Wayne County Senior Services: Creating New Ways to Give Back

Adoption Client Story

The challenge facing many government agencies when launching services revolves around effectively marketing these services with limited budgets and resources. For Wayne County Senior Services and its new online donation portal, this challenge was magnified due to the department’s mission: feeding Wayne County’s most vulnerable senior citizens.

To help meet its needs, Wayne County Senior Services enlisted the Paymentus Client Adoption Success Team (CAST) to help develop and deliver an ad that leveraged the department’s highest client touchpoint: its Meals on Wheels printed monthly menu.

Digitizing Donations

Since 1988, Wayne County Senior Services has been providing nutritious meals to eligible senior citizens in the Detroit area through the Meals on Wheels program. This program currently serves more than 2,300 homebound older adults, providing home-delivered daily meals at no cost to the citizens themselves.

Meals on Wheels is funded primarily through grants from The Senior Alliance Area – Agency on Aging 1-C and general fund allocations from Wayne County. However, to provide services to all eligible seniors, Wayne County Senior Services relies on donations from clients, their families and community members.

Joan Siavrakas, Division Director for Wayne County Senior Services, knew that to maximize donations, the department needed to bring its donation capabilities in line with more technology-dependent experiences such as online bill pay. Working with Paymentus and a host of partners, Wayne County Senior Services launched its first-ever online donation portal, making it easier than ever for community members to donate to this essential service.

Driving Adoption On a Limited Budget

Once launched, the challenge then became driving adoption in spite of having very limited marketing resources, both in terms of time and money. Siavrakas knew that solving for this necessitated a creative way to advertise the new portal and tapping an external resource that was intimately familiar with her agency’s goals, the community’s needs and the portal itself. To do so, she relied on Paymentus’ complimentary CAST service.

“We’ve had many internal conversations about rising costs and how, often, marketing and product development are much more segmented. It was great to have a one-stop-shop where everything was inclusive,” said Siavrakas.

CAST collaborated with Wayne County Senior Services throughout the project, helping to bring Siavrakas’s vision of leveraging its highest client touchpoint — the Meals on Wheels menu — to life.

“The CAST program is dedicated to delivering bespoke experiences and materials that meet the unique needs of our clients,” said Jonathan Foo, Customer Adoption Specialist, Paymentus. “Joan’s idea was really clever and our team was determined to pay it off in the most effective way possible.”

As part of the Meals on Wheels program, all clients receive a monthly menu identifying each day’s meals, as well as relevant contact information, holiday closings and donation information. Because they are generally kept by clients throughout the month and in prominent locations (such as coffee tables or refrigerators), they are the perfect channel to promote news and updates, such as the launch of the new portal.

Working with Siavrakas, CAST developed the messaging and design of the ad that is currently being run on the menus. The ad was purpose-built to feature a QR code, providing a gentle way to introduce seniors and their caregivers to both the portal and a digital-first way to experience it. Thus, the benefit goes beyond driving donations and introduces Wayne County Senior Services’ digital offerings – primarily, the expanded donation payment options that now include PayPal and Venmo.

A Successful Start

In September of 2022, Wayne County Senior Services officially launched its online portal. The department saw immediate success, with donations being made through the portal shortly after launch — a testament to the convenience and seamlessness of the portal itself, as well as the collaboration between Wayne County Senior Services and the Paymentus team.

This collaboration has allowed Siavrakas and her team to focus their efforts on serving their citizens, knowing they have a full-scale marketing team to back them.

“The amount of time and effort spent administering the program really does not allow us to focus on large-scale marketing projects,” said Siavrakas. “It’s good to know that I can just send an email, make a phone call, toss some ideas around and CAST will come up with something effective."