Frequently asked questions.

Find answers to commonly asked questions about Pennies micro-donations.

About Pennies.

Who are Pennies?

Established in 2010, Pennies is an award-winning charity working to enable, protect and grow micro-donations.

Our digital charity box provides an easy way for merchants of all types to offer their customers the chance to make a small donation to charity at the point of sale, whenever they pay with a card or digitally. Pennies works with partners to fundraise using the power of digital micro-donations, and grants out what is raised to charities nominated by the merchant partners.

As the leading voice on micro-donations in the UK, Ireland and beyond, Pennies is an expert in providing customers with easy, digital ways to give small change donations to charity, and also works to promote and encourage the importance of charitable giving.

Find out more about Pennies here.

What are micro-donations and why are they important?

Micro-donations are small, one-off charity donations. But together, they add up to a huge amount of money raised for charity.

Traditionally, these small change donations have been made in cash and dropped into a physical charity box by the till. But, now that we are frequently leaving home with no cash in our pockets and paying for goods and services by card, physical charity collection boxes are increasingly left empty. To ensure we don’t lose these micro-donations that are so important to charities, we need a way to collect them digitally – and that’s where Pennies comes in.

How much has Pennies raised so far?

Since launch, we have raised over £50 million* for charity – and this number is growing every day. Pennies collects donations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. On average someone donates via Pennies every 0.86 seconds*. For our most up to date published figures please view Our Impact page.

*Figures correct as of March 2024.

Who works with Pennies?

We work with four key groups to ensure Pennies is as widely available as possible.

Merchants
Firstly, we work directly with merchants, helping them implement Pennies’ digital charity box across their estate in-store, online and in-app. We also support partners long-term, helping to grow donations and maximise impact.

Over 120 brands partner directly with Pennies to collect customer donations, including retailers such as Currys, Poundland, JD Sports and Screwfix, and leisure and hospitality brands such as Domino’s, Greene King and English Heritage. More details about working with Pennies can be found here, and on our merchant partners page.

Payments and tech
We work with the financial technology (fintech) and payments industries, partnering with payment providers, e-commerce platforms, app-providers and digital agencies to build Pennies into their product offerings for merchants.

Pennies partners with leading financial and payment technology partners including Worldpay, Verifone, Ingenico, Global Payments and more to embed our digital charity box solution into their payment systems, making it available to their merchant customers. More information can be found here.

We have a strong presence in e-commerce and, along with our own Pennies API, we have extensions for Shopify Plus, Salesforce and Magento 2 (Adobe Commerce) merchants. We also partner with a number of e-commerce agencies who support merchants to enable the digital charity box in their online and app-based journeys. More details can be found on our solutions page.

Charities
Thirdly, we work with the charity beneficiaries, granting funds and collaborating with them to share the impact of micro-donations with customers. We also support charities to introduce the concept of micro-donations to their corporate partners. More information about how we work with charities is available here, and a list of some of the charities to have benefited from Pennies grants is available here.

Industry partners
We also promote the benefits and use of digital micro-donations to the wider business community. Trade bodies such as the British Retail Consortium, UK Hospitality, UK Finance and the Payments Association also partner with us to raise awareness of Pennies within their sectors.

Merchants.

What are the benefits for my business?

Implementing our digital charity box will give your business a way to impact positively on the communities you serve – all through the power of customer micro-donations. And with Pennies’ ongoing advice and support you can significantly increase what you raise for charity.

It’s simple, safe and affordable for customers​.
  • It’s simple – Just one press, tap or click and the job is done.​
  • It’s safe – No physical money is used, or personal details recorded, kept or shared​.
  • It’s private – Giving is discreet. Staff do not have to ask.
  • It’s a choice every time – To give or not to give, it’s the customer’s decision​.
  • It’s quick – Your customers can donate in just a second or two​.
  • Its anonymous – No names, address or any other personnel data is asked for. ​
  • It’s commitment free – There’s no signing up to regular donations.
  • It’s feel-good – Customers like Pennies as it makes them feel they have done something good that day.
  • It’s clear – Customers always know where the money is going​.
  • It’s affordable – As it’s just pennies, its inclusive and accessible, so everyone can join in. ​
  • It’s reassuring – Pennies is a ‘kitemark’ for safe, simple, anonymous giving​.
It works for merchants too​.
  • No till clutter – There is no physical charity box taking up space.​
  • Minimal colleague effort required – There is much less colleague time needed compared to traditional fundraising methods.​
  • It’s safe and secure – There are no worries about the loss or theft of charity boxes, and there is no handling of cash as all donations are digital​.
  • No impact on till time – Just one press or tap to donate, or decline, and the job is done​.
  • No negative impact on online conversion – Pennies is proven with major e-commerce including Domino’s and Screwfix who report no impact on conversion.
  • Low setup and operational cost – Just a little colleague time, some back-office support and cost of POS (in-store) ​that is generally all that is needed.
  • It’s measurable– Ongoing reporting helps maximise your donations and keeps track of your success.​
  • Positive interactions at checkout – Your customer experience at checkout is enhanced, giving colleagues and customers the opportunity for a positive conversation. Customers also perceive your business as caring and community-minded.
  • It’s adaptable – Pennies can ‘fit-in’ with your brand look and proposition.
  • It motivates colleagues – Sharing impact stories and the amounts collected helps with colleague moral​e, recruitment and retention.
  • You’ll have a wider impact – By partnering with Pennies you will not only be collecting for your nominated charity but also supporting the the wider digital micro-donation movement across the UK, Ireland and beyond, working together to great a legacy in digital giving.

Find out more about the benefits of working with Pennies here.

How flexible is Pennies?

Pennies micro-donation solutions are adaptable to your business needs.

Merchants can nominate a charity of their choice, choose between round-up or top-up, chose the donation amount and alter the donation amount depending on basket size, by either excluding small purchases or offering different donation amounts for ​different basket sizes.

Pennies fits seamlessly within your customer journey and can be developed and configured to suit your brand look and feel.

Pennies offers omnichannel solutions to fit merchant requirements across in-store, online and in-app customer journeys, and is proven with over 120 brands across sectors and channels.

Which charities can benefit from collecting donations with Pennies?

Together with our partners we have supported hundreds of charities with grants from Pennies donations. From local causes working hard in their communities, to regional charities and national household names providing vital services to people throughout the UK, Ireland and across the world. For more information on the charities we’ve supported to date, please visit our charity partners page.

There are a few criteria that all charities must meet to benefit from Pennies donations. Read more about these criteria here.

Can only larger merchants partner with Pennies?

There are some criteria in place to be able to partner with Pennies, and implement our digital charity box. This helps ensure the effort and resource involved for implementation is proportionate to the amount raised for charity.

  • In-store – Your business operation should take at least 500,000 card transactions annually.
  • Online – We can only partner with retailers who are able to raise more than £25,000 a year.
How much could we raise?

How much your business could raise will be dependent on several factors, including your number of card transactions, average basket size, the donation amount / type chosen, use of best practice point of sale (POS) material, optimised e-commerce / app journey, communications around the impact of donations, and how well your charity choice resonates with your colleagues and customer profile.

Using our years of experience, Pennies can work with your team to estimate of how much you may be able to raise before you begin implementation.

How long will it take to implement?

This will depend on a few factors, including your payments technology solutions or e-commerce / app platform. If your existing solutions are Pennies-enabled, the implementation process is straightforward. But we will always encourage our partners to build in appropriate time to test and pilot the solution, before going live.

To find out if you’re Pennies enabled, contact us here.

In-store.

How do I know if Pennies is supported by my payment technology provider?

Contact us here and provide details of your payment solution. Our business development team will then get in touch with more information.

You can also ask your Account Manager at your payments provider if they offer Pennies, and find out more about some of our payments and technology partners here.

What can I do if my payment solution provider does not currently support Pennies?

Please contact us here and will can work with you to confirm what options may be available.

Do I need to train my colleagues?

Yes, we strongly recommend you do. The single, most effective way to maximise donations for your charity is to educate and inspire colleagues at all levels of the business about Pennies’ simplicity and the difference they can make to people’s lives when they support the collection of digital micro-donations.

We will help you do this. With over a decade of experience, we can support you to engage colleagues easily, clearly, quicky and with minimum effort.

Does implementing the Pennies donation option affect till times in-store?

The donation process at the point of sale is frictionless, ensuring there are no delays at the till or self-service kiosks. Our partners attest to the ease and simplicity of including Pennies within their customer journey.

“We’ve experienced absolutely no slow-down in the speed with which customers use our tills. It has been seamless.”
Gary Grant, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, The Entertainer

E-commerce.

Does Pennies have an app or extension for my platform?

The Pennies API can be easily implemented into any platform. We also have free apps and extensions for Shopify Plus, Salesforce and Magento 2 (Adobe Commerce).

Visit our solutions page to find out more.

How can my agency offer Pennies to our clients?

Pennies is proud to partner with several e-commerce agencies, providing them with a free, simple but effective environmental, social and governance (ESG) value-add for their clients.

To find out more, visit our solutions page or contact ecommerce@pennies.org.uk.

Customers.

What do consumers and customers think about Pennies?

Customers have loved Pennies from the very start. When we launched Pennies​ with our first partner Domino’s, the go-live​ was 10am. ​The Pennies team really wanted to be the first to donate, ​But Domino’s customers beat us to it. ​Just seconds after 10am, we were ​already the fourth order to include a donation!

Everywhere Pennies ​has been introduced people have donated. From fashion to groceries, travel to hospitality and in the service sectors too – across in-store, e-commerce and app-based payments.​

And people continue to love Pennies. 88% told us they would like to be able to donate this way when they shop (Source: Pennies Consumer Research – October 2022).

Can consumers choose the amount they donate?

In most instances, the customer can’t choose the amount. We’ve discovered that people like it best if things are kept simple. To achieve, this the customer is presented with a single ‘yes or no’ choice with the amount to be donated presented to them (a round-up is automatically calculated based on the basket size, or the fixed top-up value is displayed). This way, it’s remains a simple one press, tap, or click to donate.

Some merchants, for example sofa-retailer Sofology, do offer customer 3 donation values to choose from at the checkout. This works for their customer journey where the customer is engaged over a period of time, but is less suitable for more fast-paced retail and hospitality environments.

Can customers choose the charity they donate to?

No, customers can’t choose the charity. The merchant nominates the charity or charities to be supported, and Pennies conducts due diligence before approving the charity partner.

The choice of charity normally reflects the merchant’s brand values and sometimes is chosen by seeking the opinion of colleagues and customers.

Do customers have to respond to the donation request?

It is very important to us that donating to charity with Pennies is always an active positive choice for customers. The option which appears on the screen is intended to give people a private, no-pressure way to donate but only should they wish to.

Customers have the freedom to respond by either selecting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the donation request or simply ignoring it if they prefer.

For those who choose not to donate, there is no obligation to take any action (no need to ‘opt out’) as the donation request has been designed to time-out and disappear from the screen within a configurable time limit of a few seconds. Customers can comfortably proceed with their transaction as usual without any interference.

How much is the average donation?

Our average donation varies from merchant to merchant and year to year, depending on factors such as the donation proposition and average basket size.

Across all our merchant partners, the mean average donation is currently 23p*.

*Figure correct as of April 2024.

Finance, data and regulation.

Do Pennies charge any fees?

Pennies itself makes no charge to either businesses or charities.

What is the cost to my business?

In our experience, costs incurred by businesses to date have been modest, whether implementing our micro-donation option online or in-store. There are some minor set up costs, such as paying for point-of-sale materials in-store and indirect costs including team resource.

Do you have to recertify the payment system when implementing Pennies?

No, there are no implications for PCI DSS certification. The Pennies functionality sits outside the secure payments process.

Are there any data protection implications?

No, there is no personal data supplied to Pennies, so there are no data or GDPR issues.

Are donations eligible for gift aid?

No. There is no record kept identifying the donor, which means Gift Aid cannot be claimed on donations.

Does Pennies meet fundraising regulations?

Pennies is registered with the Fundraising Regulator, and our micro-donation solutions have been designed to fully align with the Fundraising Code of Practice. With Pennies, no donation will ever be taken without someone opting in by pressing ‘Yes’ and no customer should ever be pressured to press ‘Yes’ by a member of staff.

More information about fundraising regulations is available here: Code of Fundraising Practice | Fundraising Regulator

What about refunds?

Voluntary charitable donations are non-refundable.

Pennies is a digital version of the traditional charity tin, where people donated their loose change in cash. For example, if a customer requested a refund for the £99.75 of goods they bought, and had also put 25p into a collection tin at the time of purchase, they wouldn’t expect to get their 25p donation back out of the tin as well.

Pennies follows the same principle with digital donations.

If a merchant does wish to offer a refund, this it at their discretion, but the 25p donation still stands and will be billed by Pennies and granted to the charity. We find that this happens so infrequently that merchants are happy to bear the small cost of taking this stance.

Funding.

How does Pennies fund itself?

Pennies is a registered charity, and as with all charities, we need to raise funds to pay for our operations in accordance with our charitable objectives. ​We do this in two ways:​

  • Foundations, trusts and individuals​: Funding from these philanthropic organisations and individuals has helped grow Pennies, thereby creating an innovative source of sustainable, efficient funding for charities in the UK and Ireland, and enabling a new form of grassroots philanthropy.​
  • A percentage of each Pennies donation​: Receiving a small percentage of each donation allows us to become sustainable. In time we will become self-sufficient from a small percentage of overall donations and no longer require support from our caring and generous funders.

Start your journey now.

From retail, hospitality and technology brands looking to make a real difference, to charities looking to boost their impact, now is your chance to join the micro-donation movement.

Merchants

Collect micro-donations at the point of sale and deliver real social impact

Find the right micro-donation solution for your business

Charities

Work with Pennies and your corporate partners to receive digital donations for your charity

Use our micro-donation solutions in your own charity shops and online

Payments + Tech

Find out more about being a Pennies solution partner

About us

Whitbread

Our vision, mission and what we do

Creating impact on behalf of the sector

Meet the dedicated team

Meet our trustee board

Industry support for Pennies

Recognition for Pennies

How our work is funded

Current job opportunities

Find answers to commonly asked questions

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