Penulis: Tomas Quiñonez

Belajar Melalui Pandemi: Kisah Marlena

Marlena sat at her desk in April of 2020, unusually unfocused as the biology Zoom lecture droned on in the background. She eyed her phone, blank where she was waiting for notifications. Her finger tapped to the rapid beat of her nervous heart as, for the first time in a long while, she felt the grip over her ambitions slip. She always held the reins to her future firmly in hand. The world, though, was shaken and so was she.

Marlena is not easily shaken. 

At the start of the pandemic, she was in her second year of studying biomedical engineering at Crafton Hills Community College where she blazed a path as a first-generation college student and woman of color in a heavily white, male field. She forged ahead in spite of prejudice, choosing to add it as fuel to her fire. 

However, when her parents both saw their hours cut during the pandemic, Marlena was suddenly uncertain how she’d pay for the next semester’s books. So she reached out for help. Then she waited. The waiting was the hard part.

“Not being able to control everything around me was really hard to process,” she said.

Marlena first learned how painful losing control could be when she was 12. 

Her father, the sole bread-winner of a family of six, worked for a company that got acquired. He turned down an offer to keep his job at a steep pay cut, which caused their mortgage company to come after them like a pack of vultures and sparked a lawsuit that left the family in financial ruin.

“We lost everything,” she recounted. “We lost our home, we had to move and it took us about seven years of living paycheck to paycheck to get back on our feet.”

Marlena’s experience taught her early that there is only so much your own two hands can influence. Sitting with her parents and siblings at their dining table through many hard conversations also taught her that finances are fundamental to building a future. She took these lessons to heart and threw herself into her studies, gripping the reins of her future with characteristic ferocity and discipline.

Marlena graduated with the highest honors from her high school as her class valedictorian and one year early. After completing her associate’s degree, she plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s in biomedical engineering. While her current accomplishments are remarkable enough, for Marlena, they’re just the preamble.

“My dream is to create the world’s first 3D-printed organs,” she shared. “I’m so passionate about my studies because I want to save lives.”

Anyone who knows Marlena understands that while she radiates passion for her field, her love for her family is, somehow, even more potent. She would never trade family for her own ambitions. So in typical Marlena fashion, she has gone about her academic journey with a mission to lift the financial burden of college on her family with unrelenting focus and dedication.

“I’ve probably applied to hundreds of scholarships,” she recounts. “I apply to the big ones and the small ones, too. I know every bit adds up. At one point, I was applying to two scholarships a day.”

Her hard work was paying off.  

Between her scholarships and her parents’ support, she had made it through the first two years of study without compromise. Then the pandemic derailed her plans. Marlena was suddenly considering reducing her course load for the fall semester because of the cost. She then began searching for external resources and came across MAF’s CA College Student Grant.  

The $500 grants were emergency financial relief for students in need, regardless of academic performance. Because of the sheer volume of demand, the MAF team created a financial equity framework to bring those left last and least to the front of the line. We prioritized those who had lost income, were financially strained and were marginalized from other funding.

Students like Marlena should never have to choose between their grocery bill and their books. 

Students should have the time to study without worrying about tracking hundreds of scholarships. For this reason, MAF leveraged the best of technology and finance to deliver grants as effectively and quickly as possible.

Back at Marlena’s desk in April, she released a full-bodied sigh of relief. She’d just received an email from MAF that her application was accepted. By the end of that day, she saw the grant deposited into her account.

“Within 24 hours, I saw the funds in my account and I was able to buy my books,” she beamed. “Receiving the grant gave me hope. There are others out there investing in me and my future.”

With her family firmly beside her and a growing circle of supporters cheering her on, Marlena is well on her way to realizing her dreams. And it’s working. Marlena ended her semester maintaining a 4.0 GPA and will be graduating in 2021 with highest honors before moving on to UC Riverside on a Regents scholarship. She credits honoring her Native American great-grandfather and her faith as key inspirations in making it to this point.

“I know there are many others who are going through the same things I am,” she says. “If I’m able to encourage and inspire them to not give up, that makes everything worthwhile.”

At MAF, we know she will do just that. She already is.

Visi MAF untuk Tampil & Melakukan Lebih Banyak

As vaccines roll out, many of us see a light at the end of a long tunnel. But this light is dimmer for immigrant families who have been repeatedly excluded from federal COVID-19 relief.

As we look to recover, how can we show up & do more to help immigrant families rebuild their financial lives faster?

On Tuesday, May 11th, we introduced a vision for MAF’s future and gathered to discuss how all of us—across sectors—can show up and do more for immigrant and low-income families. 

Reflecting on 2020

At the outset of the pandemic, the MAF team moved swiftly to show up in ways that mattered. We launched a Rapid Response Fund to support immigrant families who were hit hardest by the pandemic and denied federal aid. We delivered direct assistance to families left last and least to help them weather this crisis.  Since the Fund’s launch in April 2020, MAF has distributed over 50,000 grants and counting to immigrant families, small business owners and students.  Here is the behind-the-scenes story of how it happened.

Our Vision For The Future

As José Quiñonez, MAF’s CEO, said in the closing of the video, this work isn’t over, and we can’t do it alone. As an organization, we’re moving forward from the same foundation that has guided us the past 14 years: a community-centered approach focused on the people we serve. 

Our community-centered approach is actually quite simple. We meet clients where they are and create programs that build on what is good and true in their lives. We work to scale solutions using the best of technology and finance because we know that financial security is foundational to every dream realized. And we use our learnings and insights to advocate and organize our collective power for systemic change. 

This community-centered approach is our guide for doing good work that is rooted, timely and relevant to the communities we serve. It’s how we can realize meaningful social change. It’s not just theory. 

We start by listening to our clients. 

In the wake of the pandemic, immigrants are surviving on just 15% of their pre-pandemic income.  Families are falling behind in utility bills and rent. Some owe thousands of dollars that will be hard to pay off in the future. In MAF’s national survey, we found that 4 in 10 families are behind in rent and at risk of eviction. 

And it all could have been avoided. Immigrant families were denied up to $11,400 in stimulus checks.

Most families could have paid their monthly bills in full with $1,200. In other words the stimulus checks could have helped immigrant families cover their bills for nine months or more.

We respond to client realities with new products.

This summer, MAF is launching the Immigrant Families Recovery Fund (IFRF) to put these insights to work helping families recover.

This $20 million fund will provide cash grants of $300 per month for up to two years to 2,500 families with children. MAF’s recovery fund will focus on undocumented immigrants across the country who have been excluded from federal assistance. We’re putting equity front and center to focus on marginalized families with the least income sources and most financial strains. 

We’re going beyond cash grants. We are also providing direct, timely and relevant services to help families recover faster with financial coaching, education and self-advocacy training. We plan to evaluate and study everything about our engagement with immigrant families so that we can lift up what works, share stories and push for policy change in real time. 

We scale what works.

We are also expanding the tried and true programs that work – we’re building on our long track record of successfully helping families improve their financial lives by expanding our credit-building programs even more.

We are investing over $6M into Lending Circles, our award winning program that is rooted in the timeless tradition of people coming together to help one another.  We are investing over $10M in immigration loans to help people apply for citizenship, DACA or green cards.  We also plan to invest over $9M in small business owners, entrepreneurs who need their first lender to believe in them and their dream. 

We create a culture of engagement.

Financial security is not just about finance. It’s about power and voice. For this reason, we are investing in our technology to enable a culture of engagement for our clients.

The team is hard at work expanding our MyMAF app and SMS platform to provide relevant, accessible information about issues that matter. These technologies are empowering clients to take action from the personal to the national levels. Ultimately, clients can lead the field to better solutions. 

This is our vision for showing up and doing more. 

We’re investing $70M over the next three years to build our infrastructure and expand our programs to help immigrant families recover faster. 

We know that the road ahead to building a more equitable future is a long one, but together we can make sure the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter for immigrant families. 

So, how can you help by showing up and doing more?

We invite you to take a look at this webinar recording where we lay out our vision for the next three years. 

You can learn more about how to support our programs by reaching out to our philanthropy team at [email protected]

We encourage you to follow along with us on social media for updates as we launch the Immigrant Families Recovery Fund. 

Finally, share with us on social media how you are #ShowingUpDoingMore for immigrant and low-income families.  

MAF Menghadiahkan $45 Juta Untuk Mendukung Keluarga Imigran Selama Krisis COVID-19. Masih Belum Cukup – Kongres Harus Bertindak.

Building on MAF’s nationwide COVID-19 Rapid Response campaign, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott awarded MAF $45 million to provide direct relief to those hit hardest by the pandemic. Mackenzie Scott’s generous gift enables MAF to continue providing financial relief to immigrant families excluded from receiving help. Over the past year, MAF has already distributed direct cash assistance to 48,000+ individuals to help them weather the crisis—and today the organization is poised to do even more. 

In spite of these efforts, the reach of a single organization like MAF is nowhere near enough to meet the staggering financial devastation faced by millions of immigrant families left out of federal relief. We need leadership and action at a national level to ensure the last and the least are a part of a sustainable recovery.

Congress has taken meaningful steps in recent months to expand the safety net when families needed it most.

The December 2020 COVID relief bill and 2021 American Rescue Plan extended the latest rounds of financial relief to more than 3 million people in mixed-status households left out of the 2020 CARES Act. Yet, an estimated 11 million people in immigrant families continue to be denied assistance even as they keep the economy afloat in essential work.

“As an undocumented person who has filed my taxes for twelve years, it has been hard to have to accept that in times when we struggle, we are unable to receive anything back.” 

Juan, Rapid Response grant recipient

This exclusion comes at a time when our economy rests on the shoulders of essential workers who cannot access support to weather the pandemic even as they are suffering higher rates of COVID infections and deaths. Essential workers are immigrant workers and many have no access to relief. They are going hungry, falling behind on rent, missing monthly bills for no fault of their own. 

More must be done. 

In meeting this moment of crisis, Congress must advance desperately needed relief and include everyone—regardless of immigration status. Over the last year, we have seen how the health and economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic have fallen disproportionately on the marginalized, excluded, and invisible. Congress must expand support to all immigrants, putting equity front and center to deliver relief to the least and last. This intentional focus on equity is at the heart of MAF’s Rapid Response Fund, and the means by which the organization has provided nearly $30 million in direct cash assistance.

“We’ve spent 14 years building scalable platforms, relevant products, and a national network of community based organizations to help low-income and immigrant families improve their financial security. Now, we’re using our platform as pipes to effectively and with dignity distribute the crisp waters of relief into the hands of those most parched, those who have been denied and forgotten.”

MAF CEO José Quiñonez

MAF’s capacity to act and scale quickly is a direct result of the partners who have and continue to believe in its vision of leveraging the best of technology and finance in service of those left in the shadows.  Their sustained support has enabled MAF to pioneer new ways of meeting people where they are, in the fullness of their complexity and their humanity.  MAF is now expanding its equity-centered work helping low-income and immigrant families directly during this unprecedented crisis. 

MAF applauds Mackenzie Scott for showing up, with urgency and conviction, to do more for families relegated to the shadows. Now it’s time for Congress to do the same. 

Immigrants are essential, risking their lives to keep our country afloat during this pandemic. 

They have stepped up for us, and now it’s our turn to step up for them. If we really want a more permanent and prosperous path to recovery, Congress needs to eliminate the structural barriers that have long stood in the way of people’s abilities to reach their full economic potential. 

Today, we have not one but five proposals on the table that could help us get there. We have proposals that would provide legal status and protections to millions of Dreamers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, farmworkers, and essential workers and their families. While these bills can be the critical building blocks to move us forward, they are not the end goal. Congress must ultimately push forward with the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, which offers a sweeping reform that would grant 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. 

By removing these long-standing barriers which have for so long pushed millions into the shadows, immigrants can have the opportunity to rebuild their financial lives more fully and with dignity. They can have financial stability in their lives to rebuild their financial security, and have a fighting chance in a post-pandemic recovery. 

Our work is far from done—it is our collective responsibility to urge our representatives to take immediate action. We need to offer relief and citizenship for all if we truly seek to rebuild an equitable world that works for all.

Empat Tahun Kemungkinan: Warisan Pengorganisasian Berkelanjutan

Serangan di Capitol sangat mengerikan. Menghancurkan. Namun narasi mendominasi berita utama hanya satu sisi dari bulan bersejarah ini. Ketika kita membalikkan wajah kebencian dan ketakutan yang membusuk, kita melihat wajah lain dari bangsa kita muncul, segar seperti hujan dan penuh harapan seperti mimpi. Kami merayakan, meskipun tragedi, karena wajah vital ini kuat dan dinamis. Itu terus memelihara kita yang percaya pada dunia di mana semua orang dapat diterima dan dicintai.

Kemenangan monumental yang bersejarah dan belum pernah terjadi sebelumnya di Georgia membawa kita selangkah lebih dekat ke dunia itu.

Warnock, Senator kulit hitam pertama di Selatan, dan Ossoff, Senator Yahudi pertama di Georgia, mewakili harapan komunitas pendukung yang sangat beragam. Kemenangan mereka memastikan bahwa harapan-harapan ini akan segera menjadi nyata bagi mereka yang berada di negara bagian Georgia, bangsa dan, kita dapat mengatakan tanpa hiperbola, seluruh dunia.

Kemenangan konsekuensi epik seperti itu tidak, tidak mungkin datang dalam semalam. Alih-alih, itu adalah puncak dari upaya keras selama satu dekade dalam mengorganisir kepemimpinan oleh yang tak ada bandingannya Stacy Abrams, Deborah Scott, Felicia Davis, dan banyak lainnya dari “iterasi penyelenggara berikutnya” yang menelusuri warisan mereka hingga pahlawan hak-hak sipil abad terakhir. Kami mengangkat nama-nama wanita kulit hitam katalis yang mengangkat suara begitu banyak orang lain, mereka yang telah dilupakan, ditolak dan ditinggalkan terlalu lama dalam bayang-bayang. 

Suara mereka, manifestasi kekuatan mereka, adalah tembakan yang terdengar 'di seluruh dunia.

Sementara pemerintahan Biden/Harris yang masuk memiliki tugas berat sebelumnya, mereka akan dapat mencapai lebih banyak, memerintah dengan lebih baik, dan memimpin dengan lebih berani karena landasan yang ditetapkan untuk mereka. Sederhananya, bertahun-tahun rajin, membangun basis yang gigih, pengumpulan koalisi, pengaturan meja, dan berdedikasi pengorganisasian mampu membalikkan keadaan merah menjadi biru dan membuka seluruh cakrawala kemajuan potensial.

Kita tidak bisa menyia-nyiakan kesempatan ini. MAF menyerukan akuntabilitas untuk janji-janji kebijakan berikut dalam 100 hari pertama:

Memperluas bantuan ekonomi COVID-19

Memberikan bantuan tunai kepada orang-orang pada saat-saat kritis dalam hidup mereka dapat menjadi transformasional. Ini bisa menjadi perbedaan antara membayar sewa untuk satu bulan lagi, atau jatuh ke dalam spiral perjuangan keuangan. Membangun kembali dimulai dengan keamanan finansial. COVID-19 telah menghancurkan keuangan keluarga, menyebabkan efek riak ketidakamanan ekonomi ke bidang lain kehidupan mereka. Orang-orang harus melewatkan makan, ketinggalan uang sewa, dan menghindari mencari perawatan medis selama pandemi. Menunda bantuan hanya akan mempersulit orang untuk pulih. 

Ketika pemerintah federal menawarkan bantuan, itu mengecualikan 15 juta orang karena status imigrasi rumah tangga mereka. Sejak hari pertama, MAF telah mengadvokasi bantuan untuk semua, terlepas dari statusnya. MAF meningkat untuk menawarkan bantuan tunai kepada 43.000 orang. 

Dari penelitian kami, kami melihat dampak definitif bantuan tunai dalam kehidupan masyarakat. Dalam survei MAF terhadap imigran yang tidak mendapat bantuan CARES Act, kami melihat peningkatan 10 kali lipat dalam jumlah rumah tangga imigran yang tidak memiliki pendapatan hari ini. Jika keluarga-keluarga ini telah dimasukkan dalam UU CARES, lebih dari satu dari empat akan mampu melunasi tagihan mereka sepenuhnya untuk bulan ini hanya dengan $1,200. Kami tidak dapat terus mengecualikan pekerja penting kami – kami membutuhkan bantuan untuk semua.  

Reformasi imigrasi

Kami mendesak Administrasi Biden untuk menepati janji kampanye imigrasinya. Mengembalikan DACA akan menjadi langkah pertama yang bagus—tetapi kita tidak bisa berhenti di situ. Kami membutuhkan kebijakan komprehensif yang akan melindungi dan membantu semua imigran membangun kembali kehidupan finansial mereka pasca COVID-19. Ini berarti memulai dengan jalan menuju kewarganegaraan untuk semua 11 juta imigran tidak berdokumen, yang sebagian besar telah tinggal di negara ini selama beberapa dekade dan banyak yang termasuk di antara pekerja penting yang berjuang di garis depan pandemi ini. 

Ini juga berarti menjaga keluarga tetap bersama, memberikan pencari suaka kesempatan untuk mencari keselamatan, dan mengakhiri larangan Muslim yang diskriminatif. Jika kita benar-benar ingin membangun kembali negara ini setelah pandemi ini, kita perlu berinvestasi pada manusia. Mari kita mulai dengan memperluas perlindungan kepada pekerja esensial kita dan keluarga mereka – jutaan imigran yang telah membantu kita di saat kita sangat membutuhkan.  

Pelajaran yang kami ambil dari Georgia adalah bahwa kebijakan ini hanya mungkin jika dibangun di atas kemenangan pengorganisasian yang menyenangkan dan inklusif. Untuk alasan ini, kami telah berinvestasi di mobilisasi pekerjaan yang diperlukan untuk menciptakan budaya keterlibatan yang sejati bagi semua orang, tanpa memandang status. Pada tahun 2020 kami melibatkan komunitas kami yang terdiri lebih dari 100.000 tentang sensus dan pemilihan, mendengarkan cerita dan kebutuhan mereka. Pada tahun 2021 kami akan terus berorganisasi dengan lebih berani dan tanpa rasa takut karena perjuangan untuk pemilihan berikutnya, paruh waktu berikutnya, masa depan impian kami, telah dimulai.

Berita utama mungkin terus didominasi oleh wajah-wajah cemberut pria kulit putih yang keras. Namun kita akan terus menatap wajah kita yang lain itu, mantap di ujung tombak menuju keadilan, cahaya harapan yang membuat kita tetap hangat dalam perjuangan pahit untuk kesetaraan, selamanya.

5 Kunci untuk Kampanye yang Relevan dan Disengaja

“Apakah ada suara Latin?”

Setelah kampanye presiden 2020, ini adalah pertanyaan yang diajukan oleh para pakar, lembaga survei, dan politisi yang bergulat untuk memahami hasil pemilih. Tahun ini adalah momen yang menentukan bagi para pemilih Latin, hampir mendekati dua kali lipat dibandingkan tahun 2016 dalam pemungutan suara awal. Pertumbuhan pemilih Latin yang luar biasa menggarisbawahi kebenaran bahwa tidak ada jalan menuju Gedung Putih tanpa suara Latin. Jadi apakah itu benar-benar ada?

Jawabannya, tidak mengherankan, adalah ya dan tidak. Pengalaman bersama tertentu tentu saja menyatukan komunitas Latin dalam bidang budaya yang luas. Namun, rentang pengalaman dan latar belakang yang luas mematahkan gagasan apa pun tentang identitas Latin yang monolitik, karena tidak ada satu masalah atau afiliasi politik yang menyatukan semua pemilih Latin. Keragaman dalam keragaman ini berarti bahwa dukungan Latino dari pihak atau kebijakan mana pun tidak dapat diterima begitu saja. Hal ini membutuhkan investasi waktu dan sumber daya yang konstan selama dan juga di antara pemilihan untuk membangun koneksi yang kuat dan tahan lama. Politik bersifat pribadi dan kunci untuk memobilisasi pemilih Latin adalah pengiriman pesan yang berbicara tentang pengalaman hidup mereka.

Fokus panduan pada pertemuan pemilih di mana mereka berada adalah sifat kedua dari MAF. Faktanya, pendekatan yang berpusat pada klien dalam kerangka komunitas adalah cara kami membangun semua produk dan layanan selama 14 tahun terakhir. Kami baru-baru ini menerapkan ketelitian yang sama pada kampanye mobilisasi kami dan telah membangun pendekatan ini baru-baru ini dalam kampanye GOTV kami kepada 105.000 klien. Inilah yang telah kami pelajari adalah 5 kunci untuk menjalankan kampanye yang sukses untuk pemilih yang beragam:

1. Semua suara dibutuhkan untuk budaya memiliki

Kampanye politik arus utama cenderung hanya berfokus pada pemilih yang kemungkinan besar akan memilih. Mereka mengabaikan mereka yang tidak mungkin memilih. Mereka mengabaikan sepenuhnya mereka yang tidak berhak memilih. Mengabaikan mereka yang tidak memenuhi syarat untuk memilih adalah kesalahan dan kesempatan yang terlewatkan.

Sebaliknya, yang kita tahu benar adalah bahwa setiap suara itu penting. Pemilu baru-baru ini menunjukkan banyak negara bagian menang, kalah, atau dikirim untuk menghitung ulang berdasarkan margin yang sangat kecil. Meskipun ada rekor partisipasi pemilih, partisipasi masih bisa dan seharusnya lebih tinggi. Kami percaya bahwa semua orang, terlepas dari status imigrasi mereka, harus terlibat dalam kampanye yang membentuk masa depan kita karena suara mereka tidak hanya dapat mempengaruhi skala pemilihan individu, tetapi juga karena hal itu menciptakan budaya keterlibatan yang lebih luas. Dan budaya keterlibatan inilah yang akan menjadi kunci untuk menjaga jiwa bangsa kita saat kita membangun masa depan yang lebih adil.

2. Segmentasi membutuhkan kerendahan hati

Setelah 2016, DNC menyadari pentingnya menyegmentasikan file pemilih mereka untuk membuat pesan yang lebih bertarget dan relevan ke "pemilih sub-etnis.”Dengan cara ini mereka dapat mengintip di bawah payung Latin yang luas dan menargetkan Dominika, Meksiko, Tejanos, dan Kuba dengan pesan yang lebih relevan. Meskipun ini adalah langkah ke arah yang benar, ini masih mengasumsikan terlalu banyak tentang pengalaman hidup para pemilih hanya berdasarkan kewarganegaraan keluarga mereka.

Orang juga harus memiliki agensi dalam proses segmentasi dengan memilih sendiri berdasarkan pengalaman hidup mereka. Dalam kampanye GOTV kami, kami mengirimkan survei awal yang memungkinkan klien melakukan hal itu. Setelah menerima tanggapan mereka, kami dapat menindaklanjuti setiap segmen audiens yang mereka pilih untuk berbicara dengan mereka secara lebih mendalam.

3. Membuat pesan untuk setiap kelompok segmen berdasarkan nilai

Lebih jauh dari segmentasi audiens, pesan yang bijaksana dan relevan untuk kelompok audiens sangat penting. Kami menemukan bahwa pesan yang relevan secara budaya dan melibatkan emosi seputar nilai-nilai inklusi, kepemilikan, dan komunitas lebih berdampak daripada retorika transaksional standar karena itu berbicara ke hati.

Lebih jauh dari segmentasi audiens, pesan yang bijaksana dan relevan untuk kelompok audiens sangat penting. Kami menemukan bahwa pesan yang relevan secara budaya dan melibatkan emosi seputar nilai-nilai inklusi, kepemilikan, dan komunitas lebih berdampak daripada retorika transaksional standar karena itu berbicara ke hati.

4. Uji asumsi dan pesan Anda

Sebagai organisasi pembelajar, kami tetap disiplin dalam selalu menguji asumsi kami. Dalam konteks kampanye, disiplin ini diterjemahkan ke menjalankan eksperimen dengan sampel klien untuk menentukan pesan mana yang paling beresonansi dengan setiap segmen. Sebagai aturan praktis, kami akan membuat 3 pesan untuk setiap segmen audiens, dan menguji setiap pesan dengan 200 kontak. Kesediaan untuk belajar selama setiap kampanye ini menghasilkan wawasan yang memungkinkan kami untuk meningkatkan pesan kami dengan setiap kampanye berikutnya saat kami terus mengembangkan hubungan kami dengan klien.

5. Jangkau klien di mana mereka berada

Saat akhirnya tiba waktunya untuk meluncurkan kampanye yang sebenarnya, langkah penting terakhir adalah merancang kampanye multi-saluran yang bertemu dengan orang-orang di mana mereka berada. Meskipun ini mungkin lebih merupakan dorongan bagi penyelenggara kampanye, pesan-pesan yang telah disiapkan dengan sangat menyeluruh pada akhirnya harus disampaikan dengan cara yang bermakna dan berdampak.

Untuk alasan ini, kami merancang kampanye GOTV kami untuk menyertakan email dan SMS otomatis karena kami mengetahui sebelumnya bahwa klien berbahasa Inggris dan Spanyol memiliki preferensi komunikasi yang berbeda. Tingkat respons standar industri untuk SMS adalah 22% yang mengesankan. Klien berbahasa Spanyol dari kampanye GOTV kami menggandakan jumlah itu, menanggapi pesan kami yang dibuat dan ditargetkan dengan kecepatan 44%.

Terlepas dari keberhasilan langsung dari kampanye ini untuk menunjukkan dampak penjangkauan kepada komunitas yang sebagian besar masih dalam bayang-bayang, kemenangan utama dari upaya kami adalah kontribusinya pada budaya keterlibatan yang lebih luas. Ini tidak bisa terjadi dalam semalam, atau melalui aktivitas transaksional, karena budaya tidak terjadi begitu saja. Itu harus dibangun, kita harus membangunnya, merayakannya, dan memberinya makan. Budaya memiliki adalah proses yang berkelanjutan, yang selalu membengkokkan busur moral sejarah menuju keadilan.

Wawasan ini akan terus memandu pekerjaan kami saat kami berinvestasi lebih banyak dalam mobilisasi di masa mendatang. Dan kami berharap Anda bergabung dengan kami dalam perjalanan ini untuk memperjuangkan dunia yang lebih adil dan setara bagi semua.

Wawasan dari Kampanye Penjangkauan Sensus

Immigrants, like other marginalized communities, are labeled as “hard-to-count” by the United States Census Bureau. The implication is that immigrants are in some way lacking, whether in information or interest. Our work says otherwise.

This spring, MAF lead a thoughtful, targeted census outreach campaign. By crafting emotionally engaging, culturally relevant messaging and building on the foundation of trust that connects non-profits to the clients we serve, MAF moved the needle. The Census Bureau estimated a 60% response rate for the 2020 census, the lowest in decades. After our week-long, digital-first outreach campaign, we saw MAF clients bring that number up to 83%. This was driven in large part by immigrant clients who turned out to be most engaged, responding to SMS outreach at an incredible rate of 54%, more than twice the industry standard. Immigrants, we found, were in fact the easiest-to-count.

We offer this insight to the field to inform the work of the wide coalition of organizations fighting hard to lift up the voices of marginalized communities in the census. MAF believes that the unique role of non-profits in this effort is rooted in the relationships of trust cultivated over time. As a beacon of light in the fog of today’s misinformation war, non-profits are critical messengers of crucial and reliable information.

Time is running out before the deadline of September 30th so we’ve compiled actionable insights to inform the needed and critical efforts of partners in the MAF network and beyond. What follows is the story of our census campaign, detailing what we did and the lessons we learned. We hope you find these learnings useful, apply them to your own work, and that you’ll consider joining us as we continue to lift up the voices of the incredible people we serve every day.

MAF begins with the lived experiences of our clients.

In the context of a census outreach campaign, the messaging we used had to be both timely and relevant. It quickly became clear, though, that standard messaging from the Census Bureau was neither. The two most common messages we found from the Census Bureau described the importance of the census in terms of power (congressional representation) or money (federal budget allocations). For people who are being told that they have no place in the democratic process in the first place, and who are routinely denied social services, these points are, at best, meaningless or at worst, insulting.

Based on our rich understanding of the lives of our clients, we knew improving the messaging would be simple. The key was to craft emotionally engaging and culturally relevant language centered on themes of belonging and community.

To test our intuition, we designed a campaign to compare the results of 2 standard census messages against 2 messages we created in-house. Another non-profit, the immigrant advocacy organization OneAmerica, joined in our campaign. Together, we delivered these messages to 4,200 clients across English and Spanish-speaking communities using a combination of email and SMS.

The results came in: the single most effective messaging angle in our campaign was not power or money, but belonging.

This result implies that messaging to lift up the experience of truly being accepted is powerful. Perhaps its because it runs counter to a dominant national discourse that actively denies the humanity and rejects the validity of immigrant communities as full participants in American life. As an organization, MAF has never shied away from pushing back on dominant discourse and the results of this campaign demonstrate why.

To craft messaging at MAF is not simply a matter of disseminating information but, rather, is an effort to speak to the soul. We maintain that messaging must speak to the core of our clients because everything we do, from announcements to new services, starts with the assumption that our clients are complex, unique human beings who are far more than a data point can ever capture. When we articulate messaging that speaks to our clients’ lived, emotional experiences, we are reaching for their hearts, not minds. The campaign results show that this is a fundamental strategy for success.

SMS was the most effective method of communication, especially for clients who speak Spanish.

The second insight of the campaign was around methods. Clients who selected English as their preferred language were more likely to respond to an email than those who preferred Spanish. Yet for SMS, the reverse was true. English-speaking clients responded at a rate of 41% while Spanish-speaking clients responded to our SMS at a staggering 52%

These results push back against the prevailing narrative that Spanish-speaking communities are difficult to reach or “hard to count.” What we found was the exact opposite. With the right message and targeted through the right medium, Spanish-speaking clients are far from disengaged, but in fact the most engaged. The responsibility, then, is on outreach managers to inform their campaigns with these insights in order to most effectively meet our communities where they’re at.

With these results in hand, we began speaking with other non-profits about their civic engagement strategies.

What we found across the board was a shared understanding of the importance of civic action. Yet for overworked and underfunded organizations, there was no excess capacity to run multi-channel campaigns given that SMS tools in particular were either too expensive or time-consuming to manage. Simply put, the existing tools on the market were not built for non-profits.

We decided to change that. In partnership with a highly skilled team of technologists at the software studio super{set}, we built our own digital tool that makes it easy for nonprofits to effectively mobilize their communities. The results were striking.

Our 3-step campaign to 4,200 clients lead to an impressive 36% response rate and, by our estimates, secured $6 million in funding for communities that deserve it. All within one week and managed by one staff member. The technology we built can allow non-profits to lead effective campaigns without a full-time campaign manager or breaking the bank

MAF’s Invitation To Partners

In early conversations with other non-profits, we found that most were relying 80-90% on in-person outreach for their census campaigns. With the onset of COVID, those plans have gone out the window. Now that the White House has cut a precious month off of the census timeline, the clock is ticking.

MAF is showing up by utilizing our tested messaging and developed technology to scale up census outreach efforts. With the support of The Grove Foundation, we’re making final push to ensure that all of hard-working clients in the MAF network are counted, seen and receive the resources they deserve.

Building on this momentum, we’re planning a Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign informed by the insights gained from the census work. Continuing to develop MAF’s mobilization efforts is a necessary step because we are staring down the most historic election of our lives. The moment is calling us all to step up, punch above our standard silos and lift up the voices of the communities we serve.

If you’d like to join our growing community of partners sharing lessons learned and shaping the future of our new Beacon platform, please email kami. Our goal is to ensure that the technology made by a non—profit remains timely and relevant for other non-profits. You can learn more about MAF’s focus on civic action in this conversation between CEO, José Quiñonez and Director of Mobilization, Joanna Cortez.

PS We’ll leave you with our take on a lesson from history, to ensure it’s mistakes are not repeated.

First they came for the immigrants

And I chose to speak out

Because we are family

Then they came for the poor

And I chose to speak out

Because we are family

Then they came for me

And there were others

So many others

Membuat Hidup Kita Berarti Dalam Sensus #2020

“So yeah,” my housemate said between using napkins for her nose and her tears. “I got laid off with the entire staff at the bar today. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

As much as I wanted to be present for this conversation, I couldn’t stop checking my phone. A chill gripped me, an ice-punch to the gut, as I watched my retirement savings plummet from modest to shreds, as I could do nothing but look on.

The terror of seeing our local economies and global infrastructure collapsing at the same time is, for many of us, all too much.

When we look to the proverbial East toward our elected leaders, aid is slow to come. As of this writing, Congress is locked in a partisan fight over a $2 trillion stimulus package that may very well be the defibrillator needed to resuscitate the bleeding heart of our national economy. Even if it does manage to get passed, though, we already know who will be the last to recover.

The marginalized communities and hard-working immigrant families that we serve every day at MAF will receive, at best, pennies for each dollar needed because they are invisible. The census plays a central role in officially registering them nonexistent given that immigrants have been deemed among the “hard-to-count” populations for decades. This means that every government funding measure for years, from school lunches to (potential) COVID-19 stimulus checks have been guaranteed to be inadequate for those who needed it most.

The 2020 census is expected to exacerbate this even further. The White House has been actively sowing the seeds of fear through violent policies like ICE raids, border community militarization, and the recent, failed attempt to add an immigration question. People are frightened by any knock on the front door for the devastation it could bring to their lives. Add to this reality the current COVID-19 epidemic and the picture turns several tones grimmer.

At MAF, we are doing what we can to step up. In the immediate, we are delivering several million dollars of emergency support through our Rapid Relief Fund to those in need. In the long-term, we are fighting so that the next trillion-dollar government aid package, if there is one in the following decade, goes to fill the right hands. Quick action needs structural change in tandem, if it’s to last. For us, the census is our chance to make a difference beyond the day-to-day.

Our goal is to ensure that 100% of our clients are counted.

To do this, we’ve partnered with a technology studio, super{set}, to build a tool that can help us communicate with more of our clients, faster and smarter. We’ve leveraged automation and analytics to be able to confirm that all of our 3,000+ clients participate in the civic moment that shapes every aspect of our lives. We’ve learned best practices on messaging with our initial coalition of trusted partners who are engaging their own communities of clients with our tool across email, SMS and phone.

Armed with these assets, we’re continuing to move fast in ensuring that every immigrant is counted and knows they belong. We can’t do it alone. Each non-profit organization exists within its own world of influence and, only together, can we cover the patchwork quilt that is the vibrant diversity of our nation.

We are living in an historical moment and can all do more than simply look on. If the communities we serve are to emerge not just ready to survive, but to thrive, we must.

Let’s make our lives count.


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