The Royal Australian Mint: Donation Dollar charity campaign

This campaign, which saw the Royal Australian Mint produce 25 million new dollar coins, aims to encourage Australians to think differently about giving to charity. Words: Emma Tucker

In 2020, more than 25 million new dollar coins – one for every single Australian – were minted and sent out into the world. But rather than spending their days jingling in pockets and wallets, or being handed over in shops, these coins were instead designed to be donated.

The Donation Dollar campaign, by Saatchi & Saatchi Australia and the Royal Australian Mint, is a response to our dwindling reliance on physical currency, which has been overtaken by contactless payment and online shopping. It’s left those who often rely on coin donation, such as charities or homeless people, at a disadvantage.

“We had this idea for a campaign around the importance of giving,” explains the agency’s senior creative/writer Adam Ferrie. “What if we could flip it so the currency in people’s hands was the call to action? We could convince them that the coin doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to someone in need. That was the start of the idea.

“Apart from having holograms in the notes, currency hasn’t been altered to communicate a message other than commemorating a known person or moment in time,” he adds. “We thought it could be a new driver of change.”

The physicality of the coin was an important element, says Ferrie, explaining that research showed that digital donations remove the moment of personal, tactile connection people feel when handing over a coin.

While designing a coin isn’t quite as complex as paper money, Saatchi & Saatchi Australia faced some challenges when it came to creating the Donation Dollar. Ferrie mentions Gresham’s Law – the idea that people spend ‘bad’ money over good – as one hurdle, meaning their freshly minted coin couldn’t look too shiny and appealing. “It’s a psychological thing,” explains senior creative/art director Peter Cvetkovski, who also worked on the campaign. “If a coin looks more expensive, you’ll keep that and spend the beat up coin. So we couldn’t make it look like a token, or have a design that was so intricate people wanted to keep it.” 

The team was also limited in how much detail they were able to add, which constrained them to a simple design that ensured every part of the coin was relevant and communicated the message. They were able to be a little more playful with the rippled green centre of the dollar, which wears down more and more as the coin is passed on to reveal the gold underneath.

The Donation Dollar provoked a hugely positive response in Australian and international press, as well as from the general public. Within the first two months, 52% of the coins had been donated to charity and then recirculated back through the system so they can continue to be given away. 

On average, Australian dollars remain in circulation for 30 years, meaning the coins still have plenty of work to do over the coming decades. “We created an idea that’s a positive, gentle reminder that there’s someone in need who can benefit from this coin,” says Ferrie. “All those one-dollar donations adding up can make a big impact.”

And the ‘generosity loop’ – as the pair describe it – has caught the attention of other countries, with Ferrie hinting that similar coins could even pop up in other locations one day. Anyone for the Pay it Forward pound?

Category: Integrated; Entered by: Saatchi & Saatchi Australia

Client: The Royal Australian Mint
General Manager, Marketing, Sales & Innovation: Mark Cartwright
Project Manager: Frederica Heacock
Marketing & Communications Manager: Nicolle Keyes
Creative Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi Australia

CCO: Mike Spirkovski
ECD: Simon Bagnasco
Creative Director: Lee Sunter
Senior Creative/Copywriter: Adam Ferrie
Senior Creative/Art Director: Peter Cvetkovski
Head of Design: Matt Alpass
Designer: Alice De Saulles
Finished Artist: Juliet Symes
Executive Producer: Lucy Trengove
Producer: Zena Bartlett
Senior Digital Producer: Nick Baum
Digital Design: Jarryd Hood
Head of Content: Fei Wang
Creative Content Producer: Heather McKean
Developers: Steven Ashby, Dagmar Ford
Strategist: Jack Gilbert
Group Account Director: Leah Williams
Account Director: James Cameron
Account Director (2019): Jamie Herman
Account Executive: Jobe MacShane
Senior Business Director (2019): Adam Brami
New Business Director: Rebecca Robertson
Executive Strategy Director: Alex Speakman
Managing Director: Mark Cochrane
Production Company: Revolver
Director: Stephen Carroll
Managing Director/
Co-Owner: Michael Ritchie
Executive Producer/Partner: Pip Smart
Associate EP: Anna Mannix
Producer: Max Horn
Cinematographer: Jordan Maddocks
Post Production: The Editors, Melbourne
Executive Producer: Charlotte Griffiths
Editor: Leila Gabbi
Post Production & VFX: Alt VFX
Senior Producers: Celeste Fairlie. Adrianna Spanos
VFX Supervisor & Online Editor: Dave Edwards
VFX Production Manager: Jayce Attewell
Head of 3D: Nick Angus
CG Supervisor: Jordan McInnes
Animator: Kerri Moss
Lead Compositor: Matt Chance
Colourist: Ben Eagleton
Retouch Artist: Jonathon Ryder
Music Composition:
Turning Studios
Composer: Elliot Wheeler
Producer: Carla de Menezes Ribeiro
Audio Post Production: Squeak E. Clean Studios
Head of Sound: Paul Le Couteur
Executive Producer: Ceri Davies
Earned Media & Public Relations: Herd MSL
PR & Earned Media Team Lead: Rob Tolan
PR Strategy & Account Director: Stephanie Banno
PR Account Managers: Sarah Gilmore, Coralie Redden
Publicity Support: Nelson Fogarty, Lucy Rayner, Sarah Lipkin, Sophia Mathias, Karen Dunnicliff, Damian Marwood
Group Managing Director: Skye Lambley
Event Management: Yakusan Brand Experience
Senior Account Director: Isabelle Ward
Associate Producer: Lauren Hunter
Audio News Release: MediaCast
Video New Release: Hug Media