How Emergency Assistance Organizations Prioritize Technology During the Pandemic

When the pandemic hit in 2020, many nonprofit organizations and government agencies quickly prepared for the surge in people seeking emergency assistance, including financial aid for utilities, housing, food and safe shelter. But the sudden switch to remote working emphasized the need for modernizing technology, which would begin to play a significant role in dealing with the increased demands for services.

From families undergoing financial challenges due to job loss to domestic abuse victims, people seek emergency assistance to stay in their homes or even protect their lives. But due to COVID-19, the needs became even greater, and organizations began to experience the limitations of old systems and processes. They scrambled to meet the increased demand while dealing with the logistics of a new remote working reality.

Providing Support

Clients that need emergency assistance require different levels and types of support. Within the last year, there’s been an increase in domestic violence occurrences as families shelter at home and moving freely in the community is more limited. These restrictions make it more difficult for victims to flee abusers and file incident reports. Victims who are isolated at home have difficulty securing the resources they need to get help.

But with improved technology, emergency assistance organizations can now connect with clients quickly and discreetly through text message and email—options that are particularly important for domestic abuse victims. For individuals and families who need emergency food or rent and utilities support, easily connecting with a case manager is critical. Communicating through text, phone or online not only saves clients a trip to an office, but the process is expedited and private.

The pandemic has forced many organizations to adopt new technology quickly and efficiently—projects they may have planned to tackle over the course of months or even years. As a result, the need to expand the ability to serve clients right now has made it possible to expedite the adoption of new technologies they’ll continue to use after the pandemic.

A Shift in Priorities

As the pandemic enters its second year, the idea of “getting back to normal” seems to be a distant reality. Adopting modern technology can help emergency assistance organizations continue their important work without delays or disruptions. Now more than ever before, emergency assistance organizations are attempting to ramp up their efforts to transition to cloud-based technologies so staff members who are currently working remotely can avoid coming into an office and being in close quarters with other individuals. With updated case management capabilities, the need to see clients virtually provides a more practical and safer environment for everyone.

Over the last several months, emergency assistance organizations have had to undergo a significant shift in how they provide services to people in need. Now, with Apricot 360, emergency assistance organizations have the opportunity to accept applications through their website and conduct intake forms, as well as connect with clients through Zoom conference calls for meetings. One challenge in adopting new text technology is training team members who are also attempting to meet the community’s growing needs. But once that hurdle is passed, the capacity for serving program participants is exponential.

The Future of Case Management 

Some emergency assistance organizations have reported that adopting Apricot 360 by Social Solutions has revealed some new truths about how people prefer to communicate with nonprofits. While team members miss in-office visits and having that personal touch with participants, some clients have discovered that they prefer to communicate via text or phone for various reasons. In other words, every client is different. Expanding technology capabilities allows emergency assistance organizations to reach people in multiple ways that are more comfortable and secure.

Apricot 360 also allows organizations to report outcomes more efficiently and accurately using standardize reports, which often determine funding each year. Automating these reports frees up time for team members to provide more community services. The Apricot 360 case management system also provides a comprehensive, holistic view of program participants and robust data integration that gives case managers unprecedented insight into an organization’s operational and programming power. This data can help reduce paperwork and inform how programs can evolve to meet people’s needs.

So, for emergency assistance organizations, modernizing a case management platform is not only a “must-have” for these strange times; it’s a roadmap for success in reporting outcomes, tracking clients, evolving programs and meeting the ever-changing needs of a community.

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