Hacks for SSP Fundraising

Government Contracts and Grants

Government contracts and grants use federal or state tax dollars to contract with an agency to provide services. The difference between government contracts and grants is that a contract is a legally binding document in which the parties make promises to deliver a product or service in exchange for funding; a grant is when one party grants funds to another party to do something, in reasonable hopes that the task can be accomplished. Contracts are usually made for services that have been tested and shown to work, while grants are usually reserved for research into what might work.

Government funding usually comes from one of four sources – federal direct, federal “pass-through”, state, and local. Historically, federal direct funding has been the most fruitful for syringe access programs. Due to the federal ban on direct funding for syringe access, those dollars have usually been for adjunct services or, in the case of federal grants, research. So-called “pass through” funding is federal funding that is first given to state agencies. This has often meant that even if pass-through dollars could have been used for harm reduction, states with legislatures hostile to harm reduction may have not allocated them to harm reduction.

Federal funding has primarily come to harm reduction through departments concerned with public or behavioral health. These departments include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).

State funding has come primarily through departments of public or behavioral health, particularly branches tied to infectious disease control.

Local government funding, especially in larger cities or those open to harm reduction, has also helped fund harm reduction organizations and SSPs.

More Resources

Don’t reinvent the wheel
During our development Harm Reduction Hacks have collected together a large number of resources from around the web you can find these in our resource folder in Google Docs. We are also always looking for more so help us by suggesting any resources we may have missed.
Suggest a Resource

External Resources

Collected from around the web
There are a number of external resources that contributed to the development of Harm Reduction Hacks. Here are a selection relating to this section:


The hacks on this site are shared with you under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International licence. This allows you (with attribution) to adapt content for your own use, although we do ask you to then also allow others to have equal access to anything you develop. More details of this licence can be found on the Creative Commons website.


We do not claim that this is an exhaustive set of strategies, shortcuts, or tips for running an SSP. What we do suggest is that Harm Reduction Hacks offers down-to-earth, practical information for being a better leader, starting and running an SSP, and providing syringe access services. We feel we can say this with confidence because the Hacks are based on interviews with, and the experiences of, literally generations of people who have been doing harm reduction work.

Please note that nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice. Please consult an attorney local to your area to ensure your program is in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations that apply to your situation. 

Harm Reduction Hacks site design and implimentation by Nigel Brunsdon

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