| Does panhandling work better through the web? A Houston father and son team thinks so. They gave a homeless man named Timothy Dale Edwards a sign to hold while panhandling; it directed passersby to his website, PimpThisBum.com. In less than two months, the site has garnered $50,000 in pledges and donations. The project’s creators believe its success has to do with the sign’s humor and the faux-tactless domain name. We’d like to suggest another reason: appeals for money encouraging credit card use are far more effective than appeals calling for cash, according to a a recent study. Somebody please notify Gay Talese. [%comments]


I think it also has to do with the fact that people would believe that the website was set up by someone else and their donations would probably go to help Timothy change their life, as opposed to using it for alcohol/drugs (as many people assume the homeless use their money for).

Nick Smallwood

There was no charity here. The website even redirects to their promotional website instead of keeping it separate, so their own website benefits from the links pimpthisbum gets.

There was nothing altruistic about this campaign at all. If you care to look hard enough you'll find the truth on their motives online.

Exploitative link bait of the highest order.

The fact that some good might come of this is more by luck than judgement.


I agree with Jeremy. The website lends a sense of legitimacy, in a backward kind of way, that probably gives the impression that the person on the street is sincere, rather than someone looking for a few bucks to get his fix (which many people assume is the case).

Tangentially: How is it that so many of the panhandlers in Gay's story had telephone numbers? Aren't your priorities a bit out of whack if you have a phone plan but can't afford food?


The real economics question is how much money does it take to get a bum off the street. I live off of $35,000 a year and have a wife and kid. We live in a comfortable apartment and are not in debt. We even save money, about $350 a month.

I think it is great what they are doing, but is it time for this guy to get a place, and then use the other money to get another bum off the street?


Best one ever was a panhandler sign just off of downtown Philadephia Pa.'s I-676(?) that read something like this:

"Keep me from committing crimes like theft and burglary by giving money so that I can buy food and beer."

John A. Kilpatrick

A little off-topic, but part of the post goes to the heart of whether credit cards facilitate "over-purchasing", which of course is part of the allure (to issuers) of affinity cards. Of course, there's a down-side to this. One evening, over coffee, I asked a high-ranking "guy" at Starbucks why they didn't have an affinity visa card. He said they'd considered it, but (at the time -- about 10 years ago) they had determined that the average regular Starbucks customer spent $129 per month with them. They did NOT want that figure itemized on a monthly credit card statement, so they wanted to remain -- to the extent possible -- a cash-friendly store.

If this recession does indeed result in a structural shift in the American (nay, world) economy, I think one of the more fascinating changes would be a shift in these "sudden" spending patterns brought about by a signficant shift in attitudes toward credit cards. I say "would be", because I frankly doubt we'll have a wholesale shift. But even a little change at the margin will be interesting to watch.



They better watch out in this economy, pimpthisbum.com might turn into PimpMeOutSoICanPayMyMortgage.com


I'm sure it's a one time success, though.

Remember SaveKaryn? She got her credit cards paid off and a book deal, too. But about a zillion other people followed Karen with their own 'pay my bills' sites, and none of them got much cash or their own book deals.


this "bum," (person and site) much like karyn, is pathetic.

Eric M. Jones

So this bum asked me to give him some money for his internet bill..

"Oh no," I said, "You'll just spend it on food, booze and drugs!"

The bum pulled out a wad of hundred dollar bills and waved it in my face, "I got my food, booze and drug money already!", he said, "I just need to pay for my WiFi internet connection."


@Ben: Because there are programs that specifically subsidize phones for the homeless. It's impossible to get a job or work for a temp agency if you don't have one.


I'll be honest. I would have most likely donated because of the funny sign than if Timothy Dale Edwards came up to me and asked for money (cash). The idea of helping homeless out is great, but, the money (according to the website) is spent according to the people raising the money. So, wouldn't this be inefficient? Because Timothy Dale Edwards is not consuming what he wants? But, i guess this does help him get off the streets. The idea is certainly socially and morally respected/positive.
Only if you could find a way to raise 50,000 in two months that easily for your own use....

denis bider


This is why I don't pay the homeless.

They make more per hour than I do.


um... in the UK this website would be regarded as having an obscene name & 'soliciting money for immoral purposes'.

I hope these guys don't get a lot of unwanted traffic from overseas.


@Ben: A prepay cell phone costs 20$, and then about .10 a minute for calls. Cheap. Plus, can you come up with any way to get a decent job without a phone number? So, really its an inexpensive necessity now.


$50,000 in pledges and donations. I'd like to see a breakdown. I'd hazard a guess that a lot of those pledges don't ever translate into real money.

Sean Dolan

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. Tim is currently in Sunray Recovery with his former camp-mate John. They have both successfully undergone detox and are fighting their demons together. You can catch their nightly webcasts at 9pm Pacific Time. My family has fallen in love with these guys, and you will too if you take the time to watch the videos. Cheers.


Hi Sean Dolan,
What's going on with the website? I can't access the recent videos or the chat without a password. But there isn't a place to set up a password that I can find.

I've been a regular follower and feel bad that I can't continue to see the daily progress.


I have been following this story since the beginning and I can't seem to get a password to get into the chat room. Can anyone help with this matter? I have emailed twice trying to get one and have got no response.

Sean Dolan

Sorry for late response. Chat password was lifted once we felt Tim was prepared for all the crazy trolls out there in chat-land. If you haven't see the site lately, we have the entire experience all in a 10 minute video. I think you will like it :) www.PimpThisBum.com,