SafeNight:A mobile web hotel-finder and crowd-fundingservice for domestic violence agenciesDomestic violence (DV) agencies...
SafeNight: Reducing Incidents of Domestic ViolenceSafeNight is a secure service (both mobile and web-based)that will enabl...
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Safe Night Concept Paper

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Safe Night is a secure mobile service that allows community members to respond to urgent requests for shelter.

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Safe Night Concept Paper

  1. 1. SafeNight:A mobile web hotel-finder and crowd-fundingservice for domestic violence agenciesDomestic violence (DV) agencies and their supporters have a responsibility to protect and serve women andchildren who are being abused. One of their primary areas of support is the provision of shelter for clientsin crisis. Clearly, the women and children they serve need a safe place to stay, away from violence. But DVagencies in the state of California are also required by law1to provide shelter in order to receive statefunding.When a woman calls a shelter, she is often in the middle of avolatile situation—she must be discreet, andshe has very little time to speak to the agency, describe her needs, and find out if the shelter can locate asafe place for her to stay.At the same time, DV agencies typically have very low cash reserves, and whenthere is no available room for shelter, they often have no way to pay for emergency hotel rooms. All toofrequently, they are left with no choice but to turn clients away in their most dire moment of need.While common, this scenario illustrates challenging shortcomings in the current system of support for thoseexperiencing domestic violence in California: The shelter does not have resources to provide safe shelter when their own space is full, leaving clients vulnerable to significant potential risk. Individual philanthropic donors may well be moved to target their support to meet this specific demand; however, there is no quick and seamless way to alert them of the neednor to process their just-in-time gift.Further, both clients that are turned away and supporters that are not asked for funding represent hugelost opportunities to capture data that would strengthen California’s desperately under-resourced safetynet. This data would not only help DV agencies to identify the needs of abused women and shape theirservices to meet demonstrated needs, it would also allow them to better advocate for private funding tounderwrite these services.TechSoup Global, an organization dedicated to building the capacity of social benefit organizations, hasbeen working closely with DV agencies in California over the past 12 years: understanding their operationalchallenges, assessing their technology needs, and providing trainings and donated technology products tomeet those needs. One outcome of this work is the identification of the need for a technology solution orservice that will allow DV agencies to better serve their clients and remedy the problems describedabove.In collaboration with AidMatrix and through the generoussupport of Microsoft, Caravan Studios (adivision of TechSoup Global) is now designing and developing a technology service, SafeNight, to meet thatneed. SafeNightwill be piloted in San Diego County, with the plan to roll out to three additional counties inCalifornia over the course of the next 12 months and then to additional states.1 The Domestic Violence Center Act (1997) provides state funding to DV agencies as long as they “provide shelter; remain open 24hours a day, seven days a week; provide access to temporary housing and food facilities,” among other provisions. According to theNonprofit Finance Fund, state funding remains the primary source of funding (on average 85% of revenue) for the majority of DVagencies in California. Page 1 of 2
  2. 2. SafeNight: Reducing Incidents of Domestic ViolenceSafeNight is a secure service (both mobile and web-based)that will enable authorized staff at registeredDVagencies to find discounted hotel rooms and crowdsource funds to pay for them when shelter space isunavailable. SafeNight will provide DV agencies with a mechanism to quickly connect to supporters whohave downloaded a mobile app and have requested to be notified if a client is in need of a bed and nospace is available in any local shelter. The supporter would then make a payment to cover the cost of ahotel room.Users can download the app to their smart phones. Through a registration process, the user associatesthemselves with their chosen DV agency or geography, and indicates the level at which they will be able toprovide support and the frequency with which they wish to be asked for support (e.g., once a month, onceevery six months). The user provides their credit card information, so the financial transaction is seamless.Through partnerships with third-party online hotel-finding services,SafeNight will negotiate discountedrates, and will have real-time access to available space that meets the clients’ needs.Furthermore, every query to the system is logged. Whether the DV staff member was able to find shelterfor the client or not, the request and the result are captured. This is important because it allows DVagencies and their supporters to gain a clearer view of which services are most requested and when, whenthey are able to meet their clients’ needs and not, and how they can alter their services to improve theirsuccess rate.Capturing Data to Better Serve Women and Children in NeedIn the near term, the SafeNight mobile web service will improve the ability of DV agencies to meet theirclients’ most pressing need—the need for shelter. Because of the taboo surrounding domestic violence andthe severe risk of retaliation by the abuser, the implications are extremely serious—sometimes even fatal—when a potential client is turned away from a DV agency. Aside from the very real threat of violence, DVsurvivors who cannot find shelter may become reluctant to seek assistance again and they may miss out onother needed supported services offered in conjunction with the shelter, such as legal assistance, mentalhealth counseling, substance abuse treatment, trauma assessment for children, or vocational services.In the longer term, the SafeNightbenefits the DV sector as a whole, as well as the broader state social safetynet. By incorporating the ability to take donations from self-identified supporters, we are enabling real-time, micro-philanthropy that is critical to meeting clients’ needs at a time when public funds are dwindlingand demand for services is on the rise. And by capturing this data, we are deepening and broadening thescope of our knowledge of the needs of abused women and children. We will be able to use this knowledgeto analyze and improve the services that agencies provide, making sure that clients’ needs are met, and theagencies’ resources are used efficiently and effectively.Ultimately, SafeNight gives visibility into the data of the women DV agencies serve. Without this data toilluminate their needs, we, as a community, are making policy and bestowing funding in the dark.ContactFor more information about SafeNight, contact:Marnie Webb CEO, Caravan Studios mwebb@caravanstudios.orgLearn more about Caravan Studios: http://caravanstudios.tumblr.com Page 2 of 2

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