Habitat for Humanity Australia is undertaking massive work: to provide safe and reliable housing for those living in housing poverty. Habitat for Humanity has a simple mantra – a hand up, not a hand-out, which means the people they help are willing to help themselves, leading to better outcomes for everyone involved.

Globally, Habitat for Humanity has built almost 800,000 houses, sheltering more than three million people in over 3,000 communities. Habitat for Humanity in Australia builds across the Asia-Pacific and for around AU$2,500 it can build a house for an entire family in South Asia. 

While it is a highly-recognised brand in the US, it is less known in Australia.

So what have we done about it?
Wells Haslem started working with Habitat for Humanity Australia late last year to promote its Urban Slum – a replica slum built in Sydney’s Martin Place as part of United Nations’ World Habitat Day to raise awareness of the world’s one billion people living in inadequate housing. The day involved strategy, media engagement, social media activities and resulted in significant national coverage.

Since then, we have helped with various campaigns, including engaging the media in the announcement of a $50,000 Commonwealth Bank donation to the charity’s Brush with Kindness program to help Blue Mountains residents rebuild in the wake of the devastating October bushfires. 

Where to from here?
Looking forward we have quite a challenge: to transform Habitat for Humanity Australia into a brand that is well-recognised by the Australian public, media, and governments and (very importantly) considered synonymous with shelter. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of this campaign will be how to make Habitat for Humanity Australia stand out in an already very crowded charity sector.

Other challenges include: operating in a sector that has seen government aid cut - with less dollars stretching further Habitat for Humanity Australia is trying to do more with less; and Christmas appeals were down in 2013 indicating there is an overall reluctance to donate in uncertain economic times.

So how will we jump the barriers and build the brand?
It will be a mixture of messaging, communication techniques, and relationships that will provide a winning formula. 

Message: At the heart of our communications must be the message that adequate shelter is the bedrock of all other charitable efforts to help people improve their standards of living, including health, education, and employment prospects. Without shelter, the ability of other aid efforts is compromised. Everything flows from shelter and Habitat for Humanity Australia is at the forefront of shelter.

Communication techniques: With an increasing reliance on digital and social media to both compliment and supplant traditional media channels, we will re-energise Habitat for Humanity Australia’s communications efforts.

Relationships: Relationships of all types, from media, to government, to the wider public, engaging positively and consistently will help develop credibility and trust from those who can support the organisation. Importantly, bringing on board ambassadors to champion Habitat for Humanity Australia’s cause will reach people across various walks of life and create very worthwhile relationships.

The great thing about working with a brand like Habitat for Humanity is the work they do; the charity has bettered the lives of people across the world and continues to do so, it’s now our turn to let Australia know about it.  

Wells Haslem undertakes half of our work for Habitat for Humanity Australia free-of-charge.