The Ford Family Foundation: Reaching Scholarship Recipients
The Ford Family Foundation serves the people and communities of Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. An important part of the Foundation’s work is a scholarship program that helps students pay for school. Scholarship recipients are considered long-term partners of the Foundation and are selected based on merit and need. The Ford Family Foundation uses Signal Vine to engage scholarship recipients with quick reminders and questions.
The Foundation found that many of their emails about scholarship opportunities and renewals were going to spam, especially when emails were sent to university email addresses with stricter spam filters. Before texting, getting in touch with students could take a long time – sometimes days. Time-sensitive communication was not being read on time.
The Foundation asks scholarship applicants for their phone numbers on the application. Students can also note on the application that it is OK for the Foundation to text them. Staff confirm contact information with each student again during the scholarship renewal process in January. The Foundation’s timing and content of text messages are based on need.
The Ford Family Foundation uses Signal Vine to send the text messages themselves or ask a work-study student to send specific text messages. One staff member has her Signal Vine inbox open every day and is able to manage most of the text messages herself. Additional staff are available to help out with the texting program when the volume is high or a more specific reply is needed.
The Foundation has noticed that texts always go through, never get caught in spam filters, and encourage quicker responses than emails or phone calls. It used to take days to hear back from students about completing the scholarship renewal process; now, it takes mere minutes. Students love that they can text staff at the Foundation. It fits their lifestyles better than email or phone calls. Texting is quick and easy for students and staff alike – a true win for the Foundation
For us, Signal Vine has proven to be a quick, easy way to reach out to our students and receive timely responses!
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