Benefits Data Trust (BDT) released our recommendations for how to streamline access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the 2023 Farm Bill. To explain our recommendations, we have developed a special blog series. Below is our fourth post, focusing on effective SNAP outreach.
In an increasingly digital world, connecting with older adults can present challenges, as they may be less likely to engage with emails or text messages. However, in my work at BDT helping states connect with their residents about benefit programs, I've seen that by leveraging the power of data-driven outreach strategies, policymakers, state and county agency staff, and partners like BDT can help ensure inclusivity.
Promoting effective outreach to people who are likely eligible for SNAP is a key element of BDT’s recommendations as the Farm Bill comes up for reauthorization this year.
In my experience, there are a number of reasons data-driven outreach is a successful way to connect specific communities to SNAP and other resources. Using data to guide outreach efforts makes it possible to:
- Be Precise in Outreach Channels and Messaging: Data-driven outreach provides insights into the preferred channels of communication for different populations. For instance, while younger individuals may respond well to social media campaigns, older adults might be more receptive to direct mail or telephone outreach. By understanding these channel preferences, organizations can optimize their communication strategies, ensuring that the outreach messages reach the intended audience most effectively.
- Understand Unique Needs and Preferences: Data-driven outreach enables organizations to gather and analyze demographic, socioeconomic, and behavioral data to better understand the unique needs, preferences, and challenges of older adults, marginalized communities, and other populations. By utilizing this information, tailored strategies can be developed, ensuring that outreach efforts are relevant, personalized, and effective.
- Identify Barriers and Address Disparities: Analyzing the results of previous SNAP outreach can reveal barriers that hindered connectivity and engagement for specific populations. It can help uncover disparities in internet access, technological literacy, language proficiency, and socioeconomic factors. Armed with this knowledge, targeted outreach initiatives can focus on addressing these barriers directly, offering solutions that cater to the specific challenges faced by a particular population.
- Use Locally and Culturally Sensitive Approaches: Data-driven insights facilitate a deeper understanding of local communities and cultural contexts. Marginalized communities often have unique cultural, linguistic, or historical factors that shape their receptiveness to outreach efforts. By analyzing local data, organizations can tailor their messaging and approach to be culturally sensitive, building trust and rapport with these communities and increasing the likelihood of successful engagement.
- Optimize Resources: Targeted outreach strategies enable organizations to optimize their limited resources by using the strategies most likely to be effective for a particular population and identifying the areas and communities where the need for SNAP outreach is greatest.
- Measure Impact and Continuous Improvement: Data-driven outreach allows for the measurement and evaluation of outreach efforts. By monitoring key metrics such as response rates and outcomes, organizations can assess the impact of their initiatives and make data-informed adjustments for continuous improvement. This iterative approach allows for the refinement of strategies over time, resulting in increasingly effective outreach efforts.
Overall, data-driven outreach has emerged as a powerful tool to connect older adults, marginalized communities, and other eligible yet unenrolled households with vital benefits like SNAP. By understanding the unique needs and preferences of these populations, addressing barriers and disparities, and tailoring outreach strategies accordingly, we can foster inclusivity in outreach efforts.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about our recommendations to improve SNAP outreach in the 2023 Farm Bill.