New crowdfunding website Survive the Streets launches to help the nearly homeless in the U.S., where the need is immediate and the payoff results in moving people towards self-sufficiency. Focusing its efforts on ‘directed giving’, where donors can pick the exact family or individual they want to help after reading their stories and seeing their faces online, Survive the Streets uses the power of technology and social networking to rally a community of donors to crowdfund items and services needed by someone facing homelessness. Working in close collaboration with existing nonprofits who submit and verify all candidates, all requests featured on Survive the Streets have been identified as an immediate obstacle that when eliminated could help prevent a downward path towards homelessness.
In addition to the launch of its new site being piloted in Washington State, Survive the Streets is also kicking off a crowdfunding campaign on Razoo, a crowdfunding platform for causes. The goal of the campaign is raise $75,000 to innovate Survive the Street’s technology platform, increase awareness through marketing, and to quickly expand nationally by working with local nonprofits and businesses across the U.S. to identify and help those in danger of being homeless.
“We’ve all seen Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites change the dynamics of how money is raised for a cause, project or an entrepreneur’s new idea, so why not use similar technology to prevent homelessness before people are living in the streets,” said Patti Dunn, who initially started Survive the Streets as an annual Thanksgiving Day event in 1999 with her husband, 20-year technology entrepreneur Michael Grabham, to help the homeless in Seattle obtain coats, socks, sleeping bags, and other items. “We know we can’t help everyone in need, but there are a lot of people out there facing homelessness who just need a helping hand at a given point in time. Using technology, social networking and collaborating with nonprofits, we believe our early intervention crowdfunding approach can stop the path towards homelessness with a few clicks of a mouse at the exact time when people need help.”
According to The Associated Press, four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives. One of the biggest impacts of this level of poverty is on children, with the U.S. Department of Education reporting that, for the first time, the number of homeless students in America topped one million by the end of the 2010-2011 school year. The State of Washington is also no stranger to homelessness with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation estimating that more than 20,000 people are homeless on any given night in the state where families comprise almost half of this number. About one child in four in the State of Washington has a family that struggles to pay for basic needs such as rent, food, and utilities.
“Washington State is a center of innovation and home to some of the most successful businesses in the world, yet problems of social inequity and poverty persist,” said Jeff Lilley, president of Union Gospel Mission. “We’re thrilled that Survive the Streets is kicking off its directed giving efforts in Washington State to help improve the lives of families and children in our state. We’re also looking forward to watching them expand their directed giving efforts nationwide to bring new hope to those facing homelessness that can span the entire country.”
How Survive the Streets Works: Directed Giving Aimed at Specific Families or Individuals
Candidates for Survive the Streets’ directed giving campaigns, as well as the items and services being requested, will be submitted for free by local nonprofits that have been unable to meet the individual or family’s immediate need due to lack of budget or resources. Once the nonprofit submits their client to Survive the Streets, the individual or family needing assistance will be given an online profile that potential donors can easily navigate to learn more about their background, why they are requesting a certain item or service, and how they will put the donation to work to turn things around. If donors choose, they can even engage whom they are seeking to help directly or anonymously to give them emotional support and to let them know that the other people believe in them. Once a donor picks a family or individual to help, they are then asked to share the campaign across social networks like Facebook, Google+ and email to solicit financial contributions from their friends to collectively pay for the item and service being requested. Donation requests will typically consist of services and items like dental appointments, car repairs, hospital bills, education, workforce training, work shoes, or just a simple bus pass. Survive the Streets will pay for the items and local services directly, which will be delivered to those in need in cooperation with nonprofit partners.
For example, a Seattle-area single mom who has two daughters and is living in a shelter, is currently being featured for an immediate need on Survive the Streets. Her car is broken down and she simply needs brake pads and rotors for her 1997 Ford Taurus for a total cost of $360 in order to get her daughter to school safely and to go back and forth to work. Her need has been submitted and verified by Catholic Community Services.
“Catholic Community Services is excited to be part of this opportunity that directly reaches the most poor and vulnerable in a new innovative way,” said Susan Vaughn, regional chief of operations with Catholic Community Services. “As we
About Survive the Streets
Survive the Streets is a non-profit providing a new directed giving platform that changes the way people can help individuals on the brink of homelessness obtain timely access to a specific item or service that will help them immediately. Turning what once was an annual Thanksgiving Day event to help the homeless in Seattle obtain coats, socks, sleeping bags, and other items into a national daily philanthropic phenomenon to fight homelessness, Survive the Streets allows anyone to directly help families and individuals living on the edge of homelessness in America through a new combination of technology, social networking and partnership with existing nonprofits.