The HandUp Detroit $15,000 Fundraising Campaign Starts Now. Together, Nine Nonprofits can End Homelessness in the Motor City

A proud grandfather unable to find work because he cannot afford to get his driver’s license.

A pregnant mother of three who needs to pay off old debt to get housing before her baby is due.

A loving father, experiencing homelessness, seeking to rebuild his life and become the dad he never had.

These are only a few of the lives the HandUp Detroit Collaborative is hoping to change through its second-annual
End Homelessness in the Motor City campaign kicking off today at

And the collaborative comprised of nine nonprofits in Detroit and Oakland County needs your help to make that happen.

With a fundraising goal of $15,000, the month-long effort is seeking to raise money to meet the critical needs of metro Detroit’s homeless expenses that aren’t covered by existing resources.

“Our 2017 campaign removed hurdles for over 60 families who moved from homeless to housed.” says Abby Adair, HandUp Detroit coordinator.

“Costs associated with moving, such as security deposits, furniture, and utility bills were all covered by donations to the fund. Our 2018 campaign will be used for the same purpose, to end homelessness for even more families in Detroit and Oakland County.”

For people seeking assistance through HandUp Detroit, a little help can make a huge difference.

That was the case for Milan, a mother of four in Detroit who needed $500 to pay mounting utility costs after she was injured in a car accident and no longer able to work her two catering jobs.

When the accident happened, she and her family had already come so far. They experienced homelessness years before after fleeing their home because of ongoing domestic violence

“I was in a verbally, mentally and physically abusive relationship for 10 years,” she says. “My children made me realize that this was not okay and I had to protect myself and them.”

But thanks to HandUp Detroit’s crowd-funding site, donors answered her plea for help.

“Thank you to everyone who donated to my cause,” Milan says. “My utilities are now on and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”

With one more hurdle out of the way, Milan can focus on building a brighter future for her family.

“I want my babies to be successful and safe. I don't ever want them going through what I did,” she says. “I hope for stability and a quality education for my children. I want to see my kids reach their full potential!”

You, too, can make a life-changing difference through HandUp Detroit’s campaign to End Homelessness in the Motor City. To donate, go to

The campaign ends March 31, so don’t delay … do a world of good with your dollars today!

HandUp Detroit is the first collaborative of its kind in the region and includes four agencies from Detroit and five from Oakland County: Central City Integrated Health (CCIH), COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter), Community & Home Supports, Community Housing Network, Mariners Inn, Neighborhood Legal Services Michigan, Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), South Oakland Shelter, and Travelers Aid Society of Metro Detroit (TASMD).

 The nine HandUp Detroit partners who are collaborating on the End Homelessness in the Motor City Campaign

The nine HandUp Detroit partners who are collaborating on the End Homelessness in the Motor City Campaign



Preview our 12 Days of Giving!

We are busy preparing for the holiday season! Our office halls are decked and lined with gifts for the families we serve and we have dreams of sugar plums every night. To close out 2017, we are bringing back HandUp’s 12 Days of Giving! Starting on December 12th we will feature a different HandUp cause each day to help you connect to meaningful ways to give back this season of giving.

Take a sneak peek at what each day will feature:

  • Day 1 - End family homelessness in San Francisco
  • Day 2 - Help San Franciscans find long-term employment
  • Day 3 - Provide housing start-up kits to Milwaukeeans moving out of homelessness
  • Day 4 - Build healthy smiles
  • Day 5 - Fight poverty nation wide
  • Day 6 - Provide a warm place to sleep this winter
  • Day 7 - Empowerment through education
  • Day 8 - Bringing Homeless SF Neighbors Closer to Housing
  • Day 9 - Help to build communities that end homelessness
  • Day 10 - Fresh Healthy Food for People Overcoming Homeless
  • Day 11 - End poverty in the Motor City
  • Day 12 - Help kids get the education they deserve

Look out for a kick-off email on December 12th with a link to our special 12 Days of Giving Landing page. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our blog for updates through December 23rd.

A message from SOS

South Oakland Shelter (SOS) is probably quite a bit like the homeless service organizations you may be familiar with in your own community. We were founded in the mid-80s by a few local churches—a grassroots response to the lack of resources available to assist our neighbors living on the street. Over 30+ years, we have evolved into an increasingly complex non-profit organization, balancing a variety of stakeholder interests and approaches to addressing what should be a relatively straightforward problem. Government agencies, professionalized family and corporate foundations, congregations of various faiths, volunteers, donors, local businesses, residents, academic institutions, other service providers, and more all have varying reasons for working with us, and differing priorities and approaches in how they do so.

In 2014, our staff leadership envisioned a tool to put our clients’ own needs back at the center of our efforts, empowering them to tell their own stories and have a higher degree of self-determination in their journey towards stability and a decent quality of life. We wanted to develop a platform that would allow our supporters to identify specific gaps that our current grants, contracts, and referrals were not addressing in order to unlock a brighter future for people who so often are offered only disparate pieces of what they need. We reached out to a couple foundations in our community with a concept for an online crowdfunding tool, and in our efforts to put together a proposal, we accidentally stumbled upon HandUp.

Rose, Sammie, and their colleagues were in the early stages of implementing the very tool we had imagined, and they had invested considerable time, talent, and venture capital in building one far more capable than anything a grassroots non-profit like ours could have produced. And so, we jumped on board their initiative with great enthusiasm.


Two years later, we realized that fundraising on HandUp meant a lot more than just the monetary figure achieved. HandUp was concurrently making our other services more effective, as our complicated web of restricted funding sources was finally beginning to untangle. It occurred to us that many more in our community could be helped with HandUp, but we did not have the capacity to make it happen alone. We sought grants to launch the HandUp Detroit collaborative that would leverage this resource across our metropolitan area. More agencies on the platform meant more client profiles, and more client profiles meant a more enriching donor experience, leading to more resources for the people we all serve. We recruited ten partner agencies serving a similar population, but over a broader geography. When we started fundraising together for all of our clients’ needs instead of each of our agencies’ operations, we dissolved the competitive dynamic that had so often dominated our relationships with one another.

As we were discovering that HandUp was transforming the way we could all work together in our community to address poverty, and the potential for other communities to do the same, Rose and Sammie were beginning to realize that the HandUp model was unsustainable as a for-profit service. While this was initially a hard pill to swallow, we were thrilled when HandUp approached SOS to steward their social enterprise into its future as a strictly philanthropic venture.

Of course, we had many of the same questions that you probably do. Can a human service agency successfully operate a thriving web-platform? Will attempting to do so distract us from our core services? Can we really bring this product to its fullest potential? We found that the answer to most of our questions was within our very reason for considering the opportunity in the first place: we are not fundamentally interested in solving technological problems, we are working to innovate our sector’s response to poverty by unabashedly putting our clients and mission at the forefront, even above the perceived needs of our own agency.

To homeless service agencies like ours, we invite you to join us in this effort. We know it is scary. We know you are regularly assessing the technological needs of your organization and that HandUp does not and will not meet all of those needs. Of course, we were nervous when we started marketing specific client needs to our donors that we might be left without badly needed unrestricted gifts to underwrite our operations (spoiler alert: the opposite happened). We took the leap anyway; because it is our mandate to prioritize the needs of our clients, and it turns out that our donors agree with us.

To us, HandUp is much more than a platform, it is a movement. We hope that like-minded agencies and their donors in cities and communities across the U.S. will stand with us. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to support all of your efforts.

Announcing: HandUp has been acquired by South Oakland Shelter!


Dear HandUp Community,

We have some big news to share: the HandUp platform has been acquired by our close partners in Detroit, South Oakland Shelter!

Starting November 1st, 2017, South Oakland Shelter (SOS) will officially take ownership of HandUp and keep our products accessible to nonprofits across the Bay Area and the country. This is an exciting milestone for HandUp and we hope you will join us in celebrating this transition.

More about SOS

SOS became HandUp’s first nonprofit partner outside of San Francisco in 2014. They were working to build their own fundraising platform when they discovered HandUp already existed.  In the words of Jenny Poma, COO at SOS, “We were excited to find that HandUp was already effectively raising critical funds around the issues of homelessness in such a personal way. We found what we were looking for – an opportunity for our clients to share their story, in their own words, and advocate for their most immediate needs.”

Three years later, SOS is one of HandUp’s most active partners and has spearheaded new initiatives using the platform. SOS secured $100,000 in grants from the McGregor Fund and The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to launch the HandUp Detroit Collaborative. Together, 11 housing agencies have used the platform to raise $200,000, helping 600 people experiencing homelessness in Metro Detroit.

We are humbled by SOS’s commitment to growing our technology and vision, and couldn’t be more thrilled for them to take HandUp through its next phase of impact.

What this mean for you

You might be wondering what this means for the people who use HandUp. Don’t worry, SOS will keep the platform running with the same level of service you’ve come to expect.

  • For our donors: You will still be able to use HandUp to directly support people experiencing homelessness and the nonprofits that serve them. If you have a recurring donation set up, it will continue supporting the great work of nonprofits across the country. (If not, set one up here to help SOS get off to a strong start!)
  • For our nonprofit partners: You can continue using HandUp as always. will still be your go-to, with the SOS team responding to your inquiries and supporting your fundraising initiatives. Stay tuned for more information about an upcoming webinar where you can meet the SOS team.
  • For our members: If you have a fundraising profile on HandUp, you can keep working with your sponsoring nonprofit organization to raise funds, check your point balance, and work toward achieving your goals.
  • SF Gift Card Program: While SOS will maintain HandUp’s online fundraising tools, the San Francisco-based street Gift Card program will be put on hold. The last day to buy Gift Cards is October 15th. If you’ve recently purchased Gift Cards, please give them out before the use by date. Any remaining funds will be redistributed to nonprofits on the HandUp platform after that point.  

Why we’re making this transition

This news may come as a surprise to some of you and we want to share a bit more about what led to this decision.

When we started HandUp, our goal was to use the power of the for-profit business model to make an impact on homelessness. We successfully created innovative products for human service agencies, but weren’t able to make HandUp work as a highly scalable business. While we worked hard to reach our current base of 100 nonprofit customers, the reality is we needed closer to 1,000 to be a thriving tech startup operating in San Francisco.

However, we did create a powerful philanthropic model for delivering impact. As we shared in our recent infographic, we’ve raised $2.4 million in donations on the platform, helping 25,000 people cover their basic needs. We’re so glad this impact will live on with SOS.

Thank You 

Building HandUp has truly been a community effort and we’re so thankful to you all for helping us get here. Special thanks to:

  • Our members like Rodney and Julianne who courageously said “yes” to trying something new like HandUp;
  • Our nonprofit partners like Kara Zordel at Project Homeless Connect, who use the HandUp platform every day to help their clients succeed;
  • Our corporate and philanthropic contributors like, who believe in the power of innovation to drive social change;
  • Our investors like Julie and Clara at Tumml who took a risk on a different kind of startup;
  • Our government partners like the City of San Francisco who supported us from the beginning;
  • Our HandUp team who put their talent to work making something great;
  • And, of course, our donors who act on their compassion and help dignify our homeless neighbors.

Closing message

With this strong base of support, SOS is ready to carry forward the vision of HandUp as a philanthropic initiative with great social impact. From Ryan Hertz, SOS CEO, “HandUp’s mission is to use the power of technology and human relationships to fight poverty, and these tools have empowered us in recent years to better fulfill our own mission: building communities that end homelessness. We are proud to inherit and continue HandUp’s legacy as we extend our work into building digital communities.”

Many people have asked us what’s next for the HandUp team. We’re focused on this transition for now, but are excited to say part of the team will join We (Rose & Sammie) will both stay on as advisors to HandUp and continue doing everything we can to help it succeed.

We invite you all to stay with us through this transition. This isn’t the end. It’s a new beginning.


Rose & Sammie

 The HandUp Team:  Barney, Katrina, Rose, Sammie, Patricia

The HandUp Team: Barney, Katrina, Rose, Sammie, Patricia