SEATTLE FindMissonaries.org founder Brent Turner recognizes a high correlation between “people who have resources” and “people who are busy.” A few years ago, the mission-minded Turner also observed that many mission-related organizations don’t have strong development arms.
In an attempt to bring these groups of people together, Turner launched the Web site Mission-World.com in July 2006. Now in the spring of 2007, Turner and crew have re-launched the privately-funded service that introduces Christians to U.S. missionaries throughout the world as FindMissionaries.org.
“Our vision is to offer busy people a place to go when they want to be involved in God’s mission,” Turner said. “Every missionary undergoes a screening process before being added to the site, and almost anyone can find someone to support in less than five minutes. We look forward to offering a simplified version of our Web site to Christians throughout the world.”
The home page of the site gives visitors the option to search for missionaries by “focus” or “region” of the world. Once an option is selected, a list of missionaries meeting the search requirements is displayed. A user can click on a missionary name and be taken to the missionaries profile page, which gives details about the work being done and an option to contact the missionary through a simple online form.
Visitors to the site are literally two clicks from viewing any given missionary, and three clicks from contacting the missionary to offer support. The site does not accept or process donations but rather connects donors directly with the missionaries.
“You can find a missionary in some part of the world who is doing something that speakers to your heart in 5 minutes, and you can establish contact with them in 6,” Turner said.
The FindMissionary.org site states that an average missionary diverts between 10 percent and 50 percent of their time from ministry to trying to raise support. The site also claims there are 40,000 missionaries waiting on funding to enter the mission field.
“There is money out there that would go toward missionaries if the search process were easier and less involved,” Turner said.
Since the launch of the site, over 200 missionaries worldwide have been added to the site’s searchable database. Turner acknowledged that he has encountered some skepticism that the concept can work, but he also indicated that the response from mission organizations has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We know that people are coming to the site,” he said. “I can say anecdotally that I have not shown this site to a Christian so far who has not been excited about it.”
The FindMissionaries.org site re-launch is the first event in a new partnership between the organization and MinistryHome.org, a social networking site for those in ministry.
“Whether you are working full-time for a major ministry organization or are a student volunteering a week to help out in the aftermath of Katrina, MinistryHome.org is a place for you to tell the world about what you are doing,” said Paul Payne, site founder. “In terms of accessing funding and resources for your ministry, there has never been anything like it.”
The site is described as a MySpace for missionaries, offering free profile pages and enhanced paid features such as blogging and other tools.
Payne agreed to code the FindMissionaries.org site in exchange for traffic building for MinistryHome.org.
Getting the word out
To spread the news about the FindMissionaries.org site, Turner and his staff are utilizing other marketing technologies as well. The group currently has a commercial posted on the video-sharing site YouTube. The nonprofit also uses e-mail marketing, links from other sites and appearances on radio to get the word out.
“We’ve learned to message ourselves and present the site. Our target market is ‘busy,’ so what do you do?” Turner asked. “You need more flexibility in how quickly they can reach you and how easily the information flows. That’s what Web 2.0 is all about and the church needs to go with it.”
To read more about FindMissionaries.org or connect with a missionary in the field, go to www.findmissionaries.org. If you are a ministry worker or missionary looking for a resource to post information online, visit www.ministryhome.org.