Aunt Bertha Software Program
It can be so confusing and frustrating when you are seeking for programs and/or services to help with the healthcare of a loved one. If you have tried everything and have lost your housing, where do you turn to? What agencies can help? What nonprofits are there to help you in your town? If you don’t know what is out there, how can you get the help you need? Enter the software program “Aunt Bertha.”
Founded in 2010 in Austin, Texas, the startup Aunt Bertha is an online database of human services, connecting governments, charities and churches with the 75 million Americans in all 50 states who need their services, says founder Erine Gray. Thus far, his company has helped more than 177,000 people.
When you look at the 1.4 million nonprofits in the U.S., how do you know which ones are good and which ones are not?” asks Gray. “Most people are not professional social workers. For somebody in need, it’s very difficult to find out what’s available to you.”
“What we wanted was a simple way for a seeker — the term we use for a person in need or their relative or champion — to essentially raise their hand and let an agency know electronically they need help,” Gray, a GLG fellow, explains. “Part of the vision is being able to find and apply for services in seconds.”
Eventually, as more users enroll in programs, Aunt Bertha will be able to track whether the charity met the person’s needs. As soon as a seeker submits an application for rental assistance or hearing aids, say, through the online portal, the service will clock the nonprofit’s response time and follow up with a satisfaction survey, creating a granular picture that’s more detailed than what can be found on GuideStar or Charity Navigator. The assessment will direct users to sign up for more effective programs.
“We can tell you what people are searching for, what they’re finding and also what they’re not,” says Gray. For instance, if the number of searches for soup kitchens in Lubbock, Texas, suddenly spikes, it could encourage city lawmakers to look at large-scale solutions.
“If we’re successful, the entire nation will be able to visualize, in real time, where the pain is in the United States and see the suffering in the underbelly that doesn’t really show. Policymakers and data scientists will be able to see hotspots far earlier than any set of economic forecasts,” Gray says. “To be able to unlock that data and get it in the right hands, would be an amazing experience. We’d be able, in real time, to alleviate that suffering.”