Australian Mint and Saatchi & Saatchi partner up on Donation Dollar

New initiative will see 25 million Donation Dollar $1 coins put into circulation to encourage Australian consumers to give to charities

Flipping coin collection on its head has seen the Royal Australian Mint and Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne this week launch ‘Donation Dollar’, the world’s first legal tender currency designed to be donated to charity.  

The coin producer’s plan is to mint a ‘Donation Dollar’ for every Australian as a reminder encouraging all of us to donate. The idea has the full endorsement and support of the Community Council of Australia (CCA), a collective of over 50,000 charity organisations, and officially launched on International Charity Day (5 September).

Royal Australian Mint executive general manager – marketing, sales and innovation, Mark Cartwright, told CMO the idea for a donation token had been brewing since 2013.

“We wanted Australians to think about coins as more than one half of the cash transaction picture. With hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to the mint, the initial idea was to create a token that would allow those individuals to donate to better support multiple charities,” he explained.

But the idea went on the backburner until the ANZAC centenary celebrations in 2015, when the idea of helping veterans was raised. Again, it hit a roadblock.

“It turns out we weren’t big enough thinkers to get the idea to market - it took our Saatchi friends to present this idea of the donation dollar,” Cartwright said. “We had ideas but couldn’t get all the pieces of the puzzle together to develop it. There was a lot of cooperation and knowledge sharing between out organisations to make this happen.”

Being a government organisation, getting to this point required plenty of risk management, Cartwright continued. A significant milestone was getting buy-in from the Royal Australian Mint’s senior executives, CEO and board.

“The presentation of Donation Dollar got a big round of applause,” Cartwright said. “They could all see how powerful this idea was, which could do a lot of good in Australia and help a lot of people.”

The second achievement was getting the minister’s backing for what is a world-first. “He got it straight away,” Cartwright said.

While the Donation Dollar is not a response to the pandemic, COVID-19 nevertheless threw a big spanner in the works and months of delays as apprehension of using cash ramped up.

“Over time, it’s become clear cash is of no greater risk than any other item we touch. We saw the use of cash start to flow as consumers started to move about again, and it got to the point where we were confident we could position this well,” Cartwright continued. “We see cash flowing more in the lead-up to Christmas.”

Debut of the Donation Dollar is being supported by a raft of media and digital activity led by film, social and earned media. The Mint, in collaboration with Publicis Groupe agency, Herd MSL, has built out digital content for a dedicated website aimed at helping businesses and consumers learn more about the campaign and its ambitions.

“We’ll give it a rest in early 2021, then do some measurement and surveying to see how effective it has been, then go again,” Cartwright said. “Given the lifecycle of a coin is 30 years, there’s a long life on this one. If we build early momentum, our hope is Australians will see these coins and share photos when they find them, then donate them to the charities of their choice.”

The ambition is to put 25 million donation dollars into the Australian market over time. “Hopefully the movement grows enough where we start to see the cash cycle. We wanted to symbolically have one for every Australian. But there’s no reason to stop there if this becomes a cultural norm,” Cartwright said.

Success for the Mint is to have these dollars accepted on mass scale by consumers and the charity sector. The organisation is also working with banks to ensure they’re on-board and pushing the coins straight back into the economy when they receive them.

At a professional level, Cartwright said it’s been a fascinating project as a marketer and one he’s proud to be part of.

“Translating a really good idea into a complex, dynamic environment and with the backdrop of a pandemic has certainly presented its challenges,” he said. “We’re reasonably confident via the research we did around giving and altriusm of consumers that when these flow into the economy, Australians will donate.”

While Australians are generous by nature, we have tended to give at particular times of the year. Yet research shows almost all consumers believe they can afford to donate $1 every week. If every Australian gave one Donation Dollar a month, this would raise an additional $3 billion for charities over 10 years.

“These coins will be a good reminder to donate,” Cartwright said. “We have the fundamentals right, so if we can create awareness and put coin into spots where people access it and have available collection points, it’ll create additional revenue for our charities. It’s about creating moments when people feel good about contributing to the community and seeing there is a community benefit in a sustainable way.”  

Another unique challenge the Mint had to face was the fact giving away coins is the exact opposite approach many of core coin collecting supporters would entertain. According to Cartwright, 24 per cent of Australian adults collect coins in some way, presenting a significant hurdle to the Donation Dollars being put back into circulation.

“We had found some trying to sell these coins online and our community saying no, we won’t collect it, make sure you give it away. So there are green shoots appearing – the people we interact with most get it, and we can see there’s reason for our optimism,” he added.

Chair of The Community Council for Australia and former chief executive of World Vision Australia, Tim Costello, praised the Donation Dollar initiative and impact it will have. 

“Our immediate reaction when presented with the Donation Dollar was ‘finally an idea that unites every Australian charity, but also every Australian, in a common good’,” he commented. “With research showing one in five Australians, who don’t currently give to charity at all, saying the coin would lead to them giving more to charity, there’s no doubt in my mind this is a gift that will benefit those who are most vulnerable in our nation, starting now – a time when many need this kind of helping hand the most.”

Saatchi & Saatchi Melbourne executive creative director, Simon Bagnasco, he was incredibly proud of the team behind this project.

“It is a rare feat to bring an idea to the world which helps all charities, not just one. And a special thank you to everyone at the Mint for the spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm they brought to this project,” he said.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia



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