Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity International was founded in Georgia in 1976 as a grassroots effort to increase the availability of affordable housing. In 1984, former president Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, became involved in the program, greatly increasing its exposure. At present, Habitat for Humanity has built homes globally and is the largest not-for-profit builder In the world. The organization receives support through volunteer builders, monetary contributions, and from its Habitat for Humanity ReStores. 

The Good

  • Administrative expenses
  • Fundraising expenses
  • Program percentage
  • Accessible financial information
  • Donor communication

Administrative Expenses

Habitat for Humanity International's administrative expenses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, were reported as $12,305,756, or 4.7 percent of the organization's total annual revenue, which is relatively low when compared to other charities. Top executives for Habitat for Humanity earn just over $300,000 per year, which is significantly lower than salaries paid by similar organizations.

Fundraising Expenses

Habitat for Humanity's fundraising budget for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, was $40,602,123, or 15.7 percent of its annual revenue.

Program Percentage

Generally, a program delivery percentage above 80 percent is gauged as an effective use of funds by various charity watchdog organizations. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, Habitat for Humanity used 81.9 percent of its income for program delivery.

Accessible Financial Information

Habitat for Humanity International publishes its annual reports, consolidated financial statements, and IRS Form 990s from 2010 to 2015 online. These documents can be easily located on the organization's website.

Donor Communication

Donors can support Habitat for Humanity in several ways. For example, donors can offer support by volunteering time on a house build or in one of the organization's ReStore locations. Donors can also make regular monthly monetary contributions, honor or tribute donations, or support the organization with the gift of a vehicle or stocks and bonds. Donors can expect communication that is directly related to the way in which they have chosen to support the charity. Those selecting to volunteer their time will receive information about upcoming opportunities. However, anyone can sign up to receive regular updates by submitting their email address online. The organization has robust social media accounts, so interested parties can connect with or follow Habitat for Humanity on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

The Bad

  • Total income
  • Negative press
  • Solicited awards

Total Income

Habitat for Humanity International's total revenue has been decreasing for the past few years. The organization has implemented some necessary cutbacks in its program in order to offset the decreased revenue. Incomes for the past several years are as follows:

  • 2015: $252,890,636
  • 2014: $258,178,649
  • 2013: $287,676,608
  • 2012: $285,746,081

Negative Press

Nearly all organizations that are as large as Habitat for Humanity have received at least some bad press coverage. While the number of controversies that Habitat for Humanity has been involved in is relatively lower than many similar organizations, the charity has received the following negative press:

Peoria, Illinois: 2013
Neighbors of a proposed Habitat home that was going to be built for a decorated war veteran petitioned to ban the home from being built. The reason? It was going to be built of wood, rather than brick, like the neighboring houses. The local affiliate for Habitat for Humanity responded by stating that misconceptions often lead to similar problems with neighbors who are fearful that they will see declines in their property values. The home was ultimately constructed with brick façades.

New York City: 2012-2016
The New York affiliate for Habitat for Humanity received a $21 million federal grant to rehabilitate buildings in the city. The organization selected Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically poor Brooklyn neighborhood. One of the government grant requirements was that the buildings must be vacant before the purchase went through to Habitat for Humanity. Up until this point, everything had gone smoothly; however, one of the owners of the properties ended up displacing residents, some of whom became homeless because they had nowhere else to live after these government-subsidized apartments were no longer available.

Solicited Awards

Habitat for Humanity has received some awards, but these awards are all from entries into a solicited contest. In other words, rather than being awarded independently, Habitat for Humanity actively competed for these awards through organized contests. While these awards should not be discredited, it's important to recognize the lengths to which the organization has gone to win them. Received rewards include:

  • Habitat for Humanity International was recognized multiple times from 2011 to 2013 with the Telly Award for its promotional and informational video productions
  • In 2012, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) awarded Habitat for Humanity International with the Bronze Anvil Award, which is given to organizations for their work in public relations
  • In 2012, the League of American Communications Professionals awarded Habitat for Humanity International with a Gold Vision Award, recognizing the organization's 2012 annual report visually and for clarity of message

The Bottom Line

Habitat for Humanity International is one of the largest charitable organizations in the United States and has a unique program. The organization has low administrative expenses and a respectable program delivery percentage. However, Habitat for Humanity's annual income has been declining for the past few years and the organization has only received solicited awards.

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