How to Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and How Donations Become Homes

Ever wondered how you can get involved with Habitat for Humanity? Andree Nash, Volunteer and Events Manager of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Vancouver, explains how corporate and individual volunteers can volunteer or donate. 

Volunteers Make a Difference

Volunteers are the backbone of Habitat for Humanity, and without them, our work would not be possible. Whether building a home, stocking shelves at one of our ReStores or hosting a table at one of our events, contributions by volunteers are priceless. At Habitat Greater Vancouver, we have over 520 active volunteers!

Corporate Volunteering and Sponsorship Opportunities

Our main opportunity for a corporate group to volunteer with us is a Sponsored Build Day. A Build Day on our construction site offers a unique opportunity to build staff or group morale through teamwork and giving back. Teams of 12-16 people work on all aspects of the build from electrical, to painting, to landscaping. Regardless of skill level, we always have jobs so that everyone can contribute. Our current build project is in Richmond with Mission and Coquitlam to follow in the next few years.

We rely on volunteer support to complete all of our Habitat for Humanity homes on time and within budget. By sponsoring a Build Day, not only do Habitat Families get in their homes faster, 100% of all donations are directly invested into the build for things such as skilled labor, fees, and supplies necessary for completion.

Vonigo CEO John Carter with Graham and Jordan from the marketing team, volunteering at a ReStore.

Participation is a minimum donation of $5000 for corporate groups, with reduced donation requirements for associations, schools, non-profits, and churches. Sponsorship benefits include media recognition, gifts, lunch and invites to Habitat for Humanity celebrations.

Volunteer in a ReStore

Vonigo COO Rick Brooks-Hill, Marnie and Budhi taking a break from building furniture at a ReStore

If a sponsorship opportunity is not an option, we have ReStore days where we manage groups of 5-15 in five of our local ReStores. Volunteers spend their day merchandising goods, building new furniture and helping manage donations.

A unique to Habitat and possibly my favorite part about Habitat for Humanity is that we have a social enterprise that funds 100% of Habitat’s operations while also contributing to the building of homes for hardworking families. This means that all donations to our build site are used for construction and not overhead.

The Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a home décor and building supply store that sells new and gently-used items for your home and garden. The ReStore sells great products at up to 80% off retail prices, as all inventory is kindly donated by local corporate donors and individuals from our communities.

How Habitat for Humanity Provides Homes for Deserving Families

The revenue from our ReStores, along with the monetary donations we receive, fund the developments we build for deserving families. The selection process for families is comprehensive, and once selected, they are very involved in the process.

Each family is required to complete a pre-screening form. Eligible applicants are asked to complete a full application form which is then reviewed by our family selection committee, a staff-supported group of volunteers who represent all aspects of society.

Family finances and credit ratings are carefully considered before the committee interviews the family. References provided are checked and communication is made with the landlord and employers. A personal interview and a home visit are also part of the review process.

Families Getting Involved

Once selected, an agreement is signed and the family is required to volunteer 500 hours of sweat equity before they move into the home. We offer many ways to complete the sweat equity hours including helping in the ReStore, assisting in fundraising efforts, laboring on someone else’s home and, of course, working on their own home.

When they move in, the family pays to stay in the home through an interest-free mortgage, with payments based on 30% of the household gross income. The mortgage payments go into a revolving Build Fund that can be leveraged for future home builds.

Should a family wish to move, Habitat for Humanity buys the home back and returns a cash lump sum to the family which represents their monthly payments to date minus expenses for administration. Families do not benefit from market inflation but rather have their payments returned to them as a hand-up for a down payment into the traditional mortgage market.

Families “Graduate” into Traditional Home Ownership

Families attend workshops to help them learn about the responsibilities of homeownership and financial literacy. They cover topics such as setting goals, budgeting, use of credit, problem-solving and being part of a strata.

The workshops are designed to prepare the family for the financial, property and community responsibilities that come with owning a home.

How to Volunteer or Donate

If you’re in the Greater Vancouver area, you can apply to volunteer. You can also donate building materials or funds to help fund build sites. Or show your support by shopping at one of the ReStore locations, or online.

If you’re not in Vancouver, find your local Habitat for Humanity affiliate and contact them about getting involved.

Andree Nash is Volunteer & Event Manager of Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver.

Vonigo is proud to be the providers of non-profit donation pick-up software to Habitat for Humanity ReStores all over North America.