Join Us: Recruiting Volunteers

The next MLK Day webinar, Recruiting Volunteers, on Wednesday, November 9 at 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT, will cover:
  • Generating New Volunteers – Where to Look
  • Engaging Diverse Populations (youth, students, seniors, etc…)
  • Volunteer Management
  • Online Resources for Volunteer Management
  • Tips for Team Leaders
  •  Maintaining Volunteers Beyond the Day of Service


Future Webinars

If you’ve missed an earlier webinar, don’t worry! We will be repeating some of our hot topics in the upcoming weeks. These upcoming webinars that will help you plan and execute a successful MLK Day event.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the MLK Day of Service is "How do I engage and work with faith-based organizations?" Below is information to get you started.

Engaging Faith Groups in Your Community

Dr. King was a minister, and as such, was a part of the larger faith community.  During the civil rights movement, religious leaders and their congregations from many different faiths worked in support of Dr. King's efforts, providing their personal, professional, and financial backing to civil rights efforts.  As faith organizations played key roles in the civil rights movement, it is only fitting that as we celebrate Dr. King through service that we seek to partner with members fo the faith community.

Benefits of Partnering With Faith-Based Organizations

Faith-based organizations can provide many benefits to a community partnership.  Some of these benefits include:

  • Trusted within the neighborhood
  • Integrated personal relationships within the community
  • Experienced with directly serving those in need
  • Mission and desire to help those in need within their community
  • Established leadership within the community
  • Experienced in volunteer recruitment, management, and retention
  • Resources such as buildings, meeting rooms, equipment, and so forth

 Finding Faith-Based Partners

Use your network.If you have not worked with faith-based organizations before, there are certainly people in your network who have worked with or are a part of such an organization. Ask existing community partners, friends, board members, staff and others in your network for advice and introductions. Make sure your network knows that you are looking to build and strengthen your service work by partnering with other organizations in your community.

Use the phone book or Internet.The community yellow pages will list churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. Additionally, through sites such as GuideStar, you can search for nonprofit, faith-based groups using a key word such as “faith”, your city and state. Internet map sites can also assist you with your search.

Use your feet, car, or public transportation. Walk, drive, or ride through your community and pay special attention to the religious institutions that are part of it. Many groups list their hours on bulletin boards, so you will know when someone might be available for a call to discuss a partnership opportunity.

Learn More:

  • Types of Partnerships with Faith-Based Organizations
  • Potential Faith-Based Partners
  • Additional Resources


There is an upcoming MLK Day Action Update on Building Partnerships for the MLK Day of Service. Please watch for it.

Types of Partnerships

Direct Religious Participation

Each year, faith-based organizations across the country celebrate MLK Day with inter-faith breakfasts, community resource and volunteer fairs in their places of worship, commemorative events including dialogues about Dr. King, and other innovative projects. For example, the National Alliance of Faith and Justice instituted Justice Sunday on the day before the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Justice Sunday engages over 400 places of worship across the country in recruiting mentors for children of prisoners and other at-risk youth.

In addition, many religious organizations provide services to the community throughout the year—running soup kitchens, after-school programs, visiting people who are sick or shut-in, helping with ex-offender re-entry and so much more. Connecting MLK Day of Service projects with existing service work of religious groups in your community may open many doors to partnership.

Faith-Based Nonprofits

Many religious bodies have established separate non-profit organizations that manage their extensive outreach activities and may also focus on specific issues such as poverty, homelessness, or health. Reaching out to these organizations is a powerful way to increase the diversity of those working together on MLK Day and throughout the year. You may be able to connect with a local affiliate as a way to reach out to faith-based audiences that are already very active in serving your community.
Visit organizations’ websites where you can locate nearby affiliates and learn about the specific social needs they address. Consider asking them to partner with you on MLK Day in a way that furthers their priority causes. A brief list of national faith-based organizations involved with service activities appears under the Potential Faith-Based Partners heading below. But don’t forget to use local resources to locate groups near you that may not be part of a larger group.

Recognizing Those Who Serve

Dr. King said that he would like to be remembered as a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness. Consider partnering with faith and community organizations to acknowledge and honor the people who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service as part of your Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday activities. Take the time to recognize those unsung heroes who serve with reliability and commitment, but seldom receive recognition. Work with religious leaders in the community to highlight MLK Drum Majors for Service. This presents a great opportunity to highlight individuals that are committed to service and, in the process, forging further relationships with religious groups in your community. Learn more about the MLK Drum Major for Service recognition.

Potential Faith-Based Partners

There are many faith-based organizations at the national and local levels that you may seek for potential partnerships.  Below is a brief list of organizations with a tradition of service and a relationship wiht national service programs.

  • Buddhist Peace Fellowship is a community of primarily dharma practitioners established to support socially engaged efforts, social justice adn social change. http://bpf.org/
  • Catholic Charities USA is the second largest service-provider in the United States, surpassed only by the federal government.  The network of local agencies is involved in a range of issues including disaster preparedness, poverty initiatives, and climate change. Find your local Catholic Charity Agency by visiting the contact page at http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org
  • HOPE worldwide is an international charity that harnesses the commitment of staff and volunteers to deliver sustainable, high-impact, community-based services to the poor and needy. www.hopeww.org
  • Islamic Relief USA provided disaster relief to individuals affected by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. They also provide basic necessities to disadvantaged populations in cities throughout the country. www.Islamicreliefusa.org
  • Jewish Community Centers Movement includes more than 350 JCCs, YM-YWHAs, and camp sites in the U.S. and Canada. JCCs offer a wide range of services; providing educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building, and recreational programs for people of all ages and backgrounds. www.jcca.org
  • Lutheran Services in America (LSA)is an alliance of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, and their over 300 health and human service organizations. Together, these organizations touch the lives of more than six million people – one in 50 Americans each year.  Visit their website to find LSA member organizations in your area.  www.lutheranservices.org  
  • National Alliance of Faith and Justicesupports its affiliates and invite local, national, faith, service, and criminal justice organizations to expand traditional commemorative programming by promoting and observing the third week of January each year as a period to recruit and recognize mentors and volunteers who serve current and previously incarcerated men and women, court-involved youth, and children of incarcerated parents through prison and outreach ministries, and through other direct service programs.www.nafj.org
  •  Service for Peace provides service and learning opportunities through community projects which promote transformational and sustainable personal and community development around the world. They bring together people and partners of diverse faiths, ethnicities, nationalities, generations, and cultures to address profound social needs by discovering commonality and genuine appreciation for differences through service. www.serviceforpeace.org

Additional Resources

Please share this Action Update with colleagues and networks.

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