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Pathways to Housing goes mobile to raise funds for homeless

March 11, 2010

pathways-housing-11Pathways to Housing released an interactive virtual demonstration to engage the public with the homeless and ultimately drive donations.

Sarkissian Mason, a digital invention agency, came up with the concept after relaunching Pathways to Housing’s Web site. The company also claims that it noticed the growing trend of charitable giving via mobile text codes.

“The strategy behind the interactive video was to use cutting edge technology to have the public engage with the homeless by giving viewers the opportunity to interact with someone on the street,” said Claudia Dymond, development and external affairs manager at Pathways to Housing, New York.

“The target demographic was younger people who have dexterity with communicating via their phones,” she said. “For whom a $5 donation would not be a burden, and who may not be familiar with Pathways as an innovative solution to solving homelessness.”

Pathways to Housing claims that it is the originator of the Housing First model of addressing homelessness among people with psychiatric disabilities. The company provides housing and supportive treatment services.

Here is an image of the virtual demonstration:


Mobile donation
Pedestrians in downtown Manhattan can see a video projection of a homeless man on the street, asleep, but shivering.

There is a call to action to remove the virtual person on the projection where consumers can send a code via text message.

When a user interacts with their phone, hidden software activates a separate video loop that causes a door to appear in the wall, through which the homeless person enters into a new home.

A text message is then sent to the user’s handset with a code to donate to Pathways to Housing.

“Unlike our Web site, this video seeks an immediate response from the viewer putting the image of the homeless man together with Pathways to Housing,” Ms. Dymond said.

Here is another image of the virtual demonstration:


Virtual project
The virtual demonstrations will be projected on the sides of buildings in March in several downtown locations.

Pathways to Housing claims that it is easier to solicit funds through mobile codes, but the lower cost per donation has made giving more mainstream.

Users can text HOME to short code 56512 to donate $5.

“We have contracted with a mobile giving company, who tracks the donations,” Ms. Dymond said. “The donations are not received until after the donor pays his or her phone bill, then the mobile carrier pays the mobile giving company, who writes Pathways a check. 

“These donations are used to support Pathways’ work in providing housing and supportive services to the chronically homeless,” she said. 

Here is another image of the virtual demonstration:


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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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