FAQs

What is SmallCanBeBig.org?

SmallCanBeBig.org is an online initiative conducted by Small Can Be Big, Inc.: our mission is to help local low-income families on the brink of homelessness by harnessing the power of crowdfunding small, direct donations. We work closely with established community-level Massachusetts charities to identify families in need, and provide users with a uniquely personal way to help. 100% of every donation goes directly to address an urgent bill or expense that gets a low-income family back on their feet—so donors know who they’re giving to, and how their money helps.

How does the site work?

SmallCanBeBig.org connects low-income families on the edge to donors who can help with their specific need (e.g. a heating bill, an electric bill, rent). This is how it works.

Why was the site developed?

SmallCanBeBig.org was established by Boathouse Group, Inc. to address a developing homeless crisis in Massachusetts. In the summer of 2008—a time of year when homelessness is usually in decline—the number of homeless across the state reached an all-time high.

A struggling economy only compounds the problem. State emergency aid budgets are drying up fast. Traditional charity models are unequipped to deal with the magnitude of the crisis. And money is tight, both for those who need help and for those who want to help.

SmallCanBeBig.org was developed as a simple solution to this complex problem. It’s a model that gives people a better way to do what we’ve always done best in a crisis: help one another. By harnessing the power of small, direct donations, together we can make a big difference for local low-income families on the edge.

In 2013, Small Can Be Big, Inc. was officially founded to manage and develop the giving program conducted through SmallCanBeBig.org.

How are the families selected?

The low-income families on SmallCanBeBig.org are members of our communities who find themselves in a difficult position. Due to foreclosures, medical costs, unexpected illness, or domestic violence, a single bill or expense is all that stands between them and homelessness. More important, however: the same urgent payment can help get them off of the edge and back on their feet.

For many of the families on the site, every penny is accounted for in their monthly budget: it takes only an unexpected visit to the emergency room, a missed rent or utility payment, or a layoff to put them at risk of losing their home or apartment. The families on SmallCanBeBig.org have no other safety net. In some cases, they aren’t eligible for government assistance to help meet this kind of urgent financial need, and in others, the normal emergency response models simply don’t have the resources (or the speed) to help.

Our experienced caseworkers at local charities screen low-income families carefully to identify the ones that can truly benefit from a one-time charitable gift. As soon as a family’s need has been met, their story is removed from the site, and another family in need takes their place.

How do you select charity partners?

SmallCanBeBig.org works with a select group of charitable organizations across Massachusetts. These charities specialize in preventing low-income families on the verge of homelessness from going over the edge—together, they’ve helped to stabilize and re-house thousands of Massachusetts residents. Their expertise is invaluable to us. The case managers at these charities meet with families on a regular basis—they know the situation and they understand the stakes. Their experience allows us to identify families in urgent need who can truly benefit from a donation through SmallCanBeBig.org.

Where does my money go?

When you donate to help a low-income family profiled on SmallCanBeBig.org, your money is transferred via PayPal or credit card directly to Small Can Be Big, Inc. As soon as the donated sum reaches the family’s need amount, Small Can Be Big delivers 100% of that money to the referring partner charity so they can disburse it directly to the landlord, utility company, or hospital awaiting payment. That way, every last penny you give goes right where it’s supposed to go—toward helping a family get back on their feet.

Is my personal info safe?

Yes. Due to the sensitive nature of the site, privacy is an issue that Small Can Be Big, Inc. takes very seriously. We will NEVER sell or rent your information to any third parties. At any point, you may choose to opt out of further correspondence with either Small Can Be Big, Inc. or the sponsoring charity.

Will the family I support have access to my information?

No. The transfer of donations to Small Can Be Big, Inc. is handled by our site administrator and the charity to which the donations are provided, and the family supported by these donations does not have access to any of your information. When a family profiled on the site wishes to send a thank-you note to the donor(s) that helped them, the sponsoring charity acts as a facilitator in the process. The same standard applies in reverse. To protect the privacy of the families profiled on the site, donors do not have access to their personal information.

Are my donations tax-deductible?

Small Can Be Big, Inc. is a Delaware charitable non-stock corporation and was established on July 2, 2013. Contributions received on or after this date may be tax deductible so long as the IRS recognizes Small Can Be Big, Inc. as a 501(c)(3) public charity. We will inform all donors once this recognition is secured.

How does SmallCanBeBig.org cover its costs?

We welcome donations of any size to our General Fund and we rely on our many volunteers to help keep administrative costs as low as possible.

Does SmallCanBeBig.org accept material donations (e.g. clothes, furniture or toys)?

Unfortunately, SmallCanBeBig.org cannot accept donations of material goods, but donations of time and talent are BIG. See ways to get involved.

Our Story

Learn more about how Small Can Be Big got started.

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