About the event
How do I protect myself and others from Covid during Free Money Day?
When doing in-person events, remember to keep a safe distance from other people, wear masks covering your mouth and nose and any other protection to feel safe and comfortable. Carry your own hand sanitizer and use it regularly, and recommend people you share the money with to do the same.
Is Covid transmitted through banknotes?
Experts assert that handling cash is low risk, as the virus is spread through cough droplets (not from using publicly handled things) and it also has a particularly short lifetime on cash and coins. This is why using hand sanitizer regularly and avoiding touching your face are the main suggested protection measures.
Where do I get the money to hand out?
As a participant you would be giving away your own money! As a social experiment this is about what interactions you have, what responses you have, and how it makes you and others feel
How much money do I or can I give away?
This is totally up to you. We believe there is a happy medium – coins or notes that are not so small that people find them annoying to accept and not so big that you run out of them in seconds. However, anything is great, as the money itself is simply intended to serve as a catalyst for conversation.
How long does this take?
It could be as quick as two minutes or as long as half a day! – it’s entirely up to you.
Won’t I just run out of money in two minutes?
Possibly! It will depend on how much money you have, how busy the street is and how willing people are to take your money. That’s OK! If you’re running out of coins, perhaps try and have a chat with people a little more.
Can I do this before or after work, or during my lunch break?
Of course. Feel free to do this any time of the day!
Can I do this at work?
Sure! In fact, since Free Money Day’s beginnings in 2011, people have handed out money in all sorts of places and ways including on public transport, whilst skiing, online via Twitter, via letterbox, and by sticking coins on noticeable objects in the street.
What if I can’t make the actual day but want to hold an event?
No problem! Feel free to run your event when you can and send us through any photographs or film, if you’d like to share the love!
What do I wear?
Whatever you want.
What if no one will take my money?
It’s possible – others have run somewhat similar events in Australia and Ireland where this happened. If this is your experience, don’t stress. Even if people don’t take your money, chances are you’ve got them thinking and that’s a wonderful outcome in itself. One thing we have found, however, is that if you actively encourage people to pass half of the money on, they feel more comfortable with receiving it in the first place.
I’m actually pretty nervous. What can I do?
In situations like this, we like to smile and laugh ever since we discovered that even faking it releases as many happy vibes as the real thing. Taking a deep breath is good too. Know you are not alone and remember this is a social experiment – expect a range of reactions!
Is this legal?
We don’t know of any circumstances in which a non-violent, public distribution of money is illegal. However, if you are overly concerned about things like public liability insurance, speak with someone from your community legal centre.
Is this a scam?
No. It’s an opportunity to examine your own beliefs about money, and a social experiment for you and the recipients of your coins/notes. Participation in Free Money Day is free and the organizers of the event are all volunteers, having contributed financially and with in-kind support to make this event happen.
Can I hand out materials about the event or my own stuff?
We’d encourage you to have conversations and steer people to www.freemoneyday.org for more information. We don’t want to be a typical protest/advocacy group handing out flyers; we want people to have conversations. The idea is to make this a really simple social experiment, to create conversations and to document it. The clearer and more simple the message, the more likely it will work and the more fun will be had.
What if I’m approached by the media?
Wonderful! A chance to build interest in the day and associated issues. Please make sure you state clearly to the reporter/writer/host that you are speaking in a private capacity, not on behalf of the Free Money Day event or organising group.
How can I get out of a conversation that’s gone on too long?
This is another reason why it’s good to have three or more people – so that one person can chat with those that are more interested, whilst the others keep up the money-giving. If you’re finding you are really stuck, politely suggest to the person that if they can hang around, you’d be happy to talk to them further once you’ve given away all your coins, or let them know how they can contact you if you are comfortable doing so. You can also suggest they go to the Free Money Day website to find out more.
What if I encounter trouble?
Although it is unlikely that demonstrations like these generate any kind of social friction, we suggest you hold your event in a very public place, during the day, with at least three people. This should minimize any potential for problems, but you could also consider applying de-escalation techniques if somebody shows up angry or agitated.
Is this event international?
Yes! Since 2011, this event has happened in over 30 countries! In the future we hope translate the Free Money Day website and materials into a number of languages other than English. We encourage involvement from people around the globe.
Is this an ongoing, annual event?
Yes. Free Money Day occurs around the world every year on 15th September (the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse that sparked the 2008 financial crisis).
About the philosophy
Are you saying money is not important?
In the societies in which many of us now live, money does have roles to play, for everyone. In our current systems, access to money is critical for many of us to meet our needs for shelter, food, healthcare and transport and to enable us to have a good quality of life. We do not intend to downplay this reality. But the pursuit of ever more money as an end in itself (including spending beyond our means) can be a trap that robs us in other areas of our lives, making it more difficult, not easier, for large numbers of us to access the things we need for a high quality of living. We want to question how it is that so many of us end up working too many hours, in too much debt, and how this adversely affects our lives. Our intent is to release the hold money has over us. By giving money away, we ‘interrupt the signal’ of the money program we subconsciously run: Always believing that we never have enough, and that we are afraid of running out of it. In the process, might we open up exciting futures beyond the pursuit of more?
What are the benefits of more sharing economies?
More sharing economies open up the possibility of alternative approaches to wellbeing that go beyond the simple driver of more. With resource scarcities and financial upheaval impacting on so many of us, it makes sense to become more resilient by sharing, since it can be sustained over the long-term, whereas growth cannot. Sharing also means we need to buy less. This has great environmental benefits because, buying less, we use less resources, less energy and create less greenhouse gas emissions.
Isn’t giving out coins a bit tokenistic?
It is. However, seemingly ‘token’ actions can raise awareness, and become symbols. And when small actions are linked to a bigger strategy, awareness can lead to change. Also, you may wish to hand out big denominations, in which case, the outcomes for recipients might be less tokenistic.
Are you against any form of monetary exchange?
Not at all. We all need money (or the equivalent) to go about our daily lives in any society that is not a subsistence society (direct provision of livelihoods from local capacity). What we are doing is getting people to ask questions about how effective, fair and worthwhile our current money and economic systems are, in order to consider realistic alternatives.
How does giving away money encourage less growth?
Free Money Day encourages us to think about what money means, how we attach value to it, and where it comes from. It invites us to experience the feeling of giving money away – which is counter to all the social signals we receive to accumulate ‘more’ – and to appreciate the non-monetary things we give and receive, such as a smile or another meaningful interaction with someone.
Doesn’t giving away money for free encourage reliance on handouts?
The one-off nature of Free Money Day, and the tiny amount of money that individuals may receive, make this more of a symbolic act and a social experiment than a ‘hand-out’.
Why give money away to people who might not need it, when it could go to charity?
This is why we are recommending you distribute small, symbolic amounts of money. The intention is to provoke discussion – we wouldn’t want this to interfere with any regular donation habits you may have.
How can you ask people to give away money when times are tight?
We can’t. Participation is entirely voluntary and open to everyone. We encourage people to treat this as a social experiment and to welcome the inclusive experience of giving, no matter who is doing the giving or receiving.
What if I want to participate but don’t want to hand out money?
Great. Get in touch with our team if you would like to participate in an event happening near you. Of particular help will be those able to photograph or film events (especially on mobile phones).
What does an alternative economic system look like?
‘Alternative’ economic activity already exists for most of us in our daily lives – in fact, life might be a lot more difficult without it. Just think of all the things we do that don’t involve (or, aren’t primarily about) money! Parents caring for children, volunteers cleaning up a park or organizing a festival, friends trading clothes, people listening to each other’s stories, carpooling to an event, and neighbors growing a garden together – these are just a few examples on an ever-expanding list.
Even within today’s financial systems, these activities are evidence that we often put life, not money, at the center of things. What if we can accept that ‘the market system’ has served its function and it is now time our entire economy made life, and all that maintains it, its highest priority? The markets may be part of it, but would cease to drive it. What might such an economy look like?
Life-supporting economic principles are already evident in many worker-run cooperatives and businesses, sliding scale payment options, participatory budgeting, social justice movements, Fair Trade, Community Land Trusts, credit unions, barter clubs, family and clan-based production, collective housing, job-sharing arrangements, and other forms of the solidarity economy. Meanwhile, ecological economics provides a helpful alternative framework for thinking about bigger picture economic and environmental questions.
What are alternatives to our current monetary system?
We recommend you watch this Youtube video on the Future of Money
About the organizers
Who are you?
A group of people who believe that there is more to life than the pursuit of money and endless economic growth. If you’re interested in knowing more about us, please visit the Post Growth Institute.
Are you Buddhists or members of a religious group?
Our group does not identify with any one spiritual or religious tradition although we acknowledge the social contributions made by many religions and spiritualities.
Are you linked to a political group?
No. The Post Growth Institute has no formal affiliation with any political party. You can read about individual members and their respective affiliations at the team page of our website.