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Change for good after Brexit? Donating the 50p coin

Change for good after Brexit? Donating the 50p coin

The introduction into circulation today of a new 50p to commemorate the UK’s departure from the European Union has produced another example of ‘’, or donating to charity in response to a polarising political act or decision.

The cupro-nickel coin is the only one being created to mark the country’s departure after 47 years of membership of the EU and its predecessors.

Peace, prosperity and [honest] friendship with all nations

On the reverse of the coin is the phrase “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”, together with, unusually for a UK coin, the date, 31 January 2020. The phrase, according to the Royal Mint, is inspired by a quotation from the first inaugural address by Thomas Jefferson, third president of the USA.

The original phrase was “peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations” which he presented as an essential principle for his administration. The Brexit coin notably omits “honest” from the qualities it extols.

This is the Conservative government’s second attempt to produce a commemorative coin to mark leaving the European Union. One million coins were produced in October, in anticipation of the UK leaving the EU on 31 October. When that could not be secured, the coins were melted down and the metal saved until another leave date could be confirmed.

About three million of the 50p coins enter circulation today, with a further seven million to follow.

The 1973 50p marking the UK’s entry to the EEC had a circulating mintage of 89,755,000.


Individuals donating their 50p coins to charities



Some of those who object to Brexit and/or to the commemoration of the event (or beginning of the process) with a coin have publicly mused on how to respond to the coin. Suggestions have included:

  • donating the coin to charity
  • selling the coin at inflated prices to Brexit supporters keen to own a keepsake and then donating the to charity
  • taking the coin out of circulation by storing it at home
  • defacing or damaging the coin (you might want to check Section 10 of the 1971 Coinage Act beforehand)


Some have been declaring that they would donate any such 50p coins that they came across to charities. Often they have specified charities who causes they suggest are particularly appropriate in that they appear to represent opposite concerns and priorities to those who have focused on Brexit.

Some simply took the coin as a glass (or collecting tin) half-full opportunity to do some good with the situation:


In other cases they have chosen charities that they see as needing support to protect people and issues that will likely suffer as a result of Britain leaving the EU, or which have already suffered while the government devoted extensive time and money to the Brexit process.









Others simply commented that the notion of a commemorative coin was looking dated to some, given the rapid rise in cashless payments:




Starting a movement

Some have suggested ‘starting a movement’ to harness the discussions and help encourage more people to donate their 50ps.

Fundraising consultant John Thompson has a distinguished track record in this area. For several years he has taken it upon himself to turn the introduction of new currency and coins into opportunities for mass public donations of everyone’s first and last such banknotes or coins in their possession.

His voluntary # campaign in 2016 is credited by CAF with raising over £12.5 million. He describes this kind of fundraising with the hashtag #Tenderaising.


Some have suggested making the most of such donations, including the idea of rounding up the gift to a £1, thereby doubling the value of the original gift:


There is certainly a large target for such a campaign:


Groups inviting 50p donations

Some voluntary groups or campaign organisations have started encouraging those donating their 50p coins to consider their organisation.

And Refugees At Home are reporting early successes:




Oxford comma

What to do with the Brexit 50p coins is not the only controversy that the coin has evoked.

The lack of a comma between “prosperity” and “and”, an Oxford comma, has been criticised by Sir Philip Pullman amongst others. He called on “all literate people” to boycott it for that reason.


My precious humour

Fortunately, amid this rage fundraising, some can still make light of it.



Top image: The Royal Mint


Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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