Scaling Impact

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E23: Scaling Impact Case Study – Habitat For Humanity

The founder of Habitat for Humanity didn’t set out to build an organization, he set out to start a movement.

What I talk about in this episode:

  • History of Habitat for Humanity
  • The difference between an organization and a movement
  • How many people they’ve inspired since 1976
  • What it means to turn hammers into votes
  • Why building relationships matters
  • How to find your movement
  • How to scale impact at the highest level

If you’d like to learn how to scale impact at your nonprofit by more than double in less than half the time, sign up for my free 5 day email course –

Episode Transcript
Hey everyone, Sean here and today what I want to talk to you about is Habitat for Humanity. 

Now, this organization was founded by Millard Fuller back in 1976 and the original vision that Fuller had was to rid the world of homelessness. He wanted to provide adequate housing solutions for the needy the world over. So he had a big aggressive goal, and they’ve made quite a tremendous amount of progress towards that goal, which I’m going to talk about today. 

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with Habitat for Humanity, how that organization works and how it provides the impact that it drives, is it looks to provide housing solutions for the needy, but they typically do is they get those that need homes or housing solutions involved in the process of improving or building a home then ultimately, they are also able to pay for that home and they provide an access to be able to do that through a zero interest loan, which is a really cool solution and I can speak specifically from my own experience because I’ve been involved as a volunteer for numerous Habitat for Humanity events where we’re literally swinging hammers, we’re building the homes, we’re putting them together, and we know who we’re building them for, which like I’ve talked about before on the show, is an unbelievably inspiring experience. Being able to be immersed in what the organization actually does, and do the work has been really a really great experience and left quite an impression on me. 

Information regarding the level of progress that Habitat for Humanity has made over the period of time since they’ve been founded – they have inspired and had involved in at least one of their projects, more than 13 million volunteers worldwide, which is incredible, just an unbelievable amount of impact provided by this organization. In fulfilling that mission of ending homelessness the world over and provide housing solutions for people that need it. In particular, those that are from low income families. So not only did I attend multiple volunteer events where I was swinging hammers myself for a while I also served on the board at Habitat for Humanity, which was a great experience as well also, I got to leverage my skills and expertise in software and technology to help them figure out how to continue advancing their mission with scaling impact. 

Now, other there’s so much to talk about when it comes to Habitat for Humanity, incredible work that they’ve done, the progress they’ve made since inception, but I want to specifically focus in an area related to how their influence evolved over time and how they continue to scale impact at different levels, despite the fact that I’ve already talked about some ridiculously impressive numbers. Now I want to talk to you about the original inspiration from the founder. So in forces for good Leslie Crutchfield talks about how Fuller didn’t set out to build an organization he set out to start a movement and inspire everyone to get involved, which is a pretty compelling statement. When you think about it in terms of who’s planning on doing what as it pertains to scaling impact. That’s super interesting to think about it from that perspective, because it levels up everything that they’re doing, and has a also a greater level of influence in terms of inspiring others around that mission to get involved and to help. 

But even more impressively, after they had achieved all of the progress and success that they’ve had with through through the organization. They looked to turn essentially hammers into votes, where they evolve their level of influence over the course of Habitat for Humanity’s success. They’ve definitely continued to get recognition from high level or high ranking political officials, like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, over a over the period of time that they’ve been doing the work that they’ve been doing. They’ve used those relationships that they’ve built, and they’ve used the success that they’ve had upon scaling impact to leverage that to create influence over policymakers and politicians to change policies, which can enable and them make even greater progress and scale their impact at an entirely different level than they had been before. Which is super impressive as well. Also, it’s not for the faint of heart. Obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of work time and effort that goes into that, but that’s Habitat for Humanity doing what they need to do. To inspire people at an even greater level, to get involved as it pertains to making policy and then implementing it. 

So there’s so much to talk about when it comes to the impressive results of the organization Habitat for Humanity and what they’ve done. I wanted to share with you some of the more interesting elements over the course of their history, so that you can figure out how to learn from what they’ve done so well inspire you to make these positive changes at your organization. 

But if I were to leave you with anything or challenging with something today, it would be what is not just your mission, but what is your movement? How do you want to create a movement and inspire others to get involved and get behind that movement? And then how can you leverage the progress that you have made that you’ve used to scale impact before or perhaps that’s what you’re doing now? How can you leverage that to have a greater influence at a different level as well to like for example, influencing policymakers and politicians.

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