The Connection at St Martin’s: Donate Locate

Exhibited by
Georgia Bridgwood
Added
February 15, 2016
Medium of Communication
Mobile phone
Target Audience
Individuals
Type of Charity
Helping homeless people
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
2015

SOFII’s view

Donate Locate shows how charities can use mobile fundraising to work harder and smarter than ever before. The app’s clever use of geolocation technology means that when an individual gives a gift they effectively become an outreach worker too – all with one touch of a button.

This idea was presented at IWITOT London in September 2015.

Summary / objectives

How often do you see someone begging or sleeping rough on the street on your way to and from work, home, or school? In London, it is an almost daily occurrence.

Many times you have probably thought about stopping to help, but may have been unsure of exactly what to do or felt concerned about how responsibly the person would spend your money. So perhaps you changed your mind and walked on by.

The fact that so many of us hesitate means inherently we want to help others, but we don’t always know the best way to do so. Donate Locate is an innovative app that uses geolocation technology so the public can help homeless people quickly and easily – without the usual barriers.

Background

The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields is London’s busiest homelessness charity. Much of their work is focused in Westminster – where 25 per cent of England’s homeless people spend their days and nights.

Unsurprisingly, people are drawn to central London because of opportunities and the prospect of starting their lives afresh. However, if things don’t work out, the chance of sleeping rough is very likely.

And homelessness takes its toll on a person’s health. Homeless people are 13 times more likely to be victims of violence and, on average, they will die at just 47 years of age.

So despite having the largest street outreach team in London and seeing over 200 people at their centres every day, The Connection knew they needed to capitalise on the fact that so many of us want to help and are actually in a position to refer people to their services too. But how?

The Donate Locate app is a way to help someone when we feel most compelled to give – the moment we see him, or her, sleeping rough. It allows us to share the location of the person we want to help and, without giving directly, make a donation that we are confident is going to the right place. It means all of us can be an outreach worker – and give money with confidence.

Creator / originator

Soul London came up with the idea for the app and brought it to The Connection at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Special characteristics

Donate Locate is very simple really.

  • Available on Apple’s App Store, Donate Locate is a smartphone app where users can choose to donate £1, £3, or £5.
  • When a user makes an SMS donation, the app sends a GPS signal to The Connection’s street outreach team with the homeless person’s location. This means you know that someone in the local team will find the person you’ve seen and offer them help.
  • Users then receive a confirmation text message and the amount donated is paid for via your mobile bill or through your pre-pay account.
  • In the app users can see the history of when and where you last donated, find out more about The Connection and see a map of all other user donations. This helps you feel connected to fellow donors who are also using the app too.

Influence / impact

Increasingly, donors want to feel that their donation is being spent on something tangible – not admin fees or salaries. They want to know that their gift is the one being spent on the hot meal, the mosquito net, the guide dog. Not to mention, it really doesn’t feel like a good use of our time to explain why admin costs are necessary, worthwhile and inevitable.

For this reason, fundraisers need to focus on telling donors about the change they can help us make – why they should support us and why our cause is a good investment.

By embracing the digital age – just like The Connection has done – charities have an opportunity to engage with donors in ways they simply haven’t yet explored. It’s time more of us started doing just that.

Merits

Donate Locate is a great example of how a simple idea, executed well, can give donors exactly what they are looking for – the chance to make a difference and get that good feeling too.

Furthermore, Donate Locate uses technology to the best possible end. As donors we are left knowing that this was exactly the right way to give. It’s quick, easy and the use of GPS doesn’t feel like a gimmick to add to our user experience, it’s there to save lives.

Soul London’s Shaun Moran summed it up well when he said, ‘Being told not to give to homeless people in the street is a well-publicised and long-running issue. Finally, here’s the solution.’

More and more in modern society we are finding that our donors want the utmost transparency and connection to how their money is spent. Donate Locate turns supporters into outreach workers, encourages them to see the need themselves and then gives them a positive outlet to resolve the problem.

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The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields helps thousands of homeless people every year to move away from, and stay off, the streets of London.
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When we see someone sleeping rough, we often don’t know the best way to help.
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Donate Locate allows users to give a gift and send help – as soon as they see a person in need.
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With each SMS donation, the app sends a GPS signal to the street outreach team with the homeless person’s location.
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App users can be confident the person they’ve seen will get help within 24 hours. Their gift will go right where it’s needed most.