Author: Nigel Brunsdon

Vendors and Commercial Interest

Although SSPs order from a wide variety of vendors, the primary harm reduction and safer sex suppliers in the US are: NASEN, Points of Distribution, and Total Access Group. In addition, SSPs use both smaller vendors like Smokeworks, in Boston and  Safety Works, and much larger commercial vendors such as Uline and McKesson.

SSPs looking for insurance might try the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance or Hiscox, one of the largest business insurers in the world.

Workforce and Peer Development

There are a number of articles on the efficacy of peer health educators here, here, and here. The UN has used peer networks to reduce drug use effectively, as outlined here. In addition to these papers and tools, support for peer to peer positive health outcomes are being studied around the world for a variety of health issues from drug use to diabetes; information from many of these studies can be found in the incredible treasure trove at the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health Peers for Progress project who have published a number of important studies and toolkits.

In addition, the Open Society Foundation has published Harm Reduction at Work which tackles many of the issues involved in hiring people who use drugs. The National Harm Reduction Coalition has a toolkit for Peer Delivered SSP and SAMHSA, in addition to many other useful free publications, has a guide for peers in recovery.

In addition to these resources it is important to find user/peer run organizations like the Urban Survivors Union, San Francisco Drug User’s Union, and the Sex Workers Outreach Project.

For general information on being an employer you might also check out the SBA’s website here.  

If you need help with training, NHRC can help, as can NASTAD. As can a variety of harm reduction consultants like Balanced Imperfection and Partners in the Work

If you need materials for trainings the CDC has many links to accredited training centers

Public Health, Data and Reporting

For all things public health, one of the best places to start is the American Public Health Association which is a professional organization for people working in public health. Its website hosts a great deal of information from around the public health world. Other useful resources are data–. Because peer-reviewed data are best, work with your local reference librarian and check out the National Center for Biotechnology Information and this great article on where to find full text articles.

For evaluation specifically, the CDC: in addition to its massive files on every public health concern and its timely free MMWR, the CDC offers a great, free, self-paced resource on evaluation in public health that you can find here.  In addition, some of the resources listed above, especially the The Community Toolbox have more information on creating useful evaluations.

If you’re interested in creating your own evaluation or monitoring tools and don’t want the hassle of data entry try Google Forms, which is free, or SurveyMonkey, which is a subscription service that offers more robust features and support than the free Forms. Both can be used on tablets or phones for easy data collection in the field.

Advocacy and Organizing

There are many different resources on community organizing. Here is an article from The Forge, and here are a variety of tools and case studies on community organizing from Racial Equity Tools, whose mission is to support individuals and groups working to achieve racial equity. Here is a document on the basics of community organizing from The Neighborhood Leadership Institute of Cleveland.

For advocacy, start with these great suggestions from the American Public Health Association, who has an entire section dedicated to advocacy in public health. Here is a great document from Alberta Health Services; not all of the information will be completely relevant because it is a Canadian publication but many of its insights are universal.

Leadership Development

Some places to go for insights into leadership in harm reduction or harm reduction-adjacent work include:

The Dare to Lead Hub, the hub of social work researcher and storyteller Brené Brown’s extensive research on effective leadership.

The Non-Profit Leadership Center offers low-cost training and other programs focused primarily on traditional non-profits.

Here is a concise rundown on what research shows are the most common kinds of leadership.

Here is an article from the Stanford School of Innovation statistically breaking down the importance of leadership development.

Whole books are available on the topic and some of them, including the Jossey Bass Handbook of Non-Profit Leadership and Management, are available for free.

There are also general leadership training opportunities, such as Rockwood Leadership Institute, to explore.

If you want more information on time management, check out this great article from Princeton. You can read more about the Pomodoro Method here. If you want to know more about Stephen Covey’s time management matrix check out this page.

Finally – the Positive Psychology Center and Positive Psychology have great articles, exercises, and information on positive psychology to help build your emotional resilience and help develop your boundaries along the way.


For cooperatives and those looking for non-hierarchical models of governance, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives sponsors The Democracy at Work Institute which is focused on developing and supporting the development of worker cooperatives, especially those by and for marginalized communities. They offer a resource library of materials for democratically-led workplaces including information on governance and converting to a cooperative structure.

In addition, the California Center for Cooperative Development offers information on a variety of different kinds of co-ops including consumer, worker, and agricultural co-ops. LA’s Co-Op Lab is another great resource for helping grow cooperative ventures.

Consumer co-ops are another potential model for harm reduction organizations interested in democratically running their organizations and the Consumer Federation of America offers extensive information and advice on consumer cooperatives.

Two co-ops specialize in training and have extensive resources on their websites. The first is AORTA, based in the US, which provides anti-oppression training and maintains an extensive library of resources related to a variety of governance or organizational design issues. The other is Seeds for Change, based in the UK, which provides cooperative education and facilitation and offers resources related to decision making and facilitation in democratically led organizations.

Harm Reduction and SSP Related

When gathering resources on SSP program planning, design, and implementation, the foremost resource to review is the CDC-funded and endorsed Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) Technical Package on SSP design planning am implementation created by NASTAD, in collaboration with CDC and harm reduction partners. One of the best maintained and most robust resources available for resources specific to harm reduction and syringe service programs is the Oregon Health Authority, which maintains an expanding database of existing resources for syringe service organizations as well as their own downloadable SSP Planning and Resource Manual, which includes technical information for starting a syringe access program in Oregon.

Several state and city health departments (including Kentucky, New York, California, Utah, North Dakota, and the San Francisco Department of Public Health HIV Prevention Section) have produced SSP policy manuals. Of these, the NY state manual is one of the most useful for existing organizations, as the others tend to focus exclusively on starting an SSP, getting community buy-in, or local and state policies related to syringe access – not organizational or structural issues.

The national Harm Reduction Coalition also maintains various resources for harm reduction service providers, especially syringe access services including resources on engaging peers. The CDC and the World Health Organization have an international Guide to Starting and Managing Needle and Syringe Programmes as well as other technical assistance documents. And of course NASTAD itself has a growing body of documentation for syringe service programs.

For the purposes of expanding access to networks and information, another core resource that leaders should know about is the HarmRed list, which is the original listserv for American harm reduction. It is still quite active and a useful place to ask questions. In addition, many states, such as California, have statewide listservs.


To find out more about important privacy and other rights around technology check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Every independent nonprofit should also know about Tech Soup, which offers steep discounts on both hardware and software to independent nonprofits.

A lot of SSPs use Google Workspace to manage their files, email, and a number of other services. Independent nonprofits are also eligible for steep discounts on Workspace. Another source for electronic file storage is Dropbox, which some people value because it is more secure than Workspace. If you are keeping any records that need to be compliant with HIPPA standards, make sure that your file storage service has adequate safeguards.

Another great tech resource is Nonprofit Tech for Good which offers a variety of free webinars and other information that nonprofits will find helpful.

Finally, Nolo Press offers carefully vetted legal information and software including a suite of products for nonprofit organizations.

Finances and Fundraising

In terms of fundraising for nonprofits, most of the general nonprofit resources above have lots of information about finding and securing funds. But if you are looking for private funding there is no more important resource than Candid’s Foundation Directory. The directory includes a massive index of nearly all private funding institutions in the US. To access the directory, you must either pay for membership or access it through a library.

For federal government funds, the best source is the aptly named which is a clearinghouse for thousands of US government grants and RFPs, as well as information on how to apply. Keep track of what funding is available from your state through departments concerned with public and behavioral health or other social services.

If you just want to learn more about the study of fundraising, here is a great overview from Ashley Whillans at the University of British Columbia. Here is a blog post from 501Commons that shares many fundraising resources including books, strategies, and tools, and here is another from Global Giving that runs down some of the most important fundraising tools for nonprofits.

It would be a serious omission not to mention two of the oldest supporters of harm reduction work- both the Comer Family Foundation which was the very first private foundation to take a chance on harm reduction direct services and the AIDS United harm reduction initiative.

If you are looking to develop or manage your conversations with donors, check out Mailchimp, which helps you design and manage email interactions. There are also multiple services that will help you with donor management and development including the nonprofit services of Salesforce and Network for Good. You might also consider Donor Box as an alternative to PayPal or other services for collecting donations, especially recurring ones on your website; they work exclusively with NPOs and their fees are significantly lower than other services. In addition, Hootesuite, which allows users to manage their entire social media presence at one site as well as automate certain aspects of that presence at a discount through their Hootegiving program

In terms of financial software, the biggest platform in the world is Intuit’s Quickbooks. Quicksbooks is offered as both a desktop and online version. Of the two, the online version, a subscription service, has more robust support. Intuit has grown their market share in large part by offering a lot of training and support to make it easier to use their software. They run a payroll service which will file your payroll paperwork and taxes for you and even offer monthly bookkeeping services for a fee.

Another great option for payroll is Gusto, which includes payroll services but supports a suite of other employee benefits such as insurance and savings plans.

Non-Profit and Board Development

The Community Toolbox is “…a free, online resource for those working to build healthier communities and bring about social change.” It is sponsored by the University of Kansas. The Toolbox is an amazing resource and offers a broad array of evidence-based tools on a variety of issues related to nonprofit management including strategic planning, program design, fundraising, and evaluation.

The DIY Toolkit, sponsored by the UK’s Nesta, is a wealth of evidence-based documentation and tool sets that can help organizations with essential tasks such as strategic planning, SWOT analysis, value mapping, and more.

The National Council of Nonprofits keeps an online database of information and analysis useful for traditional nonprofit organizations on issues such as governance, leadership, personnel issues, ethics, and more.

Issue Lab by Candid, formerly the Foundation Center and Guidestar, has an exhaustive array of documentation on nonprofit basics, such as organizational design and governance from many different organizations. It includes hundreds of documents on harm reduction. The Foundation Center Library (under the new name Foundation Directory) and the original Guidestar (which accredits non-profits and helps motivated donors find new causes) still exist.

Non-Profit Quarterly is a venerable institution in the nonprofit sector and has the objective of providing credible, research-based articles for nonprofits about nonprofit management and governance.

Non-Profit AF offers a humorous, down-to-earth, mildly irreverent perspective on all things NPO related. The Center for Nonprofit Excellence is an other excellent resource for learning about traditional nonprofits.

Global Giving is an international nonprofit that allows crowd sourcing of socially beneficially projects around the world. They also maintain a library of information and tools for nonprofits to help with planning, fundraising and engagement.

The Free Management Center offers a broad array of information and resources on organizational development and planning.

501 Commons is a hub for non-profit information including organizational development and fundraising.

Interestingly enough, the National Forest Foundation maintains a large library of “Collaboration Resources” which include documentation on organizational development and strategic planning.

The recently published Ready4Change guide, a collaboration of The Comer Family Foundation, AIDS United’s harm reduction funding initiative and Balanced Imperfection, offers insights specific to syringe service providers on leadership transitions.

Finally, Board Source is aimed at boards and board development; it tends to focus on issues faced by larger organizations.


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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