A Creative Strategy for Homeless Housing Fundraising

November 7, 2011; Source: MLive.com | In Detroit, the concept of “housing first” for the homeless is becoming a core part of the nonprofit homeless housing provider’s arsenal. The nonprofit Neighborhood Support Organization is doing a $50 million renovation of the former Michigan Bell Building to create 155 one-bedroom apartments for homeless adults. To get this project underway with money for both the rehab and the associated services, NSO has launched a campaign titled “A Place to Call Home,” which has volunteers hosting housewarming parties. The NSO hopes to see such contributions as blankets, sheets, towels, and pots and pans, because the homeless tend to come to these apartments with nothing. The NSO has developed a gift registry at Target for each apartment with 100 items valued at $750, ranging from a $65 microwave to a 49-cent saltshaker. The overall project is still $10 million short, so it isn’t clear that the project will succeed. But the housewarming party strategy, linking potential donors to specific homeless adults and their apartments, seems a creative strategy for personalizing fundraising.—Rick Cohen