Diversifying fundraising programs can help a charity generate new sources of income while mitigating the cash flow risks found in of those peaks and valleys throughout the year. With the proliferation of technology and digital tools there are certainly many new opportunities for charities to attract donors, however value can be found in the traditional charity coin box programs if executed well.
Having managed one of Canada’s most successful programs, I am sharing 8 tips on how to execute a charity coin box program. After reflecting on these tips you may find this fundraising option is the right one for your charity.
- Ensure the box option aligns with your charity’s brand and your current and potential donor expectations. Review your brand characteristics, how the public perceives your brand and how donors engage and support your charity to determine if this is the right type of program for you.
- Whether you purchase an off-the-shelf design or a custom box consider carefully the design, size, construction and the security elements. Where the box will be placed (counter top or floor) drives the considerations of size, type of construction, security, signage and cost. These elements, along with the look of the box, convey an important message about your brand promise. Proper design should balance both function and form.
- Effective programs merchandise the charity very well with strong branding, photographic images and short call-to-action statements. Generally, the public does not take the time to read heavy copy rather they donate based on strong imaging and a clear donate prompt. Clean and simple merchandising garners move favorable donor impulses to drop a coin in the box.
- ‘Point of donation’ or consumer point of sale will be a critical element in your program success and the key factor in the negotiations with your distribution partner. High yield box programs have a broad distribution system in retail or high commercial public traffic areas not owned or operated by the charity. Negotiating location(s) for the box(es) where consumer readily access their coins is key, like at cash registers, drive thru windows, entrance to security scanners or event gates.
- Regardless of the number of boxes you have in circulation the program will need a well planned and managed distribution and collection system. You will want to collect the funds and/or boxes on a regular basis for a number of reasons including but not limited to: move donations to the bank to grow with interest, box maintenance, program monitoring, risk of theft or abuse, update merchandising material and system evaluation.
- Your coin processing system should be efficient with proper controls in place to sort, count, pack for deposit the coins on a timely basis. While dealing with non-receipted cash your finance department should ensure the processes are in place to handle cash appropriately at all points of transfer to ensure the program operates beyond reproach.
- In addition to following acceptable accounting practices, mitigating transportation risks by securing boxes with locks and having secure collection containers can reinforce public confidence and insurance accountability measures.
- If you are a charity operating in a geography where more than one foreign currency can be collected you will need special coin sorting systems. Proper foreign currency management will need to be thought thru carefully, especially in the handling denominations, sorting from other currencies and the reporting on your financial statements.
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