This Clever (But Kind of Creepy) Campaign Uses Mannequins to Help the Homeless

A nonprofit in Amsterdam is using figures dressed as the down-and-out to collect donations for the needy.

Kristina Bravo is a Los Angeles–based writer. She is an Assistant Editor at TakePart.


With housing prices on the rise and the effects of the Great Recession still being felt around the globe, walking past homeless people is an all-too-common occurrence. BADT, an Amsterdam-based nonprofit that assists that city’s increasing vagrant population, realized that even the most compassionate individual might feel uncomfortable handing a dollar to someone sleeping on the streets. However, he or she might not have that same fear of a “homeless” mannequin.

The organization put eliminating anxiety while giving at the heart of their new campaign: Piggy Banks for the Homeless. To raise money for and awareness of the needy, BADT installed mannequins all over Amsterdam where homeless people often stay—on sidewalks, on benches, and under bridges. The group dressed the figures in ragged clothing, cut piggy-bank slots in their heads, and placed handwritten signs asking for donations alongside them. As the video above shows, the idea worked.

In a time where someone put spikes on a sidewalk to keep the homeless away from a condo and a statue of a vagrant Jesus is needed to remind us that the poor are people too, the project effectively addresses a rarely talked about stigma. It’s unfortunate that for many, giving to an inanimate object is easier than interacting with a real person. But at the very least, the project may inspire better solutions for one of society’s most tragic problems. 

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