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23 April, 2024

Canvass better: Help people get their unclaimed benefits

icon Canvass better,Democracy Centers,FindMyBenefits
Canvass better by helping people find federal state and local benefits they may be entitled to but not getting

Don't show up at someone's door empty handed... that goes for canvassers too!

Take something that the person you're meeting will appreciate - like finding out about federal, state and local benefits they're entitled to but not currently taking.

Democracy Centers are local resources in underserved communities that support ongoing, year-round civic engagement. Community organizers at these centers are using Find My Benefits to help local residents find out and apply for benefits they're eligible for and in the process collecting contact details to later help get out the vote.

Find My Benefits helps community organizers help others and also collect contact information to mobilize people and get out the vote.

Find My Benefits

Find My Benefits is a web-based app that asks a few questions to determine what benefits a person might be eligible for using the Benefit Kitchen database. A Benefit Report is produced immediately that can be shared on a laptop or as a text message. The user's contact name and phone number are saved along with the report for future follow up.

The app is similar to the Federal Benefits.gov, but in an easier to use form that's designed for community organizers.

"Answer a few questions and get a personalized list with potential benefits. Learn about each benefit’s eligibility and where to apply. These benefits could help you pay for food, housing, utilities, health insurance, and other necessities.
Food assistance - Learn how to get nutritious food for yourself and your family through SNAP (food stamps), D-SNAP, and WIC for women, infants, and children
Help with utility bills - Learn about government programs to help pay for phone, internet, and energy bills.
Welfare benefits - Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a federally funded, state-run program.
Health insurance - Get information on Medicaid, Medicare, the ACA health insurance and COBRA." - Benefits.gov

Example of the types of benefits from the U.S. government
Source: Benefits.gov

Organizing and list building with FindMyBenefits

Organizers first create an account for their group in FindMyBenefits and get a customized link for their group that they can share on social media, emails or postcards. Recipients can complete the survey and get their Benefits Report. The campaign organizer gets a list of the people who completed the survey through their link.

An organizer can also optionally add volunteers who will be canvassing or phone banking with the group's link. This lets the organizer know how many Benefit Finder reports were generated by each volunteer. Learn more here.

Map of Democracy Centers by Center For Common Ground
Democracy Centers by Center For Common Ground

Democracy Centers

Democracy Centers are year-round resources in community-based organizations, like churches that serve the community. The are located in communities of color where more than half of eligible voters no longer choose to vote. These communities are often rural have high levels of race-based concentrated poverty, lower social mobility, higher rates of environmental pollution, and restrictive voter suppression laws.

Residents often say “My vote doesn’t matter” which reflects their frustration with the lack of improvement in community pain points regardless of who is elected. helping them find benefits that can improve their lives is the starting point to getting more involved in civic participation and voting. This change can’t come from outside; it can only happen from within.

TakeAway: Canvass better by helping others find out about benefits they are entitled to but not taking.

DISCLAIMER: ALTHOUGH THE DATA FOUND IN THIS BLOG AND INFOGRAPHIC HAS BEEN PRODUCED AND PROCESSED FROM SOURCES BELIEVED TO BE RELIABLE, NO WARRANTY EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED CAN BE MADE REGARDING THE ACCURACY, COMPLETENESS, LEGALITY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY SUCH INFORMATION. THIS DISCLAIMER APPLIES TO ANY USES OF THE INFORMATION WHETHER ISOLATED OR AGGREGATE USES THEREOF.

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