Who runs the helpline service?

Question Box live helplines function as an extension of existing development programs. Generally, they are operated by the programs themselves, as a way to extend reach and expand service provision. The Question Box team provides full support and training for the initiative. 

How might my organization benefit from deploying Question Boxes?

Question Boxes are ideal for:

  • Providing useful information that enables decision making
  • Informing callers about where to go for resources and services, so they can access help in a timely manner
  • Connecting callers with their nearest community outreach worker from your organization, increasing efficient use of their time
  • Surveys, citizen reporting, and generating community level information that can be used for program evaluation and advocacy

Where do the calls go?

You choose where to route the calls. Our Question Box current model features three programmable speed dial buttons. The calls could go to staff members; outreach workers in the field; to experts; to the local radio station; to an interactive IVR menu, or play a recorded message. The destination depends on your program’s priorities and best fit. Our team can offer suggestions of what configurations work well for your program type.

What if there’s no Internet connectivity?

Question Boxes run on GSM mobile phone signal, and require no Internet connection at the place of installation. Internet is recommended but not required at the backend location where calls are received.

What if people can’t read?

Question Boxes connect to live, local language telephone helplines, as well as recorded public service messaging. The Question Boxes can be designed with all pictorial instructions – meaning illiteracy is no barrier to use.

Why is Question Box useful if everyone already has a cell phone?

  • Many of the most marginalized people in a community do not own a cell phone. These are disproportionately women, children, and elderly, as well as rural persons. 
  • Question Boxes are a regular, visual reminder of your helpline. People see it in use, can ask about it, and learn about the benefits – whereas simply handing out a helpline phone number will require ongoing marketing so it is not forgotten.
  • Users with cell phones are free to call your helpline directly, should you make the number public.
  • Calls from Question Boxes can be nearly free for your organisation – if you use a mobile phone Closed User Group, whereas paying for toll free calls from individual cell phones can be costly.
  • Calls from Question Boxes are anonymous, whereas friends and family may see a record of calls made from an individual’s cell phone.

Does the service need to be running 24 hours a day?

A public helpline can run on any schedule, although we recommend it be consistent. During off hours, we suggest you play a public service message, or offer a voicemail box.

What if there’s no electrical power?

Question Boxes can be powered by mains electric power; heavy duty rechargeable battery; solar panel; or a combination. For brief interruptions in power, Question Boxes run on backup internal battery.

What if there’s no cell phone signal coverage?

If there is weak GSM cell phone coverage, we can use a stronger antenna to connect. Question Boxes require GSM coverage to function.  

Is Question Box a nonprofit?

Yes. Question Box is a project of Open Mind, a US 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Our Federal EIN is 26-2107813, and donations are tax-deductible.

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