filters with the goal of making it easier to narrow in on the right programs that are available at the right times and fit with an individual's personal situation and income level.

We moved the filters up to the top of the search results, so that they are more obvious to our users. We also separated the filters into three tabs based on the kind of content they focus on.

These three tabs include:

  • Program Filters: Details about a program
    • Includes hours that a program operates, whether it is free or reduced cost, and any specific languages a program supports

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  • Personal Filters: Details about who a program serves
    • These filters change based on your search -- what programs we found for you and who those programs serve. For example, below is a search for "emergency food," in Austin, TX. We found some programs that specifically serve veterans and families with young children, so we added those filters to the Personal Filters list. Filtering by both would show you any programs that specialize in serving either group.

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  • Income Eligibility: Asks for household income and size to narrow down programs that are based on specific income qualifications

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You may be wondering, how does Aunt Bertha know enough information about programs to create these filters?

The answer is twofold: We do this through the hard work of rigorous data collection, combined with the engagement of providers claiming* and updating their program listings.

Both of these approaches allow us to tag programs with increasing specificity based on who they serve and how they deliver services. Our goal is to continue to improve our tagging and partnerships with providers so that users know exactly which services are a good fit for them, and spend significantly less time hitting dead ends.

*If you are a provider of a free or reduced cost social service, we want to talk with you and help you claim your listing! Email champions@auntbertha.com for more information.

 
Topics: access to social services

Helping More People via LinkNYC

The team at Aunt Bertha is proud to be part of a new endeavour to make it easier for people in New York City to find the free and reduced-cost social services that they need with a presence on the LinkNYC kiosks, the world's largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network.
 
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Aunt Bertha has been an active resource for New Yorkers since we launched our free social search and referral platform in 2011. Over the past 6 years we've been happy to help tens of thousands of people in New York search for the programs that can help them.  We expanded both our capabilities and our program data for New York City and the surrounding areas through work with the Robin Hood Foundation beginning in 2014. 
 
Our new partnership with LinkNYC is a significant milestone for Aunt Bertha, as it moves us further and faster ahead in our mission to make human services information accessible to people in need, and the organizations that serve them.  People are able to use the "Help Services" feature at any of the kiosks in the city to access the Aunt Bertha program search and find programs to help with things like food, shelter, transportation, job training, legal services, and education.  
 
Access to the "Help Services" feature has been live for a little over a week now, and as we've begun to analyze the search data, we are seeing searches every few minutes, and all through the night.  We have seen people search for emergency food, addiction help, and additional support, and we hope that some have found their way to one of the many amazing NYC non-profits that are doing outstanding work.
 
You can read more about the program in The Atlantic's CityLab article: 'New York City's Wi-Fi Kiosks Now Include a 'Yelp for Social Services'
Topics: access to social services

New! Agency Referral Dashboard

Keeping track of inbound referrals and inquiries can be a hectic process. When inquiries are handled by different people at different times, it takes a lot to set up and manage a consistent means of tracking and following up on outcomes.  


That’s why we recently launched a new feature for service providers! Now you can review and respond to referrals to your programs, then track the outcomes within one central dashboard.

In this dashboard, you can:

  • See all inquiries and referrals your program received through Aunt Bertha
  • Easily find contact information to follow up with the person inquiring
  • See who referred someone to your services
  • Quickly update the status of referrals and inquiries to close the loop

You also have additional options to accept intake forms:

  • Get exactly the information you need with each referral
  • Link to these forms from your website as an online intake form
  • Easily respond to applicants and receive their replies, right in the dashboard
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With referral and inquiry activity being tracked for you, you can get a look at the bigger picture:

  • How many people are reaching out to your programs?
  • How many are able to receive services?
  • For those who don’t, what was the barrier?

Dig into this data via reports you can share with board members and funders to illuminate program activity.

All this is just the beginning. With this dashboard, we’re laying the foundation for a provider-focused workflow, to make it easier for you to help the people who are inquiring about your program. But we know there’s more to learn! We always appreciate feedback and the chance to learn from you, so we can continue to build our platform to better meet your needs.

If you have additional feedback, we'd love to hear it! Please reach out to us at customer@auntbertha.com.

Topics: new features

Customized for your Community

Here at Aunt Bertha, we are lucky to partner with a wide array of amazing people and organizations who work hard every day to support members of their communities. Each organization is unique and often highlights the needs of certain segments of their communities including  veterans, seniors, families, patients or members of a particular geographic community.

Over the last several months, we have been hard at work creating new ways for you to tailor the experience that you give to your community.

Configurable Search Navigation

One way to give a more personalized experience is through the new configurable navigation bar. Instead of the standard ten categories (shown below in figure 1) the top navigation bar can be arranged, renamed, and even added-to, in order to make it easier to find the programs that your community needs the most – whether it's programs that address social isolation for seniors, childcare support for families, or the health of your community.

navigation.pngFigure 1: Standard search navigation

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 3.42.33 PM.pngFigure 2: Custom navigation with renamed categories and brand colors.

Search Result Display Order

Another way that you support your community is by directing your community members to the best resources that will help them overcome a particular challenge. 

Prioritize programs that you have invested in or vetted.  Whether a program is one of your own programs you offer to your communities or a program that you know is responsive to those in need, we can create a featured flag that will highlight your preferred programs.

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Figure 3: Featured programs are tagged an displayed at the top of the search results.

You may also choose to influence the order of the programs so as to suggest certain service for the community. This process gives programs a ranking (1-100), which will then influence where on the search results the programs surface.

If you are already using Aunt Bertha's Enterprise Platform, shoot us an email at customer@auntbertha.com to find out how we can work with your team to provide a more customized experience to your users that reflects your mission, values and priorities.

Not using Aunt Bertha yet? Request a demo  and find out how you can easily connect your clients with the resources they need.

 

Topics: new features

Accessibility & Aunt Bertha

Aunt Bertha is committed to reducing barriers so that people can easily find and connect to social services.  A critical part of this work is ensuring that our site can be navigated by anyone looking for help – including individuals who are visually impaired or navigate sites without using a mouse. In early December, we launched some exciting changes so that our site can be more easily used and viewed by all people.  Read on to learn what accessibility changes we made to Aunt Bertha.

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Why Accessibility?
Aunt Bertha’s mission is to help ALL people in need, and adapting our system to our users helps us reach large and often underserved populations. Our database has information on hundreds of programs designed to help these specific groups, all of which are now easier to find, contact, and use! Our new release makes navigating Aunt Bertha easier for people with both visual and physical disabilities, including users with lifelong disabilities, users with temporary injuries or illnesses, and users for whom age makes it difficult to see or manipulate a mouse. People with these needs often have a harder time using the internet to find services. By increasing the accessibility of Aunt Bertha, we are working to make a big difference in helping them find the programs they need

Accessibility & Design
Going forward, the principles of accessibility will inform all of our new features. We subscribe to the principle of General Design - the idea that designing tools and interactions that help users with the most limitations will also make the Aunt Bertha experience better for everyone, not just people with disabilities. For instance, when people on our system are filling out a form or trying to get to a page fast, they may want to keep their hands on the keyboard instead of switching back and forth to the mouse. When our users are tired from a long day, it’s important to display the information they need in an organized, logical way, with a clear hierarchy showing what is most important. People who print our pages on black and white printers need to be able to understand every button and icon without any color. We can use General Design to build accessible interfaces that also make our site better for everyone.

Accessibility Changes to Aunt Bertha

For people who are visually impaired:

  • Icons and images now have text that reads with screen readers for blind and visually impaired users
  • Form fields and labels are now better linked so that screen readers accurately read the labels when someone is filling out a form, and some labels are elaborated for users with screen readers

 For people who can't use a mouse (physically disabled or visually impaired)

  • There is now a skip navigation link to move the cursor past the top menu and directly into results
  • Our categories menu can now be more easily used with a keyboard

More to come!
We will continue to improve visibility and coherence as we design new features and redesign old ones, keeping accessibility at the forefront. We’d love your feedback, so if you have any thoughts about our accessibility, send us a message at support@auntbertha.com.

For more information on web accessibility, check out http://webaim.org.  

New Feature Spotlight

At Aunt Bertha, we are always adding new and exciting features to make Aunt Bertha better and more effective for our awesome users. November was no exception with the addition of new enhancements that make it even easier to find specific programs and suggest new programs that may not already be in our database.



Find Programs or Agencies Easily

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Now when you type in the name of a program, Aunt Bertha will suggest programs and providers that you are likely looking for.

Benefits:

  • Quickly find programs
  • Fewer clicks to get to the program you're looking for
  • See multiple programs offered by one provider

 

Quickly Suggest New Programs

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When you suggest a program, you can see if the program is already listed in Aunt Bertha.

Benefits:

  • A shorter and more user-friendly form
  • Identifies programs already in the database
  • Allows you to view those programs

Are there other features you wish were in Aunt Bertha?  Want to help make an awesome product even better? Suggest changes or enhancements by sending an email to customer@auntbertha.com

 

Topics: new features