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The Royal Australian Mint calls it the “donation dollar” — a specially made $1 coin that it hopes people will give away.
The Mint has begun pressing 25 million of the charitable coins — about one for every Australian — in a bid to boost the country’s flagging levels of philanthropy.
The special coin has a green centre with a gold ripple design, symbolising the ongoing, positive repercussions that each donation can make.
It is also the first Australian $1 coin to feature a colour other than gold.
Mint chief executive Ross MacDiarmid said he wanted Australians to notice the distinctive design when they picked it up, and think about who most needed the dollar.
“Hopefully, they will look at the message that is being conveyed on that coin and they will look to donate it,” he said.
That message is embossed around the green centre: “give to help others”.
Most Australians will donate the coin, survey suggests
The world-first initiative is backed by research that found most Australians — 57 per cent — said they would be likely to donate the coin if they found it in their change.
Mr MacDiarmid said the aim was to promote charity, even if that meant simply thinking about giving.
“What we are trying to do here is get people to stop and reflect,” he said.
“If they did just that alone and thought about the idea of donating … that in itself would be an amazing outcome.
The Mint is encouraging giving “in all forms” — whether that involves donating to a registered charity or collector, or simply handing the coin to a person in need.
The unique coin is legal tender — it can be used just like any other $1 coin — but it is not a collectable.
About 3.5 million have already been minted.
Charities expected to struggle amid coronavirus
Analysis by financial consultants JBWere suggests the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects will undermine the charity sector for years.
It predicts that, over the next two years, Australian not-for-profits will collect 18 per cent less income through donations.
The assistant federal minister responsible for charities, Zed Seselja, said the Mint’s donation dollar was a “long-term idea” to remind Australians to donate if they were able to.
“This year we know there are many Australians doing it tough in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Australia’s 57,000 charities and not-for-profits have not been immune to these economic challenges,” he said.
The Mint’s latest annual report noted that the demand for coins in Australia had been in decline for years, as people increasingly used cards and phones to conduct transactions.