How to get your own My Neighbor In Need Website!
Here’s how easy it is to get and operate your very own My Neighbor in Need Website...
- Key Roles/Responibilities:
First, you need to have one person who can oversee the project and coordinate volunteers who act as the Good Deed Doers. This person could be part of a current group of caring people, a church, an organization and/or a current non-profit company based in the same area that your website/project will serve. For example, The My Neighbor in Need website/project in Southern Wisconsin is being operated by the staff and volunteers from St. Vincent de Paul. In addition, St. Vincent de Paul is the presenting partner of the project and their staff manages the Good Deed Doers/volunteers.
What if you want to coordinate this project yourself? Is that possible? The answer is YES! When we first launched MNIN in Great Falls, MT (population 60,000) I did the coordination myself and was assisted through a local senior citizens program called RSVP. They provided me with four volunteers, per-day - three days a week. Since we are website based we can do a lot of the vetting process and web-work from anywhere that has access to the internet. I still do a lot of work at home while watching TV.
What you will need, who you will need and the numbers of hours needed to be dedicated to the project is based on the area/city you wish to serve. Example: say you wish to have the project in a city of 20,000 people. One person can coordinate the project if he/she creates an inner circle of three to five volunteers who can dedicate 20 to 25 hours a week. For rural areas - the project can be managed by two or three people working 5 - 10 hours per week. It is always a great idea to launch it in a specific area/size and then as it grows - you grow and extend the project to other areas/cities. If you are in a big city (50,000 or more) pick 10-blocks to offer the service to. Use your office or church as the center starting point and extend out a circle to cover 10-blocks from that starting point. Or, if you have an area that is low-income or has people who are in need - select a starting point directly in the center of that area and extend out 10-blocks.
- Volunteers are Key:
Once you recruit a few caring people, these folks will need to be trained to be Good Deed Doers. These folks are the ones who verify the need requests that are submitted to you through the website, mail or phone requests. It is crucial that all needs are verified and approved before posting them on to the website. This can be two to four volunteers who work about two hours per shift, two days a week.
We will work with you to train your team. We have a step-by-step procedural notebook that walks the volunteers through the project, the website and web-system. You do NOT have to have a great knowledge of computers to become an expert in our system.
- Where to Operate the Service:
Most of our teams use either a church or a donated office to run the project. Having a place away from your residence is important as people in need will sometimes need to meet with you to provide you with paperwork/information to confirm their need request. Example: If the need request is for a gas card the person in need has to show you their license, registration and proof of insurance before they are given the application.
- What Services to Offer:
Every city and the needs can be different. What services you wish to consider helping with are up to your team. These needs/categories should be based on what services are being provided by other non-profit organizations and social service companies in your town. You do not want to duplicate any service that is currently being provided by another non-profit. Example: If you have Salvation Army Family Services and they provide help with utilities/payments - you do not want to offer that service. Rather, refer people to Salvation Army Family Service. Here is a list of the top five need requests/categories in every city that has the project: #1 - Beds, #2 - Gas/Fuel Cards, #3 - Furniture such as a couch or dresser, #4 - Pet Food & #5 - Bus Pass.
- What Services NOT to Offer:
We will be able to tell you what needs/categories are not allowed such as computers, rental assistance, home improvements, major car repairs, toys, travel out of state such as a bus ticket to another state, Etc.
- Media Partnerships:
People LOVE to read and hear stories about GOOD! You will want to create a partnership with your local media, especially your local newspaper. Your newspaper will need to agree to promote the project through a weekly story, similar to what the Great Falls Tribune does each and every Tuesday in the Life section. The GF Tribune has seen an increase in readership ever since the story first was published and now Tuesday's paper is celebrated. We assist you by writing the weekly story for you and submit it to your local newspaper for publication. You are welcome to write the column if you wish to. We can show you how the format works. In addition, every Wednesday morning during Drive Time we host a live radio show called "The Need of the Week." This 15-minute show features stories of those fulfilling needs as well as a "Need of the Week."
- Financial/Costs to Operate:
Although we, (My Neighbor in Need) will provide you with a licensing agreement that includes the complimentary use of the system, code, name, logo, artwork, etc. it is important that you recruit a few financial sponsors/supporters that will offset your operational costs. These costs are low and in most cases you will find local businesses that will provide you with goods and services in consideration for being your sponsor. Examples of operational costs include: printing services, cell phone usage, fuel, thank you gifts for donors, etc. Based on current business models and the size of the area you wish to serve, your monthly estimated operational costs are less than $500 per month. In most cases you can operate the project for less than $300 per month. The biggest cost is the detailed Insurance Binder which features five-levels of insurance. We can provide you with more information regarding the required insurance - please ask.
It is important to note that if you are awarded your own project/system, it is for one purpose: to help your Neighbors in Need. All monies received and/or any donations made to the organization for the fulfillment of a need request are used for that purpose. General Operating Donations may be used to offset operating costs however in most cases these costs can be paid through local sponsorships.
If you wish to find out more, please give me a call at 406-231-8690. My Neighbor in Need is currently in 39 cities in two states and we would love to help you help your Neighbors in Need.
Best to you,
P.O. Box 1788
Great Falls, MT 59403