General

HandUp is a direct giving system for homeless people and neighbors in need. It allows you to donate directly to a HandUp member via their web profile. 100% of your donation goes directly to a member’s HandUp account. Members then work with their case manager at our partner organizations to pay for basic needs like housing, medical care and technology.

The HandUp team is lead by founders Rose Broome and Zac Witte. They came up with the mobile donation system in Nov 2012. At that time, Rose and Zac were introduced to another group with a similar idea, including Doniece Sandoval and Barry Roeder, who was an early co-founder. Barry and Doniece continue their work in the Homeless community with their projects including Lavamae and Bridge.

Rose and Zac incorporated HandUp PBC in August 2013 as a public benefit corporation. The HandUp pilot was launched on August 14th, 2013 at Project Homeless Connect's 50th anniversary event.

Partners

We work with some of the most well-respected homeless service organizations in the nation.

These on-the-ground social service organizations provide assistance and case management services to homeless and low-income individuals and their families. We call these organizations our ‘community partners.’ Our partners sign members up and then help them redeem their HandUp donations for basic needs like clothing, shelter and medical care. They also connect HandUp members to other resources to help them get ahead.

You can learn more about our HandUp Partners on our Partner page.

Yes! HandUp is free to our partner organizations. We do not charge to use our site and 100% of your donations go directly to the members. We make money by asking donors for an optional tip.

If you’re interested in becoming a HandUp partner, please email us at info@handup.org. You can also learn more on our prospective partner page.

Donating

Donating directly through a member’s profile page is the best way to donate on HandUp. If, however, you can’t decide on a specific member, feel free to donate to our regional or national funds and we’ll make sure to distribute your gift to our members who are in the greatest need. If your company uses ZenPayroll, you can also donate to HandUp through their 'Giving' feature. If you’d like to mail us a check, please contact us at info@handup.org for more information.

Yes! 100% of your donation through HandUp goes directly to the person you choose. HandUp covers our operations expenses separately. We even cover the credit card processing fees so that every cent of your donation directly funds the member’s basic needs. We give donors the choice to contribute to HandUp's operations, and most donors do, but this is optional.

The money raised will be transferred to the appropriate partner organization for use towards their HandUp members needs. Members with a cell phone or email access will receive a text and/or email notification of your donation (along with any words of support that you might send). They work with the partner organization’s staff to redeem donations for the specific item or service that they need. For example, staff may work with members to order winter boots through Amazon.com, pay phone bills online, or send a check for a security deposit.

We rely on our trusted staff at our partner organizations to work with the member to use the money raised to fulfill goals and specific needs. Case managers and staff members are in charge of fulfillment in order to ensure the member is using the funds responsibly. The partner staff is required to track all purchases using HandUp’s internal accounting system so every cent of your donation is accounted for.

If a member becomes inactive for an extended amount of time any funds in that members account are transferred to their organizations general fund and re-distributed to other HandUp members in need.

Before we deem a member inactive, we do reach out to them and their case managers to attempt to re-engage the member. If we do not get any response after multiple attempts then we proceed with transferring the funds to the general fund so that others can benefit from your generous donations.

Any donation made to a campaign, partner fund, or directly to an individual on HandUp is tax deductible. You will receive an email receipt with your online donation. HandUp also accepts larger program and grant funding through our fiscal sponsor, Netroots Foundation. At this time, Gift Card purchases are not yet tax-deductible. Contact info@handup.org for more info.

It's easy! Just browse our members and find someone you'd like to donate to. At checkout enter in the Gift Code and the specified amount on the coupon will be applied towards your total.

If you cannot decide who to donate to you can also donate to the National Fund or the San Francisco Fund. 100% of your donation to either of these funds will be distributed directly to an existing HandUp member in need.

Sample coupon:

Privacy

We use Stripe to process all payments and store your credit card information. In fact, that sensitive data goes straight to them and never touches our servers. More information is available here.

Only your first name is publicly associated with your donation unless you check the "Donate Anonymously" box when making a donation. When you reply to a member update your first name is always shared. Your other personal data including last name, email, and phone are kept strictly private.

The privacy and dignity of our members is extremely important to us. Our Partners are responsible for ensuring that every member understands HandUp, explicitly wishes to participate in the program, and is presented in a dignified light. Members with privacy concerns are given the option to create a profile under a pseudonym and/or use an alternate image in place of their picture.

HandUp provides an email marketing tool to partners, helping them to reach their donors. If you received an email marked as "powered by HandUp" then one of our partner organizations thought you might be interested their campaign. Privacy and security of our user information is of vital importance to us. We will not share or sell user information without their consent. Our partner organizations use their own existing email lists to send out marketing emails using the HandUp platform.

Business

For donations directly to HandUp members, donors can opt-in to a support fee of their choosing, and over 90% of donors choose to do so. We also get support from foundations, corporate partnerships, and investors. As a tech platform with a scalable model, we are in a unique position to be able to maintain low overhead and operational costs as we grow.

A public benefit corporation is a for-profit business structure similar to a C Corporation that includes a social mission as part of the legal foundation of the company. This allows for both a high growth business model and a high impact social mission. At HandUp, we believe in applying the power of the for-profit business model to solving global challenges like urban poverty. We also believe that our mission is the key to our success, which is why we incorporated as a Delaware PBC. Learn more here.

Good question, in fact, we wrote an entire blog post addressing this question. You can learn more about our thinking on this topic by reading it here.

Yes. HandUp can accept grant funding for certain projects through our fiscal sponsor the Netroots Foundation. Contact info@handup.org for more info.

Impact

While crowdfunding has become a popular way for so many to support their creative projects, we wanted to make the power of this model available to all. HandUp empowers people in need to ask for help in a dignified way and creates a compassionate network of support around them. We enable our members to reach their goals, one donation, or encouraging word, at a time.

HandUp focuses on two key indicators to measure impact: funds distributed and total needs met through our system.

These new financial resources empower HandUp members to meet their most pressing needs, while also connecting them with other human services through world-class nonprofit partners. Along with a valuable social safety net of caring donors, these factors lead to lasting social impact.

Visit our partner pages to see the number of people helped and needs met by each Partner organization.

Currently, within our social support programs important items fall through the cracks, like cellphones and security deposits for housing. HandUp bridges these gaps by creating a direct way to deliver resources to those who need them most.

Additionally, HandUp is an engaging tool for social service organizations. When members connect with our partner organizations to access to their donations, they are connected to other vital services. They are also connected with a community of donors, creating a vital social support network.

Members

Members learn about, and sign up for, HandUp through our partner organizations. In most cases, partners have existing relationships with our members and can help them set fundraising goals that will have the most direct impact in their lives.

HandUp members redeem their donations with the help of our trusted community partner organizations. Staff of these organizations assist members in purchasing items they’ve listed on their HandUp page, and also connect them to a variety of other services available.

Getting Involved

Thanks for your interest! We appreciate your support!

Here are some ways you can help:

Thanks for your interest! Please send us a note and let us know where you are, along with some suggestions of any local non-profits who are making big impacts in the homeless community in your city! If you represent a nonprofit organization that you think might be a fit to partner with HandUp, please send us a note, let us know where you are.

HandUp Gift Cards

A Handup Gift Card is a card you can purchase through the HandUp website that you can give to someone experiencing homelessness instead of giving cash.

Once you purchase the card, it will be mailed to your shipping address. You can then give this card to someone in need on the street. That person then takes the card to our non-profit community partner and exchanges it for various items such as clothes, food, or other basic necessities. Additionally, they are now connected with a community partner who can provide them further assistance through their various other resources and services available.

The HandUp gift card is redeemed with our local nonprofit partner for equal value in food, clothing, transportation, bills, or nearly any other basic need. Partners may provide a gift card to a retailer that will meet that person’s specific needs (like Safeway or Walgreens), make an online order, or pay a bill directly. Cash is never exchanged and the funds are managed via the case manager at the nonprofit.

HandUp gift cards are available today in San Francisco. We will be expanding to other cities in the future. To be notified when gift cards are available in your city, sign up here.

Those who are actively seeking help are usually most receptive to receiving these cards. You can also give this card to a person that you think may benefit from the services offered at the specified non-profit.

If the card is not redeemed after a certain period of time it will expire, and the funds will automatically be transferred to the HandUp general fund to benefit other people in need of assistance.

Once you purchase a card it will automatically be linked to your HandUp Donor account and the email associated with this account. Once the card is redeemed you will get an email notification letting you know.

First things first, always remember to SMILE - this simple gesture goes a long way! Then you can follow with a very basic, “Hey, how’s it going?”

Make sure to introduce yourself and ask them their name. You can also offer them a coffee or hot chocolate.

If someone is approaching you asking for helping you can say, “I don’t have cash, but I have this gift card”

Remember, homelessness is a situation and basic kindness toward our fellow human beings goes a long way.

If the cards are sold out, you can opt-in here to be notified when more gift cards are available in your area.

At this time gift cards are only available in San Francisco, but we will be expanding to other cities in the future. To be notified when gift cards are available in your city, sign up here.

At this time, if a card is lost we are not able to replace it. But the good news is if it is not redeemed by the expiration date then the funds will automatically be transferred the HandUp National Fund to benefit others in need.