Using Initiatives for Habitat for Humanity Builds

Created by Autum Brown, Modified on Mon, 31 Jul 2023 at 10:34 AM by Brittany Crow

Heads up! This article is intended for site managers. Although geared toward Habitat for Humanity organizations, you can use the information here to set up your own initiative! 

  • If you're an advanced program manager looking for information about opportunities, click here
  • If you're a program facilitator looking for information about opportunities, click here.

You know that every hand makes a difference, and your new construction requires lots of volunteers with a variety of skills and availability. Habitat for Humanity organizations like yours can use your initiatives feature to better manage your build’s volunteer opportunities.

What is an initiative?

An initiative is a useful way for your Habitat to group opportunities. Opportunities within your initiative can include both public and private needs. What’s more, you can assign private opportunities to groups of users to accommodate employees of a company or volunteers with a specific skill set, like carpentry experience. 

Why is an initiative the right tool for your build?

For a large project like new construction, you’re tasked with organizing dozens of volunteers with a variety of skills and availabilities, and you want to make sure you have an opportunity for each of them. Creating an initiative for your next build can help you to associate all build opportunities simply and clearly. Here are a few reasons to consider initiatives for your larger projects: 

All your build information housed together

Provide each of your volunteers with need-to-know information about your project and all the opportunities associated with the build. Note that you can separate opportunities by job, shift, or user group so that volunteers are signing up for opportunities that work for their skills, availability, and interests. 

Let’s say you need construction volunteers, meal providers, and site leaders for your upcoming project; name each opportunity according to the job title, and include shifts where necessary, so volunteers can easily find the role they’re looking to fulfill:

Private opportunities

You can assign both private and public opportunities to your initiative. Let’s say the Trader Joe’s employee user group wants contribute one weekend to your “45 S French Broad” new build; you can create a private opportunity just for them while keeping general volunteerism open to the public! Or you may have already created a user group of skilled carpenters, and you want to make sure only those volunteers can access this opportunity. Simply create a private opportunity for skilled labor and assign to the appropriate users.

 So you know: A private opportunity will appear with the lock symbol beside the opportunity title. 

Easy to find

Volunteers can filter opportunities by initiative in the Opportunities page, so it’s easy to find the opportunities associated with your build. Plus, you can use the Spotlights feature to draw attention to your initiative; it will appear on the Volunteer Dashboard, so it’s just one click for volunteers to access important build information and opportunities. 

Tips for setting up your initiative  

Your goal is to make your opportunities simple for volunteers to find and sign up for. Here are some tips for setting up a successful initiative for your next Habitat build: 

Name your initiative

Title your initiative as you would any of your new builds. You may name your initiative after the street address, like “45 S French Broad, 28801” so volunteers know exactly which site they’re working on. You can name opportunities based on the job title, like “Roofing Crew Leader,” and include job-specific information so that volunteers are signing up for opportunities they know are right for them. 

Provide the details

Use the description box to communicate essential information about your build, and get prospective volunteers excited about the project. You can also upload a photo or your logo to enliven your initiative banner. Additionally, you may want to include a brief statement about the home recipient: 

  • “Help us make this house a home for this family. They love soccer and playing outside with their two dogs, George and Penelope!”

You’ll capture the hearts of volunteers and let them know that this project is important to your community!

Customize your messaging

You can add initiative-specific messaging aimed at your volunteers. For example, you can add a message to your reminder for volunteers about an upcoming build, or thank your volunteers after they have signed up for an opportunity. Customizing notifications helps you communicate additional information that’s relevant to your new build initiative and its volunteers. 

Ask tailored questions

Site managers can create custom questions aimed at volunteers who respond to opportunities within an initiative. Use your custom questions to find out more about your volunteers, and to capture data for later reporting. 

You may want to ask your volunteers about the kinds of construction experience they have so you can assign them the appropriate role on site. Or you may want to collect data about the number of volunteers who have participated in a Habitat build before. 

Custom questions help you collect information (from your volunteers) that are specific to your use-case! 

Spotlight your initiative

Use your platform’s Spotlights to feature a new build initiative on your site’s landing pages. Volunteers are more likely to find and sign up for a new build when it’s easy to access. Your spotlight should include a call to action like: 

  • “Help us make a house a home. Click here to volunteer,”
  • "Building homes so families can build memories. Volunteer here!" 
  • "Click here to get involved and show off your construction skills"

Ensure your build is equipped with the help you need to get the job done. You can use initiatives to better organize your opportunities and volunteers, and make it simpler for volunteers to find the roles that suit them!