Hacks for SSP Fundraising

Fundraising for Harm Reduction

Over the years, harm reductionists have used a variety of strategies to fund their services. Because of the stigma related to people who use drugs and the mythologies that have arisen around drug use, harm reduction was seen as “enabling” problematic behavior at a time when much of the world was still trying to fix problematic drug use by criminalizing it.

As a result, in the beginning, harm reduction was so controversial that only a small handful of foundations or other funders would consider funding harm reduction services – and almost no one would give direct funds for purchasing syringes or other injection supplies. Instead, harm reduction programs received funding for adjunct services, research, HIV and HCV testing, or other services and then funneled as many unrestricted dollars as possible into supply budgets. Another strategy was to enter into mutual aid relationships with clinics, hospitals, or other health care providers who shared syringes and supplies, sometimes clandestinely.

This history has meant that harm reduction programs usually focus their fundraising efforts on just two major sources: foundation grants and government contracts. This is not the norm in the nonprofit sector. On average, nonprofits generally receive about 53% of their income in revenue from goods and services they provide to private entities, and slightly over 70% of all donations to nonprofits are from individuals. By contrast, harm reduction organizations normally report only a fraction of their income from these two sources.

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.
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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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