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Setting up your Opt-out SMS messages

As we’ve discussed in our recent webinar and white paper, an important aspect of staying compliant when texting is to ask permission of the help seeker, and to put in a STOP message to enable texters to opt-out of text conversations. As a result, all U.S.-based organizations should have their first, outbound text message configured similar to the one below:

“[Name and location of organization] Welcome! Do you give your consent to text you? Reply yes to continue, STOP to cancel. Message & data rates may apply.”

We’ve made it easy for you to set it up in iCarol. Here’s how:

1. Select ‘Messaging’ on the Left Hand Menu Messaging left menu

2. Click on the SMS/Texting link on the upper right hand side of the screen SMS Settings

3. Look for “Settings for SMS”. There will be a new pull-down menu for your portals. It will automatically be set for “default”. Select the portal for which you wish to configure the message. If you only have one, there should only be one named choice in the pull-down list. Settings for SMS

4. Your first, automated message to the texter can be configured in a new field, labeled “SMS Initial Message.” Initial Message

5. Once you’ve configured the message, click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the screen.

Don’t forget that SMS messages have a maximum of 140 characters in the U.S.! Many organizations use abbreviations for some of the wording. You may have to play with your initial message configuration to get it under the character limit.

Note that future updates to the iCarol system will include making the Initial message field a required one for U.S.-based organizations. This will help ensure you don’t forget to configure the message.

For any questions on the configuration options, please contact Support via the Help Page within iCarol.

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Configure Details Displayed in the Search Results List

We recently added the ability for clients to configure which details of resource records are displayed in the search results list. This provides additional information to users, without having to open the resource record by clicking details.

Fields that may be included are:

  • Coverage Areas (may slow performance)
  • Application Process
  • Eligibility
  • Languages Offered
  • Hours of Operation Note
  • Fees
  • Closest Site, or Location Description

The last setting “Closest Site, or Location Description” will be included in the results when a city value has been chosen from the Geographic Filters on the resource search page, and when the Program is linked to a ProgramAtSite record with location information.

Here is an example of a resource search results list without any of the above additional fields added:

no fields chosen

Here is the same search with all of the available additional fields chosen:

All Fields chosen

If you would like to turn on any of these options, please submit a case via the online case submission tool.

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Join an Online Disaster Exercise in Volunteer Management

The Points of Light Foundation will hold a free online disaster exercise next Tuesday that will help organizations, agencies, and volunteers be better prepared to respond to disasters.

According to information provided by Points of Light, they are the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service. They mobilize millions of people to take action in various opportunities. They have affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of non-profits and corporations. Points of Light engages four million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year.

They’ve provided the following information about this exercise:

Operation Volunteer Placement allows agencies and organizations tasked with the coordination of spontaneous volunteers during a disaster to exercise their plan in a web-based simulation. Participants work together as a unified team in establishing, managing and demobilizing a Volunteer Reception Center.

This exercise is intended for group interaction and should include local partners involved in the management of disaster volunteers, including EMAs and sister government agencies, VOADs, and other nonprofits. This exercise is self-paced and can be accessed between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. ET. It lasts between 90 minutes and three hours, depending on group interaction. NOTE: While intended for group interaction, each participant should individually register to ensure receipt of post-exercise certificate of participation.

To find out more about this exercise, and to register, visit this site.

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AIRS Conference Recap

The team had a blast in Dallas for this year’s I&R Training and Education Conference organized by the Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS).

flight path Dallas Tulsa storms The weather was a big topic of conversation at the conference, as torrential rains, storms, and severe flooding wreaked havoc on the region in the days prior to the conference. In fact our developer, Spike, who attended the conference shared this image of the flight path towards the end of their flight into Dallas on Tuesday night. Just as their flight was cleared to land, the airport closed due to the storms and their flight was diverted to Tulsa where many others were also sent. It took several hours before they could get from Tulsa to Dallas. Getting there was an adventure for many conference goers due to the storms, but was ultimately well worth it.

And since disaster response is a component of the work of many 2-1-1 and I&R agencies, many attendees whose centers are located in the region had to split their time between attending their sessions and regularly checking in with staff at their call center. It was a great reminder of the never-ending and important work happening in the industry.

dealyThe conference was very centrally located in downtown, within a mile of interesting museums like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza which examines the life, death, and legacy of JFK.

AIRS_WallCrystal noted that the local art scattered throughout the area was impressive, “I loved the art all around the city, the hotel had an interesting mural painted all along one side. Outside a little pizza shop, walking distance from the hotel, there was a really interesting bronze statue of horses, and everywhere you looked there was art beautifying the area. Art was everywhere!”

There was plenty of opportunity for fun while in Dallas. Several iCarol team members and helpline staffers took in a Texas Rangers game one evening which was a lot of fun.Rangers game

We also found a delicious Mexican restaurant located about a block from the conference. YUM. Here we are again with a variety of folks from both our team and the industry chowing down.

Señor Bean

The fun and games were great, but we accomplished a lot professionally as well. The iCarol Usergroup session was well-attended. For those who haven’t attended one of these sessions before, we use this as an opportunity to speak with iCarol users and provide a synopsis of the major enhancements that have been deployed over the last year.iCarol_usergroup

Crystal’s session, “Taxonomy 102: How to make taxonomy customization decisions, and policies to consider” was popular among resource managers and the audience was really engaged! Be sure to keep an eye on the AIRS networker for the presentation if you’d like to check it out. Whether you use iCarol or another software vendor, please check into your Taxonomy capabilities and options for more information on how you can apply what you learned.

For more great photos from the conference, check out the album shared by AIRS. Our team would like to thank everyone who stopped by to say hi, attended a session, or engaged with us in any way while at the conference. We had a terrific time! iCarol_Team AIRS 2015 Continue Reading

Join us at the AIRS Conference

2015 AIRS Conference Dallas TexasCrystal and Neil are dusting off their spurs and cowboy hats – they’ll be in Dallas for the Annual I&R Training and Education Conference, held by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS), May 27 – 30th.

There are some special events we’d like to note, first that Crystal, who is a specialist in Taxonomy and I&R, will present a workshop titled
Taxonomy 102: How to make taxonomy customization decisions, and policies to consider.

Here’s the description of the session, which falls in the Resource Database Track:

So you understand the basic concepts of indexing records using the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy, but what comes next? Join us in discussing how to make Taxonomy customization decisions for your organization, and more importantly your resource database. Analyze a database and choose levels to index records. Learn the difference between horizontal and vertical indexing, and how to avoid these common indexing misadventures. Explore the different schools of thought on target terms, and work towards developing your own targeting policies. This session is intended for Resource Database staff with a basic understanding of indexing using the AIRS/211 LA County Taxonomy.

We should note that Crystal’s session is not iCarol-focused, it is educational and will be helpful to Resource Database staff regardless of the software solution used by their helpline. You can join her session on Saturday, May 30th from 10:45am to 12:15pm in the Dallas Ballroom B, 1st Floor, Conference Center.

There will also be an iCarol User Group session on Wednesday May 27th from 2:00-3:45 in Majestic 5, 37th Floor, Center Tower. The User Group session is aimed at leaders and staff at organizations who use iCarol so they can learn about our latest updates and ask questions. If your helpline would like to learn more about iCarol, whether you’re a current subscriber or not, you’re certainly welcome to attend.

Of course while in Dallas we’ll also be welcoming visitors to our booth (201) in the exhibitor’s hall. We’re looking forward to talking with everyone there in hopes of telling others about the iCarol solution, and welcoming more I&R centers into the iCarol family. If you plan to be at the conference and would like to chat with us, please !

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New Caller Profile Tools

You may have noticed some new tabs and tools recently added to your Repeat Caller Profiles. Here’s a look at what they can do.

Referrals

The Referrals tab shows the most recent referrals from your resource database that were attached to Call Report forms filled out for this caller. They’re listed with the most recent referrals at the top, and older referrals further down the list. Clicking on the Date will take you directly to the finished Call Report where this referral was attached. Clicking on the name of the referral will take you directly to that resource record.

referrals resources caller client tracking

This is a quick way to see what referrals have recently been suggested to your caller, so you can ask them if those referrals have been helpful, or prompt discussions about progress in their situation or treatment plans.

Follow-ups

The Follow-ups tab shows approximately 50 of the most recent Follow-up Activities scheduled on Call Reports filled out for the caller. The view here shows the Date on which the Follow-up is due, Status, and Subject line for a quick summary. Like the Referrals tab, each Date is a clickable link that will take you directly to the Call Report form where this Follow-up Activity was assigned.

follow-up with client

This can be useful in a number of ways, because even repeat callers can benefit from follow-up calls. Some experts have suggested that receiving a call directly from the helpline during times of high stress or crisis can help repetitive users of the service better respect boundaries or comply with call limits. This list provides a quick way to see how many activities are set up for this caller, the frequency at which they’re being scheduled, and whether they’ve been completed or not.

Public Resource Directory Activity

Each caller profile has a field where an Email can be entered.

caller client email track account website

We can also enable the capability for visitors to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) to create accounts and save lists. (Contact our Support Team if you’d like to have this enabled for your PRD)

If this client were to create an account on your Public Resource Directory using the same email indicated in their profile, information about when their PRD account was created, when they last logged in to your PRD, and their saved Resource records is shared on the Website tab of the profile.

website public directory track account activity search saved resource referral

If you’d like to track this information for any PRD user, our Support Team can set up a process where each new PRD account created will automatically create a Caller Profile in your system. Just ask us to enable this capability for you.

We hope you’ll enjoy using these new features of the Caller Profile. If you encounter any questions, please reach out to the Support Team for help.

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Pre-Populating Searches on your Public Resource Directory

Note: This blog describes a process that helps you or your web developers create guided searches of your iCarol Public Resource Directory. While this is still relevant to users of that version of the Public Resource Directory, as of July 3, 2017 a new version of the Public Resource Directory includes a built-in Guided Search builder. Learn more…

Passing parameters from your website to your Public Resource Directory (PRD) is a great and easy way to help guide your users to helpful resources. This feature is included in the Public Resource Directory add-on at no additional cost.

Guided searches can save time, help your users find what they need, and if you use the 211 Taxonomy, can help improve your statistics by encouraging exact Taxonomy searches. Webmasters can pre-load the Public Resource Directory public search page by sending search parameters in the URL hyperlink.

A current example of a client who does this is http://montana211.org/. They put a custom search box on their main page, which was developed by their webmaster. When a search is conducted by a PRD user, they generate a URL for the resulting page. Not only can search terms be passed to the Public Resource Directory (PRD), but other search filters such as location can be passed to the initial search.

Another client who uses pre-populated searches is http://www.211oc.org/211oc-guided-database-search.html. The guided search enables the public users to choose a general category, and then presents them with a list of more specific categories. Once a more specific category is chosen, the public resource directory is pre-populated and the user is presented with a list of appropriate search results.

Basic PRD URL vs. Populated URL

Example of Basic PRD URL:
http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229

pre populate search public resource directory

This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, with empty search criteria. A user will then have to enter a search term, choose geographic filters to refine their search, and initiate the search by clicking search (or choosing from the drop down list).

Example of a populated PRD search URL:
http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

guided search pre populated public resource directory

This link will open the PRD in a new tab/window, but will include populated specific search criteria. iCarol will also complete the query before the page loads for the user, removing the extra step of clicking “search”. The user can change any of the filters or search terms to further refine sequential searches.

How to read the Populated URL

The parameters are passed within a defined section of the URL, and by programming the hyperlinks from your website to the pre-populated URL, you can pass these criteria to the PRD. Search parameter starts with the field name, includes an equals sign (=), then includes the parameter value to pass. Each parameter is separated by an ampersand (&). Example: &Search=food&sort=Alphabetical& You can get the populated URL by completing a search in your PRD system, and copying the URL from the address bar. For a more dynamic approach, your webmaster can use text boxes or drop down boxes to help guide a user’s input.

Understanding Available Parameters

Org – Org is your Organization number, the unique number used by iCarol to represent your system

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

Country – Geographic Filtering for Country

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

StateProvince – Geographic Filtering for State or Province

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

County – Geographic Filtering for County

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

City – Geographic Filtering for City

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&county=Monroe&Search=food&
amp;sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

PostalCode – Geographic Filtering for Zip/Postal Code

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

pst – [Coverage | Physical | All ] – Filter resources based on coverage area (“Resources serving”), physical location (“Resources within”), or omit this parameter to use your systems default.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

Search – [Food] – Is the actual search term you want to find using the filters above. This can include the name of a specific resource, a general concept or phrase, or be specific such as a customized category or taxonomy term.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

Sort – [Alphabetical | Proximity] – Is the sort order that the results will display in.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

NameOnly – [True | False] – Set your search type to “Search Names” or “Search All Fields”, or omit this parameter to use your system default.

http://www.icarol.info/Search.aspx?org=2229&country=United%20States&stateprovince=NY&city=Rochester&postalcode=14603&county=Monroe
&Search=food&sort=Alphabetical&pst=Coverage&NameOnly=True

If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the Online Case Submission Tool, found in your Help menu.

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iCarol attending the AIRS conference in May

2015 AIRS Conference Dallas TexasNext month members of our team will be in Dallas for the 37th Annual I&R Training and Education Conference, held by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS).

In case you’re not familiar with AIRS, it is a membership association for Information and Referral agencies and personnel, and it is the driving force behind the standards and quality benchmarks set in the field of I&R. They boast a diverse membership that includes agencies, community organizations, and even governmental departments that all connect people to the services they need. Their members are located all throughout the US and Canada. Many of the 2-1-1’s and other helplines using iCarol hold AIRS accreditations and many of their staff hold certifications offered by AIRS.

Whether a helpline’s resource database needs are limited to a small community with just a few dozen referrals, or they are a large scale 2-1-1 with contact centers all over the state or province, iCarol’s resource database will work for them. That’s because our tools are scalable, flexible, and robust. That’s the message we’ll bring to Dallas next month, and we’re looking forward to talking with everyone there in hopes of telling others about our tools, and welcoming more I&R centers into the iCarol family as we have been doing for years now.

Will you be in Dallas? We hope we can catch up with some of you attending and talk to you a bit about iCarol. If you’re planning to attend, and let’s find a time to chat at the conference.

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Using the Automated Verification Tool

The Automatic Resource Verification tool is a powerful tool used to update and maintain your Resource database. You can create any number of custom Verification Requests, to update large groups of Resources (up to 1,000 records at a time), or only specific records that need to be reviewed. Your Resource Contacts, or Verifiers, receive an email, with a link requesting them to review their information and submit any changes. They are able to work on the update over multiple sessions, and can submit their changes to you for approval when ready.

How to Create an Automatic Verification Request:

1. Log on to iCarol, using an account with Resource Editor privileges.

2. Click on Resources from the left menu, then to the right of the Geographic Filters choose “Verify” which will change the page to allow you to create a request.

automated verification of resources

3. Choose the automated verification request method (see explanation below) that best meets your needs.

4. Create search query/find the records you wish to include in the automated verification request. Here are some examples:

  • Find all Resources with a specific Taxonomy term. eg. “Suicide Issues”, “General Counselling”, “Homeless meals”, “Homeless people”, etc.
  • Find all Resources with a specific Keyword/Category term eg. “Meals”, “Income Tax”, etc.
  • Find all Resources that have a specific word in their Resource Name. eg. “Meal”, “Counselling”, “Mental Health”, etc.
  • Find all Resources that have a specific word or phrase in any field on the Resource Record. eg. “Low income”, “form filling”, etc.
  • Find all Resources that have a Custom Field Value chosen. eg. “Update Quarter”, “Update Month”, etc.

5. Apply any additional filters to the request, such as including only Agency or Program Records, Geographic Restrictions, or Resources that have not been updated within a specific time frame. Once you have applied all the filters you wish to the search, click the Search button. You will be presented with a list of resources that meet your search criteria. Here is what the list will look like:

Verification search results

6. Deselect any resources you do not want to send in the request by unchecking them. Please note, as soon as one Resource record is deselected, Setup Method 2 will apply to the automated verification request (see below).

7. Click “Start a verification request with these search results” to configure the automated verification settings.

Note: Only one query can be used per automated verification request. If you want to send a request to all Resources with “Meal”, or “Food” in their name, you will have to create two separate requests, unless you can find a search query that will include records in both searches. This is an example of where Custom Fields may be an option.

Setup Methods for the Automated Verification Request:

Method 1: Preform a search, and create the automated verification request from ALL listed/found resources. As soon as you deselect any displayed Resource, you are now using Method 2. Important to note, the query you use to create a Method 1 automated verification request will be saved, and repeated at the time the request is actually sent. If any changes happen to your Resources between the initial creation of the automated verification request, and when it is sent, all records that are found in the same query will be sent.

Use example: On Monday, you decide to send an automated verification request to all resources that have a “Suicide Issue” term applied. However, you end up busy and unable to send the automated verification request that day, and decide to delay sending it, until Friday. In the meantime, you or other team members have added a new service, and updated the taxonomy/category of other services, with the “Suicide Issue” term. When the automated verification request is sent on Friday, all records that match the initial query will be included, including those that were not included when the automated verification request was first created on Monday.

Method 2: Perform a search, and deselect/select only the specific resources that you want to contact.

Use example: You receive a complaint that an agency “Fruit Rescue Coop” is no longer running. You want to send an automated verification request to just this agency to inquire about the status of their programs.

Explaining the Automated Verification Request Email Settings:

AVR Settings

Setting 1 tells the automated verification request what email address to send the request “From”. You can choose to use the iCarol default (which a verifier cannot reply too), or to setup your own “From” email address by contacting iCarol Support. Please note that verifiers are only able to reply to a verification request to you directly, if you setup your own “From” email address.

Setting 2 tells the automated verification request what template you want to use when sending the request. You can setup multiple templates with custom phrasing for your verification requests by using the “Create and edit email templates” link at the top of the automated verification request page.

Setting 3 tells the automated verification request in what order to look for email addresses. The default is “Main Contact” first, “Senior Worker” second, “Last Verified By” third, and “General Email” fourth – however, you can customize this to any order that you prefer. When the automated verification request is sent, it will look into each of these fields, in the order you specify, to determine where to send the request.

Setting 4 tells the automated verification request what records to include in the request. This setting modifies the initial request creation method.

  • To all the Agency’s child records” no matter which setup method you choose for the automated verification request, ALL the agency’s records will be included in the request, even if they do not match the initial query in method 1.
  • To child records only that match the search criteria above” will expand the initial search, to include the resources that match the query in the first method of setting up the automated verification request.

Setting 5 tells the automated verification request what emails to look at to send the request, and if one does not exist, which email to use instead.

  • Ignore the parent Agency, just use whatever email is found in each Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore the Agency (Parent) record, and to use what is found in the Program or Site record (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3. If no email is found, the record will not be sent.
  • If no email address is found in a Program or Site, then try to find one in it’s parent Agency” This is a good option for when Programs may or may not have their own contacts. The automated verification request will look for an email address in the Program or Site records (Child records), in the order specified in Setting 3.
  • Only use email addresses from the parent Agency, not from the Program or Site” tells the automated verification request to ignore any emails found in the Program or Site records (Child records) and to send all records to the Agency (Parent) record, in the order specified in Setting 3.

Setting 6 tells the automated verification request how to include ProgramAtSite records, if they exist in the request (a combination of Setup Method, and Setting 4). If they exist, they are sent either “merged” or “separately”.

  • “Merged” – “Program Contacts” tells the automated verification request to merge ProgramAtSites with the attached Program. Verifiers can confirm/remove which sites are linked to the Program, and can provide general notes about the changes. Setting 5 and Setting 3 then determine which email to send the merged record too.
  • “Separately” – “ProgramAtSite Contact if one exists, otherwise program contact” tells the automated verification request to include the ProgramAtSite records separately. The automated verification request then looks at Setting 5 and Setting 3 to determine which email to send the separate record too. Note: The ProgramAtSite record exists independent from the Program, and may, depending on Setting 5, and if an email exists in the ProgramAtSite record, be sent alone, with an Agency Record and/or with a Program record.

If your organization wishes to use this feature, or if you have any additional questions on how to use it, please submit a case to the iCarol Support Team via the online case submission tool.

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Search on up to three categories simultaneously

We’ve got a new optional tool for searching for resources using custom categories. This tool lets you conduct category searches on up to three categories (sometimes also referred to as “keywords”) simultaneously.

Those using the taxonomy are familiar with this already; what’s new is the ability for everyone with custom categories to use this.

multiple category searching

So how can this be helpful to your searches?

You could use this new tool to search for resources tagged with both “rent help” and “utility help” (if you had those categories set up, for example). That could be helpful if your caller had transportation issues, and needed a single place to go for both. The search results would only include resources tagged with both of those custom categories.

As another example, you could also use the tool to search for “rent help” OR “utility help.” That could be helpful if the caller had general financial issues, and you wanted to find any resource that might be able to help. In that case, the search results would return resources tagged with at least one of the categories you indicated. You’d get more search results with this method than you would for the first example.

If you’d like this tool enabled in your system, there’s no added charge. Please submit a support case, and our team will take care of that for you.

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