Micro-donations – the modern charity collection boxWritten by: Alison Hutchinson
Posted: 1st May 2012
The well -known saying ‘look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’, couldn’t be truer than during today’s tempestuous economic climate. As a result we are all looking for innovative ways that will engage the public to keep raising funds for overstretched charities.
Micro-donations are one such option. A new buzzword that simply refers to donations that are small in amount, something we have all given at one time or another. They’ve traditionally been collected by charity boxes and tins on shop counters, which are filled with shoppers’ spare change when they use cash. But the way we spend is changing, we use cash less on a daily basis: debit card payments overtook cash as the consumer method of choice in 2010 with £26bn more spent on cards than in notes and coins.
Here at The Pennies Foundation we’ve turned to technology to ensure that lifestyle changes don’t impact on our ability to easily give a few pence to charity. We created Pennies, the electronic charity box, and took micro-donations digital. By enabling small electronic, ad hoc donations, Pennies harnesses the increasing trends of rising use of cards for payments and use of our mobile phones and the internet for shopping.
Pennies gives consumers the simple option to donate a few pennies to charity with a single touch of a button when they use a debit or credit card to purchase goods and services. The capacity to give in this way is incredible. If all of the 43 million card users in the UK gave an average of 30p once a month (equivalent to 1p a day), over £150 million would be raised for UK charities every year.
Pennies is already available in ten national retailers including Domino’s Pizza, Zizzi restaurants, Travelodge, GO Outdoors and Screwfix as well as a number of smaller merchants, but momentum is growing as more and more retailers are interested in switching on Pennies.
Key to the growth of this movement has been making implementation easy for retailers and giving compelling for consumers. Pennies is a one click process that’s quick and private with no staff interaction. It is affordable for consumers who are never asked for more than 99p. And, via Pennies, it’s a choice at the checkout not an on-going commitment. All the money goes to charity with retailers nominating the charities they want to support for the majority of donations they collect. The remaining money raised is shared amongst charities that cover a broad range of causes designed to appeal to a mass audience.
Some charities are already receiving significant funds donated through Pennies. Domino’s Pizza was the first retailer to adopt the Pennies scheme in November 2010 and their nominated charity Special Olympics GB (Northern Ireland customers donate to Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice) has received over £185,000 which they are already using to build a range of projects including a scheme to recruit up to 12,000 additional athletes with learning difficulties and 2500 new volunteers. The amounts donated by Domino’s customers each month remains steady, if not slightly increasing as more of their customers are aware of Pennies. The most common donation is just 1p, which really helps to demonstrate the power of pennies.
Pennies has collected well over 1.9 million consumer donations since its launch in November 2010 raising over £485,000 and that’s just the beginning. Electronic micro-donations are a new and affordable way for everyone to give a little should they choose to do so.
Alison Hutchinson runs Pennies and The Pennies Foundation with the help of the executive team.
Alison was previously Chief Executive of FTSE financial services company Kensington Group plc and has also held senior positions in Barclaycard and international technology group IBM.