Innovation In Giving

The Pennies Foundation

Pennies, the electronic charity box, encourages consumers to give micro-donations to charity (from 1p to 99p) when making online or card payments with a growing bank of retailers.

Most people are familiar with the idea of dropping change into the charity box sitting on the shop counter. Pennies is exactly the same idea but it works instead when people pay by credit or debit card or electronically – meaning it works just as well for online or high-street shopping.

Created by The Pennies Foundation, Pennies makes giving to charity easy and affordable for all: customers can simply press ‘YES’ to donate on the Chip and PIN machine in-store, or click the ‘Donate’ button online. The request is for micro-donations – literally a few pennies (1p-99p). The Pennies Foundation then ensures that the donations are received by the charities named on the virtual tin.

Micro-donations are powerful. There are 43 million card holders in the UK today, and around one million card transactions an hour. If the UK’s card holders donated just 30p a month, well over £150m would be raised for charity each year.


Having already signed up retailers including Domino’s Pizza, Monarch Airlines and Travelodge, Pennies is steadily bringing more partners on board. The organisation is also developing an e-toolkit to enable online retailers to more easily join the micro-donation movement and raise money for charity.

The team’s hard work is clearly paying off: launched in November 2010, Pennies raised £2m for charity in its first three years, from more than 8.5 million micro-donations.

Award and follow-on funding

Pennies was awarded £50,000 in the first round of the Innovation in Giving Fund to develop the e-toolkit for online retailers and increase the rate of sign-ups to the platform. Follow-on funding of £150,000 was later awarded to help accelerate adoption of Pennies across retailers and payment providers.


Peter Nugent

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