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How Do You Measure Success?

In some things, success is evident. You pass a test you've studied long and hard for. Success! Finish a marathon you've trained many months for. Success! Get that promotion you've worked overtime for. Success! But with Habitat for Humanity, success means many different things and it can take years to show itself.

I am often asked about the success rate of Habitat for Humanity. At first I was confused by the question. I headed straight for the Habitat for Humanity International website to find the answer only to learn the answer is unavailable. After all, what is success?

To the Habitat hopeful who turns their application in to the office, completed and signed, on time could be their signal to success.

To the Family Selection Committee member who manages to get through all the completed applications and select that perfect applicant, that may be their success.

To the applicant who is selected to be the next Partner Family, success comes when they hear the words..."Congratulations, you are our next Habitat Partner Family." But then when they are informed of the Sweat Equity hours they must complete or the Homeowner Education hours they must earn they discover they have a whole new benchmark for success.

To the board member or committee member, establishing guidelines and procedures for the betterment of the program is their success.

There are many ways to establish success in a program such as Habitat for Humanity. That being said, I do understand the question when asked. Most times, the inquirer wants to know, how many families fail to make their mortgage payments. How many homes does Habitat foreclose on? How many applicants don't even make it through the program to move into their house?

The answer lies in how we run our program. At North Platte Area Habitat for Humanity we work very closely with the family throughout the process to increase the odds for success.