Change for Change
    Category: Philanthropy By : Sarah Moon Read : 1225 Date : Thursday, September 05, 2013 - 05:19:02

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    In 2008, two friends discovered they shared a dilemma. Nia Sadjarwo, 33, and Hanny Kusumawati, 30, both had money sitting at home, in the form of loose change collecting in jars. While brainstorming about what do with these coins, they figured that they were not the only ones accumulating coins over the years. Thus, the Coin a Chance organization was born in December that year, with the funds paying the educational costs for underprivileged children.

    The strategy is simple. Coin a Chance collects spare coins from individuals or companies, either the proverbial change in a jar or larger donations. To be sure, many organizations have small boxes near cash registers in coffee shops and other spots where it's easy to slip in a few coins. What's different about Coin a Chance is that the two founders have brought a modern edge to this age-old technique, using social media to build the organization and raise funds. The organization calls itself a “digital based social initiative.” (To be sure, Coin a Chance does also distribute its own cans for collecting coins.)

    The two know all about public relations and marketing from their work at local public relations firm Maverick. They were able to use their networking skills to build excitement about their project through blogging and other techniques. For example, the pair organize events at a trendy café, and invite people to bring in their penny jars, pool them together and count them—turning a dull job into a fun way to hang out and do some good.  The first such “Coin Collecting” day was held in January 2009, at a café in Plaza Semanggi in Jakarta. Bloggers helped organize about 20 people who showed up with 15 kilograms of coins, from their homes but also collected at workplaces. The event raised Rp 1.5 million, and was used to help one child in Jakarta go back to school (who had been forced to drop out due to lack of funds).

    Now Coin a Chance collects around Rp 50 million a year. From its first event in 2009, the Coin a Chance network has now expanded to nine chapters in places such as Bali, Bandung, Semarang and Yogyakarta, and even overseas to Berlin and Vienna. Those who support the organization are nicknamed “coiners.” Since it started, Coin a Chance has sponsored 60 students to attend school. The pair get corporate sponsors, such as Coca-Cola, the Body Shop, Nivea, Nokia and XL Axiata, to support the organization. They are changing the organization from an informal one into a proper foundation under the name Yayasan Coin Anak Bangsa and recently hired the organization's first full-time staff. “This is what we would hope to see with all of our consultants, that they give back in society with the skills and knowledge that they learn here,” says Ong Hock Chuan, the founder and technical adviser for Maverick (who thought up the name “Coin a Chance” for the pair).