How the Guatemalan Mayan Center Reaches Its Community Using SimpleTexting

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The Guatemalan Mayan Center’s mission has been focused on empowering victims of violence and building community since 1992. Here's how they use SimpleTexting to stay connected to their community.

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The Guatemalan Mayan Center (GMC) is a community-based nonprofit serving uprooted children and families in Palm Beach County for over 30 years.

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Before the pandemic, GMC staff relied on messaging community members via WhatsApp groups but found communicating this way to be less efficient and private.

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Using SimpleTexting, the GMC team now has a more direct and private way to reach its community since communication is one-to-one.

The Guatemalan Mayan Center’s mission has been focused on empowering victims of violence and building community since 1992. 

One of the many ways the Palm Beach-based nonprofit fulfills this mission is by sharing information about events, services, and emergencies. 

The unique communication challenge facing Executive Administrative Assistant Hafsa Haider and her team is that there are 22 Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala, and each language is significantly different. 

The team needed to find the best way to reach its diverse community in a timely and personal manner. 

Ease of Use and MMS Messaging Was Critical for GMC

In the COVID era, GMC needed to share a lot more information but was struggling to effectively reach its community. 

The team considered other communication channels at first but, as Hafsa puts it, soon realized that “Nearly everybody has a phone and everybody can receive text messages.” This insight started GMC on a journey to find a reliable mass texting service.

Besides ease of use, the team chose SimpleTexting because it gave them the ability to send MMS messages. 

With MMS messaging, you can send and receive rich multimedia like audio, images, and video via text without using external links. With low literacy rates in the community, the ability to send audio has been hugely beneficial. 

“In the analytic reports, we see that a majority of people click the link and listen to the audio. Not only is it accessible in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, but we also try our best to translate it into the various Mayan indigenous languages as well.”

Gaining Trust Through Personalized Texts

Over the years, the nonprofit has gained the trust of its community and developed a reputation as a reliable source of information. While similar organizations face low attendance at community events, the GMC hasn’t had the same issue.

Hafsa attributes this to the fact that messages regarding their events come from people who are trusted and have demonstrated care and support for the community. 

The GMC collects phone numbers through its client intake form. This happens during a community member’s first time visiting the center to receive any form of assistance, such as food donations or legal assistance. 

The messages are then sent from those who have already shown that they care about and want to help the recipient.  

On top of this, whenever people respond to the team’s text blasts, the team monitors the inbox to manage incoming responses and ensure that recipients know there’s someone on the other end.

SimpleTexting’s Impact on GMC’s Operations

In the three years since GMC started using SimpleTexting, they’ve:

  • Shared information about COVID-19 testing clinics
  • Sent emergency text alerts during hurricane season 
  • Filled specialty care appointment slots

According to Hafsa, the use of SimpleTexting has increased the participation and engagement of community members in meetings and events. 

“SimpleTexting has been our most effective tool for reaching our community. Every time I meet partners and similar organizations, I can’t recommend it enough.”

If you’d like to donate, volunteer, or partner with GMC you can learn more about them here.

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