Indiana University students conduct outreach for housing non-profit

Public relations students develop strategies to increase Habitat for Humanity’s regional donors, volunteers, and applicants


Carl Nelson


Jacob Simpson, Marshall Curry


Habitat for Humanity, Paoli, IN
Community Size
19,646 (2019 Census Estimation)
Indiana University
Sustaining Hoosier Communities
Case Type
Project Stories
Public Relations
EPA Region 5, USA
Sustainable Development Goals
10 Reduced Inequalities, No Poverty

Orange County is a rural southern Indiana county comprising four incorporated towns and a number of unincorporated communities. Residents are intent on celebrating the county’s industrial roots, natural beauty, and historic architecture while embracing and preparing for the future. Local progress is driven in large part by “grassroots cooperative leadership” (Report, Pg. 4), while legal and medical non-profits provide essential communal services. This community-oriented mentality lends itself to innovative partnerships between various actors working towards common goals in areas like infrastructure, culture, tourism, and healthcare. 

A non-profit seeks strong partnerships to combat housing instability

Habitat for Humanity is an international non-profit which helps low-income families facing housing instability build safe, affordable homes. It is able to provide this essential service in large part due to a robust network of volunteers and donors. The organization has a history of helping families find affordable housing in Orange County. Looking to build on past successes in the region and expand its network, Habitat reached out to the students of Indiana University.  

Students recruit volunteers, donors, and applicants 

For this project, Orange County Habitat for Humanity partnered with Dr. Esi Thompson’s public relations planning and research course through the Sustaining Hoosier Communities (SHC) program. Collaborating with community partner Phil Mininger, student participants developed and administered a survey and conducted a series of interviews. Their goals were to learn how to best reach qualified applicants, engage volunteers and donors, and understand community perceptions of Habitat’s mission and work.

Spreading community awareness and combatting homelessness

Students’ surveys and interviews created awareness and generated the qualitative data necessary to attract donors and volunteers and encourage applicants. The housing Orange County Habitat for Humanity provides empowers families “to overcome the barriers that so often stand between their families and better, healthier, more financially stable lives” (Habitat). Participants involved in this successful project helped to increase the human and financial resources available to this indispensable non-profit.

When universities and nonprofits collaborate and share resources, they form powerful networks capable of affecting positive change. By developing outreach strategies, student participants introduced Habitat for Humanity’s transformative mission to potential volunteers and families in need.

Sustaining Hoosier Communities Contact Info
Jane Rogan
Sustaining Hoosier Communities Director
(812) 855-0568

Indiana University Faculty Contact Info
Esi Thompson
812-855 -1726

Read the full story of the partnership.

Read the final student report delivered to the local gov/community partner.

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