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Advocate Fact Sheet

Advocates are essential to’s success. They:

  • Serve as liaisons between families with critical needs and Neighbors
  • Build relationships with the families
  • Determine when needs are not legitimate
  • Post legitimate needs on
  • Identify Neighbors who are best suited to fulfill specific needs
  • Facilitate the first meeting between a Neighbor and a family
  • Encourage Neighbors and families to build a mutually beneficial relationship

Advocates have great responsibility and a great opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Interested in being an Advocate? If you do not yet have a account, get started by registering as a neighbor here. If you are already a Neighbor, follow this link.

Our map can tell you whether is available in your area. If it isn’t, we encourage you to register anyway; we will contact you when is active in your community.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does provide training for Advocates?

Yes. Part of the online application process for Advocates involves watching several training videos. Topics include how to identify legitimate needs, how to communicate needs to Neighbors using the website, how to follow up with families and Neighbors, and much more.

Why do I need to choose a Field Partner while registering for

Field Partners provide Advocates with support, answer questions and help ensure their safety. Some regions have only one Field Partner. If yours has two or more, you will be asked to select one. To learn more about Field Partners, we encourage you to visit their respective websites.

When can I get started as an Advocate?

Once you have viewed the videos and submitted your application, your Field Partner will review your application and may contact you with questions. You can get started as an Advocate as soon as your Field Partner approves your application.

What are the personal qualities an Advocate should have?

The most effective Advocates possess good judgment, compassion and a desire to serve others.

How does an Advocate determine whether a need is appropriate for

Advocates determine whether an expressed need is legitimate in order to ensure that the program does not deepen a family’s reliance on handouts.

Advocates are asked to meet with the family so that all decisions are made from the intimacy of face-to-face interactions. provides a questionnaire that will guide you as you interview the family. Questions include:

  • Is the item or service requested essential in order for the family to function at a healthy level?
  • Has the family been unsuccessful in meeting the need through friends and family?
  • Does it seem that adults in the home are abusing drugs or alcohol? If so, would be involved only if goods and services directly benefit children in the home.
  • Will providing the family with the item or service contribute to an unhealthy dependency on

Answers to these questions provide guidance, but ultimately the decision comes down to an Advocate’s judgment of the situation.

I’ve identified a legitimate need. How do I communicate it to Neighbors?

“Needs” are communicated by completing an online form via the website. It is then broadcasted out to Neighbors by email, text and/or Twitter. A need statement should include:

  • A brief description of the family and their situation
  • A description of the need
  • Timeline
  • Your contact information

Need statements should be concise and compelling:

Right - Mother of four in Riverside requests a refrigerator. Hers broke down a week ago and cannot be repaired.

Need statements should NOT exploit the painful situation of the family:

Wrong - Desperate mother of four in Riverside called today in tears, hoping we could provide a refrigerator as soon as possible. Her refrigerator broke down and she has no money for repairs. Her children haven’t had milk in a week!

What if more than one Neighbor responds with an offer to help?

You can decide which Neighbor to choose. Contact as many Neighbors as you would like, either by email or phone, to determine if what they have to offer is appropriate to what is needed. On the website, you will have a chance to “choose” a Neighbor. Other Neighbors will be informed on their homepage that their offer was not accepted.

How do I connect the Neighbor and the family?

You are responsible for finding a mutually convenient time for the Neighbor and family to meet in person. Ideally, you will be present during their first meeting. Once the two parties have met to fulfill the need, they can exchange contact information if they would like to continue the relationship.

How can an Advocate encourage Neighbors and families with critical needs to develop a healthy relationship?

For many Neighbors, presents their first opportunity to work with families in some kind of crisis. They may need coaching to help them understand their role, which is to:

  • Encourage, not judge
  • Help, not rescue
  • Come alongside, not “parent”

For many families with critical needs, is the first opportunity they’ve had to be in a caring relationship with someone from outside their circle of family and friends. You can encourage them to:

  • Accept the Neighbors’ offer of friendship
  • Invite the Neighbor to events like church services or picnics
  • Seek “intangibles” from their Neighbor, such as encouragement and support

How can Neighbors help families after they make an initial contact?

  • Make a follow-up phone call with the family within the first two weeks.
  • Call the family on a monthly basis to offer ongoing support and a willingness to fulfill another need.
  • Consider inviting the family to your church or other gatherings. Holidays are natural times for this to occur.

How are Advocates evaluated?’s rating system provides opportunities for Neighbors to evaluate their experiences and provide feedback about their Advocate. Over time, these ratings allow to monitor the program’s effectiveness and make improvements as needed.

Advocates receive periodic updates about their ratings, and Neighbors can view Advocate ratings on the website. Field Partners use Advocate ratings to help determine whether additional training or support is needed to ensure the program’s success.

Do Advocates provide feedback for Neighbors?

Yes. Advocates provide feedback for Neighbors after each interaction. The purpose is to provide Neighbors with positive feedback. For instance, if a family expressed appreciation to you after receiving help from, you can share that as part of your feedback.

Advocates with more than five completed needs that require feedback cannot post additional needs until they are up to date.

I would like to learn more about poverty and how to help who are dealing with it.

Books on this topic include:

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