Donation Dollar Social Initiative

  • 2021

  • Social Impact

Commissioned By:

Royal Australian Mint

Designed In:


The Royal Australian Mint and Saatchi & Saatchi designed the world’s first Donation Dollar. With parallel thinking, different skills and expertise we co-designed a coin and campaign to promote greater charitable giving and transform the way people think and use cash for the greater good.

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Image: Donation Dollar image
Image: Donation Dollar showing Call-to-Action: Give to Help Others
Image: Donation Dollar campaign image
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  • We identified a societal problem that donations were up, but charitable giving was down, but if every Australian donated at least one dollar a month, we could encourage an additional 300 million dollars in charitable giving each year. But we needed to understand if the idea of donating $1 would be enough to override some of the barriers that were stopping people from being more charitable. Including understanding behaviours and attitudes towards donation. Despite Gresham's Law, that suggests "bad money drives out good". The question we wanted answered was would people be tempted to keep the shiny, new Donation Dollar?

  • The Mint used a design thinking methodology to design the coin and took a human centred design approach including understanding user needs, defining the problem, ideation, prototyping and testing in a busy retail environment. The coin was then designed to stand out in someone's change including a call-to-action message 'Give to help others' to prompt donation, colour to stand out, and a simple design so people wouldn't be tempted to collect it instead of donate it. This was the first coin in Australia where a detailed study of the human experience of a coin's usage was studied to drive design.

  • Initially 4 million coins entered circulation and within 2 months, 1.25m were found in change. Of those, 662,500 Australians gave at least one coin to a charity i.e $662,500 donated. At this rate, Donation Dollar is projected to raise $4 million in its first year. Donation Dollars were given as follows: Animal welfare (35%) Homeless charities (32%) Children or young people (29%) Hospitals (28%) Bushfire appeals (23%) Environmental (23%) Social and/or public welfare organisations (23%) Australians farmers / rural and drought aid (18%) Medical research (e.g. cancer research) (17%) Charities engaged in work in developing countries (11%) Human rights organisations (4%)

  • In 2020 everything was stacked against cash usage but the Mint pushed forward to make the Donation Dollar as charitable giving had dropped a further 7.1% with the full effect of the global pandemic expected to be felt in 2021 with a further fall of 11.9% expected. Cash use dropped as most businesses encouraged card-only payments and in June 2020, Woolworths commenced trialling permanent cashless transactions. Whilst cash use was down, demand for circulating coins increased in the last quarter to significantly higher quantities than seen in recent years and the narrative on social media shifted to a more positive attitude towards cash use. People had become nervous during the bushfires when ATMs went down, and Covid-19, followed by an increase of people needing financial assistance, meant cash offered some reassurances and a safety net. Whilst it was a risk, the Mint decided to use this period to modify its engineering processes to deliver country's first coloured circulating Donation Dollar. In 2021 Woolworths dropped its controversial trial of cashless stores after significant customer backlash. Shoppers wanted the choice to use cash to pay for their groceries sighting elderly and homeless people as the most disadvantaged in a cashless society.