SafeNight: App That Helps Domestic Violence Nonprofits Crowdsource Funding for Shelter | Beth's Blog

SafeNight: App That Helps Domestic Violence Nonprofits Crowdsource Funding for Shelter

Digital Strategy

Last year there were 6818 requests for shelter from domestic violence victims that went unmet by domestic violence service organizations on a single day in 2012.    SafeNight, a mobile app, wants to change that allowing domestic violence service organizations to crowdsource funding for hotel rooms when there is an urgent need and no available shelter space.    Developed by Caravan Studios, a project developed by TechSoup’s Marnie Webb and funded by Microsoft and others, the app is currently being piloted by domestic violence shelters in four local communities, including Tehama County.

To make the pilot a go,  one last piece is needed -$2,000 to cover the cost of  phone cards.   Today,  Marnie posted an update on her Facebook profile asking for support.  Here’s what she wrote and why I donated:

I know I’ve shared the work we’re doing on SafeNight ( It’s an app that helps fund a hotel room for people leaving violent situations. We’re partnering with great organizations working in the area of domestic violence to pilot, get feedback on and improve the app.

I’ve asked for your help sharing the word before. Now, I’m asking for your help in paying for the phone cards we need to make this pilot go. If you can, please donate in increments of $25 through TechSoup. Just put “SafeNight” in the text box. Your help at this stage of the project will make a huge difference. Thank you.

This is the second example (I’m sure there are more) of a platform or app that helps social service workers and agencies crowdsource micro donations for small expenses that may not typically be covered in an agency’s budget but are critical to providing support to clients.    The other example, is a platform called “Benevolent” that allows social service agencies to launch small crowdsourced campaigns for clients’ one-time needs – a kick starter for social services.    The founder, Megan Kashner, wrote about her platform here.

But there is a bigger idea here.   The SafeNight App is one of the technology solutions that Marnie’s project is working on.  But far more interesting than the technology tools themselves is the process that Caravan Studio uses to develop its technology solution.   They hold the space online for groups of organizations and people to come together to identify community problems.   Using the Mindmixer platform and in person convenings, they listen to ideas, combine them with others, and identify a technology solution to meet the communities needs.  The create several prototypes and work with the community to pick the best solution to develop.  They uphold the mantra – learn fast.   They also develop these ideas with complete transparency and you can see this happening in real-time on the Caravan Studios wiki.   In addition to SafeNight, here’s a few other projects that they’re developing with a community.

SafeNight is being supported by Microsoft Citizenship as part of its TechforGood initiatives.  (Be sure to check out the annual report (page 24-33, but be sure to see page 29).   The other supporters include Blue Shield Foundation of California and Vodaphone Americas Foundation.    Marnie’s organization is one of a number of those in the social good sector that have married the concept of social good with the lean start up movement or what is being called “Lean Impact.”   Another example is the work that Rachel Weidinger is doing at UpWell.


10 Responses

  1. marnie webb says:

    Thank you for sharing this work, Beth. We’re excited about SafeNight and the other projects. But mostly we’re excited about learning how to do this in way that we can share, that others can implement in their communities, and that help engage local resources in local problems.

    It’s funny that the old abundance posts came up on Twitter recently. I really do think about this work as a logical extension of that thinking.

  2. Beth says:


    I was thinking about the abundance concept when I was looking at your design – esp. the community input and the collaboration threads.

    Good luck with your pilot.

  3. Bridget Robertson says:

    I only own Apple products. I would love to see an app like this for Apple as well. I would like to contribute.

  4. Wow. That is an incredibly cool idea. Beth, thanks for sharing and for providing some of the background on how this came into existence. Love it!

  5. Johanna Bates says:

    Hey, so I heard this app is only for Windows phones? This is an *amazing* idea and I absolutely love it, but Windows phones have the smallest market share among the three platforms. Are there plans to build this out so that iOS and Android users can have it? Because not all social service workers are going to have Windows phones. I’m sure most do not. But I do think this is an incredible idea and I hope it takes off on all platforms.

  6. Dan Settle says:

    I am constantly being amazed at how people are coming up with new ways to use technology to help and protect people.

    If anyone out there would like to see how the coffee you drink can be used for social good, check out what Cozzee has going on!

    Cozzee – The New Socially Conscious Way to Drink Great Coffee

  7. Beth says:

    Johanna, thanks for your insightful comment! It is an amazing idea and you should check out some of the other projects that Marnie and the gang are doing at Caravan

  8. So exciting! As someone who works with a lot of direct service providers–the ones doing the scrambling when a survivor of domestic violence needs a safe place to stay–I think there’s so much value and promise here, not just in actually generating the resources to meet this housing need, and not even just in building a broader constituency who is actively part of solving this critical problem (although that is, of course, huge), but also in providing a sense of community and abundance (echoing the comment above) for those workers who can, at times, see the world through scarcity lens, born of the time they spend running into brick walls trying to meet their clients’ needs. I would love to hear an update–it’s really awesome and encouraging, when we need more of both!

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  10. SafeNight is an amazing idea! So many women and children will benefit, besides a safe night a woman will have the chance to exhale, catch her breath to come up with a plan for a better life. Probably not all in the first night but what a great start. I also agree with Joanna the app must be available for all phones, probably sounds small but I don’t know one person with a Windows phone?
    Never the less one again TechSoup is rockin it!!!!