How OIC of South Florida Uses SMS To Increase Program Engagement and Retention

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This non-profit, workforce development agency, works tirelessly to help disadvantaged communities gain employment, but few were answering their emails due to their household technology limitations. Here’s what happened when they switched to text.

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OIC of South Florida (OIC-SFL) is a community-based workforce, job development, and training organization that focuses on the unemployed, underemployed, and those with barriers to employment. Their mission is to provide quality self-help skills to individuals to become economically self-sufficient.

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OIC-SFL needed to increase engagement and retention across their programs by utilizing more accessible communication methods.

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Program managers send an average of 20 reminder messages a month to their clients, which has resulted in higher event attendance and program participation across the board.

Program managers send an average of 20 reminder messages a month to their clients, which has resulted in higher event attendance and program participation across the board.

For over 18 years, OIC-SFL has provided career training and employment opportunities for disadvantaged and underemployed residents of South Florida. Since 2001, the organization has served over 10,000 adults and services 7,000 youth annually.

We sat down with Community Outreach Coordinator, Whitney Larmond, to hear more about OIC-SFL’s strategy to address the communication struggles that come with growing nonprofits’ community engagement.

Knowing When to Turn to Texting

In her role, Whitney’s job is to increase the organization’s brand awareness by connecting with community partners, donors, and educational institutions.

As a part of OIC-SFL’s Communications Team, she works closely with the Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships, Adrinia Woods.

Mrs. Woods comes from a Fortune 500 background, which awarded her insight into what industry leaders use to communicate effectively.

For OIC-SFL, retention and engagement are top communication priorities.

Within the communities they work with, a commitment to ongoing learning, mentorship, and vocational opportunities is crucial.

In order to effectively educate and rehabilitate, they need a reliable communication channel that’s easy, accessible, and ideal for sending reminders and calls to action.

“We noticed we were having a tough time reaching a larger scale of clients with phone and email. Having seen texting work well in the past, Mrs. Woods had the idea to try it out with our programs.”

Since text-enabling their programs, both Whitney and Mrs.Woods have witnessed a vast improvement when it comes to engagement and effective response times.

“I love that I have the analytics. It’s been so helpful to see how many people we’re actually reaching now and what’s getting through to them.”

Sample Text Message for Recent Hiring Event hosted by OIC:

Job Alert!!! Advanced Roofing in Broward is hiring Helpers @ $14.00 and Assembler @ $14 – HVAC Technician @ $22-$32 – Member Specialist @ $?? – Aldi’s Team Member @ $13.50 – Bus Cleaner @ $15. Interested in applying, please reply with the “Position” for further instruction

After training all the program managers on the platform, Whitney has since passed the communication baton to them.

Each program manager has their own list(s) specific to their audience. They’re able to send text blasts, chat one-on-one, answer questions, provide clarity on a message, or just be present for anyone who needs it.

Sample Text Message for Career Workshop:

Friendly Reminder: The Dania Beach Career Readiness Workshop is today at 1 pm. Light refreshments will be served. See you later today!
I can be there by 3:30. Will some still be there?

How Did SimpleTexting Meet OIC-SFL’s Needs?

For Whitney, it was important OIC-SFL found a text marketing platform that facilitated one and two-way messaging. She also needed a variety of methods to accommodate the ways they planned to grow the organization’s subscriber list.

Currently, they request clients at events and programs to share their phone numbers if they’re interested in receiving texts. As they scale up, they plan to utilize keywords on all their flyers and marketing materials to cater to those currently outside their service funnel.

Once Whitney was able to experiment with the platform and verify that the team had the basics down, everything else became the cherry on top.

“SimpleTexting is just super easy. While I was training the managers on the platform they were amazed at how easy it was to navigate.”

In the rare instance that she runs into an issue, Whitney has also found our customer success team to be a valuable asset. “Customer service almost always immediately responds. They’re fast and accommodating if I ever have an issue!”

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Advice For Nonprofits Curious About Texting

Whitney and the OIC-SFL team have been text-enabled for a little over a year now. So, we asked her to share any advice she may have for nonprofits who are thinking about investing in SMS.

To Especially those in the health/human services sphere. 

Here’s what she had to say:

"If you’re considering texting, know that it’s a great platform to increase engagement. It’s a better tool when it comes to communicating with the people you’re trying to reach. Whether it’s families or individuals in your program… it’s just a great tool for getting your messages out and sending reminders."
Whitney Larmond
Whitney Larmond

Community Outreach Coordinator

If you want to take Whitney’s word for it and give us a try, you can access a free, 14-day trial here. If you decide to upgrade, know that nonprofits are eligible for a 15% discount on all monthly plans!

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