Friday, August 3, 2012
Can Change Change The World?
Being a man, and not carrying a purse, I have long hated change - coins that is. I hate carrying it, counting it out (and hate more when someone in front of you searches around to try to come up with exact change), and cashing it in if I do save it. To me coin change is like 'extra' money'. So my current practice, when I do pay with cash and get change, is to throw it in what was the ashtray in the car and then when it gets full take it in the house where we save change til maybe once a year we take it to the bank or a self serve cash-in place.
Still, if at all possible I try to avoid getting change back. Just this morning I walked to the local bakery to get some breakfast. I got $1.30 in change back. Thankfully seeing that they had a Save-A-Wish donation bin out, I threw the coins - even the extra dollar bill - in there. I find myself doing that at pretty much any place that has them, barely paying attention to the organization it goes to. If I notice it is one I am sympathetic towards I will go out of my way to make sure I get change in there, or throw in extra as I did today. After all, why make the effort to add that dollar bill back into my wallet?
If I added them up for the year, I wonder what my coin or extra change donations would add up to. Sure, it may actually be a substantial amount over the course of a year. But what if we could get even more businesses to add dono bins? What if more places you used cash at had a way to donate the extra somehow? How much extra or found money as I see it could you donate in a year?
We can keep the concept going further. For those places that don't have donation bins, what if you took the change you collect and when you would cash it in, donate it to your choice of charity instead? What would be the impact? Such a simple act could make a big impact to organizations large and small.
And yet, the cogs in my mind spin onto another idea. What if your bank had a way to take any transaction with a decimal (cents) and round it up to the next dollar and allocate that money from you to your choice of charity? They could even give a choice of a few they support. With a choice like that it may even steer you to a certain bank based on which ones they support and you can along with them. I took a look at two weeks - one paycheck - of my transactions. If every transaction not a whole dollar was rounded up it would equal $12.49. I did not look further to see if that is an average month, but if it was with 26 paychecks a year it would total to over $300 in donations. $300 in donations for the price of a fast food meal once a week with money I don't even want to have on me. If ten people did it, carry the two, that is $3,000, proceed with multiplication of higher numbers of people participating in this and it could add up quickly. If you could participate in something like this - would you?
There are so many ways something like this could be implemented. Your favorite online store (hello Amazon) or online payment system (hello Paypal) could do something like the banks and round your transaction up to go to a charity. Vending machines could have a coin receptacle to give back the change you just got for the vendor to use for the advertised charity. And so on.
In any case, no matter how simple or complex, there are and could be more ways to make your change make a difference.
Maybe our loose change can truly change the life of one person, the effects of one disease, if not the world.