Websites have proven to be a powerful technological tool that directly connects people to a mutually beneficial relationship. This is one of NeighborLink’s greatest differentiators. We’re attempting to eliminate the barriers between people in need and those that want to help. However, there are critical challenges if access to technology is one-sided. That’s also true at NeighborLink. Websites, just like any other tool, are only as useful as the person’s ability to use them. Since day 1, those needing help could call NeighborLink on the phone. We would gather their information, explain the process and then post their project on the website for them.
In an ideal world, we would like to see 80% or more of the projects posted, get posted by the person who needs help or the referral organization. Why? Because our staff can sometimes be a barrier between the neighbor asking for help and the neighbor wanting to help. The volunteer loses an integral part of the whole volunteer experience - the initial interaction with the neighbor asking for help, the tone in their voice when asking for help, hearing their story and circumstances. There is no way we can summarize it in a way that will have the same impact. When homeowners post their own projects they can communicate exactly how they want to be helped when the volunteer asks. And from a technical side, when homeowners post their own projects, they are automatically connected to the project from beginning to end, receiving notifications if the project gets selected, where it stands and the ability to update the project in any way.
The same goes for referral agencies. We’d love to see more agencies post projects on behalf of their clients as a way to share info and to stay connected to the project and the person they are trying to help. By staying connected to the project, they are notified directly if the project gets selected, when it’s started and its completion. It’s more work for them, but in the end, it provides better customer service and the likelihood of a positive experience for their clients.
The good news is that the number of projects being posted by folks other than NeighborLink staff is on the rise! Just a few years ago, we were posting close to 85% of the total number of projects. With today’s mobile technology and the relationship building our staff is doing to educate our partners on how the website works, the numbers are diversifying. The chart above shows who have posted projects over the last two years.
We’re monitoring these numbers every year to make updates to the project posting process, to continue streamlining and simplifying on our end. We want to be able to focus on bridging the effort gap and increase the connections neighbors are making with each other. We’re happy to answer any questions on this data or any other stats you’re curious about.