When Youth TimeBanking was looking to streamline its data gathering process, it looked to SimpleTexting to provide a solution.
Youth TimeBanking (YTB) is a nonprofit organization founded in New Jersey. It focuses on connecting young people with their community by participating in projects and activities in which youth earn opportunity credits for things that support their development.
YTB needed an easy way for members to record their time and service activity. Having previously relied on paper forms, the organization now has youths text in their community service time and activities. The next challenge was how to process the data so the organization could analyze this information and create reports.
The organization used SimpleTexting’s email-forwarding feature to send data which could then be collcted and displayed by Microsoft’s Power BI. This enabled YTB to track the progress of the program, increase reporting compliance and have a convenient way of seeing what YTB members are up to.
With all the distractions of modern life, young people are less likely to volunteer or donate to nonprofits today than they were 15 years ago. This decline shouldn’t be ignored: young people’s participation in their neighborhood benefits everybody.
For adolescents, the sense of belonging is linked to better mental health, academic success, and a brighter future. For communities, engaged young people add to the dynamic of a neighborhood and increase acceptance and diversity.
Despite the clear positives of youth social action, it can be hard for dedicated organizations to connect with youth and get them involved with community activities.
So, how do you get young people involved in social action?
According to YTB Founder, Jerome Scriptunas, young people want and need to be involved with developing community literacy and deciding where and how they want to make a difference – but you need to make the process as easy as possible.
YTB started using SimpleTexting as an easy way for young people to record their time spent in the community.
Participants text in the amount of time spent working on a community activity, followed by a short description of the activity. Using a text messaging system meant there was ‘zero learning involved’, which Jerome knew was the key to getting more young people to report their service contributions.
If the only admin necessary by youth was a quick text, it was one less obstacle.
From the organization’s side, their use of SimpleTexting is all about making exchanges by members as easy as possible.
YTB uses SimpleTexting to send ad hoc reminders for meetings, weekly bulk text messages to remind those involved to submit their time for service activity, and monthly reminders to click a link to complete a short assessment.
Jerome can also answer member’s questions with two-way messaging and find out more about new members by sending a series of demographic questions.
Prior to using SimpleTexting, YTB had been collecting community service data either manually or through a web form.
Members were not consistent in completing the form and needed multiple reminders. The process involved a lot of time and effort, and Jerome knew they needed to make the process more efficient.
“For YTB to be viable, we need to have detailed data on how long people are working on an activity and what they’re doing.”
YTB wanted a solution that youth could use on the spot, without having to invest in developing a mobile app.
SimpleTexting was the answer to this. However, the problem of finding an easy way to convert data into a more actional format, remained.
Having initially reached out to SimpleTexting’s support team and explored our Zapier integration, YTB ultimately discovered that SimpleTexting’s e-mail forwarding was the best way to accumulate data on an ongoing basis.
The goal was to build a solution that required no additional work or changes to existing processes.
Microsoft business analytics software Power BI was one of SimpleTexting’s 400+ custom integrations and was already known to Jerome, making it an obvious choice for his data analysis needs.
Now when young people finish their activities and send texts in, each text is automatically sent to an e-mail account from which Power BI can collect and convert the data. The mobile number can also be associated with demographic data from the SimpleTexting contact information.
The text message members send in includes the number of minutes worked and a short activity description. The data collected via SimpleTexting and analyzed by Power BI enables YTB to be an organization led by what youths want to do and are doing.
The connection has also freed up more time for YTB to concentrate on helping young people to get involved in local communities and allowed Jerome to spend more time looking at the future of the nonprofit.
While YTB is a young organization, its impact is already far and wide. YTB is working on projects with community organizations across the U.S., Jamaica, and New Zealand. To find out more, their resource site is full of information on how to get involved where you are.
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