The Difference Between Habitat for Humanity and Other Non-Profits

Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 by Millard and Linda Fuller. Since then, the nonprofit organization has spread across all 50 states and to 70 different countries across the world. The vision of Habitat is simple–a world where everyone has a safe, affordable place to live.

But Habitat is different from other non-profits in several ways that set it apart. These foundational differences are what have allowed us to grow and become a nationally recognized and respected non-profit.

Habitat for Humanity Is a Social Enterprise

One of the biggest differences that sets Habitat for Humanity apart is that it’s not just a charitable organization–it’s a social enterprise. And it’s one of the oldest social enterprises in the United States. Habitat for Humanity pioneered this method of operation in our country.

A social enterprise is a business model that allows an organization to create its own revenue. This money is then reinvested into the mission. This allows the non-profit to become almost self-sufficient.

For instance, when Habitat for Humanity builds a home, we create a no-interest mortgage for the homeowner that is tied to their income. This means that the payments are always affordable. But instead of the money being paid back to a bank as part of a traditional loan, all payments made on Habitat homes flow into a fund that is then used to build more houses.

Another example is the Habitat ReStores. The ReStores take donations of gently used furniture, furnishings, construction materials, appliances, and other home goods from local families and businesses. These donations are then sold at thrift store prices to the general public through our storefronts. All of the profit generated by the ReStores go directly back into the mission.

Operating as a social enterprise allows Habitat for Humanity to put a higher percentage of direct donations directly into building new homes for deserving families in your area.

Habitat for Humanity Builds Stronger Communities

While Habitat is a household name across the nation, many people misunderstand our basic principles of operation. We don’t just build homes and hand them over to families in need. We build strength, stability, and self-reliance by coming into partnership with families who want and deserve affordable, safe housing.

All of our homeowners are required to put in “sweat equity” to help build their homes. They can earn these hours by completing educational courses on homeownership and financial literacy, by physically helping to build their house or another Habitat home, or by volunteering with the Habitat ReStore. While the requirements vary by state, the average Habitat family puts in 200-400 hours of sweat equity before they are presented with the keys to their new home.

And they don’t just get the house. They are true homeowners. They pay a mortgage, deal with the maintenance and upkeep, and pay property taxes. At Habitat, we believe that in order to truly build up our communities we have to create a foundation of education and homeownership literacy.

Owning these homes allows our homeowners to build their credit, build equity, raise their children in a stable environment, and gain access to better schools. Our goal is to interrupt the cycle of generational poverty and allow our struggling communities the room and support they need to flourish and thrive on their own.

Interested in Learning More?

If you have questions about how to apply for Habitat Housing in the Dallas area, contact us at 214.678.2300. If you are interested in donating or volunteering, check out these resources.