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Fundraising With Small Change

3 April 2018 at 8:35 am
Small change has the potential to make a big impact writes Sally Cunningham, communications manager at FrontStream.

Contributor | 3 April 2018 at 8:35 am


Fundraising With Small Change
3 April 2018 at 8:35 am

Small change has the potential to make a big impact writes Sally Cunningham, communications manager at FrontStream.

The idea of making a small change to make a big difference can be applied to many problems.

However, the literal idea of small change or coins being used in great fundraising campaigns suggests that small change has the potential to make a big impact, the key is obviously huge quantities.

Let’s explore how this works via some current or recent fundraising campaigns from Australia and beyond.

UNICEF Coins for kids

In partnership with Commonwealth Bank and Bankwest branches, UNICEF are asking customers to search for foreign coins that can’t be transferred back into Australian currency at exchange outlets and deliver them to the bank as a donation to UNICEF’s work.

UNICEF and its partners pose a convincing argument outlining the potential impact this small change can have on children in most need around the world.

They say: “One UK penny will provide a child with clean drinking water for one day, 60 Euro cents can provide a child with a pencil and book for school, two Canadian dollar coins will provide a severely malnourished child with enough therapeutic super food for one day, 220 Indian Rupees (the equivalent of $4) can provide a malaria net to a vulnerable family, 180 Thai Baht (the equivalent of $6) will provide 20 doses of a potentially life-saving measles vaccine.”

This initiative has been in operation since 2009 with Commonwealth Bank and Bankwest joining in 2014, together raising more than $700,000 for UNICEF’s Coins for Kids campaign.

Other foreign coin collection programs are seen on airlines on most international flights such as Jetstar’s StarKids campaign collecting coins for World Vision Australia – they claim to have raised more than $7 million since 2007 for World Vision projects. A staggering amount of small change making a difference to the work of some reputable and far reaching non-governmental organisations, coins that would ordinarily hang around a bedside drawer indefinitely.

Love Your Sister

Another awe inspiring small change campaign comes from Love Your Sister, run by cancer sufferer Connie Johnson and her famous brother Samuel Johnson.

The pair ran a campaign in 2017 to raise money to fight cancer by collecting 5 cent pieces. The pitch for the campaign was that it would be Connie’s last campaign before she succumbs to cancer and she wanted to break a world record for the longest line of coins. The Big Heart project would require 3.951 million 5 cent coins reaching 75.4kms in length, however Connie would position them into a heart shape big enough to be “visible from space”.

The campaign was a huge success raising $2.2 million that was eventually donated to cancer research. A very successful campaign on many levels considering the wonderful story told, advocacy and smashing fundraising goals. Rest in Peace Connie!


It’s always a mix of strategy, message and call to action that ensures the success of any campaign however part of the success of the ask must be in the simplicity of making it about small change, it’s easy to say yes to a few coins even when it ends up as $20 in the end.

Another excellent small change initiative is I=change which portions a donation from retailers who are aligned with the program each time someone makes a purchase online. Aid projects focused on benefiting women and girls have been hand-picked by founder Jeremy Melzer and a small agreed amount is donated by the business to one of these projects once an online purchase is completed.

The I=change model asks businesses to give and allows consumers to choose where the donation goes from a pre-selected list and then they can begin to track the impact of the shared donation. The model seems to be appealing to retailers and is growing from strength to strength in the number of projects being funded as well as subscribing retailers.

The other more common model of giving at point of sale is when a salesperson or cashier asks customers if they want to round up their purchase as a donation to their chosen charity. Once again, a small change donation ask in high volume and across multiple locations increases this to a potentially enormous amount of funds.

Excellent examples of this include Coles supermarkets in partnership with Red Kite, Cotton On establishing their own foundation aimed at supporting education projects in regions of need as well as Dymocks bookstore’s campaign earlier this year that asked customers to roundup their spend to support children’s literacy projects.

Weaving philanthropy into our everyday purchases, represents one of the most powerful opportunities to create new funding streams and positively impact communities around the world. It’s not social enterprise however it’s easy to give regularly when the asking amounts are small, diverse and attached to a trusted company that consumers already know.

The small change donation movement is bigger in the United States and United Kingdom than at home but with a bit more work and partnerships between charities and retailers this can become a sustainable income stream. Turning consumers into regular donors is a completely possible task.

About the author: Sally Cunningham is the communications manager at FrontStream, a digital fundraising platform and has worked in communications positions in commercial and not for profit organisations for more than 10 years. With a fascination for the constantly changing digital environment Sally is always looking at what people are doing next to predict how digital will evolve.

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