HandUp has unveiled a new product designed to make it easier for anyone to give directly to their homeless neighbors. The company has teamed up with Project Homeless Connect in San Francisco to launch its HandUp Gift Cards. These gift cards can be given to anyone in need, thereby enabling them to connect to available resources and services so they can get back on their feet.
Gift cards are available through HandUp’s website and can only be used in San Francisco (for now). After you purchase a (minimum $25) gift card, HandUp will send it to you in the mail along with tips to engaging someone on the street. The recipient will go to Project Homeless Connect’s drop-in office in San Francisco, California, where they’ll be able to redeem the value of the card for goods and services.
Some of the things that can be purchased with the gift card include food, clothing, and transportation, and cards can be used to help pay bills and more. Cards will never be exchanged for cash, and HandUp says all funds are managed through Project Homeless Connect’s case manager.
When the card is redeemed, you’ll receive an email letting you know how it was used. Should the card go unused (it expires after a certain amount of time), it will be donated to HandUp’s San Francisco general fund to support neighbors in need.
Two years ago, Rose Broome and Zac Witte launched HandUp as a way to help everyone in the community meet their basic needs. The premise is that homeless individuals sign up for the service to list their goals. This is done through HandUp’s partnership with community organizations. One way to think about the organization is like a crowdfunding platform, but instead of investing in a tricked-out cooler, you’re putting that money into a fellow human’s welfare.
The gift cards are another effort by HandUp to encourage giving. The reality is that some people don’t want to give money to homeless individuals because they don’t know what it’s going to be used for. However, with the HandUp gift cards, donors are reassured that their contribution will genuinely help someone. As HandUp explained to VentureBeat:
It’s hard to know the right way to help, and it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Gift cards give donors a safe and easy way to give in a critical moment that is totally transparent. People are encouraged to engage with homeless neighbors, which helps breakdown stereotypes and creates compassion in the community.
Timing of the gift cards comes as San Francisco marks Homeless Outreach Day on September 11.
This is the latest effort by HandUp to find ways to benefit the homeless. At the 2014 LAUNCH Festival in San Francisco, Broome announced the creation of HandUp Campaigns, giving anyone the ability to create a fundraiser for a specific homeless person or cause (e.g. housing, veteran assistance, family needs, health, education, and homelessness in your community).
HandUp has partnered with more than 14 nonprofits throughout the U.S. and has received a $500,000 grant from Google.org for its efforts.
The organization has also raised $870,000 in funding from Tumml, Urban.Us, the Launch Fund, SV Angel, Version One Ventures, Eric Ries, and Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff.
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