Sweat equity - the time and effort a new homeowner puts into their Habitat home - is an important part of the success of the Habitat homebuyer program. Those sweat equity hours increase the personal investment each family has in the home and encourage partnership with Habitat. 

So what is the best way to capture those volunteer hours logged by families and their friends and supporters?

The issues around sweat equity

Different Habitat programs have different requirements, both for the total number of hours and what types of work will count toward the requirement.

For example, do you want to allow anyone to contribute hours to a homeowner’s sweat equity? Or do you only want to count hours from designated family and friends? Will you allow non-construction hours to count, such as time at a ReStore? 

Also, how much reporting capability do you need? 

How you answer these and other questions will determine what option is best for you.

Two ways of handling those hours & how you decide which is best

We have two options to help you capture those sweat equity hours. You can

  1. Create a designated Sweat Equity User Group.

  2. Create a custom hours question that identifies certain hours as attributable to sweat equity.

Why create a User Group?

The Sweat Equity User Group option will suit you best 

  • If you want to control whose hours count toward the total sweat equity requirement. By creating a user group for the family and friends, you can decide who goes into the group. For example, you may only want people who will reside in the home to contribute, or perhaps you will include friends whom they have requested to help. 

  • If you want to allow any hours the user group does to count. Once someone is in a Sweat Equity User Group, any work done by those people can be attributed to that family’s sweat equity requirement. You will still have the ability to approve or decline any hours, if you choose.

  • If you want to make certain opportunities viewable only to that user group. You can make opportunities related to that family’s requirement private, so that only people in the user group can see them. For example, you can create private opportunities related to construction for a particular location, or private opportunities for food prep in support of construction.

  • If you want strong reporting tools. A number of reports already exist in the system for user groups. These reports will provide details about volunteers and the hours worked.

If this is the right option for you, jump below to our best practices for using Sweat Equity User Groups.

Why create Custom Hours Questions?

The Custom Hours Questions option will suit you best 

  • If you want to allow anyone to contribute to the sweat equity requirement. Anyone adding hours from the Add Hours form will have the ability to attribute their hours to a family by answering a custom question.

  • If you want to leave the choice to the volunteer. With the custom hours question, the volunteer can decide if they only want certain hours to be attributed to sweat equity.

  • If you don’t have other custom hours questions. You are allowed two custom hours questions. If you don’t need to use them in other ways, you can use them for sweat equity.

  • If you only need basic reporting, such as all sweat equity hours. The reporting for custom hours questions is basic. If a simple line item in a spreadsheet meets your needs, then this option will be suitable.

If this is the right option for you, jump below to our best practices for using Sweat Equity Custom Hours Questions.

Best practices for using a Sweat Equity User Group

See our folder on Managing User Groups for full details.

Tips on establishing a Sweat Equity User Group

  • Name your user group in a way that is clear while also respecting the privacy of the families. We suggest using addresses or other clear and simple names.

  • Establish clear rules for who will be included in the user group. You can limit it tightly or make it more open.

  • Make it simple for your volunteers to join the user group. Either you can add them yourself, or you can send them a link inviting them to join. (Hint: you can use the “allowed domain” feature if an entire organization or company wants to help a colleague.)

  • Assign the opportunities that you want, whether they are private or not. Typical opportunities might be construction-related, or you might choose to assign ReStore opportunities as well - or anything you want to count.

  • Make use of the pre-built User Group Report and the Hours by User Group Report, available in your reports area.

Best practices for using Custom Hours Questions

See our article on creating and using custom hours questions.

Tips on creating custom questions for sweat equity

  • Phrase your question in a way that makes it clear that volunteers can attribute hours to a family’s sweat equity, but they do not have to. For example, “Were these hours part of the sweat equity requirement for one of the following?”

  • Choose a question type that limits the selection to one choice. A dropdown would probably be best.

  • Be mindful of privacy issues. Decide if you want the selections in your dropdown to list family names or merely locations or addresses. 

  • The answers to custom questions can be accessed through two reports: Volunteer Hours Logged and Details of Individual Hours.

  • However, be aware that the responses to the custom questions are only viewable by exporting the data to a spreadsheet. The custom questions responses will be a column at the end of the spreadsheet.