Donation Meter Program

The Concept
The donation meter program is designed to increase awareness about Denver’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, and it is also an effort to redirect the money given to panhandlers into initiatives that provide meals, job training, substance abuse counseling, housing, and other programs for those in need. This grassroots campaign is projected to raise roughly $100,000 per year giving the general public a constructive way to help Denver’s homeless. “The donation meter demonstrates yet another innovative way in which this community is responding to Denver’s Road Home and our commitment to ending homelessness” – Mayor Hickenlooper.

Denver Public Works along with Denver’s Road Home, Leadership Denver, the Downtown Denver Partnership, Mile High United Way, rabble+rouser, and OZ Architecture worked together to make the donation meter program a reality. This group coordinated the meter design, decal messaging, printing, installation, and the $1,000 sponsorships for individual meters, which raised $36,000 before the meters were unveiled. On March 5, 2007, thirty-six meters were installed at strategic downtown locations that had significant foot traffic and panhandling issues. Within the first month, 16,411 coins were donated at these various meters totaling approximately $2,000. In September of 2007 another fifty refurbished parking meters were installed in other community sectors throughout the city. These meters also raised $1,000 sponsorships each. It is already evident that the panhandling population is decreasing in the area around the meters, and that there is a significant increase in awareness of the issue within the downtown community.

Current Status
The Mile High United Way and the members of the CAAB (Community Appeals Advisory Board) will continue to coordinate annual sponsorships for individual meters, and the Department of Public Works will organize regular collections allowing the program to continue as long as it is effective. With eighty-six existing meters, the project to generates in excess of $100,000 per year through sponsorships and donations. The donation meter project, in addition to its benefits for awareness and curbing panhandling, serves as a way to provide some sustainability to Denver's Road Home throughout the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

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