ChangeUp: Innovation Through Action and Compassion

Aug. 9, 2019
| by:
Communications and Public Affairs

When faced with the question of what to do about people who are panhandling on Chandler streets, the City decided to take the issue and frame it a little differently. 

Rather than going after people asking for money, Chandler’s Neighborhood Resources Department and the nonprofit For Our City-Chandler worked together to find a better way to meet the needs of the community. 

The end result was ChangeUp, a text-to-donate campaign that allows residents to quickly give to programs directly serving people experiencing homelessness in Chandler. 

“The goal is to ensure donations are going towards a long-term solution to make real change in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Riann Balch, Chandler’s community resources manager.

As part of its outreach efforts, the City has placed signs with the text-to-donate information in high-traffic panhandling areas within city limits. The signs serve as a reminder to the community about how to change giving behavior to make a more lasting impact on homelessness. 

Beyond the financial standpoint, Balch said the campaign has always been about changing donor behavior to stop panhandling and end homelessness.

“We worked hard to avoid language criminalizing people who panhandle,” Balch said. “Many people panhandle have legitimate needs. Instead, we’re saying to givers, ‘Hey, we can help you give in a more meaningful way.’”

A Chandler navigator meeting a person experiencing homelessness in the field.
A Chandler navigator meeting a person experiencing homelessness in the field.

The ChangeUp campaign relies on the idea that people panhandle because it works. But, while it may help somebody experiencing homelessness for a moment, it’s not a sustainable solution for long-term change. 

“If we can encourage people to give in a different way, we can make more of an impact and drive people to services rather than back to the streets,” Balch said.  

Money collected from the campaign is funneled through the nonprofit For Our City-Chandler and helps support “navigators.” Navigators are Chandler’s front-line workers connecting with people experiencing homelessness on the street. 

Funds provide navigators with extra resources to distribute, such as bus tickets or access to bridge housing. If the fund gets big enough, the ChangeUp campaign could potentially fund the cost of adding more navigators to serve within Chandler’s city limits.

“What’s different about ChangeUp is that it is not about broadly giving to a nonprofit that helps people experiencing homelessness somewhere else,” Balch said. “The money is going directly to the people who need it in Chandler.”

Street signs and bus stop advertising with the donation information are now up throughout the City of Chandler.

Help End Homelessness in Chandler

Success Story: Owen experienced homlessness after a severe bout of Valley Fever that left him unable to work. The City has since helped him acquire housing and enroll his son in college.
Success Story: Owen experienced homlessness after a severe bout of Valley Fever that left him unable to work. The City has since

To make a donation through the ChangeUp campaign, residents may text “ChangeUp” to 44-321 to make a one-time or monthly donation of $1, $5, $10, $25, or any amount. Online donations are also accepted.

If you’d rather not provide a monetary donation, the City offers a range of other opportunities to assist with people experiencing homelessness in Chandler. You can find information about these opportunities, as well as tips for dealing with panhandling and homelessness, through ChangeUp.