A generous busker donates everything he earns and more to help the homeless and needy - about $20k so far

·3-min read

This generous busker donates everything he earns and more to help the homeless and needy - about $20k so far. 

Will Boyajian, 30, started by playing on New York City subway platforms and would give all the money he raised to passing homeless people. 

But since the Covid outbreak he has mostly been busking online. 

"When I was on the street, my primary targets were the homeless and working poor," said Boyajian who founded a site called Hopeful Cases, as a nod to the instrument cases used to collect donations. 

"Now that we've started this online model we've got people saying stuff like, 'I'm living in my car' or 'I'm a working mother and they're going to turn the heat off.'

"We've donated more money than we've received, which shouldn't be a point of pride, but it is for me." 

According to Boyajian, he takes people's requests at face value and isn't particularly concerned with being scammed online.

"I keep in contact with most of the people who receive donations. 

"If those people we keep in contact with are scamming us, it seems like a lot of effort. 

"If they need to scam us for 20 dollars they obviously need the money. 

"We are very trusting. 

"We've always been from the school where it's not our place to judge."

Boyajian hopes to expand his upstart charity so they can award grants to people who need some capital to help lift them out of poverty. 

"We're getting faster and have definitely hit a point now where when the money comes in, it goes right out," he said. 

"I'd like to use some of that money to recruit other musicians, hopefully some who have a following. 

"And I want to use some of the money we've made for expansion and programming." 

Despite his online success Boyajian still misses playing out in the street. 

"I definitely want to get back to public performances," he said. 

"When Covid dies down, I will definitely mix online and in-person performances.

"We receive more money online and this allows us to give bigger donations. 

"But the street model allows us to get money to the people who need it most. 

"If someone has zero dollars and they're living on the streets, I can give them the money directly which is nice. 

Boyajian currently plays online for about two hours a day, five days a week but when he busked on the subway he'd play for up to six hours at a time.  

"I'm definitely surprised that the online performances have picked up such a following," he said. 

"The most surprising thing is the willingness of people to donate repeatedly. 

"The charity also gets posted into different online support groups, and as a result, we get a lot of emails from poor single mothers, so it's great to know we're growing independently of our efforts.

"That's what's cool about this streaming model. It's a fun little world built around helping others and being positive." 

Clips of Boyajian's Reddit live streams can be found at r/hopefulcasesmusic.