The Untapped Power of Your Pocket Change

CoinPhoto“By one estimate $10.5 billion sits in people’s homes gathering dust” (Burdick, Discover Magazine).

How much money do you have laying around your abode? Do you have coins resting in ceramic cups? Pennies glistening in a jar over the kitchen sink? Spare change covers the odd corners of our homes like valuable metallic dust. We recycle bottles, why not put old dimes to use?

A few years ago I started making a point of giving my house change to homeless people in San Francisco. I would put coins in ziplock bags and hand them to individuals I regularly saw on various street corners. I understand that giving money to homeless people on the street might not be your thing, but what about supporting the SPCA or Habitat for Humanity?

Some of you might believe that your spare coins can’t make a difference, consider this:

-80% of adults say they save loose change rather than spend it (website, Americans for Common Cents)

-$1 million of the approximately $3 million raised annually from national 7-Eleven stores for charities are pennies (website, Americans for Common Cents)

-The website The Straight Dope asked the question, “How much change do you have lying around your house?” The average amount was $195, with $50 being the most common number mentioned.

In her fascinating book, Give a Little, Wendy Smith’s research demonstrates that small donations make a difference globally and at home, while also proving psychologically beneficial to the donors.

How often are you asked to donate to a cause on Facebook? For me it is weekly. Many people don’t donate because they can’t give $50 or $100. What if all of those thousands of non-donors just gave $2? How much money would be raised? How could the world be steadily improved?

This blog asks you to embrace the $4 donation and get rid of your idle coins.

Here is a “how to” example:

-Find three jars (or more)

-Label Jar #1 Dana Farber Cancer Institute

-Label Jar #2 Doctors Without Borders

-Label Jar #3 Miscellaneous or Local Causes etc. (this is for all of the various fundraisers led by friends and family)

-Pick a day to cash in the coins with your bank, then donate the amount to each cause. If you are a parent, get your kids involved!

Anyone has the power to be a philanthropist and make the world a better place. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

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