Real Change Spokane

Downtown Spokane Partnership and City of Spokane, with help from local partners, encourage you to “Give Real Change” by supporting the causes and organizations that promote sustainable change in the lives of the chronically homeless.

Give real change

Spokane is a compassionate community, and many people give to panhandlers because they think they are improving a life. However, giving spare change to panhandlers is only a short-term solution. It doesn’t create long-term results. In reality, panhandlers make good money because of compassionate people, and as long as they do, they’ll keep asking for more.

If you want to give, support real change by donating to local organizations that make a measurable difference and change lives every day. Contribute to downtown initiatives on public safety, mental health services and job programs for youth, and low barrier housing for adults.  

The best part about donating money to organizations is the whole community benefits. Stopping panhandling improves the downtown experience for everyone and contributes to the economic vitality and overall appearance of our city.

To download a list of organizations that are already making a meaningful change in the lives of homeless people in our community, click here. Consider making a donation or volunteering your time.

About the “Give Real Change” campaign

The campaign focuses on stopping panhandling at the “supply source” in hopes that without the supply the demand will wane. The goal is to educate you about the reality of where your money is likely going while remaining compassionate. Instead, direct your dollars to organizations making measurable change.

Panhandling won’t go away in a month. To create real, lasting change, our community needs a sustained effort. Your participation will spread this message and over time panhandlers will recognize it’s time to get help.

Fostering a vibrant Downtown Spokane

Urban environments like downtown Spokane attract people from all walks of life. We want people to be eager to live, work and play here. Part of that is ensuring that we connect people who need help with the resources that can make a real difference.

Three initiatives from the Mayor's Task Force on Urban Environment 
  1. Public Safety Initiative has increased the number of police officers downtown and provides for the coordination among the Spokane Police Department, Security Ambassadors and Spokane Transit Authority to make the downtown streets safer. These entities coordinate with youth and homeless service providers to help individuals on the streets.
  2. Youth Initiative helps fund YouthREACH to provide mental health services and case management to youths on the street. It also provides opportunities for youth to train and gain work experience.
  3. The long-term adult Initiative seeks to connect individuals in need with resources and services. Part of this is the implementation of low barrier housing strategies to place high-needs individuals into cost-effective housing. In the short term the City is working towards identifying high risk individuals and ensuring their needs are met through current housing resources. 
Get involved


Share messages on social media

More about chronic panhandling

Newsletter story | Give Real Change
Newsletter story | Why you should stop
Newsletter story | Panhandlers make money

DSP and other nonprofit leaders are availalbe to speak at company and community events about how people can get involved with the campaign and why saying “yes” to local nonprofits helps more than giving change. Contact the DSP at 509.456.0580 to request a presentation. 

Need tips for talking with panhandlers? click here

If you or someone you know needs help finding food, housing or a job, learn more about transformational resources in our community using this list

Many panhandlers are battling addiction, and your money is enabling destructive behaviors. Panhandlers generally know where to seek help but won’t because they have drug and alcohol habits that are not tolerated by local programs.

When you give to panhandlers, you are making it difficult for local organizations to help them improve their lives. Too often, panhandlers won’t say yes to help unless it’s the only option.   Without resources to feed their addiction, many commit to real change.

Panhandlers use a number of techniques to gain sympathy. Just because a sign says “homeless” or “retired vet” doesn’t mean it’s true. Panhandlers will also share a dog (using the dog in shifts) to entice animal lovers.