Online Fundraising: A Hand up or Handout?

A Hand up or handout? What’s the difference and why should it matter? I’ll bet you know someone that is having a tough time, I think all of us do.  There is no shame in asking for help when we really need it, a hand up .  But is a hand up or a handout the most helpful?  And has online fundraising become the new cardboard sign we see on the streets where beggars are  asking for money?

Nobody ever told me, or lead me to believe that life was fair, or that others would step in and hold me up when I couldn’t stand on my own two feet.  I think this helped make me a stronger person, and I’ve seen others feel really good about themselves when they overcame a major hurdle.

Hand up or Handout We all need a little help

We learn by doing, even if we might need a hand up to stand alone.  We don’t learn by having people bailing us out time and time again.  This is a handout, and it doesn’t give the receiver a chance to solve their own problems.  Oh, they think they need the help they are asking for, but in reality those seeking handouts have learned to rely on others to get their basic needs met . Is there a difference of asking for a little help vs asking for it consistently for an extended period of time?

Today I see many people that are basically asking for handouts, not hand ups, and  others seem to be enabling them. Are we as friends, neighbors, community members now the new cash-cow of those that can’t make it on a monthly basis?

When is a situation chronic  vs situational? Is this a temporary crisis, or a lifestyle, and does it make a difference? If someone asks consistently for money for the basics, when is it time for them to look for other alternatives? Sometimes living with a room-mate, or relative might not be the most desirable alternative, but it is one that can help with finances if this is one of the issues.

What if someone has a pet and wants you to help them with money to feed it every month? Or to help with Vet bills, medication, etc? Would it make a difference to you if their house just burned down? When is it a hand up or handout? What if this has been going on for several years, does that change your opinion?

Since it is human nature to take the path of least resistance, do you see how what started out as generous gesture of giving can become enabling? We never really help someone if they never have to come up with alternatives, or learn to stand on their own two feet, to take care of themselves.  There are never any guarantees in life that someone else will be there for us, but if they are, me I prefer a hand up when needed, not a handout!  The difference to me is how I see my ability to overcome whatever life throws my way.  A  hand up is just that,  but a handout actually keeps us from standing on our own.  We learn to be dependent on others to meet our needs.

“When you’re crying and all alone

It’s nice to know someone cares.

They don’t have to be on your doorstep

or on the telephone,

Just knowing they’re there

Shows they care

When you need them the most.”
K. McGraw

Ways we can give a hand up or a handout.

  • Motivate them; listen to them and show genuine interest-hand up
  • If someone is local, offer to drive them to the store, Dr. etc- hand up
  • If someone has mobility issues maybe they need some modifications to their home.  If you have any carpenter skills you could help- hand up
  • Share local resources- phone numbers, names, etc-hand up
  • Donate money on a continuous basis for basic needs- handout
  •  Listening when they want to vent about medical issues, pain, etc.- this is being a friend, and can be a hand up, but that depends on the character of the person with the problem.

I have many friends with health problems ranging from terminal cancer, all the way down to illnesses caused by lifestyle choices and everything else in between.  And those of you that know me, know that I too have been challenged  this past year.   We still have a choice on how we interact with others, and how we work towards making our lives as best as they can be.   No matter how bad we might think our situation is, I guarantee someone else has it worse.

A Hand up or Handout….that is the difference of how someone will overcome their situation! Money given continuously doesn’t solve a problem, it just prolongs it. It is the path of least resistance to continue asking for help, but what really helps is giving a good hard look at the situation and work on solving it! Not everything can be solved, but we sure can find a way to make the best of what we have!


2 thoughts on “Online Fundraising: A Hand up or Handout?

  1. Wow, this is pretty thought-provoking, which I suspect was partially a reason for writing it.
    Humans by their very nature want to follow the path of least resistance, and yet there is so much pride to be had in achieving things for oneself, by oneself, in the face of adversity.
    Most of us do not want to see or know of others suffering and yet if we were to dwell on all the injustices and terrible standards of living some endure, we would be completely overwhelmed and paralyzed by the abject sorrow we would feel, not just because others are suffering but because we feel there is so little we can do to improve things for them.
    Hand up – Helping someone when they are in serious need and have no way to improve their own circumstances, but still have a will and a drive to pull themselves out of the sink hole they have temporarily found themselves in.
    Hand out – Providing someone with assistance,be it monetary or otherwise, knowing full well that come this time next month they will have made no effort to improve their own lot in life.
    Taking advantage of others’ generosity is paramount to theft. How anyone can take from others time after time without making some effort to improve their own circumstances so that they may pay it forward is beyond my comprehension.
    As you well know, Kathy, B and I started out by trying to give a woman a ‘hand up’ but she now has an expectation that we have allowed her to have, and doesn’t seem to be making any efforts whatsoever to improve her lot. She gets $800+ a month in governmental assistance and lives in an automobile, her only expenses being to clothe and feed herself, plus maintain a cellphone. When we first started helping her both B and I believed that giving her somewhere safe to sleep at night and not have to spend lots of money on motel rooms every night would give her the opportunity to get enough money saved to rent a room. She has done nothing of the sort. Very disappointing.

    Great post, Kathy, thank you for putting this into words.
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  2. Kathy, I stand with you 100% on this. I’ve noticed more and more of the folks who have a hard time, manage to find others who will help them, time after time after time. A hand up is fine, but the continual handouts just make it easy for people not to find a way to help themselves. Thanks for your honest opinion with which I totally agree.

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