A Win-Win Solution for Panhandling

Posted on September 22, 2016

Put Your Change to Work

Panhandling is not the answer. Give where it counts.


For the past six months the City has been working with Downtown Streets Team, as well as community members Paula Doubleday, Diane Doubleday, Carol Thompson, Kelly London, and Rich Goldstein, on a creative way to address panhandling.  When we first set out, we landed on a simple but critical insight – people panhandle because people give money, and people give money because they want to help those in need.  Thus was born the “Put Your Change to Work” Campaign.  And more so than we ever imagined, this initiative is proving to be a major win-win for the community:

  • People who want to help those in need now have a very visible and easy way to contribute.
  • Panhandling is discouraged, thus helping residents and businesses who have been negatively impacted by it.
  • People who need help can seek assistance from Downtown Streets Team.
  • Through sponsorships, Downtown Streets Team is becoming more financially self-sufficient, thus freeing up funding currently provided by City of San Rafael taxpayers.

Learn More


Fortunately this week there has been some incredible media coverage for this campaign.  ABC, CBS, and Fox all ran stories on the evening or morning news, and the Marin Independent Journal did a front-page story.  Please click on the pictures below to check out some of the video segments:

abc news segment


cbs news segment


Frequently Asked Questions


Where does my donation go?

All proceeds go to supporting positions on the Downtown Streets Team.

What should I do if I see someone panhandling?

Rather than providing money or food, you can always make eye contact and say hello to someone in need.  If someone does need emergency services like food, St. Vincent’s is open for breakfast, lunch, and to-go meals 365 days a year.

Where are the meters?

The first group of 10 meters will be installed along Fourth Street.  Over time, we hope to install more meters throughout the City.  We also plan to install signage in additional hot spots.

Are these replacing parking meters?

The company that provides the City with parking meters has donated meters to be retrofitted for this program.  The meters will be installed on the sidewalks.  They are not replacing current parking meters.

How do I learn more or sponsor a meter?

Please visit www.putyourchangetowork.org or email Logan McDonnell at Logan@streetsteam.org

How do I support this campaign? 

  1. Whether it’s this campaign or supporting another one of our local providers like St. Vincent’s, Ritter, Community Action Marin, REST, the Interfaith Chaplaincy, or Homeward Bound, there are better ways to give than giving on the street.  Find an organization with a mission you believe in, and support them.


  1. Please help spread the word about this effort (on Nextdoor, on Facebook, during conversations with friends, family, or neighbors)


  1. Come to our kick-off event on Thursday, September 29th in the Downtown Plaza!


Come to unveiling on Thursday September 29th at 10am in the Plaza

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