Pennies, the “digital charity box”, is a compelling modern charity with an innovative way of introducing philanthropy into everyday transactions. When you pay online with a company that uses Pennies’ services, you’ll get the voluntary option to give a few pennies to a charity. It’s completely up to you whether you do, and makes charitable giving easier and more effective.
Pennies are passionate about what they do. Wirebox loves working with groups that believe in their vision. We enjoyed working with Pennies to update various features of their technology, including the integration of card and online payments into their API. So we were understandably excited about receiving an invitation to Pennies’ 2018 Autumn celebration on Tuesday 4th September at Drake & Morgan’s, the Otherist. Wirebox’s Andrew and Ryan attended, along with advocates of Pennies, the microdonations movement and partners of the charity.
It was great to hear about Pennies’ announcements of their achievements over the past year. The common theme of the evening was “legacy”: the microdonations movement is growing as it continues to catch on, as more people learn about this smart way to better integrate altruism into your daily life. For more and more people, ethical consumption and business practices are becoming an important part of where and how they shop.
4 in 10 shoppers say that they have stopped using shops which they don’t consider to be ethical, according to a survey conducted by Pennies. The survey also found that 54% of respondents wanted shops to sustainably source products, while 69% wanted evidence of how the shop is giving back to the community. This suggests that there may be interest in shops which use socially responsible fintech like Pennies as a way of giving back to society.
Another important development is the growth and advance of paytech, or payment technology. The Prime Minister’s fintech Business Ambassador Al Lukies stated that the payments industry can make a positive difference in people’s lives as consumers demand that companies do their bit. There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come and that’s true for Pennies, using cutting edge payment technology to connect businesses, customers and charities in a way that hasn’t been done before.
Pennies CEO Alison Hutchinson added that retail customer giving is a growth success story in an increasingly cashless society. Fintech took off after the global financial crisis of 2007/8, leading to the 10 year journey of the charity. The model of “microdonations” is low maintenance and easy to understand, which is why it has been so successful.
At the event we also picked up a copy of the Pennies impact report, laying out the good that Pennies has done and what they plan to do in the future. The report starts by acknowledging that we are living in a largely cashless society, with debit cards being the most frequently used form of payment. Pennies acknowledges this and tries to use technology to modernise charitable giving.
Pennies’ digital charity box raises millions for worthy causes. Last year, 99% of Pennies’ spending went to charitable activities (the remaining 1% goes to governance), and for every pound Pennies spent they granted £3.70 to other charities. As of July 2018, £12.9 million had been granted to other charities, with almost £5 million of that being granted in the previous 18 months. Just a few months on, Pennies has now raised £15 million from more than 63 million donations. In 2017 Pennies has also seen a 50% increase in the number of charities benefitting from using Pennies, a 30% increase in retailers offering Pennies’ services through digital channels, and while in 2016 someone donated to Pennies every 3 seconds, it’s now every 2 seconds.
We also got the chance to meet Matt Loren, head of Solution Development at Pennies. Previously we had only had conversations via email and phone since he started with Pennies. It was a great opportunity to meet him and build a rapport – strengthening our relationship with the charity and the team we work closely with. Upon arrival, there was a magnitude of other Pennies guests and thought it would be difficult to find him. However this was not the case as he found us! We had a brief chat about the app and what we developed for them, then moved onto his extensive and impressive eCommerce background. We look forward to working with Matt in the future.
But the Pennies team aren’t resting on their laurels. They have ambitious plans for 2019: using new technologies to unlock new ways of giving (such as payment at kiosks, at the table, or regular automatic payments), opening up Pennies to new audiences by making new partnerships and broadening their scope of retail environments (from the weekly shop to holiday bookings), and increasing the microdonations movement at both the local and global level. You can take a look at the report here. The event was also live illustrated using Scriberia, immortalised in this amazing mural:
It was thrilling to see how Pennies was progressing, and the evening was a good excuse to catch up with the Pennies team. As Pennies grows and develops, we look forward to seeing the direction they go in, and what we can work on with them to improve the charitable services that are their mission.