Inspiring Evangelists

   Today, I'm sharing another chapter from Forces for Good, on Inspiring Evangelists. How do we foster a business model that is also one that is a catalyst, inspiring young and old to get involved, donate, and willingly share with their networks all that we do?   

   Habitat for Humanity International is one of the most successful nonprofits of our time – although not necessarily for the reasons people might think. Founded in the 1970s, in rural Georgia, Habitat now has a total budget of nearly $1 billion, several thousand affiliates, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide. It has built more than two hundred thousand houses in nearly one hundred countries, and its brand name is the same league as that of Starbucks. Habitat is the only nonprofit founded since 1960 to make it onto the top 25 of the Chronicle of Philanthropy 400, a ranking by budget size. So it’s no surprise to find Habitat in a book about how leading social sector organizations have scaled their social impact.

   Still, if you were to evaluate Habitat only by the number of houses it has built, you might be underwhelmed. Habitat's numbers pale in comparison to those of real estate developers (for-profit or not-for-profit) that have built millions of low-income, multi-unit housing complexes. But if you loo instead at the larger community that Habitat has created, its impact becomes more evident.

   Habitat doesn't aspire merely to build houses for the poor, but rather to mobilize communities to solve the problems of poverty housing. They inspire hundreds of thousands of middle-class volunteers to help build Habitat houses -- to change how they think, how they act, and how they vote. "The goal of Habitat for Humanity International is to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the face of the earth by building adequate and basic housing," reads it mission statement. Furthermore, all of our words and actions are for the ultimate purpose of putting shelter on the hearts and minds of people in a such a powerful way that poverty housing and homelessness become socially, politically, and religiously unacceptable in our nations and the world."

Forces for Good: the six practices of high-impact nonprofits, Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant; with a forward by Steve Case, John Wiley & Sons, Inc (c) 2008