What is just one penny? Most of us don’t think it is all that much. We may even groan a little when we get pennies in our change. But many fund-raising organizations are turning those little copper coins into a terrific fund-raising project.
The Top Benefit of a Penny Drive: Everyone Has Pennies
One of the benefits to a penny drive is that literally everyone can participate. Everyone has a penny, or at least a handful of pennies. Children have lots of fun with this type of fund-raiser, obtaining pennies for special projects. Setting a penny as your fund-raising goal suddenly feels like one that “everyone” can reach easily, and this makes it fun.
Schools and Organizations Find Success With Penny Drives
One school even got so enthusiastic about their penny drive — that they raised a million of them! Halstead Elementary students enthusiastically collected more than a million pennies to buy playground equipment. The school held their penny drive this spring. The students raised the large number of pennies in just six weeks. The pennies were taken from the school in a trailer bed so the students could see their hard efforts up-close. The fund-raiser was inspired because next year the 5th graders will begin attending school at Halstead Elmentary and thus more playground equipment is needed for the additional children. The playground is anticipated to be completed by the fall.
Interfaith Ministries of Wichita, TX has been running a penny drive since 2003. They have seen a steady increase in the funds they have raised from their penny drive and they are quite pleased with the results.
Executive Director Jean Payne states that they had several reasons to start their penny drive. “We have a program that provides long-term prescription assistance to people in our community. It has always been a challenge to provide the funding for that program. Our board decided that we wanted to do several things that involved public relations: one was to improve our presence and our name recognition in the community, and another was to provide more consistent funding for this program. So we ‘married’ those two ideas and started an annual campaign to raise funds for this program and to publicize Interfaith Ministries.” The prescription program has been handled by the organization since 1986 and the Pennies for Prescription began in 2003.
Before Interfaith Ministries started the Pennies for Prescriptions campaign, the organization missed a whole segment of the population; they were not receiving contributions from the business and corporate community. “So part of our campaign involved soliciting local businesses to support the campaign which was very successful,” said Payne. Interfaith Ministries would send both a volunteer and a staff member with a packet of information about the program.
Payne is grateful for the support from corporate and business supporters. “One component of this campaign is to put collection containers in businesses. A few years before we did this program, a volunteer came up with the slogan ‘pennies for prescriptions’, so when we put collection containers in the community, that became the name of the campaign in the community.”
The Key to a Great Penny Drive is Organized Collection of Pennies
Sandra Sims coordinated a penny drive at her church that lasted for four Sundays. “Each week I would take up the coin collections and count them. Our business administrator did another count before deposits as she always does. After the four weeks we raised about $200 for our mission fund,” said Sims.
Jean Payne of Interfaith Ministries discovered that a challenge of running this program is that if you are counting the change yourself it can be time-intensive for volunteers, and the bank you select. “When we started emptying the containers every month, this volunteer wanted to keep track of how m much money every business collected so he could tell which business were raising money,” said Payne. The volunteer wanted to know if the collection containers should be moved to other businesses that could be more profitable for the organization. “He kept very detailed records and kept each businesses money separate. He also had to find a bank that would count the money separate. At one point we had 250 collection containers and few banks really want to take that type of project on.”
Interfaith Ministries managed their project for the past 4 years with only one volunteer. “At one point he was working fifteen hours a month. He would drive to each of the 250 locations to take the money out of the containers. So this means that he has also ‘donated’ gas and the wear and tear on his car to us,” said Payne.
Raise More Funds with Collection Cans in Many Locations
Sandra Sims states “Since it takes a lot of pennies to add up to a sizable donation, you need collection jars in multiple locations. Even if your drive is just within one company, school, congregation or other organization there needs to be jars in many locations thorough the building(s). So make it as convenient as possible for people to donate. It is also better if the change drive is time sensitive, just 4-6 weeks, for example. That way people will not start to just ignore the canisters. You can also really do a publicity drive during that time to keep people aware of the collection.”
Penny by Penny…They Make a Big Difference
Pennies can help any organization to meet their budget or to pay for a special program. A penny drive is a simple fund-raising project that can be well-organized with a small group of volunteers (depending on your fund-raising goal). Most importantly, finding donor will be easy – as everyone has some of those extra pennies around the house, in their pockets and just about everywhere!