Great Story About NeighborLink
IN| Fort Wayne recently interviewed NeighborLink Fort Wayne and documented a project in process with our volunteers. The result is the video above and the article below here. This gives a great snapshot of what NeighborLink is all about and why we do what we do. This is just one of the over 500 projects our volunteers have completed in 2014. Gives great context to the relational connection we have with our volunteers and those neighbors who need some help.
Team NL exists to help make these types of projects happen. We really like athletics, but we love helping those in need in our community.
By Aaron Organ
It’s been more than a decade since online bulletin board NeighborLink was created to connect those in the community who need help with those willing to provide it.
Now in its 11th year, the process of providing a place on the Internet for residents to ask for help is dialed in, with needs being met around Fort Wayne.
This year, the faith-based nonprofit has played middleman to more than 500 completed projects around the city, with more projects posted every day to www.nlfw.org, and more volunteers raising their hands to do the work.
NeighborLink Executive Director Andrew Hoffman explained that it has taken work to fine-tune, work that included breaking it down to build it up.
“Technology is really a great asset for us,” said Hoffman.
“What we’ve learned is, there are a lot of volunteers out there who are looking for opportunities to serve, but maybe what’s been broken for a long time is the volunteer process – the way an organization attracts, maintains and empowers volunteers. So what we’ve tried to do is just take a different approach and decentralize the model.”
Hoffman said NeighborLink has matured since its inception, when it operated as a rather traditional nonprofit that served as more of a project manager, inviting volunteers out and showing them how the ropes of volunteerism.
But after a core volunteer community was established over the years, Hoffman came in seven years ago and reworked the wheel.
“I focused on eliminating the barriers between people who want to help and people that need help through our platform,” said Hoffman. “In doing that, what we have found is, there are a lot of people in our community who want to help and they can and will control their own volunteer process if you build the right structure. We found there are individuals in our community who will mobilize themselves to help their neighbor in need, so we made it really easy for volunteers to get involved and lead themselves.”
Today, NeighborLink’s online bulletin board is a clear and simple portal of jobs for volunteers to feast on.
Those in need of help around the city – from seniors, to the disabled, or anyone who simply needs a hand – can either post their need on the NeighborLink site, or call the office and have a staffer post it.
From there, volunteers step up. Hoffman said after applying to help, the staff will conduct a short background check of the prospective volunteer. From there, if approved, the volunteer can select from any number of available projects on the website.
What sort of jobs? “If you name it, we’ve probably done in it the last several years,” said Hoffman. From yard work to general cleaning and painting, to roofing, floor repair and furnace replacement. Just about anything.
And there are plenty of projects to choose from, with more than 200 projects currently waiting for help. Hoffman said that number is consistent, as there’s always more projects than volunteers and none are turned away.
Hoffman said volunteers completed about 65 percent of projects on average. Some 50 percent of NeighborLink’s jobs have been completed this year.
Projects are the full responsibility of the volunteer who takes them on, but Hoffman said NeighborLink can give up to $500 per project to help see it through. The organization also has employed crowdfunding tools that allows volunteers to raise funds for projects; more than $25,000 has been raised for projects through crowdfunding, Hoffman said.
The goal, he said, is to help the volunteers as much as those in need, “to create mutually beneficial relationships about partnership and helping rather than pure charity work.”
Collectively, everyone benefits.
For more information on NeighborLink or to volunteer or request help on a project, visit the organization’s website at nlfw.org or call 260.710.7611.