While battling with the ethical do's and don'ts of donating to the homeless, a lightbulb lit in Tom Eeles' head and this is what he came up with...
You know the feeling when you think of a great idea. The one that’s going make it. Going to change your life and make you a million. Then you realise someone’s already invented it and they're doing a better job of it than you ever could. Well this idea isn’t going to make me a million. In a strange way though I do hope that someone reads this and tells me it’s already being done.
As a personal rule I don’t give to people begging on the street. Every day outside Geneva train station I battle with this dilemma again in my head. And I always side with the charities who invariably say that you shouldn’t give money directly to someone who might well spend it on alcohol, drugs or substance abuse.
My girlfriend always gives to people playing instruments or entertaining. Always. Even if we are running late and about to miss a train, plane...you get the picture. That’s a good thing. But I’m not musically talented at all and I’m sure lots of homeless people aren’t too. So I’m still left with my dilemma. The problem is after reassuring myself that I should give to the homeless charity instead, I never do. I get to my desk and the day starts and the thought disappears. So here it is. The big idea.
Pre-paid vouchers that you can give directly to the person who needs it. They get a night in a hostel and the wonderful staff and volunteers in the hostel get a chance to work with them and try and help turn things around. We could buy them online and be emailed a voucher. Better still we get a credit card sized book of vouchers for our wallet or purse. Or maybe a yearly subscription, you could buy vouchers for yourself or as a gift for someone else. Think of the opportunities to report on impact and develop a relationship with your donor on the direct impact they are having.
I’m looking forward to hearing that this is already happening somewhere or for a decent argument as to why it shouldn’t happen. Please comment below. If neither of these happens then let’s see if Shelter or one of the other innovative charities could bridge this gap.
Could this be relevant for your charity? Is there a way you could connect that exact moment of deep felt compassion in a donor with the ability for them to do something about it right there and then?
p.s. For great impact measuring could we could take a few lessons from the South West handline fisherman?