Philanthropy Thursday: Counting on Change

Chances are you have it: a bucket, container, shoe box or dish where you throw change found in your pockets at the end of the day. We have two: “his” and “hers”. I’ve been collecting change in mine for a couple of years and had filled a half-gallon size jar.

I know some people who have very specific plans for these change jars. The money is being used for a family trip, or to buy a piece of furniture, or for the kids’ college funds. However, I had no plans for this change. It was just ‘fun money’.

But, as I brought the jar downstairs and started to divide the coins into piles of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies, I had a thought. Turning to my little helpers (Belly and Jilly), I told them they could decide how to spend a third of the money. However, instead of spending their portion on themselves, the money had to go to helping someone else. We would each get one-third of the total coins rolled.

Belly, in full American Girl Doll mode, said she wanted to help a place like the one that helped Kit’s father. The story of Kit is set during the Great Depression when her father had to visit a soup kitchen. We decided that Boston’s Pine Street Inn was pretty close, so we will be sending them a check (and since Fairly Odd Father’s company has a matching gift program, we can double our donation).

Jilly had to think about where to send her portion but decided she wanted to help animals. We will send her donation to our nearby MSPCA which has a nice new cat room to showcase the older cats.

The number of charities I would like to help is endless. However, I was touched after reading this post about the number of schools and libraries that lost all their books to Hurricane Katrina. Books, to me, are one of the most important things a child should have, and therefore, I will be purchasing some items from this wish list.

If you have a jar of coins with no plans attached to them, consider donating them to a cause that speaks to you. Chances are someone else will see your quarters, nickels and dimes not as change, but as gold.


  1. I think that’s a really great idea 🙂

  2. I like it. Good plan.

  3. That’s a great idea. We really need to do something like that. Our next donation is going to be for the handicapped playground that is (still) yet to be built in town (soon though). We were waiting until the first of the year though to use Husband’s matching gift program as well (we used it the thrid quarter of last year and it can be only once per quarter).

  4. Nice, on lots of counts.

  5. What a great idea!! It’s raining here today, so while I am working the boys can round up all the change, and make a list of where to send it.

  6. theotherbear says

    Great idea. I bought some Christmas pressies this year for young kids whose families didn’t have enough to give the kind of Christmas we have. It was organised though a local charity – you get told gender and age, and then you go buy something and drop it off to the charity, who distributes it to the kids.

  7. Okay. This is a fantastic idea. I love the idea of replacing books. And involving my kids. And using the change jar. Thank you!

  8. Oh, The Joys says

    Thank you for this!!


  9. Shaping Youth says

    I love the word play ‘counting on change’…very brand-driven!

    I’ve been following your blog for awhile, and wanted to ping you with Shaping Youth’s recent kids’ series on making philanthropy fun in meaningful ways that pertain to various age groups…

    From tweens to teens we use the same ‘media/mktg’ persuasion techniques to instill positive messages and tap into kids’ passions to enroll them in what they’re interested in from a cause/creative standpoint so that it touches their world with relevance.

    Here’s one post geared to teens, involving ‘in her shoes’ poetry/pedicures to raise awareness of a given cause, and another on teen beading for continent to continent outreach via service projects, scout troops, slumber parties and more…

    Here’s one on ‘marketing mindfulness’ to kids too:

    They’re all in the sidebar under recent posts…We’ll organize them better with the new site overhaul! Keep up the great work, –a.

  10. Just Seeking says

    Great idea! I love including the kids. It’s amazing what they come up with. Mine are only 5 and 7 and we recently raised their allowance from $1/week to $4/week. The deal is this—they get a raise so they are happy, they give $1 to charity, $1 to savings, and they get to spend (or save) $2. Our plan is to wait until the charity pile gets up a little–to several or more dollars—and then let them decide what to do with it. Wish us luck!
    Excellent post!

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