Take action to shelter youth overcoming homelessness.

Fundraising is an immediate, powerful way to ensure that youth overcoming homelessness at Covenant House continue to receive the care they deserve. We know it might feel uncomfortable to ask for support, and this toolkit will arm you everything you need.

Our team of fundraising coaches is also here to help. Email us at [email protected].

How to Start Fundraising:

  1. Customize your fundraising page.
  2. Make a list of people you want to ask for support.
  3. Decide what you want to say.
  4. Spread the word!
  5. Learn more.

1. Customize your fundraising page.

Adding a photo and personal note to your fundraising page is always important, because it lets people know immediately that they're in the right place. Now more than ever, though, it is important to explain why you joined Sleep Out America, what that means, and how they can help. 

Here’s how:

  1. Click “Your Page” from the black menu at the top of the screen.
  2. To add a photo, click the pencil icon over the photo avatar and follow the instructions to upload an image.
  3. To add a personal note, click the “My Story” tab under your name and photo, then click the pencil icon in the right corner. 
  4. To customize your page URL, click the “Settings” tab (next to the “My Story” tab). Click the “Customize” link and add your name or initials in the field provided. Be sure to click the blue “Save Changes” button.

If you’re a team captain, click the “Team Page” icon from the top menu and follow the same steps to customize your team’s page.

2. Make a list of people you want to ask for support.

Start with a few basic categories and fill in a list for each. For example: immediate family, cousins, childhood friends, college friends, current and former colleagues, neighbors, etc. Include people whom you see less regularly, like a LinkedIn connection, but still may want to hear from you. 

Consider the following questions when making your list: would this person open an email from me? Would I want to hear from them about something they’re passionate about? Is this a cause that they could connect with? Has this person been especially affected by coronavirus? (e.g. have they or their family fallen ill, are they facing any uncertainty with their job?)

Try to identify between 20-50 people. Now may not be the right time to ask some people to support your Sleep Out, and that's ok. By reviewing your list carefully and sorting it into categories, you can feel more confident about sending a message that each group will find meaningful. Remember, many people are looking for ways to give back during this difficult time. 

3. Decide what you want to say. 

Finding the right words to talk about your Sleep Out can be tough, especially now. Use these pre-written messages as a starting point and allow yourself time to add a personal note:


Not sure how to write a personal note? Try asking or answering these questions:

  • How has the person or group you're asking been affected by the pandemic? How are they holding up?
  • How have you been affected and how are you doing?
  • What made you decide to Sleep Out now? What are you hoping to get from the experience? 
  • If you have done the Sleep Out before, what's different this year? 
  • What's something that has made you feel hopeful recently?

4. Spread the word!

Once your message is ready, use email, text, and social media to share your message. Always include your personal URL. Email is usually the most effective (we recommend sending at least 2 as most people need a reminder). Your page is mobile-responsive so when you text your page link in a group chat or to people directly, they can donate directly on their phones.

Social media can allow you to reach a larger audience. Find images that you can share on social media here:

social media content

Connect a Facebook Fundraiser to your Sleep Out when you register (or through your Participant Dashboard after you register) and automatically send a notification to all your friends. On Instagram, add your personal URL to your bio. Always use the hashtag #chsleepout and #sleepoutamerica to be part of the national conversation.

5. Learn more.

Every day brings new developments, new challenges, and new stories. Here are a few ways to stay up to date on youth at Covenant House:

  • The newsroom on our website is updated daily with new stories from youth, front-line staff, and supporters. 
  • Twitter: follow @CovenantHouse for news from across our federation and follow Covenant House President Kevin Ryan @CovHousePrez for more stories and reflections.
  • Follow Covenant House on Facebook and Instagram and follow the hashtag #chsleepout for photos from across the movement.