CiviForm can be a helpful tool even in cases where a program does not require applications, or does not want to use CiviForm to accept applications. As you map the needs of various programs, consider whether CiviForm could play a role in program discovery, eligibility screening, or intake across programs.
Accept complete applications through CiviForm, enabling programs to make final determinations and provide benefits.
Allows re-use of information to simplify application process. Applicants only need to submit information in one place. No further steps required by applicant.
Requires up-front agency effort of onboarding and integration with existing program processes and tooling.
Allow residents to quickly find relevant programs in one place, without submitting detailed information.
No need to submit detailed information. No need to integrate with program processes. Can surface programs from across jurisdictions.
Resident may need to use another site or form to actually submit an application. No re-use of information as none is being submitted.
Allow residents to understand potential eligibility for programs based on key criteria.
Resident can understand potential eligibility for a program before applying. Can surface programs from across jurisdictions.
Resident may need to use another site or form to actually submit an application. Less re-use of information as eligibility screening information may differ from detailed application requirements.
Allow residents to submit a small amount of information that is then sent to relevant program staff for follow-up and additional processing.
Doesn't require significant up-front information from resident. Allows programs to conduct outreach to potentially eligible residents.
Requires manual follow-up from program staff. Additional application information must be collected through other channels to actually make determinations and provide benefits.
CiviForm can serve as a directory of programs available to a resident, even if programs don't accept applications through CiviForm directly. Including programs in CiviForm for discovery allows applicants to find programs relevant to their needs in one place rather than having to search across multiple resources or simply never learning that a program exists. This can be especially useful for programs that offer services rather than benefits, which may involve going to a physical location or calling a phone number, and may not require an application at all.
While not an ideal experience for the applicant, it is also possible to list programs and their details within CiviForm specifically to direct applicants to submit an application through a website or form outside of CiviForm. This will require them to re-enter all of their information into the new system, which is a poor experience for the applicant. Whenever possible, programs should allow applicants to submit their applications directly through CiviForm and enable them to leverage the information they've already entered for other programs. See "Working with existing processes" for more information on how CiviForm can be used by programs that have established tools and processes in place.
CiviForm can also give applicants a quick sense of which programs they may or may not be eligible for, even if they can't apply through CiviForm. Programs and their eligibility rules can be included directly in CiviForm, and programs can then link out to an external application tool or other channel for accessing the program or service. It is still helpful for applicants to get a sense of their likely eligibility across programs, even if they need to take additional steps outside of CiviForm to access the program.
For some programs, CiviForm can serve as a channel for intake, where preliminary information is submitted through CiviForm then exported for program staff to follow up with an applicant through other channels. This can be useful if you already have tools that manage business rules and processes for program outreach and eligibility determination, but would like another entry point for residents to be brought into these programs. While intake can be a great way to reach people regardless of which programs you've brought on to CiviForm, allowing residents to submit full applications directly via CiviForm allows them to avoid having to re-enter information in other systems when necessary.