Habitat for Humanity: Executive Summary

The Habitat for Humanity MetroWest/Greater Worcester ReStore is a branch of the non-profit organization, Habitat for Humanity. The ReStore receives donations of new and gently used housing materials and sells them to the public at a discounted rate. The proceeds are put toward Habitat for Humanity to fund their primary goal of eliminating poverty through housing. In order to maximize profits, volunteers are essential personnel. Increasing the number of volunteers, decreases the workload for the paid staff, thus decreasing the store’s overhead.

The ReStore needs a sustainable and reliable volunteer base to increase its overall performance. A major pool of potential volunteers is found at the eleven colleges and universities within the ReStore region. There are over 30,000 students throughout the area with various volunteer inclinations and requirements. Unfortunately, recruiting student volunteers to the ReStore and maintaining a sustainable relationship with them is difficult for many reasons. They are typically enrolled at a particular institution for four years and, upon graduation, never return to the ReStore. Also, students may volunteer for a few hours to fulfill a requirement, but once the requirement is complete they feel no obligation to return. The constant student turnover makes it challenging to maintain sustainable relationships with student volunteers.

The goal of our project is to create sustainable relationships with college volunteers by increasing awareness of the ReStore and establishing campus connections that will be ongoing at all the colleges and universities within the ReStore region. A successful project will ultimately move Habitat for Humanity forward in its goal to eliminate poverty through housing. Completion of the project requires:

  1. Site assessment
  1. Survey and interview collection
  1. Establishment of campus connections
  1. Data analysis
  1. Creation of a campus contact directory
  1. Creation of marketing materials

Several days were spent volunteering at the ReStore to understand how the store operated and to gain volunteer experience. Once we had a solid understanding of the ReStore we began distributing our surveys and conducting interviews. The responses from the surveys and interviews were analyzed to provide recommendations to the ReStore on how to recruit student volunteers on a sustainable basis. We also established personal connections with representatives of clubs, organizations, and faculty departments which required volunteering for any particular reason at each of the included schools. These connections were then arranged by school and compiled into a campus contact directory for the ReStore. Finally, marketing materials were created which were tailored to each school based on knowledge gained from speaking with campus connections and results drawn from the surveys.