Bad Times Make Good Neighbors: An Increase in Christian Volunteering Due to Economy
April 23, 2009
MEDIA ADVISORY, (christiansunite.com) -- The largest Christian online volunteer matching website, ChristianVolunteering.org, has shown a 300% increase in traffic in 2009 from a year ago. As people have difficulty finding a job, many of them are turning to volunteering to keep themselves busy. Other groups are showing similar growth: applications to AmeriCorps, a national service group, have tripled since last year; twice as many people participated in January's Martin Luther King Day of Service; and significant growth is expected for National Volunteer week, April 19-25th.
Andrew Sears, Executive Director of TechMission ( www.techmission.org), the nonprofit that runs ChristianVolunteering.org, says, "Bad times make good neighbors. In these tough times, many Christians are following the call of Jesus to love their neighbor."
ChristianVolunteering.org and other TechMission websites have served over 650,000 unique visitors in 2009, and they expect to match over 10,000 volunteers this year. Last March, TechMission started a group on Facebook called the One Body of Christ Experiment, in an effort to bring together Christians and to get them serving their communities. Only a year later, the group is now one of the largest Christian groups on Facebook with over 846,000 members, and is bringing thousands to ChristianVolunteering.org to volunteer.
ChristianVolunteering.org is free and works similar to job matching sites like Monster.com except matching volunteers to volunteer opportunities. Potential volunteers can search nearly 5,000 volunteer and short-term missions opportunities from over 4,000 organizations.
The recent passage of the Serve America Act will increase national service programs like AmeriCorps from 75,000 full-time positions to 250,000 positions. As TechMission is the only evangelical-based nonprofit currently receiving an AmeriCorps National Direct grant, it is uniquely positioned for growth given the number of volunteers that come from churches (35% of volunteers come from faith-based organizations and provide time valued at $52 billion/year). To handle this increased demand, TechMission is planning to expand its urban ministry internship program from 40 full-time interns to 80 this year.
Other Christian organizations are also joining the drive to help others during hard economic times. A recent partnership with BibleGateway.com and ChristianVolunteering.org will place thousands of volunteers serving the poor this year. ChristianVolunteering.org's other partners serve over 35 million low-income individuals each year and include the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, World Vision, Mission America, Christian Community Development Association, Here's Life Inner City (Campus Crusade), Catholic Archdiocese of Boston and YouthPartnersNet (formerly Compassion USA).