Perspective from over 30 years of fund-raising experience

In the past month, I have received over 50 links to articles and stories related to the desperate crisis Food Banks across Canada are experiencing.  This crisis is a severe lack of donations being received in support of Food Banks.  The headlines include:

Canada’s food bank usage rises ‘dramatically’
Edmonton food bank for veterans struggling to keep up with demand

B.C. food banks struggle to keep up as demand across Canada soars

Food bank demand rises 30 per cent in Manitoba: report

New data shows 872,000 Quebecers use a food bank every month

Some P.E.I. food banks can’t offer Thanksgiving turkeys due to high cost of living

Behind the Unprecedented Rise in Food Bank Use

Have you used a food bank recently?

As 2024 looms, GTA food banks worry demand will continue growing

As cost-of-living soars, millions of Canadians are turning to food banks

It’s very clear, Food Banks need assistance.  You may say, only the poor need help…  This is no longer the case as even double income earning families are requesting assistance from Food Banks as they can no longer afford basic food and shelter. 

The lack of donations coupled with a dramatic increase in demand for support is causing great stress and concern for children, youth and families who are facing limited access to basic food and essential nourishment.  As the weather gets colder and an increase in food prices continues, it is becoming more and more obvious that many people in our country do not have access to the basic food requirements they require to survive.  In the coming weeks people will be faced with incredible and unfair choices… Do we pay the rent or buy food?  Do we turn on the heat so we don’t freeze or buy food? Let alone any dream of a holiday celebration. 

To help alleviate the crisis as we approach the traditional holiday season, there is one solution that every Food Bank should consider.  Food Banks must begin promoting the donating of leftover Foreign Currency.  Imagine how much bread, milk, fruit, vegetables and meat could be purchased with $1 Billion in Foreign Currency donations (this only represents 50% of the total Foreign Currency donations available in Canada).  The leftover Foreign Currency is stored away in bags, tea cups, boxes, desk drawers, etc. and basically forgotten about…  Did I mention it has little or no value in Canada at this time?  It’s time to let people know they can put this leftover foreign currency to great use and help “Feed the Need” in our communities. 

Did You Know?

In Canada, there is over $2 Billion in Foreign Currency available.  When donated to a Food Bank the funds would be repatriated and converted to currency that can be used in Canada.  These funds could be used to purchase food.  Imagine how many loaves of bread could be purchased with these funds, meat, fruit or dairy products. 

If the average food hamper cost $50 to help a homeless youth or struggling family, $1 Billion would help to purchase food for over 20,000,000 people.  You might ask, how is this possible?  It’s possible if we work together to promote the fact that Foreign Currency donations can make a significant difference in the lives of people across the country and in our local community.

Imagine for a moment, how Canadian Food Banks could benefit from over $2 Billion in donations.  Thinking with a broader vision, this would ease the burden on the government who are being called upon to increase funding support for Food Banks. 

Why Your Food Bank needs to Start Benefitting from Funds available through Foreign Currency Donations!

With no up-front costs and limited effort, Food Banks could begin benefitting from the collection of foreign currency… TODAY.  The biggest hurdle facing the collection of Foreign Currency is that people are simply unaware that leftover Foreign Currency can be put to great use in their community.  The first step in starting a Foreign Currency collection program is to share the message.  This does not require a massive marketing plan, major allotment of staff resources, etc.  Simply let people know that Foreign Currency Donations can assist and your Food Bank is accepting the donation of leftover Foreign Currency.

Food Banks are open to receiving donations on a regular basis, they could be identified as a community drop-off depot for leftover foreign currency.  People can bring their food donations and their leftover foreign currency at the same time.  The donation of Foreign Currency will not decrease the food donations.  In fact, donations of Foreign Currency will attract new donors to learn more about Food Banks and the amazing work they do, and in turn potentially result in a new donor. 

Why wait?  Now is the time to start changing the world, one cent at a time.

For more information contact Dennis Ullman, Vice-President – Innovation and Development, Global Coin Solutions at or visit

In the next article, a return to our plan as we highlight simple cost-efficient methods for your charity to grow your program while building your organizations brand. 

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