Should I Give Money to a Panhandler?

When you come across a homeless person holding a sign and/or asking for money, what should you do? Here are five simple tips:

  1. Be Prepared. Anticipate the opportunity and be ready to help. Always keep a spare bottle of water or some granola bars in the glove compartment, ready to give away. Better yet, keep a few Hope Totes handy at all times.
  2. Talk with them. Simply acknowledge the person as a fellow human being. Say hello. Engage in conversation. Ask about their life or their family. Asking them if they have a place to stay the night or a plan for the future can be a great way engage in a quick conversation while at a stop light.
  3. Do NOT Give Money. You don’t know how they plan to spend that money. So offer an alternative, like clean socks, toilet paper, soap, granola bars, water bottles, a bus ticket, or a gift certificate at a restaurant.
  4. Point them to PRM. Download and print these Rescue Referrals, and hand them out to those you meet. Tell them you support the Mission, and it could be a place their needs can be met. The Mission is structured to help men and women through the deeper issues that many homeless men and women are working through.
  5. Pray. Don’t forget to pray for those on the streets and for those battling addiction. Pray that their physical and emotional needs are met, and their spiritual hunger is satisfied. And please pray for the staff and volunteers at the Mission.

Make It a Group Effort

If your school group, church group, or business has ever wondered how to positively impact the homeless without doing more harm than good, check out our training video and other community resources.


How to best help someone asking for money.