Fundraising Drives Work!

Fundraising Drives Work!

Penny drives, toy drives, food drives, bottle drives ... they all work. Why? Because we either have the item or we can easily get it.

The concept of a fundraising drive is not new.  Charities have been holding drives for decades as have their supporters.  What changes over time is what they are asking for.

Leading up to the holidays in December, organizations are usually looking for toys and food.  Prior to Thanksgiving, it's just food.  In the spring, it may be school supplies.  Money is needed by most organizations at all times so the request for cash donations is added into whatever is going on at the time.

Penny Drives raised millions!

In 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint announced that it would stop producing the penny in February of 2013.  That announcement led to dozens ... no, hundreds of charities holding penny drives across the country.  Most were locally driven and supported, but one organization believed in the old adages "go big or go home" and "reach for the stars".

penny drive foreign currency drive fundraising charity


Free The Children established a partnership with RBC, Canada's largest bank. 
Their stated goal?  To ask school kids to donate $700,000.00 in pennies.

They collected $1.4 million!!!

"Students at more than 3,000 schools across Canada participated in the "We Create Change" penny drive over the past school year (2012/13). They emptied their piggy banks, held school-wide penny drives, canvassed neighbourhoods, family and friends, and set up collection jars in community centres and workplaces. Individual donors, businesses and organizations also collected pennies for this campaign. Special Free The Children/RBC penny bags were provided to all participants. When full, each bag held $25 in pennies - enough to provide one person with clean water for life."

They collected 56,000 bags, each with $25.00 in pennies.
That's 140,000,000 pennies.  140 MILLION pennies.
They weighed 361,200kgs, almost 800,000lbs.
How can we put that into perspective?
The average car weighs around 3,800lbs ... these pennies would have been equal to 210 medium sized cars.
That's 5 empty Space Shuttles!

Anyone who said that a few pennies couldn't amount to much wasn't in the same room as these people!

What is he really saying?

Drives work!
It doesn't matter what they are, they work.  If you ask for food to help feed your neighbours, you get food.  If toys are needed, toys are donated.  If money is needed, people drop off money.

What is so special about foreign currency?

Here's the thing.  A drive that collects donations in any/all currencies (including Canadian) will generate about 20X the value of a penny drive by weight. 
The 361,200kgs of pennies above could have been worth over $25 Million!
What else is special about it?  Unlike Canadian money, foreign currency can't be used for your coffee in the morning.  You can't buy a tea on the way home or get a donut on the weekend.  We can't use foreign currency in Canada (just like you can't use Canadian money in Italy for example).

Canadians are Sitting on $2-$3 Billion Worth of Foreign Currency

Canadians travel ... a lot!  We love going south in the winter and exploring Europe in the summer.  Canadians travel and as such, we have a lot of foreign currency sitting around collecting dust.  On average, we have $56-$87 worth of foreign currency stuffed away in jars, in our sock drawers, or maybe your travel bags.  Even if your plan is to take what you have back, what are the chances you will remember to?  You will be worried about making sure you've packed what you need, that you have your passport, you're worried that you will be able to access your tickets on your phone, are you leaving for the airport early enough.  The bottom line is, you won't be thinking about a few dollars worth of foreign money.
But, if your few dollars are put together with someone else's and so on and so on, soon we would be able to ensure that your neighbour will not have to worry about going hungry, that a shelter will have enough beds, that everyone could get the help they need.

Add a Foreign Currency Drive to Your Current Efforts

Most requests for cash donations don't come on their own.  They are included in a food or toy drive campaign.  Anyone making a donation of goods know there will always be an option to donate cash as well.
Let your donors know that they can donate foreign currency along with their Canadian donations. 
If you can, hold a special event to really kick things off.
Keep reminding your donors that foreign currency is not only welcomed, but makes a huge difference in your fundraising efforts.

Charities around the world collect foreign currency in the normal course of their fundraising.  To them, it would be unusual not to receive donations in cash from other countries.  This may be a new concept to Canada, but it's not new to fundraising.

Foreign currency fundraising is easy to do, costs nothing, generates awareness, and everyone can help out.