wikiHow to Deal With Beggars Asking You for Money

Two Parts:Dealing With a Direct EncounterDonating Money to a Charity or a Shelter

If you live in a city, you likely encounter people who ask you for money. You may also come across beggars when you are traveling overseas. Begging children, elderly people, or disabled people can be difficult to encounter and hard to walk away from without giving them some money or buying their wares. But according to many workers at homeless shelters and in outreach programs, giving a beggar money will only provide a very short term solution to a long standing problem.[1][2] Instead of giving a beggar money, try to treat them with dignity, offer them food, and donate to a local charity or shelter so they get the support they need.

Part 1
Dealing With a Direct Encounter

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    Acknowledge the beggar with eye contact. Often, we view beggars as obstacles in our way as we are walking down the street, or as rude intrusions during a vacation in a foreign country. You might encounter a beggar during your lunch break and feel the urge to just get on with your day or ignore them as you walk by. But this creates a disconnect between you and the beggar, as a person. Though they are in a tough situation, beggars are also people and it’s important not to assume anything about their situation (familiar refrains like “they choose to live on the streets” or “they are all drug addicts) as this robs beggars of their humanity.[3]
    • Simply look at the beggar and offer a nod or a smile to show you are aware of their presence. This is a compassionate response that won’t cost you any money, only a few seconds of your time.
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    Refuse to give money, politely. The debate on whether or not to give money to a beggar is a continuous one, and many well traveled bloggers argue for[4] and against[5] handing a few dollars to a beggar. Giving money to a beggar might seem like you are rewarding their begging behavior or enabling them to simply continue begging for a living. It is also possible you may be scammed by a beggar, pretending to be worse off, or you may be supporting a system that feeds on the well meaning dollars of tourists.[6]
    • Most beggar need money to sustain themselves, and possibly, their families. But they also need opportunity and direction. This direction could be in the form of a job, housing, or counseling and medical care. A beggar will likely not get these things through a few dollars in a cup. Instead, they will find support through non profit homeless organizations and local homeless shelters.[7]
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    Offer food instead of money. If you are uncomfortably simply smiling and walking away from a beggar, offer to buy them a cup of coffee or a sandwich from a local shop nearby. This will allow you to address the beggar in a way that is helpful and open, rather than closing yourself off from them. You also can at least be assured that the beggar will have food to eat for the day, or a warm beverage to stay warm.[8]
    • You may also want to ask the person what they might need and why. Often, if a person is willing to panhandle in public, they are usually willing to answer questions about why they are doing it. This will allow you to start a dialogue with the beggar, avoid being scammed by the beggar, and see if food will meet their needs.[9]
    • Keep in mind some beggars may trade food for other goods or services and you cannot control this once you hand them the food. It’s an unfair generalization to say this happens all the time, but its good to keep this in mind so you are aware of the possible downsides of giving a beggar food.
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    Direct the beggar to a shelter. If you think the beggar might be “sleeping rough”, which is slang for sleeping outside as a homeless person, you may want to let them know the location of the nearest homeless shelter. This will help them get off the streets, at least for a night, and connect them with services that could give them the means to rise out of their situation.
    • There is a service in the UK, called Street Link,[10] that helps connect rough sleepers to local shelters and services so they can get a safe night’s sleep.
    • There is also an online directory of homeless shelters in the United States that you can access here.
    • There is an online directory of homeless shelters in Canada that you can access here.

Part 2
Donating Money to a Charity or a Shelter

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    Give money to a local charity. Focus on a charity based in your area, city, town, state, province, or country that helps people stay off the streets and provides support for the homeless. If you are concerned about beggars in a country you are visiting as a tourist, look for a charity that focuses on a specific need, such as a charity that helps provide school books and supplies for children, thereby keeping them in school and off the streets, begging.[11][12]
    • Before you donate money to a charity, check its ratings on Charity Navigator,[13] which rates charities based on their level of success and follow through.
    • There is also a list of top rated charities from around the world, located here.
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    Support a homeless shelter. Put your money to good use by donating money to your local homeless shelter. This will help to improve your community and give you a way to support homeless people in your area in a more meaningful way.
    • Many homeless shelters also accept donations in the form of supplies and materials to help people live on the street with less stress or anxiety. Basic objects, like toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, bandaids, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, and underwear are all useful items to donate.[14]
    • You can also donate old clothing, especially old winter coats and shoes, to the shelter. Many beggars are outside year round and are often in need of clothing.
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    Volunteer at a shelter or for a local charity. Another way to support beggars without simply handing them money is to donate your time to a homeless shelter or to a local charity that provides for the homeless. You can serve meals at the shelter, help the shelter sort through donations, and provide other volunteer services as needed.[15]
    • Contact your local shelter for volunteer opportunities, and get involved with charities that you donate to so you can feel the direct impact of your financial donation.

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Categories: Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions