By Dennis Ullman and Scott Hutchings

It is estimated that over $2 Billion in foreign currency is currently stored or saved in Canadian homes and businesses. This currency has no use or real value in Canada. As a result, foreign currency (notes and coins), pennies, and loose change are found in bags, boxes, envelopes, tea cups, jars and desk drawers. This leftover currency is not serving any purpose or realizing the potential value this currency could make in our communities.

Did you know?
Currency from travels and vacations can be donated to support charities, help create employment and assist in preserving our environment by recycling coins and notes that sometimes end up in the landfill.

Donations of currency are repatriated from countries all around the world. After being converted to Canadian currency, donations are then used to support programs for your local or national charity.

Keep in mind there is approximately:
• $691+ Million in western Canada
• $139+ Million in eastern Canada
• $840+ Million in Ontario
• $490+ Million in Quebec

This foreign currency, if donated – can help to make a tremendously positive and impactful difference in the community. If only a small portion of the foreign currency was donated, everyone would be working together to support charities in the community throughout Canada.

In Durham Region alone, there is over $35 Million in foreign currency available for collection. Just imagine for a moment, what a regional charity could do with this level of funding? Issues regarding mental health, youth homelessness, domestic abuse, food security and children and youth living in poverty could be eradicated.

In fact, any charity or non-profit could participate in a foreign currency collection drive and generate much needed revenues for their programs and services. A foreign currency collection program requires virtually no start-up investment.

The Durham Children’s Aid Foundation (DCAF) developed a program – Currency for Kids. Currency for Kids is a great way to support the needs for Mental Health and Wellness programs for children and youth in Durham Region. The following is an overview of a foreign collection currency program.

Currency for Kids
Through the Currency for Kids program DCAF accepts all currency from anywhere in the world. The program is promoted on DCAF’s website, social media, at events and to supporting partners and donors.

There are minimal to no start-up costs, nor on-going costs for this program.

Currency for Kids (CFK) program is easy to support as an individual, business or with a group of volunteers. First, look in your own home or business and collect the foreign currency. Second, help grow the program by engaging a service club, church group, school or through an employee drive. Finally, ask your local currency exchange, travel agency or hotel to assist with collections. Invite friends who travel or businesses that work internationally to support.

Currency for Kids also recycles by collecting and reducing waste. Believe it or not, leftover currency often ends up in local landfills. Through this program metal (from coins) and paper (from bank notes) would be recycled and used to support the communities we serve and support. Help to keep foreign currency out of our landfills, this recycling activity also helps to keep our environment safer.

In addition, Currency for Kids helps to remove foreign currency from the Canadian currency supply. By removing foreign coins there is less confusion when determining if a coin is Canadian. Many coins from other countries do have a similar look as Canadian coins. These coins have no monetary value in Canada. With fewer foreign coins in the currency supply, fewer businesses will experience the monetary lose when a foreign coin is used to complete a purchase. The donated coins and notes are now put to an incredible use of supporting the community.

Donate something that has little to no value to Currency for Kids. Help make a difference and ensure that “No Child Shall Be Left Behind”. Keep in mind that foreign currency can’t be spent in Canada.

How Businesses Donate
Donations can be mailed to your office. The currency has no value at this time, the value is only realized after it is repatriated. For larger quantities, donors can contact your office or a volunteer to make arrangements for pick-up of larger donations. The issuing of Charitable Tax Receipts could be provided upon request, if they meet the charity’s receipt issuing policy–for example, when the repatriated value exceeds $50.00 CDN.

Supporting Locations
Charities can set-up a network of collection depots throughout the community. Businesses such as currency exchanges, travel agencies, local stores, tourism destinations, etc. are great locations for collection depots. Schools, Service Clubs and other community organizations can also assist with the collection of foreign currency.

The Repatriation and Donation Process
The objective is for the program to be easy. To that end, we handle everything after the donation/collection has taken place; from pickup up the currency from the charity directly or from their collection partners, sorting and documenting the currencies that are collected, repatriation of the currency (shipping foreign coin back to its home country), and finally reporting and payment.

Sorting mixed currencies is manual work and because of that, GCS employs people. The more charities we work with, the more money that is collected, the more staff we need to hire and that makes us very happy. We also employ people with Autism as some of our work is very repetitive and they have abilities others don’t.

Other charities on international, national and local levels already collect and repatriate foreign currency. These include: UNICEF USA, the Air Canada Foundation, Durham Children’s Aid Foundation, March of Dimes Canada, Cancer Assistance Services of Halton Hills, as well as virtually every charity in the U.K.
There are even 2 charities in New Zealand and Ireland whose funding comes exclusively from the collection of leftover foreign currency, old currency, and loose change; Heads Up for Kids and Koins For Kids.

In conclusion, the collection of foreign currency is an extremely viable opportunity for increasing donations to the charitable and non-profit sector. With minimal resources required to begin a foreign currency collection, access to this fund raising opportunity is wide open to any organization that desires to raise additional funds. Begin promoting to your donors through your various promotional channels to start receiving the donations of foreign currency. After receiving your donations, soon after they are delivered to Global Coin Solutions, your organization can expect to receive the net proceeds from the donations. The proceeds can then be put to great use assisting your organization to meet their goals and objectives.
Help make our communities a better place by collecting foreign currency. Keeping in mind, all currency accepted and leftover currency help support the charities in our community.

Scott Hutchings is president of Global Coin Solutions and Dennis Ullman is executive director of Durham Children’s Aid Foundation.

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