HandUp, a crowdsourcing platform for homeless people and their basic needs, just closed a seed funding round of $US850,000.
Some of the biggest tech investors have joined the seed round, including Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, SV Angels’ Ron Conway, and Reddit’s Alexis Ohanian.
Poverty is a serious issue in America, with approximately 46 million people living below the poverty line and 3.5 million of them homeless. In San Francisco alone, 7,350 people are homeless, and 54% of them haven’t had a home for one or more years, according to HandUp.
HandUp’s platform aims to solve this problem by connecting technology to individual donors.
The process is quite simple. Once you download HandUp’s iPhone app or visit its website, you can go through member profiles and donate directly to the person you’d like to help. If you can’t find the right person or cause, you can simply donate to the SF Fund, and they will send your donation to members with the strongest needs.
HandUp says most of the members fundraise for dentures and other medical services, housing costs, or phones and computers. For example, a man named Richard from San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighbourhood, is raising money for his driver’s licence renewal, clothing, household items, and rent.
HandUp’s service also allows donors to know exactly how their donations are being used. The donations must go through nonprofit partners such as Project Homeless Connect, North Beach Citizens, and Compass Family Services, who will ensure transparency by handling how the funding gets distributed.
“I believe that new solutions to poverty are within our reach,” Rose Broome, cofounder and CEO of HandUp, said in a statement.
Today’s investment is the latest philanthropic effort by Salesforce’s Benioff. Best known for his “1-1-1 initiative,” where 1% of a company’s equity, 1% of its employees’ time, and 1% of its products are donated to charitable causes, Benioff is one of the most vocal supporters of anti-poverty programs. Perhaps, today’s’ announcement will convince more tech entrepreneurs to join him in his efforts.