The Evolution of Spare Key

Author  Sarah Putnam   on  08/09/2022 - 4:07pm

In 1997, Spare Key helped families throughout the state of Minnesota with a sick or injured child in the hospital with one mortgage grant payment in a 12-month calendar year.

For years, we helped hundreds of families with thousands of dollars in financial assistance.

Yet as Spare Key grew, we saw a growing need to help more families in more situations with a wider variety of bills. Each month, Spare Key had to turn away families as demand for our support quickly increased amidst steady grants/funding/individual giving.

In short, we wanted to make a bigger impact.
Evolution of Spare Key

So we grew our reach within the Midwest.

In 2016, Spare Key was helping families with a sick or injured child in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Missouri!

But what about families with a sick parent? Or grandparent? Or what about a child in college?

Again, we wanted to make a bigger impact.

So we started looking at ways to expand our reach. We wanted to help individuals of all ages. But how does a nonprofit keep up with growing demand of helping families in medical crises at every age?

We kept brainstorming…researching…learning…

Then, in 2017, we saw an opportunity.

An opportunity to democratize philanthropy. That is, the opportunity to allow individual donors to give DIRECTLY to families that need their help the most.

You may be thinking… what about GoFundMe? But, donors needed MORE than just a place to give other people money. More importantly, donors still need the transparency and confidence that their donations are going towards the purposes intended.

So Help Me Bounce was born!

Help Me Bounce is the nation’s first Donor Directed Giving Platform. This platform is dedicated to families in medical crises giving them a voice to share their story with donors that want to help alleviate the financial stress that follows.

Help Me Bounce gives donors the tool to donate directly to families in need with 100% transparency into how their donations are being utilized. Families on the platform have been verified by a social worker or medical professional that they are indeed facing a medical crisis. Donors can then pick the family they want their donation to go to, and even pick the bill their donation should be allocated towards. Then Spare Key makes those payments DIRECTLY to the server of the bill. 100% of those funds go directly to those bills. Spare Key doesn’t take a cut of ANY money given to families on the Help Me Bounce platform. We even go a step further and cover any processing fees that the donor elects not to cover.

Pretty amazing, right?

But we STILL wanted to make a bigger impact!

Now that we have the tool to connect families with donors throughout the nation, we needed to be registered to SUPPORT families throughout the nation.

The last step was formed.

It was time to become registered in every single state in the United State of America so we could help families – no matter their location!

After a LOT of time, paperwork, and dedication from Spare Key’s own Alexia Sebesta, we accomplished our goal.

Erich Mische, Spare Key’s Executive Director, survived a 2-month, 10-state journey down the Mississippi River on a homemade raft to officially register Spare Key to help families in Louisiana – the 50th and final state we needed to complete registration!

In 2020, Spare Key officially became registered to help families in every single state, plus the District of Columbia, throughout the nation.

Every single accomplishment is not possible without the support of countless sponsors, donors, partners, employees, and our Board of Directors. Words can barely express our extreme gratitude for the support we’ve received the last 25 years!

We cannot wait for what the next 25 years will bring to Spare Key and the families we support throughout the nation.


Sarah Signature




Sarah Putnam
Chief Marketing Officer