Project Details

Homeless man in San Francisco


A fundraising platform and digital currency, for the homeless

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @HandUp

  • Community Engagement
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Social Exclusion
  • Data
  • Internet
  • Social Software

HandUp is a donations platform and digital currency specifically created for homeless people in San Francisco, of which there are an estimated 6,500.

Founder Rose Broome designed the site so people could give money to help people sleeping rough, without worrying they’d spend it on drugs or alcohol instead of food, clothing, shelter etc.

Homeless people draw up a profile on HandUp — explaining their personal story, and outlining what they see as their most urgent need. They can promote their page by handing people they meet on the street cards with their url. They get a text or email every time someone donates, and can spend the funds they raise either directly on approved services or websites, or can work with NGO affiliates to source items via the web — buying a winter coat or shoes on eBay for instance.

The model gives the homeless person a crucial sense of agency — but also creates opportunities for them to have positive contact with support professionals and organisations. Kara Zordel, Director of Project Homeless Connect is a fan, saying: ‘This is connecting people to services. The biggest problem with giving someone money on the street is that they then have no reason to walk into an office and get the services they need to make a change.’

HandUp began in 2013. It is run as a social enterprise, 100% of donations go to the homeless person but donors are given the option to also donate to operating costs.

Broome unapologetically wants to scale the project and to become profit-making. The US gives $26 billion to homeless shelters and food banks a year, and she says she wants to take a slice of that ‘market opportunity’ by making it simple to give some of that money direct, via your phone.

Image 'Homeless in San Francisco' courtesy of Ana Belen Ramon

Last updated: 25th of June, 2014

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