We continue For Momentum’s new blog series, Take 5, with Colleen Finn Ridenhour of Habitat for Humanity International. Designed to take the pulse of the cause community in an interview-style format, President and Founder Mollye Rhea asks Colleen five questions that will help you learn more about Habitat, the philanthropy community and Colleen herself.
Colleen Finn Ridenhour has been in her current role as Senior Vice President, Development of Habitat for Humanity International for three months. Prior to that she served as Deputy Director, Corporate, Foundation and Institutional Relations at Habitat for Humanity International; Senior Director, Corporate Alliances for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital; and Senior Director, Marketing & New Business Development at City of Hope. Let’s Take 5 with Colleen:
1. Look into your crystal ball. What’s the next big thing in cause and/or CSR?
Habitat for Humanity’s Home is the Key campaign! This April marks the launch of Habitat’s first signature cause initiative. Through the national campaign, we will raise awareness of the critical need for affordable housing and create opportunities for people to support Habitat’s efforts to help more families in need of decent, affordable housing across the U.S. and around the world. Home is the Key is also the first campaign of its kind dedicated to supporting shelter and provides an integrated platform to invite current and prospective individual and corporate supporters to engage with our brand in new and meaningful ways.
2. What’s the most amazing thing people should know about you or your job?
Meeting Habitat homeowners and understanding their journey to homeownership is both humbling and inspiring. Nothing beats meeting the children who now have a safe, healthy place to study, sleep, and play. Their energy and excitement is boundless! We have a sign at our entrance that says “Today you help more than 8,000 people achieve strength, stability and self-reliance through decent and affordable shelter.” That’s an inspirational statistic to be reminded of as we start and end each day.
3. What do you wish people knew about your nonprofit?
We recently went through an exhaustive brand research study. What we learned surprised us! Many people think we give away homes but in reality, Habitat homeowners put hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” into building their homes and then pay an affordable mortgage. We also learned that people don’t think we need funding because corporations give us construction products and volunteers build the houses. While we are grateful for the generous donations from our partners and the countless hours our volunteers commit each year, Habitat is a global organization working in over 70 countries and we need financial donations from all sectors (private, corporate, government, etc.) to achieve our mission.
4. Why are corporate partners drawn to Habitat?
Habitat has a global footprint and mission with an incredibly localized activation capability. We also have a broad array of engagement opportunities that can be tailored to meet our partners’ core business and/or social impact objectives: programmatic support of our strategic plan, employee volunteerism, in-kind product donations, cause marketing, workplace giving, and high-profile events. We’re a one-stop shop for brands wanting to align with the power of “home” and create long-lasting, tangible change in their communities.
5. If you could wave your magic wand, what would your wish be for Habitat?
I’d like for more people to understand and care about the need for decent shelter. It should rank in the top 3 of causes people care about because it is foundational to reducing poverty and achieving lasting economic growth. Here in the US, while affordability is top of mind, “poverty housing” isn’t as visible as it is in the developing world. Stable housing is foundational to so many critical things—from improved health to better education to financial stability. We need to educate and inspire more people to support our mission.
Five Fun Facts About Colleen:
- Favorite App: Webcam app to watch my puppy at doggy day care
- Last Book Read: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Hobby: Travel and exploring new places and cultures
- Favorite Place to Unwind: The beach
- Guilty Pleasure: People Magazine