7 Communities Benefiting from Habitat for Humanity Donations

  • September 25, 2018
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Here are seven communities operating ReStores, the retail locations that take Habitat for Humanity donations, in the form of used building materials, and sell them for a profit.

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 in Americus, Georgia by Millard and Linda Fuller. Today the organization boasts nearly 1,400 affiliates across the U.S. and in approximately 70 countries.

The global charity uses the profits from their ReStore retail locations to build homes for deserving families in need in their communities. At these seven locations, the ReStore managers are using technology to help make things easier, both for donors and their teams.

Habitat for Humanity donations

The iPad kiosks being put to use at the Silicon Valley location

1. Silicon Valley, California

Perhaps it will come as no surprise that the East Bay/Silicon Valley ReStore location is ahead of the curve with technology. Donors can book online to have their donations picked up at their home or building site. But they can also enter their donations into an iPad “kiosk.” The kiosks are available at the store’s receiving dock and allow donors to generate an email receipt.

“The online form saves our donors time and offers them the convenience of automatically receiving a professional-looking email receipt containing all the details they need for tax purposes,” says ReStore Project Specialist Matt Nelson. “I also cannot emphasize enough the value of being able to make business decisions based on accurate data,” he adds. “We save about 5 hours per store each month in data entry and another $50 per store per month in office supplies.”

Those savings are equal to more profits for the charity, which means more funds for building homes for families in need.

habitat for humanity donations

2. Twin Cities, Minneapolis

At the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in the Twin Cities, ReStore Donations Manager Robin Henrichsen is always on the lookout for ways to bring in more inventory.

“We continue to look for ways to increase our donation pickups, which leads to increased sales,” says Heinrichsen. “This could be adding a truck or adding days to the route. We continue to strive to increase sales, be profitable and support more home builds with our profit. The ultimate goal is to increase our store count as the donation stream grows.”

“Business donors and individual donors are the lifeblood of the ReStore,” she says. “We help them to find a home for their unneeded items and we keep things out of the landfill and help families in our local community find safe, stable and affordable housing.”

3. Ann Arbor, Michigan

The ReStore location in the Huron Valley (Ann Arbor, MI) has almost doubled in size in a very short time, thanks to the addition of software and some key staffing changes.

“We’ve added some excellent staff members and have made a huge effort in pumping up our donation pickups, making them a big priority for our success,” says Kyle Thornhill, ReStore Manager. “In the past, we’d run one truck, five days a week and would have a two week wait time for pickups. Now we’re running two trucks five days a week and our wait times for pickups are currently less than 48 hours.”

habitat for humanity donations

“Our customer service and timeliness are huge,” says Thornhill. “We’re extremely kind and supportive of our customers, donors, and volunteers and we always answer our phones when they ring. We respond on social media right away, and never leave anyone hanging when they reach out to us. This has been paramount in setting us apart from several other organizations. We are currently having our best year to date and have beaten our sales records for each month since this past July.”

4. Halton-Mississauga, Ontario

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Halton-Mississauga (Canada) has been open for 19 years. In that time, they’ve become a fixture in the community, with a number of loyal, repeat donors. “It’s a broad spectrum of newcomers to contractors and everything in between,” says Senior Manager of Logistics Chris Bava. “They benefit from an affordable shopping experience as well serve their community’s need of housing, through a very friendly and easy-to-use process.”

In fact, many of those donors choose to schedule the pickups themselves, using the booking software the location provides on their website. “A third of all of our donors are self-scheduling,” says Chris. So it cuts a third of our scheduling and staffing costs. It has also improved donor satisfaction. We did a survey, and 98% of donors said that we have made donating ‘very easy.’”

5. Portland, Oregon

The Portland ReStore operation has expanded to four locations, and even into their neighboring State of Washington. With so many locations under one umbrella, they generate enough profit to build eight Habitat for Humanities homes per year. That’s eight deserving families who now have a family home thanks to the generosity of donors.

They used to operate the pickups for each location separately, and then a few years back decided to switch to centralized booking for all of the locations. “We wanted to give better customer service to our donors,” says Malia Tam Sing, Donation Pickup Program Manager. “We also wanted to use the pickup resources more efficiently because trucks are expensive to operate.”

They now have an efficient process that is easy for donors, and cost-effective for the charity. “When a donor has some items they want to donate, they visit our website, which explains how our specific pickup system works,” says Malia. “We ask that items are placed in the garage or driveway. And we ask that photos be submitted for any furniture or cabinetry, which are the hardest items to resell. We’re definitely giving better, more consistent customer service.”

“We are going to hire more drivers, add more trucks, more routes, and hopefully even more awareness about what we do,” says Malia. She wants to make people more aware of “the green aspect of what we do, and who we’re helping.” They also plan to reach out to more businesses to communicate how their donations program works, and the benefits to the community.

6. Denver, Colorado

For over 35 years, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver has brought people together to build homes, community, and hope. They were one of the first locations in North America to adopt a cloud-based booking system. It has helped them become more efficient with scheduling pickups of Habitat for Humanity donations.

“Since we implemented online donation scheduling, we’ve seen that over 50 percent of all donation pickups are now scheduled online. That’s a better use of time than having to schedule over the phone,” says Chief Retail Officer Ryan Smith.

“Our Call Center staff can more effectively and efficiently manage our donations, trucks, and schedule,” says Smith. “They can do all that without needing to hire additional staff to manage the increase in donations.”


7. Greater Los Angeles, California

“Housing for many people is their single biggest expense, particularly in a market like Los Angeles,” says Karen Moore, ReStore Acquisition Manager for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (Habitat LA). “It can take a huge chunk of someone’s income. They find themselves paying too much for living conditions that are overcrowded, unhealthy and potentially dangerous.”

“Some people think that the items they donate go into Habitat homes;” says Moore. “But what happens is that they are taken to one of our ReStores, and sold to the general public. The profits generated help us buy building materials for homes and are reinvested to allow us to help more low-income families live in decent, affordable housing.”

The LA chapter of the housing charity saw a 300% lift in donations by using online booking software to offer donors the option of scheduling pickups online. “We are expanding our store locations and trucks in the immediate future. We are open daily and do pick-ups seven days a week. It’s really important for us to make it easy for people to donate,” adds Moore.

Software to Manage Habitat for Humanity Donations

At Vonigo, we are proud to be the technology solution for the above locations. As a company, it moves us every time we see  Habitat for Humanity donations become homes for deserving families.

If you manage a Habitat for Humanity ReStore or another charity that picks up donations of physical goods, we’d love to tell you how you can benefit from the use of non-profit donation software. Book a free, private demo of Vonigo.