CSC Habitat InfoSys

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity
City & State:
South Carolina
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Eliminate Poverty Housing

Submission Information

Impact Essay

Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity

Microsoft Applications and Future Plans Overview Habitat for Humanity is a Christian ministry founded in Americas Georgia in 1976 by Millard Fuller with the mission of eliminating poverty housing. From this modest beginning, Habitat has grown into a world-wide organization and ranks among the Top 20 builders in the world. Habitat has more than 2300 affiliates worldwide and more than 1700 in North America.Central South Carolina (CSC) Habitat for Humanity was established in 1985 with responsibility for Richland and Lexington counties. In our area of responsibility it is estimated that 1 of every 4 families lives in poverty. We are one of 35 Habitat affiliates within South Carolina. To qualify for a house, a family must be in the range of 30 to 50% of median income, putting them in the bottom 25% for their county of residence. In early 2005, CSC Habitat set a goal of building 20 houses every year. To reach this goal, we had to streamline our organization to increase our productivity. Reaching and maintaining this goal requires significant restructuring of our organization, including the use of electronic technology. We have made significant progress in this area but still have more to do.This document will focus on Optimizing Mission Delivery through the use of technology. Increased Range of Sponsors and VolunteersAs noted earlier, Habitat homeowners fall into the category of 30 to 50% of median income in the counties where they reside. Typically, the houses we build appraise in the range of $90,000 - $100,000. Our homeowners cannot afford these prices, so in order to build houses that our homeowners can afford we are highly dependent on financial sponsors to help fund the houses and volunteers to help build them. With the volunteers, we are able to reduce labor costs. We also benefit by discounts on some of the building materials. We apply technology in a number of different ways to attract supporters and volunteers.- Website: Provides up to date information for donors and volunteers to participate with Habitat. This includes the capability to donate on-line, and to sign up for activities such as building a house or working in our Retail Store. The Website also contains information for potential future homeowners who may qualify for a Habitat house.- Email: We have an email list of more than 4000 supporters which grows continuously. The list is maintained on a server with Microsoft software. We use the list for many things: donation campaigns, recruiting volunteers for build sites or to work in our retail store, current news and information about Habitat and announcements of special events. We calculate that our active participation from donors and volunteers has doubled since we began soliciting through email.- Bi-Annual Newsletters: We maintain a list of more than 7500 people, also with Microsoft products. Our newsletters feature activities, especially on our build sites, and provide opportunities to donate via mail or email. Our December newsletter focuses primarily onfundraising. Our list has increased at least 50% in the last two years.- Presentations: Frequently, we are asked to participate in meetings at churches, schools, business organizations and social clubs to discuss Habitat. We have developed an effective presentation using PowerPoint which really brings Habitat to life with pictures of volunteers building habitat houses, working in our store, clearing land or just having fun!- Networking: As busy as we are we cannot reach everyone, so we depend in large part on existing sponsors and volunteers to bring others “into the fold”. By providing our supporters with access to our computer services, such as the PowerPoint presentation, we extend our reach into the community.- Grants: Grants have become increasingly important to us, especially in a “down” economy. We use grants to help fund houses, purchase land, install infrastructure such as sewer and water lines, and in some cases to subsidize staff salaries. We estimate that housing grants available through the counties in which we build have increased our house production by about 20% per year. Our computer systems and software, especially Excel, have made significant contributions to our ability to apply and monitor grants, particularly the recurring housing grants which we use every year Increased Range of Clients (ReStore)For a number of years, CSC Habitat has operated a retail store which we call the “ReStore”. The returns were generally disappointing and we considered closing the store entirely, but first we decided to visit some other Habitat affiliates who were successful with their stores. What we learned from them really paid off! Our current ReStore is now providing net income of $20,000 per month.As good as this sounds, we need to do even better, and this means attracting more shoppers and more merchandise donors. Advertising helps, but it is expensive, so we need to take better advantage of our electronic systems to reach buyers and attract items for the store. We may establish a separate website for the ReStore to focus on new items, special sales events, etc. We also need a shopper’s email list separate and apart from the house sponsors and volunteer lists. Putting this system into place will require more equipment, probably a server at the store itself. Quality and Impact of ServicesDuring the past 3 years we have significantly improved our construction services through the use of computers. We now have all of our house plans and material lists on computer. We also have computerized build schedules that show the day by day work plans for a build site. We are able to send this information electronically to our volunteers and sponsors, both to encourage “in-kind” donations (materials, rather than cash) and to plan their on-site participation. We use both Microsoft Excel and Word products as well as Microsoft server software to store and maintain these files electronically. We also maintain a list of vendors for the various materials and supplies required to build our houses. This has eliminated hours of manual work as we can order many items electronically. The FutureLike everyone else who depends upon automobiles to get to work, we are feeling the effects of inflation – increased gas prices, automobile repairs, etc. We also spend a lot of time commuting, and we incur the various costs of maintaining an office; heat, electricity, and repairs. Since so much of our work is now done electronically, we are putting together a plan to initiate “home offices”, by providing appropriate software and connections to be able to access data from a central Microsoft server. This will enable us to work at home and still access the necessary information to do our jobs. We reached a milestone recently by gaining access to our email from remote locations, andplan to add the data files by Fall. As a non-profit we are limited in the amount of salaries we can pay our staff – the home office approach will help reduce individual expenses associated with commuting. Our relationship with Microsoft and Tech Soup will make this affordable

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Project Image
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Supporting Work Files