Hacks for SSP Fundraising

This section has 10 hacks in it.
“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
Maya Angelou
For good or ill, money is essential to every SSP – to buy the supplies and pay the people necessary for services to happen. This section examines some of the basics of fundraising and is especially focused on smaller SSPs. Because there are so many resources in the non-profit and harm reduction technical assistance (TA) sector focused on fundraising, this section is just an introduction. Many people in the nonprofit sector have invested in researching what increases fundraising success and you are encouraged to learn more from resources that are relevant to your organization. This section shares advice about raising funds for harm reduction work from the harm reduction leaders who were interviewed.

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 drug users 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.

Best Practices for Fundraising in Harm Reduction

Start with a plan – your fundraising plan should be a part of your strategic planning process and should include SMART(IE) goals.

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.

Foundation Grants

Foundations are private funds established by either community groups or, more commonly, private individuals, families, corporations and/or community groups. Foundations often start with a large sum of money called an “endowment”. The endowment acts as the seed capital for investments and grants mostly come from the interest on those investments.

Individual Donors

Although a great deal of nonprofit funding comes from goods, services, and government sources, individuals are the greatest source of contributions to nonprofits, making up 69-80% of donations received.

Goods and Services

Nonprofit organizations are legally able to start and run for-profit businesses – selling both goods and services, as long as those businesses do not overtake the organization’s mission.

Corporate Gifts

A final category of funding available to SSPs are corporate gifts. There are many kinds of corporate giving including: Grants, community grants, sponsorship…

Researching Funding Opportunities

Because foundation grants and government awards are the largest sources of income for SSPs, it is vital that every SSP knows about the two best places to research them.

Tips for Writing Grants, Requests and Requests for Proposals

Here are some of the best practice tips from harm reduction and other nonprofit leaders on how to write grant proposals and other funding requests.

Tips for Creating Budgets for Grants and Requests

One of the biggest mistakes harm reduction organizations make in applications for funding is that their proposals contain common budgeting errors.

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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