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Promotions, Contests, and Events

Dramatically Increase Income at Stores, Restaurants, Churches, Schools, Fairs, Conventions, Parties, and Other Events

This page contains a variety of ideas, some applying to unattended placements such as in retail stores, museums, or other foot-traffic location where people may or may not see the Well or stop and toss in coins.

Adding a change machine close by is one of the best ways to dramatically increase Wishing Well income. Men don't like to carry loose change, and women quickly empty their purses. But they will continue to put dollar bills into a change machine to provide coins for their children or grandchildren to toss into the Well.

$350 to $1,000 Per Week!!!
Pediatric Affiliates,
Nechama Schreiber, New Jersey
"It definitely keeps all the members of the family busy, and because the money is going to charity the parents are happy to give! We raise anywhere from $350 in a slow week to $1000 in a busy week! And that's in just one of our locations with a Well. I am always able to stock the change machine from the well without having to go to the bank."

Click here to read how they do it.

While most of our customers get Wells to generate daily income from passive unattended stores, restaurants, and other locations, consider the following ways to increase the income at events where you have the added advantages of being able to communicate with your attendees ahead of time, and to be there beside your Well during the event. This page includes how thousands of dollars are raised in a day, a weekend, or over a 6-month contest period. For instance:

  • A church raised $40,979 in one day!
  • A school raised $248,000 in 45 days!
  • A small church school raised $7,352 in one day!
  • A charity raised $1,200 in a weekend at a mall!
  • A little-known blind service organization raised $10 million over 6 years!

Most of the ideas below are for "attended" events. Some of the sections will overlap with others, but that is because we are trying to toss out a variety of ideas that allow the reader to adapt the best option, or combination of promotions to their particular situation. Note that if you don't pre-promote the Well for an event, you won't necessarily generate more money than when you place a Well in a store where income is based on 1) Getting people to stop, and 2) They need to have coins in their pockets or purses. The benefits of a store-type setting is that it generates that relatively smaller amount day after day after day. But an event is only a few hours, and so it is important to promote the Well. A pre-promoted Well-strategy ensures people come to the Well, and they bring lots of coins with them. The following strategies will maximize that potential.


How to Maximize Event Income

With a little planning and some effective strategy, you can dramatically increase the total income at your event. The following suggestions include the most effective techniques gathered from many successful events over the years.

Advance Notice: Send out advance notice encouraging people to bring all the coins from home…including the coins collecting in jars, on dressers, and under cushions (children love the adventure of hunting for coins). The average American home has over $50 worth of coins, and many people have more than that just waiting for the encouragement to donate it! Many people have been collecting coins with the plan that "someday" they will cash it in. Encourage them to bring it to the event and donate it...and save all the hassle of counting and wrapping it!!!

Priming: Have someone available to “prime” the Well by dropping in quarters whenever there is a lull in the action. Demonstrating quarters will promote quarters. But don’t make the mistake of handing coins to the kids. Let their parents do that!

Announcements: During the event, encourage the person with the microphone to remind people to have fun tossing coins into the Spiral Wishing Well every few minutes.

Skill: Encourage the “Test Your Skill” game of tossing in coins without using the ramps. A “demonstrator” person can show people how to do it, and then they will experiment with their own coins.

toy coin funnel

Cup of coins for a dollar: Offer a couple dollars worth of coins for a $1 donation. In other words, scoop out a cup of coins from inside the Well in exchange for a $1 bill dropped into the Well. You just keep recycling the coins while adding dollar bills to the total. We’ve done this at events where we have brought in up to $300 worth of bills in one hour. CAUTION: Do not dump coins into the launch ramps. They are designed to handle 2 or 3 coins at a time. If they get jammed, have a short piece of stiff wire that you can stick up under the slot to dislodge them.

Free Mini-Wells: Give away mini-well Vortx® toy banks for a “$25 to $50 donation”. People are having fun watching coins in the large Well, and it is a perfect time to offer the toy. As a piggy bank, it encourages saving money, and makes a great birthday or Christmas gift. But it also demonstrates science and makes a great show-and-tell item for school. They retail for $25 plus $12 to $15 shipping from the our website, so offering them for a “$25 to $50 donation” is a great deal for those attending your event. With the purchase of a floor model Wishing Well, you qualify for wholesale cost, so you can multiply your event income dramatically with this option. Click here to read more about this extraordinary bonus income.

Toy Demo: If you offer the toy banks, be sure to have some children “demonstrating” the toys, especially the “coin limbo” game and high-speed spinning. Let other kids try it. For more information about the toys and games, go to www.spiralwishingwells.com/toy.

Prizes: Get some prizes donated for “whoever brings the most coins”. One group got someone to put up a bicycle. Another provided a television set. Obviously, if you get those kinds of prizes, you can promote them ahead of time and motivate people to bring even more money. The challenge with this kind of promotion is the ability to count the coins. There are some inexpensive coin counters available. Search Google for "coin counter" or "coin sorter".

Photos: Take some photos, similar to the one shown here, with your staff and members gathered around the Well, as if at a "grand opening" event. If you also ordered toys, have several of the adults or children holding the toys, and the others applauding. If the camera angle is a little above the floor (such as from a ladder, balcony, or a flight of stairs) then it will show more of the funnel itself, and accommodate more people around it.  Pictures like this make great press releases for the local media, and I would love to put it on our website and promote your organization that way. So be sure to send us your photos.

For several other examples of what people have done at promoted events with great success, including how the current one-day record was set, please continue reading this page.

Click here for a PDF printable version of the suggestions in this box.



This placement in a SEARS store in a shopping mall in Abilene Texas uses some great strategies for increasing income, attracting sponsors, and getting great media publicity. Click here or on the picture to see more images and read about how they have gotten the most out of their Well for many years.


The following paragraphs expand on the above suggestions, and offer some larger contest ideas, and suggestions for store placements.

Dollar Bills

Tape a dollar or a color copy of one inside the sign frame with the words, "Thank you for dollars too!" such as the one shown here. It is amazing how that simple visual stimuli will increase your income.

Make change with a lot of coins

As your cashiers hand people their change, have them cheerfully suggest, "Be sure to have some fun with the Spiral Wishing Well on your way out..." as they point to it.

Some stores are even more aggressive than that. When they give people change, they do it with a lot of coins, accompanied with that same suggestion to have fun at the Well. In other words, if someone is getting $1.50 back, they don't hand them a dollar bill and two quarters, they hand them 4 quarters, 3 dimes, and 4 nickels, or something like that.

Hoody Secton, a 7-11 franchise owner, did that very thing with his customers...many of whom are daily repeat customers. In a sense, he "trained" them to toss in all the loose change he and his cashier's handed them. He sent in this report: "For the last eleven years, out of 8,000 Seven-Eleven Stores, I have been in the top five raising money for the Jerry Lewis Telethon. My Spiral Wishing Well is my number one fund raiser . . . at over $16 per day, almost $500 per month. We average about 2,000 customers a day and most of them come in regularly. Interestingly, those same people toss coins in day after day---even if it's only a few cents change from a cup of coffee, sometimes right down the middle of the funnel and they don't even watch it spiral. They just do it out of habit."

How to set the One Day Record

We would love to publish your organization with a new one-day record. This section will explain how to do it. But even if you can't break the record, attempting to do so will result in the largest possible amounts. So it becomes a very productive strategy.

We have several categories for records...schools, churches, stadiums, and other events.

The current overall record is $40,979 at a church in Loma Linda California. Click here to read about their exciting success.

Canyonville Academy in Oregon raised $7,352 on an alumni day when they were raising money for a grand piano. They came right out and said, "Let's try to set the one day record for the Spiral Wishing Well by passing all the coins, bills, checks, and pledges through the Well."

Records are not set at retail locations from walk-by traffic. Even if you placed a Seven-Footer in a 50,000 seat coliseum, it would be difficult to set a record from walk by traffic who might not even see it. However, if someone at a microphone said, "Be sure to stop by the Spiral Wishing Well at the entrance and empty your pockets..." then you could easily set a record with a large crowd. Applying as many of the suggestions in the green box above as possible will generate a lot of revenue.

The most likely setting for record income will be at an event where you are raising money for a cause or project and you encourage people to pass their bills and checks through the Well too. And if you get one or more companies and individuals to "match" the amount raised, you can double and triple the amount!

Records are set when the Wells are used as a "focal point" for the event. It is amazing how people will step up and make some very large donations when a unique challenge is the focus, especially when it is positioned as an attempt to set a new record.

To maximize your kick-off income, be sure and do as many of the promotional ideas on this page as possible.

jar of coinsRemember, ALL THE MONEY AND PLEDGES THAT ARE PASSED THROUGH THE WELL COUNT! So if someone has pledged a $2,000 or $10,000 or $50,000 donation to your event, don't just accept it. Use it as a matching grant at an event with your Well. Use it to get a lot of other people to donate $5, $10, $100 or more. Promote your event as an assault on the record. Encourage people to bring all the coins in their home. The average home has about $50 worth of coins stacking up on Dad's dresser and in seat cushions. Give away the toy mini-Wells FREE for a $25 or greater donation. And at the end of the day, pass EVERYTHING through your Well!

We would love to publish your one day results. Just let us know!

Good luck.

Free Goodies



Offer something in exchange for a quarter or dollar tossed into the Well. For instance, the American Heart Association placed a Well in a shopping mall for a weekend, right next to a cookie store. They arranged with the cookie store to give away a small cookie in the shape of a heart to anyone who tossed in a quarter. The charity raised $1400 worth of coins over the weekend and the cookie store had record sales because "nobody can eat just one!" This same concept has been done many times with other giveaways such as small ice cream cones, a Pepsi or Coke.

You can also line up some prizes such as bicycles, cameras, televisions, or other popular items that are provided by local stores. Then run a promotion such as, "Toss in a quarter (or dollar) and enter a contest to win a free television." Have everyone fill out a little entry blank and toss it into the Well or into a box. Then have a drawing for the winner at the end of the event.

Additional revenue can be generated by getting a company to sponsor the contest. They will get their name on the entry blanks along with a tear-off coupon or something similar. Depending on the size of your event, that sponsorship alone can generate another $1,000 or more.

Some of the most successful events have been promoted on local radio (sometimes with a remote on-site broadcast) that encourage people to gather up all the coins in their house and go have some fun and win a prize at the same time.

Big Contests

Toss in a Quarter - Win a Trip

If you have several stores or locations, you can benefit from a big contest. A 100-store regional chain gave away a free trip to the Bahamas at the end of a 6-month campaign using the "toss in a quarter and win a trip" entry blank concept. Since quarters are worth 25 times as much as pennies, they increased their coin-revenue dramatically and drew a lot of attention to their charity. They also instructed their cashiers to make change with a lot of coins and to cheerfully suggest to the customers to "...have some fun with the Spiral Wishing Well and be sure to enter the Bahamas trip contest on the way out."

Stores love it because they can't afford to conduct a contest like this on their own.

As a bonus, the sponsor received the entry blanks every week, and sent "thank you" notes to the contestants, along with a special offer to get a free month of service. This is a GOLD MINE for a sponsor.

So it is fantastic for everyone. The charity raises LOTS more money, the stores love it, and the sponsor gets great exposure and a valuable call-to-action device.


Birthday Party Idea


Consider getting a large floor model Well, use it for your birthday event, and then donate it to your school, church, library, YMCA, Humane Society, or any local charity you choose! Your son or daughter can then have a sense of participation in the ongoing income and charity for many years to come. You could even put a brass-like engraved plate on the rim that says, "This Well is sponsored by [your son or daughter's name, or your family name]." This could become the focus of a project throughout their youth and into adulthood. See the example in the picture to the right-middle.

A family in Ohio did exactly that. Rather than have a birthday with traditional wrapped gifts, they invited everyone to "bring all your loose change from home" and during the party, they took it to a local Kroger Grocery Store where they had placed a Well for the local Food Bank (pictured below right). They also divided into teams with the goal of purchasing as close to $50 worth of groceries as possible. One team got it right to the penny! The result was as follows:

  • $591.26 worth of coins
  • $300 worth of groceries
  • Lots of fun!

Click here to read more about their "Amazing Birthday Charity Rally."

Birthday Facts:

Every week in the USA there are:

  • 5,890,775 birthdays
  • 41,154 weddings
  • Birthdays are the number 1 reason people celebrate
  • $832 is the AVERAGE amount spent annually on holiday gifts

Source: Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza, Dayton Daily News


Churches and Schools

We have developed a dedicated section to church programs. There are many things a church can do to raise large amounts of money and get fantastic community exposure that no other organization can do.

Click here to review that program.

School Programs

Spiral Wishing Wells can raise a lot of money when placed in schools, especially if you use our event strategies.

School Funnels can also be placed in area stores and restaurants where the owners and managers like to support the school which is a good customer-demographic for them.

Click here to read more about school programs.

How to raise $10 million and critical awareness at the same time

A little known organization in Lincoln Nebraska by the name of "Christian Record Services" started with three Wells and kept reinvesting the income in more and more Wells until they had over 300 Wells in Lincoln and in stores up and down the Mid-West raising money to send blind children to summer camp. They branded their campaign, "Wells of Hope." They raised over $10 million in 6 years and nearly EVERYONE in that region learned who they were. While the $10 million was fantastic, the exposure and long-term impact has also been a great benefit and has made a huge difference in their direct fund raising.

Christian Record Services became one of the best-known, most active organizations in their region because they placed enough Wells that almost everyone in the entire area saw their signs above the Wells several times a week. The media featured stories about them a number of times, and people have learned about their service to the blind which has attracted other donors and volunteers. If you want that kind of exposure for your organization or project, it can start with just a couple of Wells.


HINT: Come up with a Campagin Name

  • A school used the theme, "Coins for Kids". Another used, "Coins for Change".
  • A church raising money for global missions added this to their sign: "Supporting missions 'round and 'round and 'round the world!" We think that is a very clever reference to the spinning coins.
  • Use your imagination to match your campaign, and let us know what you come up with.

Share Your Idea

If you come up with a promotional or event idea that works, please share it with us along with pictures, and we will gladly add it to these best-practices page!


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