Unique Fundraising Ideas

Penny Wars & Change Wars: The Short-and-Sweet Guide

At Double the Donation we specialize in providing matching gift tools to help nonprofits raise more money from corporate philanthropy programs. Our friends at Causera published this great post on Change Wars [June 2015 update – Link to original article no longer working] that we wanted to share.

Fun Fundraising: Change Wars

Fundraising can be stressful, and let’s face it who wants to put effort into a fundraiser that returns little revenue and requires exorbitant amounts of time. A proven fundraiser that schools and organizations alike have used successfully is the Change Drive.

There are countless variations for this type of fundraisers, but here is the perfect Change Drive Fundraiser to bring your school, church group, sports team, or nonprofit extra dollars without the time burden. Moreover, a change war is fun! This fundraiser draws upon the competitive nature of its participants driving up the revenue for your cause!

Change Wars Fundraising Ideas

Executing a Change War

As with any fundraiser, you should first brainstorm to see if this is the best fundraiser for your cause. If you cannot execute the fundraiser properly to extract the maximum amount of donations, the fundraiser may not be worth your valuable time. Fortunately, the change war is an easy fundraiser that both beginner fundraisers and seasoned veterans can accomplish with relatively little effort. After brainstorming, you should meet with your team of volunteers and plan out the full details of the fundraiser!

  1. Set a time frame: Your change war can run as long or a short as you want it to! Make it a quick competition of 5 days or a month. You can even set your change war to run the course of a season. For schools, try running the change war for the fall until Holiday Break or from the beginning of school until Halloween. For church groups, try matching the fundraiser with your liturgical calendar like the lenten season.
  2. Set a goal: For your Change War you must set a goal. The goal will encourage competition and it will promote donations as you inch closer to the set amount. Moreover, everyone “wins” when the goal is broken!
  3. Create clear and concise rules: Make sure that everyone understands your rules and that they are easy to follow.

Here are sample rules we have set up here for a sample school Change War:

  1. The time frame of this Change War will be one calendar month and the winning class will get a party or special privilege for winning.
  2. Each class will have decorate a water jug for the fundraiser with their class name on it, this jug will be located in the library and will hold the donations.
  3. For the first two weeks of the Change War, classes should donate as much money as they can into their class jug. These donations can be any type of coins – pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc. – and dollars.
    1. Every day, or every few days, an adult will collect the jugs and count the money inside. The money should be placed in an envelope or larger collection bin with designations for each class so the money does not get misplaced.
    2. At the end of each week, announce the total amounts and which class is in the lead.
    3. Below the jugs in the library, a poster will be created to show students the running totals of which class is in the lead – it should be updated weekly following the announcement.
  4. Donating: For the last two weeks of the Change War, the competition will switch to a reverse generosity competition. Classes want as little money in their jugs as possible and should put all donations into other the jugs of other classes.
    1. The amounts totalled in each classes jug will be “deducted” from their total amount raised. Note that the money is still going towards the overall cause!
    2. The reverse generosity encourages more friendly competition and classes will fully immerse themselves in the fundraiser.
    3. The same procedure that follows step C applies to step D.
  5. Count the total amount of change and dollars collected for the entire month and wrap the coins, or have a bank count it for you, and send or deposit the check for cause!

Raise Money with a Change War

Tips for Greater Success

As noted in a previous post, storytelling is an important tool to solicit donations. Tell a story and make it the central theme for this Change War.

  • Why are you raising the money?
  • What will the money be used for?
  • Why should students and parents donate?

If you can answer these questions and create a compelling argument, the donations will follow and you will have a successful fundraiser.

This is a fun fundraiser so keep it that way! Encourage the friendly competition between classes and remind them that they are donating to a great cause. Be sure to keep the price of the prize low so the great majority of the proceeds go towards the initial intent of the fundraiser.

Ask parents if their companies have corporate matching programs as these could double the proceeds raised by your organization!

Add a Twist to your Change Wars

Add a Twist

Here is a great way to get parents involved and take your Change War to the next level. However, this will take extra effort and technology. If your organization is able to accept online donations, this fundraiser has the potential to raise far more money.

Online donations allow parents to participate beyond giving their children change and dollars. Parents will be able to join in on the fun and the competition that their children experience while partaking in the fundraiser. With the ability to process credit and debit cards the potential for donations is endless.

Penny Wars Recap


The Change War is a simple and effective fundraiser to engage your organization and get the donation dollars flowing in. Brainstorm your fundraiser in full detail before beginning. Additionally, you should meet frequently with your core team of volunteers to make sure that everything is progressing as detailed in the brainstorming plans. Do not forget to set clear rules for the competition. If you are following our plan, the reverse generosity may confuse some participants so explain that thoroughly.

For greater success, implement the tools of storytelling and corporate matching and for a fundraising surprise integrate online services to greater engage parents. At the end of your Change War, you will have made fond memories, completed a fun fundraiser, and hopefully reached your goal in donations!

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *