The power of 5, and 5 and 5 and 5

Back in the 80’s, some brilliant marketing company recognized the power of using the beautiful Heather Locklear to teach us that “It was so good, I told two friends about it. And they told two friends. And so on and so on.” And it worked. Now imagine if everyone aware of #5dollarFriday did the same thing?

Lets take it one step further. What role can media play in spreading a movement or influencing people. In the last federal election, Canadians voiced their outrage that Prime Minister Harper manipulated the media limiting journalists access. More recently, the Alberta Government has come under scrutiny for deciding who is worthy of press credentials to attend their press conferences and announcements. Politicians get all sorts of media coverage whether they try to block access or not.

Charities on the other hand do not. In fact, I contacted several people I personally know in the media about my idea and with the website url. I contacted celebrities too. There was no interest. None. YET. This movement is in its infancy; We cannot change the world overnight! But here is a feel good story, that people are often looking for, put in their laps, and I am pretty sure, some did not even bother to click the link to this page. But many of you did. In fact, in 2 weeks, 188 of you did, so thank you!

In particular, one guy studying broadcasting in Vancouver did. One guy, that happened to already have his own podcast with a following. My interviewer likely would not be able to gain access to the Alberta Government press conferences either, but he was one person the thought my idea was important to share. He wanted to know…..could this work in Vancouver. YES! In fact, this can work ANYWHERE! He wanted to know, would I do an interview? Well, as a matter of fact, I would be in Vancouver a few days later, so YES I WOULD!

It was odd for me to sit in a radio studio, staring at a big microphone, sitting across from my interviewer, unsure of what questions I would be asked. He asked about the people sleeping on the street in the rain on our walk to the studio. He asked about the charities, the people, the movement, and the power of a microdonation. My interviewer asked some great questions, and made me feel comfortable to share my vision, my idea, my excitement. To be honest, I haven’t heard the interview myself. But today, the podcast has been released, and segments will air in Vancouver, and hopefully word will travel.

Consider this: One person said they will wait until they get a tax receipt and then donate. I get it, but not the point. Not all of us have the $20 for the tax receipt. Not all of us are conscious enough to commit that $20 at the end of the month. This is about our habits. Noticing the person sleeping on the street corner while you are waiting in the drive-thru for your $5 coffee. Noticing the kid that looks like they haven’t eaten a meal in days. Noticing your neighbour has Meals on Wheels deliver them food. This is about changing the world, $5 at a time, not one tax receipt at a time. Most people will not think twice about their second coffee of the day and that is the point here. It is just $5! You don’t need a tax receipt for your coffee, or lunch, or a beer after work, do you?

About that Heather Locklear commercial. Imagine if you donated $5 every Friday to your favourite charity. Or every second Friday, or once a month, or whenever you felt like it, or could afford it. It doesn’t come to me. You donate to YOUR favourite charity, no strings attached. Now imagine if you told 5 friends. And they told 5 friends. And so on and so on. We could build this into a movement. A MICRODONATION MOVEMENT. We could even call it a bucket challenge….but the bucket is full of $5 bills. We don’t need the media to build this, we just need each other. Imagine if, just today, each of your friends on social media donated $5 just once, and they each told 5 friends. Imagine the POWER OF 5. Where are you going to donate $5 today?

Donated somewhere? Let us all know which charity and why you like them either on Twitter #5DollarFriday or @5dollarsfridays,  or comment here.

So about that interview… can listen to it here: Agree or Disagree: The Podcast

Help a drop in centre or shelter

The intention of #5DollarFriday and making a #microdonation is that it can be done anywhere, for any charity you want. The goal is to encourage you to donate $5 anywhere, when you can, if you can. It is also about the spirit of helping someone out, paying it forward, changing the world if you will. And it doesn’t need to be $5 but whatever amount you can.

I recently had the opportunity to tour the Calgary Drop In Centre, and it led to several of us pooling some money and handing out $5 gift cards to those suffering homelessness. People were so gracious. Not just for the $5, but because someone took the time to say hi, give them a smile, and treat them like human beings. I admit it, I used to be one of those people that judged. Then I took a tour of the Calgary Drop In Centre.

I think most if not all major cities have a drop in centre. Or two. Or three. Or more. It might be called a rescue centre, a homeless shelter, or something else, but they all generally serve the same purpose. Calgary is a city of about 1.1 million people. There are several different shelters that offer different services to about 3500 different people including Alpha House, the Mustard Seed, Inn From the Cold, and the Womens Shelter, but today I want to share just one of those shelters, although the same message applies for all of them.

The Calgary Drop In Centre is the largest facility of its kind in North America. In 2014, they served 10965 unique individuals. Almost 150000 volunteer hours are donated each year, including by their own clients! In fact, 2366 clients volunteered in areas such as the community garden, housekeeping, and laundry.

I have learned that anyone might end up at the Drop In Centre. It might be a former Broadway actor, an artist, your neighbour, the barista that served you coffee this morning, or even YOU. I learned that there are many reasons for this and no, its not laziness! There are a variety of reasons people end up at the Drop In Centre and they are not all necessarily looking for long term shelter. In fact, 67% of clients stayed less than 1 month.

Some interesting facts:

  • Guests staying on the 4th floor have dorms and are allowed to stay as long as they like as long as they meet certain rules which includes volunteering 20 hours a month and taking steps to improve themselves and their opportunities. Last year, the 4th floor clients donated $1100 of bottle money to the Ronald McDonald House. Are you sure you cannot spare $5 for charity this week?
  • The Calgary Drop In Centre placed 11574 jobs through their employment office
  • They distributed 800 refurbished computers. If you have one to donate they would love to have it:
  • 15 At risk youth given apprenticeships at Woodshop through Woodworks program. You can learn more about the Woodshop and items you can purchase:
  • They gave almost 8000 referrals to outside agencies, government services, alcohol and drug treatment and mental health treatment
  • More than once a week last year, 57 times in fact, they had a client pass away. The average age was 52 years old.
  • More than 15000 people in Calgary are 1 paycheck away from homelessness

“People aren’t born on the street, nor should lives end on the street. With help, it’s where some lives begin. Even small donations can add up and make a big difference.” I could tell you so much more, but insteaed, take two minutes to watch this video:

Finally, go to to learn more or donate. Or donate to your favourite charity. Every $5 makes a difference.


What did you have for lunch today?

Hopefully by now, you know a little more about my #microdonation movement and how $5 can change the world. If not, click on the ‘About’ page, and the ‘Lets build a #microdonation movement’ page for the background.

Maybe I am going too big, trying to kick this movement off everywhere at once, but it is just so easy for anyone to do. Do you have a favourite charity? What could they do with a $5 donation? Now what could they do with one hundred $5 donations? Or a thousand? Or ten thousand? I wanted to kick off this campaign with the charity that first showed me how far $5 can go and how valuable every dollar is.

Allow me to introduce to you a charity that would love your $5. They are Brown Bagging It for Calgary Kids. I suspect that no matter what city you are in, there may be a similar charity, and the Salvation Army runs a similar nationwide program, although I have no idea how they resource their donations.

Brown Bagging It focuses on providing a lunch for kids in school, that otherwise may not get one. I think their website, says what they do the best:

“Through the work of community groups and volunteers, we provide lunches for approximately 2,900 kids each day. Lunches are prepared in our main kitchen, and in various other locations by community groups including retirees, parent groups and local businesses.”

How do they find the kids that need it?
“Nourishment is available to any young person who arrives at school without enough to eat. BB4CK works with school staff members to identify needs and to plan how best to make sure hungry students get the nutrition required to think clearly and learn. By enabling better education outcomes, BB4CK gives students a hand up, not just a handout.”

Brown Bagging It is able to produce healthy lunches at a cost of only $1 thank to in-kind partners which can also be found on their website.

So today, I am asking you, what did you have for lunch today? Please consider donating $5 to Brown Bagging It for Calgary Kids. Not only would they love your $5, but they can also accept your old car, or even Air Miles. More information on donating can be found here: