SF Mayor Ed Lee Announces HandUp Gift Card Expansion

There are two questions that Jeff Kositsky, San Francisco’s Director of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, gets asked often - 'How can I help?' and 'Should I give money to people?'. The answers to these questions are complicated but there are innovative solutions. One such solution comes in the small but powerful form of a gift card.

Jeff Kositsky introducing Mayor Ed Lee at the HandUp Gift Card press conference

HandUp Gift Cards are physical cards with a $25 value that can be purchased and then given to a homeless neighbor to redeem for goods and services like food, clothing, and paying bills. The cards not only offer financial stimulus but give people suffering from homelessness the chance to connect with nonprofits ready to provide support and care.

 See how HandUp Gift Cards work in this video

Gift cards can be bought online at handup.org/giftcards and now can also be purchased at retail locations like Equator Coffees and The Hall on Market Street. The centers that redeem cards have also expanded to include the Mission Neighborhood Resource Center, MSC South Shelter in SOMA and the United Council of Neighborhood Services in the Bayview. 

HandUp Gift Cards featured at Equator Coffees & Teas

Mayor Ed Lee announced the expansion in special press conference alongside Rose Broome and Sammie Rayner, the CEO and COO of HandUp. Other speakers included Kara Zordel, Executive Director of Project Homeless Connect and Justin Steele from Google.org.

"With HandUp Gift Cards, companies and nonprofits are really coming together to connect those in need to services and support." - Mayor Ed Lee
“Homelessness is such a visible problem and people are looking for ways to give back,” Rose Broome told TechCrunch. “We’re excited to have the city’s support in promoting HandUp Gift Cards as a way the community can respond to homelessness.”

This is one step in HandUp’s continued work to reach more neighbors in need across San Francisco and beyond. If you are a business owner, and you would like to offer HandUp Gift Cards at your retail location, please reach out to info@handup.org.

Preview Our 12 Days of Giving!

Like to shake your gifts to guess what’s inside? Then we have something you’re going to love - a preview of our 12 Days of Giving! Each day will present a chance to donate and learn about a worthy cause. It’s our version of an advent calendar but even better because the gift of giving is built right it.

The 12 Days of Giving will officially kick-off on December 12th (easy to remember, right?). Until then, we have a little teaser to get you excited:

Day 1 - Fresh Healthy Food for People Overcoming Homeless

Day 2 - Buying Back Guns to End Street Violence

Day 3 - Spotlight on the Motor City

Day 4 - Care for Homeless Youth and their Furry Friends

Day 5 - The Life Changing Magic of Mental Health Care

Day 6 - Collaborating to End Chronic Veteran Homelessness

Day 7 - Innovation for Housing Transition

Day 8 - A Gift Card to Pay it Forward

Day 9 - Empowerment through Education

Day 10 - Bringing Homeless SF Neighbors Closer to Housing

Day 11 - Holiday Hope For Homeless Families

Day 12 - A Helping Hand for Heroes in Need

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.

How to Grinch-Proof Giving Season!

The holiday season brings out the best in us and inspires us all to give a little more to those in need. 

This is a powerful time to connect with your donors and raise awareness. Donors who start giving in December are more dedicated. Over three years, the total amount they give is 52% more than people who start giving in any other month! 

So how do you leverage this time and Grinch-proof your giving season? Well, Stacy Webb of Compass Family Services uses online fundraising campaigns as his secret weapon:

“For us, the basic ‘donate’ page just doesn’t cut it - it’s hard to showcase educational and needs-based information in a meaningful way. That’s why we use HandUp Campaigns to augment our offline fundraising programs and increase our online fundraising efforts.”

Get more of his end of year fundraising tips in this case study!

Extra Stocking Stuffer:  Be ahead of 2017 by setting up an online campaign right now to pair with any offline efforts you are kicking off in the New Year.

#GiveAHandUpDetroit on #GivingTuesday

The HandUp Detroit collaborative that launched this September is participating in #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving. HandUp Detroit is a partnership between several Metro Detroit homeless service agencies and HandUp that are using their collective power to end homelessness.

Occurring this year on November 29, #GivingTuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

We are thrilled to participate in #GivingTuesday this year. Joining the thousands of organizations that are inspiring people to give back to their communities brings visibility to the stories and needs of Detroiters. HandUp allows the donor to connect with people right in their own community and on Giving Tuesday everyone will have the opportunity to support their neighbors during the holiday season in an impactful way.

The HandUp Detroit collaboration was spearheaded by South Oakland Shelter (SOS) through grants from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan and the McGregor Fund. The collaboration now includes: SOS, COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter), Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO), HAVEN, Community and Home Supports Inc. (CHS), Community and Social Services of Wayne County (CSSWC), and Community Housing Network (CHN).

HandUp has helped so many Detroit individuals achieve success. Like Latoya, a single mother of three children, two teenage girls and one 5 year old boy. All four were living in Atlanta, GA where they moved from Michigan to further Latoya’s career in providing security for professional sports teams and private events. Last summer she let her teenage girls visit their father’s family in Michigan for their school vacation. One week before school was going to start she found out that her daughters’ aunt was going to try and take custody of the girls. Latoya spent most of her savings to come back to Michigan with her son in order to fight for her daughters. Now she has regained custody of all her children and is working to regain stability while staying in the COTS Shelter in Detroit.

Through the generosity of HandUp and the Detroit partner agencies, there are several incentives being offered to donors who give on #GivingTuesday including:

  • All donations matched by the McGregor Fund up to $100 per profile.

  • The top donor on 11/29 to any Detroit profile or fund will receive $100 to give back on HandUp.

  • Anyone who donates to a Detroit profile or fund on 11/29 will be entered to win an additional $100 to give back on HandUp.

  • Anyone who gives over $75 to any Detroit profile or fund will be entered to win 2 tickets to SOS’s Rent Party in June 2017.

  • The top donor to any COTS profile will win 2 tickets to their January 2017 Fundraiser, Soup City.



3 Quick Ways To Win Giving Tuesday

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, with Giving Tuesday quickly following on November 29th! If your schedule is more stuffed than a turkey this season, here are 3 quick wins to help you succeed on Giving Tuesday:

1. Include A Photo

Social media posts that include images lead to 650% higher engagement than text-only posts, so make sure to include your best images. Here’s an idea: post a picture every day for five days before November 29th to show off your organization's top highlights from the year and to remind your donors to give on #GivingTuesday. 

This Instagram post from charity:water uses a great photo to highlight a positive impact while also asking for further support in the future


2. Day-Of Double Duty

Use another hashtag or promotion along with #GivingTuesday that you can build on after Giving Tuesday is over. For example, ask donors to donate $5 on Giving Tuesday and then tag 5 friends to do the same while using the #GiveMe5 hashtag. Then you can add to the momentum and do another #GiveMe5 campaign later in the year. 


National Geographic used a similar “High 5, Give 5” campaign for big cat conservation


3. Kick It Off With Email

It’s great to build up to #GivingTuesday but you can also use it to kick-off a new project or program. One of the best ways to do this is with e-mail because of the opportunity to send multiple follow-ups. Create an e-mail campaign that incorporates monthly reminders and a simple call-to-action button. Try a New Year’s Resolution program where donors sign up to give at least $5 to a different project each month throughout the year. Kick-off the program on Giving Tuesday and make sure to send e-mail updates at least once a month to donors as the year goes on.


*Bonus Tip

If you’re interested in crowdfunding, HandUp provides a platform that combines aspects from all the tips mentioned above including storytelling, campaign building, and an easy way to send e-mail updates.