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Volunteer Mobilization website keys needs to willing workers

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Matching volunteers with areas where their services are needed has become significantly easier thanks to a new Internet-based system operated by the North American Mission Board.

Where just a few years ago the process of identifying needs and matching them with volunteers and groups could take months, it now can be accomplished with just a few clicks on the North American Mission Board’s Volunteer Mobilization Information System (VMISO) website.

The site — located at volunteers.namb.net — serves as a clearinghouse for both volunteers looking for places to serve and directors of missions and other leaders who post opportunities.

Elmer Goble, manager of NAMB’s adult volunteer department, said the system also takes advantage of an individual’s initial excitement about becoming involved in volunteer missions.

“You can go home from a conference excited about a volunteer missions possibility, go on the Web, and almost immediately have an assignment,” he said.

The website is the culmination of efforts since NAMB’s founding in 1997 to streamline the process of matching mission volunteers with needs across the country. Initially there was a list of needs maintained by the agency, and a construction list would be mailed to state partners and other volunteer mobilization leaders on a periodic basis. But it was a process requiring paper applications from both those submitting requests and volunteers seeking assignments, Goble recounted.

Later, NAMB began publishing OnSite magazine both to promote the cause of mission volunteers and to provide a regular vehicle for listing the need requests. But there was still a delay of many months because of the paper applications and processing that were required, along with the quarterly production schedule.

The opening of NAMB’s Adult Volunteer Mobilization Action Center last year streamlined the process somewhat, providing staff and volunteers who worked to proactively match missions workers with projects. But it was still a labor-intensive process handled largely over the telephone, Goble said.

With the new system, churches with a need for volunteers for construction, prayerwalking, Vacation Bible School or other ministries can contact their director of missions, who is authorized to directly submit the need on the Volunteer Mobilization site. Or, those needing volunteers can post their projects directly. The system will automatically notify their association and state convention. Individual volunteers and churches, meanwhile, can register on the site and see all needs that fit their profile of skills and abilities.

“Now we get letters and emails from both volunteers and the people who need volunteers saying how they love the system,” Goble said. “We didn’t get many calls like that from the old system. So we know it’s working.”

Jim Durham, chairman of the board of directors for the under-construction Winter Haven (Fla.) Christian School, said he first submitted his need for construction crews through the Volunteer Mobilization Center. He said the new website has increased the exposure and made it easier for volunteers to sign up.

“I really like it,” he said. “It’s a big improvement over what was there before. And it even has a feature that if you don’t update it every three weeks you get an e-mail saying it’s time to update it. So it has good up-to-date information.”

To become a member of the Volunteer Mobilization Information System, churches or individuals seeking volunteers can visit the site at www.volunteers.namb.net. To submit a project in which volunteers are needed, churches should contact their associational director of missions or state volunteer mobilization leaders if they do not have Internet access. Or, list projects directly at www.volunteers.namb.net.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson