The Powell River Money Society is a member of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce
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The Chamber accepts PR$ at their regular lunch meetings.

Powell River Dollars: How They Work

by Janet May

The Powell River Dollar Program is a partnership between local businesses and their customers. The program aims to keep money circulating in Powell River, and at the same time to support local charities and non-profit societies. This is an explanation of the process.

It begins when a local business donates Powell River Dollars (PR$) to a charity or non-profit society. The business promises to honour PR$ at par with Canadian Dollars (CN$) with its customers in the future. There are conditions to the use of PR$; usually PR$ can be used to pay a percentage of the bill.

For an example, let’s say that Sew & Sew Fabric Store donates PR$ 1 000 to the Powell River charity, Save Our Dolphins.

Janet's PR$ diagramACCOUNTING MATTERS: Sew & Sew accounts for the money as negative PR$ 1 000 in their online account. This is like a no-interest line of credit in PR$ for the business. Sew & Sew commits to accepting PR$ 1 000 in exchange for products. Save Our Dolphins records positive PR$ 1 000 in their on-line account, and sends a donation receipt to Sew & Sew. Up to this point all the money is handled electronically.

Next, a customer exchanges CN$ for PR$ at a Cash Exchange Point. This is like exchanging for foreign currency, except that the customer chooses which of the participating charities or non-profit societies will receive the Canadian cash she hands over.

Let’s say that her name is Argenta, and that she opts to exchange CN$100 for PR$100 with Save Our Dolphins.

Argenta receives PR$100 along with a receipt for the transaction. This is not a donation receipt for income tax purposes, because Argenta has not made a donation. She has exchanged one form of currency for another.

ACCOUNTING MATTERS: The Cash Exchange Point records that Save Our Dolphins gives Argenta 100 of the PR$ it received initially from Sew & Sew. Save Our Dolphins now has CN$100 and PR$900 on their financial books: their net finances have not changed.

both-sides-5-bill-600wNow, Argenta has physical PR$100 in hand. She admires the local art displayed on her crisp bills, but she can’t wait to spend them, so….

Argenta goes shopping in Powell River! She visits Sew & Sew where there is a PR$ promotion on flowered fabric. She buys $100 worth of fabric, paying 40% of her bill with PR$. She hands over CN$60 and PR$40.

Argenta goes home to make dresses for her friends.

Sew & Sew now has physical PR$ and with that money Sew & Sew can:

  • act as a customer and buy services or goods from other participating businesses.
  • give PR$ to employees as bonus gifts, or to customers as prizes.
  • donate PR$ to another participating charity or non-profit.
ACCOUNTING MATTERS: Sew & Sew can also choose to pay down part of the original PR$ 1 000 donation it made. Sew & Sew does this by handing over physical PR$ 40 to the Cash Exchange Point.  This will change the Sew & Sew on-line account from negative PR$ 1000 to negative PR$ 960.

In the real community Sew & Sew, Save Our Dolphins and Argenta’s experience is multiplied. There is a network of donations, exchanges and purchases.

The Powell River Dollar program is a partnership that works because local businesses and customers commit to a program that benefits the community. There are “costs” to both partners. When businesses promise to honour PR$ at par, they are in essence donating a portion of their future goods or services. And when customers exchange CN$ for PR$, they are agreeing to use a currency that is valued the same as Canadian money, but can only be used in Powell River.

PR$ work because participating businesses and customers think it is worth it. Community charities and non-profit groups receive donations, citizens support local non-profits without being out-of-pocket themselves, and businesses attract locals through their doors where they can provide incentives to sell more with PR$.

As the Powell River Dollar program grows, everyone will benefit from a more stable and resilient local economy.

More information:
How Non-Profits Can Spend PR$
Download an Info Package
What Can I Do With PR$?