As announced in the 2012 Federal Budget, the Government of Canada will be phasing out the penny. The Department of Finance has recently released a short document addressing Frequently Asked Questions from charities relating to the discontinuance of the penny.

The document notes that the redemption of the penny presents a fundraising opportunity for charities, and that experience elsewhere has shown that charities can benefit by getting involved in the process of withdrawing low-denomination coins from circulation. It states that the Government of Canada encourages Canadians to consider donating their pennies to charities and that charities are welcome to take advantage of the initiative by conducting penny drives.

The document notes that charities should contact their financial institutions before starting any fundraising campaigns related to the phase out of the penny to determine best practices for collecting and redeeming the coins. The document also states that the Government expects that financial institutions will support the penny redemption process by accepting pennies and providing guidance on how to redeem pennies. This would include guidance on whether pennies must be rolled before being delivered for redemption.

The document notes finally that pennies will retain their value indefinitely and that there is thus no time limit for redeeming pennies.

Charities should consider taking advantage of the phase out of the penny as a possible fundraising opportunity. As stated in the FAQ document, they should consult their financial institution before doing so to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible.