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Case Study — Harford Community Action Agency
In our own backyard, Harford Community Action Agency (HCAA) provides services to help with Homeless Prevention (Rapid Rehousing, Eviction Prevention, etc), Hunger Prevention (Emergency Food Bank, Food Advocacy Programs, SNAP Benefits, etc.), Energy Assistance (MEAP Grants), and Community Case Management (Parenting Inside Out Courses, Opioid Recovery Court, Health Insurance, GED Assistance, etc). When the pandemic hit, the need for these services skyrocketed.
As the Centralized Intake Agency for Harford County, Maryland, HCAA is the first touch for people in need – an interview is conducted, a client’s issues are identified, and they assist in getting them the proper help (whether it be with HCAA or another nonprofit better suited to their individual needs). Currently HCAA has 112 local agency partners that they work with in various ways.
The HCAA food pantry was one of the programs that saw a shocking increase in demand. In 2019, their food pantry helped 5,718 households and distributed 305,304 pounds of food. In 2020, the food pantry helped 8,005 households (nearly a 40% increase over the previous year) and distributed 467,468 pounds of food (a 53% increase over the previous year). To further support this need, HCAA invested in a new Mobile Food Pantry and partnered with several organizations to distribute food throughout Harford County.
Additionally, several new COVID-related programs and initiatives were managed by HCAA, including CARES Act Distribution (for Water & Sewer Utility Bills) and Rental Arrearage Grants (for past due rent / eviction prevention).
HCAA received national recognition for their working relationship with the local government and their roll out of the CARES Act Distribution. When the CARES Act passed, HCAA was given a very small window of time to identify eligible candidates and distribute financial aid to those behind on their utility bills. They successfully ran (and IXI marketed) a campaign that maximized the number of citizens that could be assisted.
HCAA also created a new “Triage” department to help with the influx of calls and requests for assistance. Since they launched the Triage department in October, they have worked with approximately 968 clients (584 for CARES and 384 for Rental Arrearage) and were receiving 100-200 calls per week regarding the new programs.
Throughout the pandemic, IXI supported HCAA in a number of ways:
- We redesigned the HCAA website to comply with ADA Requirements and to be fully optimized for mobile devices.
- We integrated a platform for Virtual Food Drives that established a new way to donate to their food pantry. This was especially helpful when the pandemic-related school closures were announced. HCAA’s immediate concern was to help the at-risk youths at the county’s Title One Schools who rely on the school meals each day. With a shutdown, it was not immediately clear how to help these children. HCAA emptied the emergency food pantry overnight, creating 200 care packages and hand delivering them to the local schools. Administrators at each school distributed the food to those in need. With the food pantry empty, IXI spearheaded a social media blitz – and the local community came to the rescue donating over $20,000 in 48 hours at HCAA’s first virtual food drive.
- Communication was key throughout the pandemic. After adjusting the hours and limiting the in-person interactions, HCAA needed a way to communicate effectively with their clients and supporters. IXI helped HCAA integrate a Text Marketing System to reach their clients in a timely manner with any updates that may adjust how services were to be provided. This proved tremendously effective – with over a 90% average open rate for messages.
- IXI implemented a Facebook Messenger Automation System that allowed for instant responses to online inquiries 24-7. The automation system takes a potential client through a series of questions to determine the most immediate need and how to get assistance for their issue.
- IXI developed an Intake Automation System that is taking that first social media contact automation to the next level and streamlining the process of obtaining supporting documentation required from the client for government programs.
- When HCAA’s Annual Bull Roast – their main fundraiser each year — was canceled due to the pandemic, IXI spearheaded several creative fundraising and awareness campaigns. Our Lockdown Festivals were a labor of love with a local venue, several local artists, and a community of generous sponsors donating time, talent and treasure to hold a series of virtual concerts. The Cold Beer, Warm Heart campaign had several local breweries raising awareness and funds for HCAA’s energy assistance program.
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What Your Colleagues Are Saying…
“We are so glad we decided to work with IXI. IXI invested in HCAA for the long haul; they cherish the relationships and partnered with us to optimize ALL of our communications. If you are looking for an agency to drive results by connecting people in a meaningful way, we highly recommend IXI.”
Executive Director, Harford Community Action Agency