Why I Don’t Have a ‘Donate’ Button

Why I Don't Have a Donate Button

image credit: Green Grid

So, whenever the blog gets in the news (as it has a couple times over the past couple weeks, due to the book publicity), I get a lot of emails from people offering to send me money, or asking why I don’t have a “donate” button.

So here’s the thing:  I’m not an e-panhandler.  I’ve never had a donation button and never will.  I don’t judge those who do panhandle or feel like they need to ask for money.  There are a lot of people worse off than me, as I have always said, and they need help more.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a personal decision.  But I’m doing OK.  Not completely where I want to be yet, but things are looking up and have been for some time and getting steadily better.  I have a job I love and a place to stay (which I am grateful for) that is, if somewhat legally tenuous, accommodating and far better than a homeless person staying on the streets or in a vehicle.

I’ve always said, while I and several other “mobile homeless” might be able to bootstrap it, many can’t.  They should be first in line for aid.

So please, if you feel compelled to give, give to your favorite homeless charity.  Or donate your time as a volunteer to a soup kitchen or shelter.  Donate your old clothes, or diapers, or food, or any other number of things which programs for the homeless and poverty-stricken are in desperate need of.  If you need a list of homeless organizations, I can let you know some of my favorites – you need only ask.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m one of the co-founders of World Homeless Action Day, which launched last year and had participants and events in over 100 countries.  My co-founder Jon Glackin and I do not get paid for this, nor do we request donations made out to the World Homeless Action Movement.  Dealing with money makes us both uncomfortable; we prefer to remain transparent and not be able to be accused of misappropriating any funds or using them for ourselves.  We’ve both agreed that refusing to accept/handle funds minimizes the likelihood of being falsely accused of fraud, manipulation, or deceit.  We’d rather money go directly to those on the street, who need it most.

So there you are; if you want to give, please give directly to the organization/charity of your choice (and I would definitely say to research their business practices and reputation to make sure that you feel you are giving to an organization whose tactics, ethics, and goals you are comfortable with).  Or even just buy a homeless person a sandwich if you’re moved to.  Every little bit helps.  WHAM’s job is to raise awareness and get participants involved all over the globe, to get you thinking of homeless people as REAL PEOPLE, and interested in their faces and stories, which vary with each homeless person.

If you *really really really* feel like you want to “donate” to me, buy a copy of the book or hire me for a public speaking engagement or something, if you’d like.  At least then I’ll feel like I’ve given you something in exchange – I’ve put nearly two years of hard work into that book, besides working temp and my 9-5 job.  So that way I can feel like I’ve at least earned your generosity.  I do NOT want any money or other compensation sent directly to me.  Some people think that’s cool, some people call me a dumbass for it and say I should take the money because it could help me, but it’s my own personal feelings about e-panhandling, and has been since the beginning, when I was anonymous.  I’m a huge fan of earning my keep.

Thanks for being awesome people and wanting to make a difference.  I hope you’re all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend!!!  :)



  1. Amen.

  2. Brianna…
    Thanx for the last two messages you posted, Because of your inspiration I have tried to take a step back and reassess any situation that could have changed my employment status or my living arrangment, before taking any action.
    Before I quit drinking my attitude was totally selfish, and I got tossed out of the house because of it, I had to live in a park with a couple of golf courses, I didn’t lose my job and I didn’t share my predicament with any coworkers for over 2 years afterward before reading your blog ( I started when you were dealing with Wal-Mart when they towed your trailer) now I have a little over 6 years clean and sober, and realize that I could be tiny butterfly affect from becoming homeless again and with the economy the way it is becoming unemployed is a real danger. Every day I think that no matter how bad i gets drinking will not solve anything, that’s my 1st defense, trying to save a couple of dollars is my 2nd,and maintaining a positive attitude is my 3rd,and along the way your story and advice has helped me…and for that I thank you.

    • Brianna says:

      Hi Chuck,

      I’m so glad that things are improving for you, and that you’ve been sober for 6 years – congratulations!!! That’s quite an accomplishment. I’m truly pleased and honored that the blog has inspired you even a little, though of course I think you should give credit to yourself most of all for putting all of that hard work and effort into improving things for yourself.

      I am so happy for you and will keep my fingers crossed that things stay on an up-and-up path!


      • brianna
        hi. i just read your book and i am 12 years old. i thought it was an incredible story. best of wishes to you(:i just know your life will end up the way you want it to one day. youre like a teenager just gettin outta the house. youre still working on moving up(; keep your head held high and NEVER give up.
        love, emma

        • @ Emma, I just had to comment on your post. It might be helpful to know (as a 12 year old) that life tends to be a giant roller coaster ride – filled w/ ups & downs. As you know from reading Brianna’s book, she was financially successful before the recession hit. In fact, one’s social status does not define their success as a human being. Our Capitalistic society is quite skewed on that front.

          Your mention of “keep your head held high” certainly speaks to the issue of the stigma associated with experiencing homelessness, as it assumes that one has something to feel ashamed of. Interesting, don’t you think that, as a society, we should be ashamed of allowing people to be un-housed? – Especially, when it comes to children; the elderly; and those with physical & mental disabilities?

          Blessings along the journey, Emma. I hope that you will grow up to be an activist!

          Rev. Cynthia

          • Hi Cynthia may u please break tht down for me because as I said before, I am 12(: haha

            • Hi Emma~
              Are you writing in from the USA or elsewhere? I know that a few international teachers have their students following this blog.

              As a former high school teacher (Art & English as a Second Language), I intentionally did not “dummy down” what I originally wrote to you, having the faith that you could look up any words or concepts you may not understand.

              I vividly remember being 12 years old, because that was the year my mother died. As a result, I have a lot of respect for the thoughts of a 12 year old.

              Please feel free to ask me whatever questions you may have about what I said. I’m sure you understood part of it, so just let me know what needs clarification. I’m happy to oblige.

              Blessings along the journey, Emma.

              Reverend Cynthia (PS, I have a question for you, “Why did you address me as ‘Cynthia’?” FYI, I’m old enough to be your grandmother).

              • hi
                it says ur name is cynthia. i do not know what a capitalistic society is. im sorry im good in school but not in stuff like that, ha.

                • oh im in the usa

                • Hi Emma~
                  You do appear to be very intelligent. Because you have a long education ahead of you, be sure you learn how to research things that you do not understand. This is much easier now that we have such wonderful technology.

                  Of course, you can Google “Capitalistic Society,” which I urge you to do. What I was specifically referencing was that USA society (& many others) are focused on money as the measure of one’s success, when in fact there are many other ways to measure success.

                  As for addressing one’s elders, it is more respectful to use Mr./Ms./Mrs./Dr./Rev. – whatever their title is (mine is clearly listed here as Rev./Reverend). So, unless an adult specifically says to you, “Please call me by my first name,” at the risk of offending them, I’d suggest you stick w/ protocol.

                  What are your plans for your future, Emma?

                  Blessings along your journey,
                  Rev. Cynthia

                  • dear rev.cynthia(im sorry about not calling you that earlier),
                    thank you for answering my question. i do agree that our society does need to treat everyone equally.”for liberty and justice for all” in my opinion should be looked over again because its not true. what i really want to do with my life”thinking” is well maybe a singer or a lawer (and dead serious) the president of the united states(: of course im going to start at the bottom like everyone else, but with hard work and determination i hope to fufill one of my top three career choices.

                    Love, Emma(:

  3. I’m really gonna have to pick up your book. You seem like an amazing person and almost most too good to be true :-) Good luck in everything you do and I’ll continue to read these great posts of yours.

    • Brianna says:

      That’s very kind of you. I assure you, I have many faults and have made many many many mistakes, but I try to be honest and open about them in the book.

      Thank you again and I hope you enjoy the book :)

  4. You’re attitude is so admirable and rare today, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Thank you!

  5. Somehow the fact you don’t wish to take help from those that offer it is even more admirable. You are living by your morals and standards which is inspiring to say the least!!!

    Thank you for taking the time to make a difference for those around you…even while you still aren’t where you would like to be yet. I hope you get to your goal soon. :)

    Might I just say that I understand the frustrations regarding people and their naive/ignorant beliefs about “real” homeless people. My family and I have not had a home of our own since the recession. But we know so many people have it worse. I know what it means to go to bed hungry in order to feed my son. I know what it means to not have health insurance. I know what its like to choose between paying for gas or paying for food…christ….for paying for BILLS instead of food. I know what its like to spend every day looking for work and always coming up empty. Having people say “you need a job” and not understand how much work I’m putting in to get just that. I know what its like to have a simple thing for comfort like a laptop for my writing (which I got before the recession) and have others tell me I don’t deserve that comfort….

    But God I know it could be so much worse. Thank you for educating those on homelessness. Thank you for reminding me I have things to be grateful for.

    Bri…will there be a Book II? Have you thought to continue with writing? I really enjoy your voice and can say if I see anything else on the shelf by you I’d read it!

  6. shygirl says:

    i admire that you dont take advantage of all these donations they offer. i know that earning it yourself is more meaningful at the end. if people would donate to causes they can help more people and not just one person.

  7. Great post! PS: it makes me very happy that your organization is called WHAM, George Micheal should get in on this:)

  8. Johanna B says:

    Once a month or so I round up all my coupons for personal care items, match them up with sales all over town, run around having a great time finding items for as cheaply as I can and I then donate them to our local shelter. I’ve not been homeless but I’ve lived in a half-way house and I know how much folks need those personal care type things. It’s not much but I feel like at least I’m doing something. I remember how it felt on the days when folks who could dropped off items. It was like Christmas morning for us. Thanks for your blog.

  9. Lots of people make simple things falsely complex, but you’ve just made a complex thing simple. I love that.
    I also happen to agree 100% with your reasoning. I’ve never been homeless, but I have take in & helped people who are.~Mary

  10. As a single mom money is not usually something I have in excess but my daughter and I do drive around on hot days passing out bottled water to panhandlers. In the winter we do hot chocolate.

  11. I just downloaded your book on to my Nook last night and I am SO excited to read it! I work with the homeless population in Baltimore and I can’t wait to share your story with them! Thanks for sharing your story with us!

  12. I wish I could BUY your book right now. I am just amazed by what I read about/from you. I, somehow, wish you would take donations from those who have (an excess income…) but then I can also relate to your reasoning. Sending love, health, properity…and anything that your wonderful heart desires.

  13. I’m in NY and I just saw your book link on my LA cousin’s Facebook Page. I have a 68 year old classmate who went with me to an exclusive private High School here in New York. While working on our 50 th reunion, I discovered him homeless in Palo Alto, living sometimes in his car and sometimes in a shelter. I am going to email him a link to your blog. Maybe he will become inspired

  14. Liz Cook says:

    Hello Brianna! I read a review of your book last week in a magazine and bought it immediately when I found it on the shelf at Wal-Mart. (Now that’s Karma!)

    Please add me to the growing list of those who couldn’t put it down. Besides the fact your life story is gripping, you are a fantastic writer. It was a terrific read!

    I live in a small city and work for a nonprofit. There are all kinds of stereotypes associated with homelessness, poverty and victims of abuse. Some come from ignorance and others fear. Your book will go a long way in creating awareness about the realities of homelessness in this wealthy nation of ours. I will tell everyone I can to read it!

    I am so inspired by the strength of your spirit and ability to make peace with your childhood. No one would blame you if the tragedies of your childhood left you disabled. Somehow you understood the awful things that happened weren’t caused by you. Your hope seems intact–even in sub-zero temperatures. That’s unusual and what will be inspiring to many.

    I hope you will consider a follow-up to this book. You have a lot to say and there are many of us who are rooting for you. I think you already know it but do keep giving love a chance. It will find you if it hasn’t already.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  15. Bri,

    I have to say, as strong and admirable as your attitude is, I think you might be (unconsciously) undervaluing people a little bit. Granted I get the wanting to be independent thing (if that’s what it is), but all the same, if someone desperately wanted to help me out and i was in a bad way, i like to think i’d accept, so…..

    Or maybe I wouldn’t. Who knows. All I’m saying is, if things get really bad, you should maybe at least consider their offers, if nothing else.


    • Yeah Brent – we must not create a negative stigma around receiving financial assistance. Many people who need help don’t ask because of this idea that somehow they are a lesser person for needing financial help – or fear they will be perceived as such. Brianna is an exceptionally resourceful and independent girl but many don’t have these qualities and the last thing we want is for others to feel “inferior” cause they don’t make the grade.

      • Hi Tina and Brent,

        I completely agree with you. I definitely don’t want there to be a stigma about people asking for help when they need it, which is why I make it a point to stress that I don’t judge panhandlers – whether online or on the sidewalk (I even often give them a few dollars, when I can manage it).

        It’s just really important to me to remember that there are many worse off than me who need the help more, and I don’t want to sap any resources that could be going to them. I am super grateful for the kindness and concern of so many strangers, though!


  16. JeninWA says:

    I know I was brought here for a reason. Two days ago, I told me friend D who is dying in a hellhole of a nursing facility that she needed to add a donate button to her website so she could raise enough funds to get into a better facility that will help her get back into her home and die on her own terms. Yesterday, a different friend posted on her facebook page about this incredible book she had just started reading. That led me here, and lo and behold, the first post was titled “Why I don’t have a donate button”. I immediately sat down and read your entire blog from beginning to end, then bought your book. D is an accomplished author who has written four books, had a home, money, and a family; but cancer and no health insurance took everything. She lived in her car and on friends’ couches in SoCal for a year. After 5 years of being cancer-free, sixty days ago she was told she had 60 days to live. While her life is very different than yours, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities. So, I don’t know why I’m here yet, but I intend to stay a while. You are a talented, gifted writer, and I see big things for you.

  17. A few weeks ago, while looking for a good gripping read at wal-mart, i spied your book… unbeleivable, relatable, shocking, tantalizing and a little mind numbing. I’ve been telling people its not just about homelssness but also the JW cult and mental illness and of course so much more. I finished it in less than 3 days. I was absolutly glued to it for hours at a time. How i wished to savor it longer but i could’nt put it down. This was an absolutly wonderful read, totally what i needed.( I’m a big reader, i really relate to someone who even when homeless she still has her boxes of books) Some of my favorite books are memoirs and Bri your book is going in that pile. As much as i enjoyed the rollercoaster of your book it is ulltimatly your life and i feel great sympathy for you but also great admiration for your tenacity and hard work. I’ve been lucky to have never been homeless but i’ve had strange living circumstances and i’m not stranger to living pay check to pay check. Life is stressful.
    I admire your goal of “putting a face on homelessness”. I always give when/ what i can to the homeless in my city but your book reminds to think of the person not just their circumstances. For me personaly i feel inspired to better use the resoures avalible to me. Oh btw i’m not much of a internet/ computer person so it was very interesting experiencing that “world” thru your eyes. I’m only a few years older than you and i have a laptop but with few exceptions i don’t spend much time on the internet. Your story reminded me of what a great resource the internet is and how i take it for granted. As soon as i finished your book i wanted to talk to you and how great it was to realize i could find you easily with just a few taps on the keyboard. Of course now i realize you are very busy with everything and that I’m not the only one blown away by your book. You go girl! I’m happy for you. (how strange it must be for strangers to be sending you good wishes). I can only imagine how surreal this must feel for you.
    As soon as i had the oppertunity i gave your book to my friend and she just finished it. I live in the SF bay area and once i saw that you have an apperance at Book Passage in SF I invited her to come with me to see you. So we will see you then (I’m Amber she’s Kat) I can’t wait!
    I only hope that you have oppertunity to read this, i don’t expect you to have time to respone. I did want recommend a book: The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber. 800 page Victorian novel with a modern edge. I hope enjoy!
    Good luck in all you do!
    P.S. sorry about your car that sucks!

    • Brianna says:

      Hi Amber,

      Thank you so much; I’m really glad you enjoyed it and look forward to meeting you and your friend at Book Passage next week :)

      I adore “The Crimson Petal and the White”, by the way. I really loved how dark and gritty it was and how it didn’t romanticize or glamorize Victorian London. Have you seen the recent BBC adaptation yet with Romola Garai? It was very faithful to the book!


  18. You need to KEEP WRITING!!!!!!!!!! What a great new voice you are!! I’m just sorry you can’t do it full time yet and understand about real life. Absolutely loved the book and am angry you had to go thru so much heartache, honey. Again, do NOT put down your pen!!

  19. Bethany says:


    I’ve been reading your book, and although I’m not done yet, I’ve skipped around a bit and also found your blog. I have a few questions that I’m hoping somewhere you either have, or will clarify. It kind of goes with this post, because you’re talking about earning your own way without donations.

    Are you now in a regular house? If not, could you please speak about the difficulty or challenges of moving from a trailer to a more permanent residence? I know you’re working, so is the working wage just too low for working homeless individuals to get back into a more stable environment?

    Also, you state that your situation is far better than many other homeless individuals who maybe don’t have a trailer or the education to survive as well. If you have a trailer, isn’t that a form of a house? What is the definition of homelessness? I’d guess that a trailer, even without running water or electricity is still equal in stability as some residences in 3rd world or developing countries. I’m not trying to make light of your situation, you obviously had an experience that was/is challenging.

    Finally, was there any time that you had zero income, either through unemployment benefits, work, or savings?

    It seems like you were pretty savy. You managed to find a stable place to live before things got unfixable. Others might not have made the same choices and I wonder what other paths you might have taken.

  20. For those of you wishing to get involved with the “World Homeless Action Day” that Bri co-founded, check it out @ http://www.worldhomelessactionday.org International events are held globally on 10/10 to raise awareness of homeless issues.

    Continued blessings along your journey, Bri!

    Rev. Cynthia

  21. I intentionally purchased the hardcover copy of your book instead of DL-ing, etc. so that I could hopefully in a very small way help you on your neverending journey as a strong, independant, intelligent business woman. I myself loved your book, partially because you challenge your readers to broaden their thinking and awareness of their own judgements (even if they only enter for a nanosecond like you described in your book)…. I think that is a beautiful thing and I hope one day I too will be able to actually write a whole book and not just newspaper columns and blog posts.
    I struggled with a devistating heroin and alcohol addiction for seven years before getting clean in 2009 and rebuilding my life. When I got a job and then lot it, I created my own and now am starting to slowly but surely gain clients and readers for my blog. I admire what you’ve done. I personally experienced homelessness for a few days- nothing like what you’ve experienced… but it was difficult and sobering as I was in my car in Chicago’s winter (with a window missing) and freezing and going through cycles of withdrawl from drugs and elaborate adventures to find money to get high. It made me realize I needed to get clean and was a desperate bottom for me. I admire your strength, beauty, tenacity and ability to laugh at yourself… as well as your intelligent views and ability to dispell the myth that homeless are one way or another. It infuriates me to see/read/hear people say that your not homeless….. Its unbelievable. I have a tattoo [you might like this- its a twisted, dark homage to my strict roman catholic upbringing as I am no longer religious but simply spiritual...] and it says: “Dont Shoot
    For all have sinned and come short of the glory of god – romans 3:23″

    to me: don’t judge lest ye be judged; don’t condemn unless you have to walk a mile in MY shoes and I won’t condem YOU.

    I never thought I would end up a drug addict in recovery. I first thought I would be celibate until I was married and prayed each night to my catholic god while attending monday school and church each week. I believed. I figure skated competitively for 15 years- i was a goody goody. Then I was raped of my virginity at 13… my whole family knew as we were on a family vacation. My mother told me, “Thats what you get for dressing the way you do” (so I can most certainly identify with the mom issue!) I was wearing a sweet little white dress she JUST got for me, and it was blood stained now…. and everything changed. I didn’t ask for it, but it confused me and shamed me. It caused me to create a fiscad of who I was and forced me into a world I didn’t know. I slowly entered the drinking and drug world and found myself desperate for death.
    Secondly, once I became an addict, I knew I was but I didn’t think there was a way out. I thought I would just die that way and become nothing more. I felt useless and disrespected so I acted that way. I could go on foreeever but you get the point. Not trying to make a sob story here…. just trying to identify, be real- sometimes that is the greatest gift we humans can give. Anyway, I never thought I would be in recovery- clean and sober, trying to run my own business as a strong, independant woman. You are inspiring and beautiful- don’t ever forget that. Don’t ever let your talents go, don’t let the blindness of others blind you. You are a bright star Brianna. Thank you for sharing your story, thank you for being real.

    You are in my thoughts.

    ps if you ever have time, visit my site. I don;t know if it would appeal to you- its all health and fitness mumbo jumbo, but you’re a good writer and i appreciate any feedback i can get, and of course any viewers i can get too ;)

Speak Your Mind