Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa to Increase Income Stability with Opus Foundation® Grant


​Beginning in 1996 by providing services in Story County, Iowa, Habitat for Humanity has grown to also serve Hamilton and Hardin Counties, providing home remodeling and new builds as well as a Brush With Kindness programs to those in need. Now based in Ames, Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa is poised to expand their Warehouse Sales Store, a donation center and home improvement store.

Recently, the Opus Foundation awarded the Habitat for Humanity affiliate with a $30,000 Impact Fund grant, allowing the organization to hire a consultant to work with their warehouse sales committee to develop a business plan and operating model to increase earned income and contribute to long-term stability. Additionally, the organization will use the money to hire a full-time store manager.

The organization has run the Habitat Warehouse Sales with a part time, volunteer force, but a recent trial run with a part-time, volunteer manager proved the benefit of the role. With someone managing operations, marketing and volunteers, sales improved. Now, Habitat plans to hire someone who can start out at part-time and increase the position to full time.

Why focus on the store now? “Ames is a community that could use this kind of business,” said Sandi Risdal, director of Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa. Being a college community and with do it yourself a popular concept, the nonprofit sees a lot of promise in reuse, refurbishment and recycling of building and home materials, including used furniture and appliances. Additionally, a successful store can provide a more stable income than various fundraising events throughout the year. “It’s a win-win for Habitat and the community,” Risdal said. “And the biggest plus is that helping the community and bringing in dollars helps us build more houses.”

The nonprofit’s Habitat Warehouse Sales have had an interesting history. One summer, the organization hosted a successful garage sale in Sandi’s garage. The following summer they held two in the parking lot of their office. The sales became so popular that four years ago they began renting a small warehouse and holding a monthly sale. In June 2015, they moved into a bigger warehouse with a show room in front. Now, with this grant, Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa can continue and increase this growth and deepen its impact the community. 

In April, our Des Moines team volunteered in Ames with Habitat for Humanity of Central Iowa for our fifth annual Founder’s Day. Additionally, the nonprofit was the Des Moines’ office finalist for the second annual Gerry Rauenhorst Building Community Award in 2016.

Pictured above: Habitat Warehouse Sales manager and the store