"People's money could be better invested," said the mayor, who faces two opponents Nov. 2. "This is my own version of campaign finance reform."
Copenhaver, calling a news conference at Golden Harvest Food Bank to make the announcement, said he'd thought about the gesture for years.
After watching millions being poured into the ongoing Georgia governor's race, Copenhaver said he decided campaign money could be better spent elsewhere.
"That's just money being wasted, when people are going to bed hungry," he said.
Copenhaver, noting he'd worked in nonprofits for several years before running for mayor, said he hoped donors would give in his name to their favorite charity instead of his campaign.
"Times are tough for giving, too," he said.
Golden Harvest official Travis McNeal commended the mayor for making "such a bold choice of what to encourage others to do with their campaign contributions, especially in this economy."
Copenhaver stopped short, however, of agreeing to donate his campaign chest to charity, and said he'd continue a grassroots effort to raise funds.
In his 2006 run for a first full term, he raised $229,079 and spent $218,511, according to campaign filings, but in his June 30, 2010 report, Copenhaver claimed no contributions or expenditures.
The latest campaign financial reports are due in the elections office Thursday, but Tuesday afternoon, none had been filed in the mayor's race.
As both readied to give speeches at Tuesday's Committee for Good Government forum, neither of Copenhaver's opponents suggested their supporters do the same, and both hinted that Copenhaver's personal wealth made fundraising unnecessary.
"I think it's admirable for anybody to do that," neighborhood activist and mayoral candidate Lori Davis said. "But he doesn't need donations to run his campaign."
Candidate William "Gil" Gilyard said, "I guess if you have the money, you can do anything you want to do. What I want to see is donations to the progress of Augusta."