We live in an increasingly networked world that enables us to find information in seconds and even lets us do things that a few years ago seemed impossible. Want to know how well you slept? There is a device for that. Hate driving? Autonomous vehicles will be hitting the roads soon. Need help finding food or rental assistance in your area? Good luck. Using a typical search engine to find help produces page after page of disorganized information. Often times, the lists even include predatory programs that aren’t actually designed to help those in need.
With seekers having trouble even finding programs, it’s not surprising that nonprofits and governments have an incomplete view of their communities. Are residents accessing the services they need? Are the best programs being funded in the areas where they’re most needed? In many communities, nonprofits and governments cannot answer those questions with confidence.
At Aunt Bertha, we’re doing our part to help answer those questions by making social services information more accessible. We help seekers instantly find programs and services in their area. Each of those searches is logged in our system and helps us provide a snapshot for each community where we have listings. In some cases, the results are what we’d expect: spikes in searches for emergency shelter after a natural disaster. But, we’re also seeing more unexpected results: consistent searches for work programs in communities with dropping unemployment rates. Take Dallas/Fort Worth as an example. From January to May of this year, the unemployment rate steadily declined. But search data from those same months tells a different story.
We know that additional analysis is needed before we can draw definitive conclusions, but this data provides a starting point for that further analysis to understand the why behind the search results.
Our data can also help governments and nonprofits evaluate simple supply and demand questions. Are we funding the programs that people need most? Again, using Dallas/Fort Worth as the example, we see a potential misalignment of service offerings and community needs. Housing and work consistently rank among the highest searched categories, but there aren’t that many programs available that provide those services. At the same time, we see the opposite with care and education related searches. We see lots of care and education programs, but relatively few searches for those services.
While the data certainly does not indicate that we should divert funding one program in favor of another, it does help to tell a story about the community. We can drill deeper and look at specific zip codes to better understand the needs at a hyper-local level. This detailed view provides nonprofits and governments with invaluable insight. And, it’s that insight that we hope will lead to more targeted program development that is responsive to the community needs.
Want to learn more about the needs in your community? Request a demo below, and we can schedule time to give you an overview.