Nearly 20 years ago, Meet The Need was founded because eradicating poverty and sharing the Gospel weren’t lucrative enough to incent innovation by for-profit software companies. While technology vendors focused on building ERP and eCommerce solutions, Meet The Need was investing in platforms to mobilize churches and ministries to serve struggling families. Modern tools from the business world could foster collaboration in a highly fragmented charitable marketplace, but only a ministry with a bottom line measured in disciples, not dollars, would spend millions knowing collaboration required offering those systems at no charge. Churches had been the food bank and homeless shelter for nearly 2000 years, but increasingly separated evangelism from compassion, letting government and ministries assume primary responsibility for serving the hungry and homeless. But Jesus modeled caring before sharing, so Meet The Need’s goal became reuniting the entire body of Christ to bless those in desperate need of help and hope.
Many pastors and ministry leaders were requesting a way to bridge the communication gap between those in need and those who could help. Churches and ministries were managing and coordinating compassion work with spreadsheets, post-it notes and static information on a web page. So Meet The Need began building volunteer management, event management. and case management applications at a time when nearly none existed. With Meet The Need, suddenly they had state-of-the-art tools to recruit volunteers, run outreach events and track assistance provided to families across the city. Meet The Need quickly grew and had tremendous impact around the country – as it does today.
However, despite our mission to engage Christians in serving the poor year-round, Meet The Need watched as activity spiked during the holiday season and dissipated thereafter. Checking the proverbial box wasn’t alleviating poverty or changing lives. Meanwhile, Millennials were driving volunteerism momentum and demand, providing software vendors opportunities to monetize those products. Entire industries emerged with competitors selling expensive volunteering, event planning and shared case management solutions. In an effort to increase revenues, lines began to blur – event software provided ticket sale options and donor systems incorporated capabilities to help charities convert volunteers quickly into givers. Institutional fundraising encouraged creating dependence on handouts rather than empowering families to become self-sufficient. The goal became keeping the charity in business rather than working its way out of a job.
Once again, it’s time for Meet the Need to pave the way in innovation. We’ve observed and learned enough over the past 20 years to recognize the flaws in the status quo – and we’re objective enough to change course because our vision isn’t tainted by the lure of maximizing shareholder value. There’s no money, but much more impact and dignity, in decreasing reliance on transactional assistance from donor-driven organizations. We also foresaw years ago dynamics now in full effect that will soon force a shift in how assistance is provided to those living in poverty. In fact, Meet The Need has invested the past 2 ½ years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new platform that will revolutionize service delivery to families. We’re again building what no one else wants to because it’s not popular or lucrative enough – and doing so in the Lord’s perfect timing as those dynamics are accelerating rapidly in the direction we were already heading.
If churches and ministries don’t #ReimagineCompassion now, it will become apparent tomorrow that today’s solutions to alleviating human suffering no longer work – and actually perpetuate poverty. Current trends will soon leave them with no choice but to empower families to take greater responsibility for their welfare, helping them plot their own course to a better future.
- Poverty Dynamics – Cycles of generational poverty haven’t been broken by programs or events that dole out funds or resources, both of which are likely to be in shorter supply going forward
- Kingdom Dynamics – Fewer Americans than ever acknowledge that each individual is made in God’s image and of immeasurable value, deserving of the dignity inherent in self-sustainability, which is where life transformation begins
- Political Dynamics – New leadership in Washington may position itself as savior to the poor, providing impetus for churches and ministries to replace handouts with personal, loving relationships that position Jesus as Savior
- Economic Dynamics – Social pressures, higher taxes and economic bubbles will continue to decrease per capita giving to Christian organizations, requiring greater cost effectiveness
- Institutional Dynamics – Diminishing trust and loyalty in institutions, combined with the disintermediation caused by COVID-19, may necessitate decentralization of compassion
- Church Dynamics – Attractional models centered on buildings, pastors and self-interest haven’t grown the overall “body” or produced sacrificial disciples who understand the importance Jesus placed on helping the poor
- Cultural Dynamics – In a society where “sin”, “repentance” and “Jesus” are not in the accepted vernacular, the mandate for every believer to live out the Great Commission will require more than just words
- Discipleship Dynamics – A biblical definition of “church” entails equipping individuals to shine a light on Christ’s righteousness, exposing the world’s need for Him and opening the door for in-depth conversations, not invitations to next Sunday’s worship service
There’s an urgent need today for churches and ministries to unite around a more biblical approach to helping families in need – to #ReimagineCompassion. As society becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity, our only defense against hatred is love, which we can demonstrate by modeling a more relational, sustainable and effective approach to serving the “least of these”.
MTN’s New Family Empowerment Platform
Ironically, this new system represents a return to Meet The Need’s roots. Retracing our strategic progression over the last 20 years, MTN began by helping churches build a “web” of support around local families. But our scope expanded as pastors and ministry leaders began to realize someone had finally brought modern tools to “reconnect the dots”. Then national and regional charities asked us to customize our systems to address specific causes like hunger relief, homelessness and foster care. We hope and pray that going back to our family-centered origins will lead to impact even beyond what we’ve already experienced, like facilitating the world’s largest food rescue network, rerouting nearly 2.5 billion pounds to shelters and agencies that feed the poor.
Guiding principles and capabilities of Meet The Need’s revamped platform include:
- Leverage Artificial Intelligence to personalize suggestions for connections and opportunities that fit the interests and skills of families and volunteers
- Rather than “push” organizations to use software, “pull” family, friends, churches, ministries, businesses and service providers into enduring, relational circles around those in need
- Understand and display the assets available across each city, reflecting the value of all it has to offer, possibly including jobs for the unemployed or underemployed
- Focus not only on impact, but on spiritual growth by recommending scripture and materials best suited for an individual’s unique circumstances
- Allow churches and ministries to customize their own version of the application to equip families in their networks to support one another, lifting the burden on organizational budgets
Meet The Need started designing this platform in late 2017 and just completed a Beta-ready version! Now we need your prayer and support to begin rolling it out to Christ-centered organizations who are excited and ready to test and launch in the weeks and months ahead.
It’s Your Turn…
Join the #ReimagineCompassion revolution by praying, donating, sharing this blog post on social media, and personally engaging with families in ways that truly transform lives.