Pennies micro-donations overcoming cost-of-living crisis

Alison Hutchinson, CEO of Pennies

Micro-donations provider Pennies is helping its retail partners achieve growing volumes of donations at their points of sale from customers despite the cost-of-living crisis.

During Q1 2023 volumes of donations increased 47% versus the same quarter in 2022 as large retailers confidently rolled-out the Pennies solution across their estates. In store the software sits on their payments systems and requests shoppers add a very small donation onto their bill before their transaction is processed.

Although the increase in the value of donations over the period was a lesser 17% growth Alison Hutchinson, CEO of Pennies, is very pleased with the trajectory of the company because this modest uplift compares with a serious 35% reduction in donations to charities in the UK (for 2021/22 versus the same period in 2021), according to The Pears Foundation.

“We’re very affordable and lots of consumers want to give [to charities] but there is a cost-of-living crisis. Pennies means they can give little and often, which is preferred by 75% of people, as they want to be in control of their giving,” she says, highlighting that the average donation via Pennies is currently 21p.

The positive growth in donations helped the company bring in £7 million in donations this past year that brings the total donations since Pennies was formed to £42 million from 170 million micro-donations. This is generated from an incredible array of retailers, as well as hospitality companies, including Wilko, Sofology, Well Pharmacy, Toolstation, The Entertainer, KwikFit, Fuller’s and Shepherd Neame.

The charities that ultimately receive the donations are determined by the individual retailers, which Hutchinson says is a great way of engaging with both employees and customers when the chosen charities resonate with these two groupings.

Pennies PoS at The Entertainer

“Pennies is there to support the retailers with their charities. We do all the work to help them. It definitely motivates the colleagues in-store,” adds Hutchinson.

Adopting the Pennies solution also undoubtedly burnishes the ESG credentials of retailers and makes them more attractive to shoppers who increasingly want to deal with ethical companies. “Pennies is an easy thing to do and it’s got the feel-good factor,” she suggests.

Although Pennies is performing well against a tough backdrop Hutchinson says the company is looking to boost the level of donations further by better use of data: “We’re gathering more data in order to look at things like conversion rates. Some stores can achieve high levels of donations versus some where it’s less. We’re working on this type of thing with merchants as it might mean the manager is not as engaged as they could be or it could be the lack of PoS marketing.”

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider