Unlocking Billions in Benefits
Enter Benefits Data Trust (BDT), a national nonprofit that helps people enroll in benefits, like SNAP. Since 2005, BDT has submitted over 800,000 applications, securing over $7 billion in benefits and services for people who need it most. With the help of BDT, the woman in Maryland was able to identify $3,690 worth of benefits she was eligible for, increasing her annual income by 42 percent! Now she isn’t simply surviving – she’s thriving.
BDT is changing people’s ability to meet fundamental needs—to eat, to heat their homes, to access childcare, and fill their prescriptions. This sparks mobility and a path to prosperity for individuals, families, and communities.
So how does BDT make a complex system easy? BDT uses data science and behavioral economics to precisely target people who are likely eligible for assistance, but not enrolled in benefits. Then, through mailed letters, as well as phone- and text-based communications powered by Twilio, BDT informs the recipient that they are likely eligible for benefits and urges them to call BDT’s Benefits Center for help applying over the phone. When people call in, a Benefits Specialist then walks them through the process, and a machine learning model BDT developed helps agents identify callers that may need additional support completing applications.
In 2018, BDT was awarded a grant from Twilio’s Impact Fund. With these funds, BDT was able to expand its SMS engagement to serve more beneficiaries with greater efficiency and convenience, improving people’s quality of life and reducing long-term healthcare costs. Last year, BDT helped nearly 60,000 people successfully access $145 million in benefits to help pay for food, healthcare, housing, childcare, and prescriptions.
BDT is also expanding their reach through partnerships with other leading nonprofits. In 2019 BDT partnered with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and Campaign for Working Families to pilot Benefits Launch, which offered people the ability to screen for eligibility for up to 19 public benefits on their smartphones while they waited to have their 2018 taxes filed in Philadelphia. Benefits Launch provides users with the next steps for completing the application process and BDT used Twilio to send text nudges to help resolve any challenges and support people through enrollment.
BDT’s long-term vision is to integrate all existing channels of communication into a seamless omni-channel outreach and engagement platform. Put simply, their goal is to provide dignity to the most in need amongst us at scale.