I am really excited about this one. So much so, I think this is something every single church in the country needs to be aware of as this grows and expands in the near future. I had a meeting last week with Jim Morgan and Carl Treleaven of Meettheneed.org and it was one of the most encouraging meetings I have been a part of in some time. Carl has been working over the last 8 years making an online platform for churches or individuals to meet needs inside the church as well as connect with non-profits in the community.
What it is:
Meet the need is an online platform for congregations to integrate into their existing website. It allows churches to post needs of the congregation, ministries, or members into the site. The needs are then regularly emailed to registered members who can then go through your church website to commit to meeting various needs (material goods, time, even mission trips that need more people). The needs also go into a searchable database that members or local churches can view (if you allow those permissions). Meet the need also allows any 501(c)3 to post any of their needs that congregations or individuals can find and commit to meeting.
How it works:
501(c)3 – They input personal or material needs for local congregations to be aware of and assist with. This can be anything from needing 5 people on a certain date to serve food, pantry or clothing needs, large projects, you name it. This information goes into the searchable database that local churches and church members with access can go to and find something to do or find a place for the things they wish to donate.
Churches – Churches get their members registered, have the platform integrated into their website and begin posting needs and searching for needs in the community. This gets the churches and local non-profits in touch. Meettheneed has regular emails sent out that include any new needs added by the congregation. Let’s say a family in the congregation had their house burn up. You can post the family name and exactly all the items they are needing. People go in, check the items they can give, and item by items these are removed from the needs list.
Individuals – Let’s say you would like to donate some time this Saturday, you go to the site, login, and do a search for local events that need volunteer help this weekend. Or if you have something you would like to give you can search your congregation, surrounding churches, or local non-profits that are asking for those items. You then click that you are going to do it, which removes the need from the list, and then you click whether you want to drop the items off at the home/501(c)3 or at the church. As you make committments, these go into your account as pending until you click that you have completed the donation/service. This way you don’t forget something you said you were going to do.
Why is this important?
If you have ever organized a service project and you don’t have a specific need in mind you have to find out what you are going to do. So you start calling local agencies, assisted living facilities, etc to figure out what you are going to do. Then you have to set a date, contact people to come, etc. This takes a lot of that leg work out as the needs are entered by the non-profits and through a very detailed search engine you can find exactly what you are looking for (provided it it is in the database as a need by a local NP).
This also gives your church members a constant reminder of various missions that are all around them in the community and congregation. John Ellas once said, “We move in the direction of our most dominant thoughts.” If we want people to be more missional, how much better can it get for people to get regular reminders of needs around them? Most people are willing to help others. They just need to know what to do, who needs, help or where to show up. This provides that information.
Last, the site has many options and is as public or private as you would like for it to be. The congregation can control the flow of information so nothing sensitive gets out there. Permissions can be given for several members/ministers to be able to post needs. This way not just anyone is posting things and there is some filter for the information/needs to pass through.
This is starting in the Tampa Bay area and will being to grow regionally and then nationally. This is something I think all churches should be aware of because for a small monthly fee you cut out countless hours of time trying to track down needs, emailing needs, and being in touch with non-profits in your community. This service is $75/month which is very inexpensive for the service it provides. The reality of it is, it saves far more hours of administration of someone on staff than it costs, opening up that time for actual ministry.