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  • Rachel Nelson

Our first Community Report was from a Pandemic Year

This is a first for us at NeighborLink Indianapolis! Due to our size, previous 100% volunteer staff, and very much start-up style for many years, our organization had never put together an official Report. Sure, we filed our 990s and of course met all reporting needs to help our operations be transparent to our donors. We’d even been rated a top nonprofit by GreatNonProfits.com. We hadn’t had the ability to put together a good visual of our prior year’s progress.


January of 2020, we made the decision to create a community report for that year. We diligently took photos, meticulously kept notes and records. We were geared up for having our biggest year yet! We had hired staff, began to lay the groundwork for future sustainability and growing our service area, and then, like everyone else the pandemic threw us for a loop.


Our client base is among the most vulnerable to the virus so we clamped down and sincerely shrank our accepted projects for the year, held off on group projects for the bulk of the summer, and crossed our fingers that there was a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.


As the year progressed and we all learned ways to minimize risk, we cautiously began to take on projects—all outdoor and all within more of a critical need category at first. Next we worked out small group sizes, dedicated volunteer teams, and strict protocols for mask wearing and maintaining distances. Our Director of Client Relations focused on finding ways to connect with our senior homeowners without putting himself or them at risk while still fully understanding their needs.


In the end, we were able to break records of our own. At first glance through our Community Report, it may not seem like it. However, we were able to work on four projects on a single day (typically it’s 1-2 at best)! We had such enthusiastic volunteers who committed to our volunteer teams and showed up for our monthly projects helping us reliably knock out our wait list. Our groups really kicked into gear at the end of the summer and our Director of Community and Partner Engagement really knocked it out of the park with connecting and getting groups plugged in. In retrospect, had we had that end of year momentum all through 2020, we would have been able to serve so many more homeowners and clear many more citations than we ever have in the past seven years of our organization's existence.


We are exceedingly fortunate to have weathered the 2020 storm and are proud of our first ever Community Report. We hope you find it enlightening and perhaps even motivational in compelling you to sign up for a volunteer project or chipping in to support some projects.


Thank you for your support and we look forward to our best year yet in 2021!


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