FAQ - Sleep Out America | Covenant House International


Have a Question?

Don’t let a question or technical issue get in the way of your Sleep Out! Let us help you so you can help young people who have nowhere else to turn. If your question is not answered below, email sleepoutamerica@covenanthouse.org

Sleep Out America Help

How does Sleep Out America work?

Sleep Out America is a Do-It-Yourself event where you register and Sleep Out at a location convenient to you. It’s a simple program that allows you to make a big impact in just three steps:

  1. Step 1: Register and start your Sleep Out experience with a donation of $35, which helps keep the lights on and doors open for youth facing homelessness at Covenant House sites across the country.
  2. Step 2: Raise funds for Covenant House using the resources we provide. Once you’re registered you’ll gain access to a personal fundraising page and a variety of tools to help you spread the word to friends and family. For every dollar you raise, you’ll help Covenant House meet each kid at their level and provide the services they need – whether it’s food, medical treatment, counseling, legal aid, job training, or just an opportunity to be a kid without needing to worry about basic necessities and safety.
  3. Step 3: Sleep Out on November 22nd at a location convenient to you. Many of our participants Sleep Out in their own backyards and driveways while others Sleep Out in parking lots and on the grounds of businesses, schools, parks, or places of worship (note: you must get permission to Sleep Out on private property). Because this is a DIY event, you get to decide what your Sleep Out experience looks like. Most participants choose to wear layers and bring a sleeping bag or blanket and a cardboard box to spread out on the ground. We’ll provide you with resources like activity ideas and stories from youth at Covenant House to make your Sleep Out a meaningful experience.

Where do I Sleep Out?


Sleep Out America is a Do-It-Yourself event where you choose your own location (somewhere safe and legal!) and plan a Sleep Out of your own design.

Many of our participants Sleep Out in their own backyards and driveways while others Sleep Out in parking lots and grounds of businesses, schools, parks, or places of worship (note: you must get permission to Sleep Out on private property and Covenant House does not provide insurance or take on any liability for your Sleep Out). Whether you Sleep Out on your own, with your family, or with a group, we’ll provide you with the resources you need to make your Sleep Out a meaningful experience.


Can I Sleep Out on a different day?

Yes! While Friday, November 22, 2019, is the official night for Sleep Out America, we encourage you to register even if you are unable to participate on that night. By registering, you will gain access to all of our resources and materials, which you can use to plan your Sleep Out on an alternate night. Additional content will become available online on November 22, but will remain accessible to registered participants through the end of the year.

How does sleeping outside help kids facing homelessness?

Every dollar you raise as a participant in Sleep Out America goes directly to Covenant House, an international non-profit that provides housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness. So by Sleeping Out, you’re paving the way for a young person in need to sleep in a warm, safe bed.

Young people can find themselves homeless for lots of reasons, from financial issues to abusive home lives. Once on the streets, kids are easy targets for violence, human trafficking, and other devastating situations. Covenant House actively reaches out to vulnerable youth and offers them love, respect, and the tools they need to build a stable and happy future.

Someone invited me to join their Sleep Out team. How do I do that?

Welcome to the Sleep Out movement! Search for their name in the Fundraiser Search box at the top of the page. When you get to their page, click the “Join Team” button and complete the registration process to join the event.

Can I create a Sleep Out team?

Yes! When you complete the registration form, select the option to “Create a Team.” You’ll be able to choose a team name for your group and, once you finish registering, share the link to your page and invite your friends, family, or coworkers to join. All team members should register and create their own fundraising page.

How do I recruit friends and family to join me?

Have people in mind? Start an official Sleep Out America team when you register.  You’ll receive a special webpage just for your team (if you’ve already registered, log into your account to change your team membership). You can share the link to your team page and invite people to join or donate to your group directly.

Are your friends far away? You don’t have to Sleep Out in the same place! Sleep Out is an international movement, and a group can be made up of folks from every corner of the country (or the world!).

Not sure how to ask? Email, text, tweet, and post your Sleep Out invitations! If you need help finding the right words, you can copy and paste our examples located in your Participant Center.

What do I do while I am Sleeping Out?

Sleep Out America is not about pretending to be homeless.By Sleeping Out, you and your team will show solidarity and support to the ever-growing population of youth facing homelessness in America. And because this is a DIY event, how you spend the night is up to you – though of course we’ve got recommendations for how to structure your Sleep Out and a list of suggested activities to make your experience memorable, meaningful, and fun.

  • Starting Your Evening
    We recommend that all participants kick off the night indoors by watching our Sleep Out America opening video and reviewing our resources which help connect you to thousands of Sleep Out America participants coast-to-coast. After this, head outside with whatever you need to stay safe and warm and comfortable (i.e. warm clothing, sleeping bag, cardboard box, and a flashlight). Plan to bring your phone so you can log your experience, take photos and connect with other Sleep Out America participants on social media throughout the evening.
  • While You’re Outside
    Activities you can do before you go to sleep include: posting on social media about your experience (and asking for donations!), hosting your Sleep Out America candlelight vigil, lighting a campfire, reading, story-telling, or watching videos (we have some great ones in our Sleep Out America library).
  • In The Morning
    When you wake in the morning, we recommend taking a moment to reflect on your experience and share your thoughts – first with those Slept Out with you, and then on social media with those who supported you. We want to hear about it too, so stop by the Sleep Out America community chat and tell us about your night. Once you head inside for breakfast, be sure to check the Sleep Out America website again for a closing video and new resources.

Is there a suggested timeline I can follow?

8:00pm: Tune in to sleepoutamerica.org to watch the Sleep Out America Opening Ceremony Video

8:05pm – 8:30pm: Review the resources and additional videos prior to heading outdoors. Join the online chat with our team and other participants to ask any questions and prepare for the night.

8:30pm: Head outside with your sleeping bag, cardboard box, smartphone, and other basic supplies to Sleep Out

9:00pm: Light your Sleep Out America Vigil Kits (if earned)

9:00pm – Morning: Sleep Out

Use your phone to join the nationwide conversation:

  • Take photos and post on social (#sleepoutamerica)
  • Join the online chat with other Sleep Out participants
  • Enjoy the experience with activities that are right for your group. Use our resources to guide you if you need help.

6:00am – 8:00am: Reflect on the experience. Consider what it felt like to wake up outside and share openly and honestly with your group, in our online chat, or on social media (#sleepoutamerica) before you leave your Sleep Out location.

Post-Sleep Out: Find time to thank your donors. Share a story and photo of your Sleep Out, and let them know how much you appreciate their support.

Fundraising and Web Help

I’ve never fundraised before. How do I do this?

Fundraising for Sleep Out America is designed to be easy. And by making a small self donation at the time you register, you’re already on your way! Once you complete registration, you’ll have access to an online fundraising page where friends and family can donate to your Sleep Out. You will also receive a suite of tools ranging from pre-written email and social media donation requests to flyers and posters. Most of our participants fundraise by posting a short note and link to their online fundraising page on Facebook or Twitter (there’s even an option to connect a Facebook fundraiser to your page) and by sending out emails to friends and family. Check out our fundraising page for more details.

I forgot my username and password to access my Sleep Out America fundraising page and Participant Dashboard.

Remember that your username and password are case sensitive. Still not in? Click “Forgot Password” link under the Login field and your password will be sent to the email address you have on file.

How do I change my email and/or password?

Login to your Participant Dashboard using your current email and password. Hover over your photo and name in the top-right corner of the black menu, and click “Profile.” Scroll down and click the button “Edit Profile.” From here, you will be able to change your contact information, email address, and password. Click “Update Profile” when finished (note that changes may take up to 15 minutes to be reflected).

How do I change my personal fundraising goal?

Log in to your Participant Dashboard using your email and password. Once in, click the “Your Page” icon in the black menu at the top of the screen. Scroll down to the thermometer and click the pencil icon on the right (just over the goal). Enter your new goal in the box and click “Update Goal”. This update should happen immediately.

How can I see who has donated to me?

Log in to your Participant Dashboard using your email and password. Once in, hover over the “Donations” icon in the black menu at the top of the screen, and click “Donations Received” from the drop-down menu. Scroll down to view your list of donors.

Donor Help

I want to donate to someone’s Sleep Out. How do I find their page?

Search for their name in the Fundraiser Search box at the top of the page. When you get to their page, click the orange “Support Me” button to donate to their Sleep Out online.

How can I double my Sleep Out donation?

Many companies will match donations made by their employees. Contact the human resources department at your office to ask if your company has a matching gift program. If so, they will likely give you a one-page form to fill out and mail to us. We’ll confirm receipt of your donation, send the form back to your company, and then the company will send Covenant House a check. It’s an easy way to double your impact!

Learn more about matching gifts and check to see if your company is one that matches here: https://www.covenanthouse.org/employee-giving

How do I get a receipt for my online donation?

After you complete your donation, you will receive an email confirmation with a PDF gift form attached. This email is your official gift receipt, and you may print it and save it for your records. If you did not receive a receipt, please email sleepout@covenanthouse.org with the name of the participant you supported and we will resend one.

How do I donate by mail?

To make a cash or check donation, please print and fill out the Sleep Out America Offline Donation form:

Offline Donation Form

You can mail this form along with your check to:
Covenant House
ATT: Sleep Out America
461 8th Ave
New York, NY 10001

How can I participate in Sleep Out America?


How can I participate in Sleep Out America?

Sleep Out America is an opportunity to offer solidarity and support to the ever-growing population of youth facing homelessness in America.

On November 22, 2019, across the country, people of all ages and backgrounds will give up the warmth of our beds and the comfort of our homes to sleep outside, just like thousands of kids with nowhere else to go do every night.

Find out more about Sleep Out America’s impact, and learn how you can join us in 2019