IDEA: Non-Religious-Based, National Community Improvement Organization


Image by annais via Flickr

DISCLAIMER: I post ideas here as they come to me with the thought that somebody else may see them and express an interest in developing them or working with me to develop them. Of course, there’s nothing to keep you from going off and developing an idea on your own, but you should know that this blog tracks the times and dates of my posts and updates to them, which could be considered my copyright. All I ask is that if you like an idea you read about on my site and you want to pursue it, you make an effort to include me in the development as much as I want to be –which may be not at all. If I had time to develop every idea that came to me, I would do so instead of posting them here. 😉

NOTE: I am making this post live to be viewed to invite discussion (please feel free to add your commentls below), but I have been pondering this for a long time and have a lot of ideas to post here as I find the time to type them, so feel free to check back often to watch this post grow. Eventually, it may become the basis for a kickstarter campaign or something similar. And if you’re a wealthy person looking to seed something like this, feel free to contact me and we can chat about how to get something like this started.

CONCEPT: A national community action/improvement/philanthropy organization that is in no way beholden to a religious organization. I believe there are a lot of people out there that would be happy to work for the improvement of their communities if there was an organization where they could direct their energies. Ideally it would be national so that there would be similarly structured chapters in every city and town, but the chapters themselves would be independent entities as well so they could tailor their mission to the needs of their community.

This is not a new concept, certainly there have been many such organizations in the past — Salvation Army, YMCA, any number of churches — that have filled this role, but I have a feeling that in the current time many of these seem to have either lost their local focus or have grown so large that their bureaucracies most to slowly to be truly effective. I also believe that many folks have fallen away from the Church due to a change of beliefs or an economic necessity to be working when they would otherwise be participating in these functions. Sometimes people don’t feel like they belong in a religious setting because they don’t believe or because they can’t live up to the financial obligation of a tithe. Sometimes there are folks that would very much like to be part of a community, they just don’t want the core mission of that community to be religion. The organization I envision would not cut out religious groups or their members from participation, but it would not allow them to rule and would not tolerate the exclusion of anybody based on religion. Any religion.

What I propose would be an organization where a person’s affiliation would be based purely on two things: geography, and a willingness to do good in their community. It would have a similar model to a lot of organizations that started with religious affiliations but with a very flat organizational structure and a small number of clearly targeted goals. It would also take advantage as much as possible of Internet resources to share information among its members as well as process information from the outside world. Chapters could post notices of the types of projects they are doing — fundraising, philanthropy, entertainment — to give other chapters ideas on how to do similar projects. People in the community seeking help could use the internet as a contact point with the organization to request help.

Names for the Organization: I have been pondering several names for the organization and it makes sense to state them here so that I can go further in my description and not have to keep saying “the organization.” As I said earlier, the membership will be united by location and the will for philanthropy. Therefore, the names I have been entertaining have been centered on these concepts. I also want something catchy and short. Something that lends itself to a viral spread in the online community. They’re not set in stone — none of this is, it’s just a dream at this stage — so with this thought in mind, I welcome any ideas anyone else may have.

  • NAME IDEA 1: “Zips”
    • Based on the chapters being set mostly within certain zip codes
    • PRO: Could be very catchy and easy to spread by word of mouth
    • CON: May sound a bit childish for a national organization, but probably not any worse than “Google” once was
  • NAME IDEA 2: “The Neighbors”
    • Suggests geographic proximity, and also a sense of community.
    • PRO: Short and catchy; sounds legit on a local and national scale.
    • CON: Could feel a little bit immature and a little bit creepy at the same time — like Mr. Rogers meets The Stepford Wives
  • NAME IDEA 3: “Neighborhood 19609” or “Hood 19609” or “Hoody 19609”
    • A hybrid that has a feeling of inclusion and also identifies the area by zip code.
    • PRO: it’s catchy; has the advantages of the first two ideas
    • CON: Maybe feels a little too ‘urban’; splitting areas by zip may not be practical in more sparsely populated areas; how do you refer to the national organization? Hood USA?

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