Healthy Competition: Team Indy’s Penny War

By Catherine Malin on April 4, 2014 in AmeriCorps

Healthy Competition — The Battle Between the ASOs

For Team Indy’s long term project, we are creating a PSA for National HIV Testing Day in June. To help cover the costs of the PSA, Team Indy came up with several creative fundraisers. The month of March, was dedicated to a Penny War between the ASOs in Indianapolis.  Penny wars are an easy way to receive donations, while spurring healthy competition.

point value

The rules behind our Penny War were quite simple. Each ASO was given 2 jars: a “Penny Jar” and a “Sabotage Jar.” ASO’s were encouraged to put pennies and bills into their penny jar and put quarters, nickels, and dimes in the sabotage jar. Pennies and bills counted towards an ASOs score, but silver counts against one’s score.  When silver was placed in the sabotage jar, it could be used to attack another ASO, causing them to lose points. We had 8 ASOs participate, even one ASO that does not have an AmeriCorps members at it.

DSCN0579 The competition was fierce. Our AmeriCorps members at the Damien Center presented the penny war at a staff meeting. By the end of the meeting there was over $130 in the penny jar!!  And that was just day one. By the end of the first week, the team had raised $394.33!!

As the weeks progressed, allegiances formed. Several ASO’s teamed up to sabotage the   Damien Center. These ASOs collectively brought in over $220 (-22,000 points) in silver to sabotage the Damien Center. The Damien Center executive director did not take this too kindly. Once learning that the Damien Center had fallen into third place, he pledged to his staff that if they raised $100, he would match their collective $100 donation. This did the trick. The Damien Center staff easily met that match and brought in more than $300 that week.

The AmeriCorps members were responsible for motivating their ASO’s to keep fighting and keep donating. Members updated their agencies with weekly emails. Some even got creative with song lyrics. Here is an email that went out to all of the Damien Center staff after rebounding back into first place during week 3.

Sing to Queen’s — “We are the Champions”

I’ve paid my pennies
Time after time
I’ve done my counting
But committed no crime
And bad sabotages
I’ve made a few
I’ve had my share of penny grime
left on my fingers
But I’ve come through

And we mean to go on and on and on and on

We are the champions (for this week) – my friends
And we’ll keep on donating
Till the end
We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
‘Cause we are the champions of the ASOs.

 After 4 intense weeks of competition, the Damien Center came in first place with 37,783 points, closely followed by LifeCare, who brought in more than $200 in the last week. In total the penny war brought in close to $1800!!!!  Team Indy was shocked with the success of the penny war. Their initial goal was to raise just $200, which was easily met in the first week.

The penny war brought new energy to the team. They bonded while counting thousands of pennies and relished in their success. The competition also enabled the AmeriCorps members to interact with people they normally don’t within their agencies and with other agencies.  The Penny War showed that a little healthy competition can spur teamwork, renewed energy, and a lot of pennies.

Penny wars for the win!!!


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