NeighborLink Network was formed in 2008 to help cities around the United States leverage technology to connect vulnerable neighbors falling through the cracks of social service agencies and neighbors looking to self-mobilize themselves to help by using our web-based connection platform. Through NeighborLink, churches, businesses, civic groups, and concerned neighbors are empowered to help senior citizens, those with disabilities, single parents, and anyone facing life’s circumstances that have needs beyond their physical or financial ability on their own.
We’ve helped 12 U.S. cities launch NeighborLink in their communities to mobilize their neighbors with the purpose of providing practical, neighbor-to-neighbor expressions of God’s love through the NeighborLink Network. Our desire to see local churches, civic entities, and the corporate community love their neighbors in tangible ways through acts of service and volunteerism. We believe that Small Things Change Neighborhoods.
NeighborLink was launch in 2003 in Fort Wayne, IN after a small church community began engaging in intentional acts of service. As they put their faith into action, they built relationships and began responding to larger tangible needs for vulnerable homeowners. After a few years of activity, the relationships they formed with social services uncovered that there were hundreds of home repair and maintenance needs for people trying to age in place or navigate life’s circumstances with no one to respond. As their ministry grew, more small groups and churches began to want to join them on projects or take projects of their own. Web-based technology was beginning to emerge in the early 2000s and the founders of NeighborLink moved on their vision to develop an online bulletin board where these projects to be posted by those agencies and all the groups could search the projects, contact the homeowner directly, and work out all the details without the burden that came with most volunteer organizations.
Since 2003, NeighborLink Fort Wayne has seen over 10,000 home repair projects self-selected, organized, and completed by volunteers. We work with over 150 different communities of volunteers that are looking for meaningful opportunities to connect with their neighbors. NeighborLink is a place for the family that wants to rake leaves on a Sunday afternoon to find a project within a few blocks from home, the small business to find projects to fulfill their day of service goals, and for the committed church to begin building relationships with neighbors in an effort to facilitated strategic neighborhood development.
HOW WE WORK
Tangible needs are posted to the website by those in need, partnering agencies, or by NeighborLink staff. We encourage anyone that has a need beyond their financial or physical ability to seek assistance from their neighbors. A need unknown is a need that cannot be met. Approximately 80% of all posted projects are posted by NeighborLink staff after receiving a phone call from a homeowner requesting help.
Volunteers that have registered and been approved by NeighborLink administration search the projects to find the project that best suits them. Volunteers can choose based on project type, proximity to their home, and a number of other options that meet the level of commitment they’re able to make. Volunteers work directly with the neighbor in need to organize the project.
Once a project is selected and committed to, Volunteers begin organizing the project with the group of people they’re planning this project with. If a Volunteer needs additional volunteers or volunteers with certain skills, they can use the website to solicit additional support from other NeighborLink volunteers through a number of connecting tools or contact the NeighborLink staff. Our goal is to help as much or as little as volunteers need.
Need funds for the project? We’ve built our own crowdfunding tool that gives Volunteers the ability to fundraise for their project. We’ve seen NeighborLink’s raise over $100,000 in crowdfunding since 2012.
Today is the day. Volunteers ready to show God’s love through tangible acts of kindness bring their tools and get to work loving their neighbor in need. Relationships over projects is one of the core philosophies that NeighborLink was built upon. We encourage our volunteers to include the neighbor in need, as much as possible, or simply add a few extra volunteers to their team who spend all their time getting to know the neighbor.
Projects get completed, fellowship has been had, and new relationships with your neighbors have been formed. Do enough of these projects and neighborhoods can and will transform into more connected places to live.
How to Start a NeighborLink
Each new NeighborLink has begun with an individual or a group of people who have a history of performing similar work in their own community. As they look for ways to expand their efforts, they learn about the NeighborLink model and contact us to figure out how to replicate or use our technology. This begins a dialogue about how the model works and whether it’s a good fit to continue the conversation.
Each NeighborLink is its own separate 501c3 organization with its own board of directors and executive director. We require that the board be made up of people from 3-5 different churches, commit to providing financial support to cover startup fees, and appoint a director before we'll move forward with starting a new city.
We encourage them to contact other local churches to gauge shared interest when it comes to mobilizing congregations. At the same time, we suggest contacting social service organizations to begin to learn about what needs are going unmet in their community and whether they’d fit a web-based bulletin board model like NeighborLink. Organizations serving fixed-income homeowners are great places to start. The goal is to identify the level of need going unmet and what communities could be potential volunteers. If those exist and you can identify a team to get started, then we start moving forward with the process of getting a NeighborLink launched in your own community.
We have created an affiliate model where we license the name and website to each new city and allow local leadership to manage day-to-day operations and decision making. NeighborLink Network staff works with each new city closely during the launch phase and would be happy to provide more information should you like to learn more. We believe every city can sustain a NeighborLink with the right leaders and supporters.
Current NeighborLink Network Members
NeighborLink Fort Wayne - Fort Wayne, IN
NeighborLink DeKalb County - DeKalb County, IN
NeighborLink Indianapolis - Indianapolis, IN
NeighborLink Porter County - Porter County, IN
NeighborLink Adams County - Adams County, IN
Neighbor 2 Neighbor - Owensboro, KY
Previous NeighborLink Network Members
NeighborLink Van Wert - Van Wert, OH
NeighborLink Greater Portland - Portland, ME
Community One - Evansville, IN
Community Loop - St Louis, MO
Harambe Hunting Park - Philadelphia, PA
NeighborLink Liberty County - Liberty County, GA
Since each city is ran by its own board of directors and operates as its own non-profit, each has a different life span and unique challenges. Each one of these cities were active for a number of years before deciding to cease operations or fold within another existing nonprofit within their community. We’d be happy to share about each if you have questions about what worked or didn’t work.
We’d love to share more about the NeighborLink model, answer the questions you have about our model or the challenges you’re facing in doing like-minded work, and talk about the details related to getting started. Our vision is to share the model with any city that can pull the team together to get started with as minimal investment as possible.