On 2nd November 2021, Pennies held its annual Autumn Celebration event, hosted by BBC News presenter Sally Bundock. A hybrid event, this year’s event bought to life what social purpose can mean for business – and saw how micro-donations are changing the face of giving.

Following a rousing summary of Pennies’ growth, innovation and perseverance in the last challenging 20 months from Pennies CEO Alison Hutchinson CBE, Sir Malcolm Walker CBE, founder and executive chairman of Iceland gave an entertaining and characteristically ‘no holds barred’ keynote address, bringing his experience of growing a much-loved business and scaling the charity impact it has amongst its supported causes.

Next was our esteemed panel of retail and hospitality leaders who each gave unique and warm insights on what post-pandemic social purpose means to their businesses, and how they incorporate community impact into their work, engaging colleagues and customers.

Our panel were:

  • Liz Williams Senior Vice President, Managing Director, UK & Major Markets, Papa John’s International
  • Gary Grant Founder and Executive Chairman of The Entertainer
  • Ted Bell Co-founder and CEO at Freddie’s Flowers
  • Jerome Saint-Marc Group CEO at Wilko
  • Alison Hutchinson CBE CEO of Pennies

It was clear from the panel’s experiences that social purpose in business is a growing priority not only for customers but also potential colleagues – as Liz Williams commented:

“I was interviewing last week and for the first time I was asked about Papa John’s social purpose. We are in a talent war at the moment, people are choosing where they want to work, and they want us to have a social purpose…It’s so important as a business and define it.”

Ted Bell agreed that the public are more ethically-minded than ever:

“Last year Freddie’s Flowers became carbon neutral but there’s an awful lot further to go – we’re learning that particularly from our German customers; they are demanding it”.

Liz Williams of Papa John's discusses social purpose as part of a panel discussion with industry leaders at Pennies Autumn Celebration 2021

The event including an inspiring panel discussion from industry leaders Liz Williams, Gary Grant, Ted Bell, Jerome Saint-Marc and Alison Hutchinson CBE.

Jerome Saint-Marc agreed with the importance of visibility and scale of social purpose:

“If you [as a business leader] believe you are doing the right thing, it’s pragmatic and your team members and customers see it – then it doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be repeatable.”

Gary Grant meanwhile believes business is fundamentally “a force for good”, he posed, “As business leaders we are wealth generators, but how can we promote generosity?” Gary cites Pennies as a key player in inviting customers in to become part of an overall ethical mission too:

“Pennies [is] so easy and literally every penny counts up for charity – so if anyone is concerned about queues at till I give you my personal invitation to stand in the shop with me for half an hour when I have a queue at Christmas and watch how many customers thank you for enabling them to give to charity.”

The Pennies Awards

Next, Pennies’ CEO Alison Hutchinson CBE presided over a set of special recognition awards, as selected by a judging panel from retail, hospitality and the payments and technology industries.

The awards recognised people and partners who are going “over and above”, and really helping accelerate the micro-donation movement and impacting hard-working charities and the people and communities they support, through unlocking thousands of consumer donations.

Read the full story of the awards, and discover the full list of winners, here.

Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO of Pennies, hosts the Pennies Awards 2021

The Pennies Awards 2021 recognised those brands driving social change with micro-donations in their organisations.

Thank you for making micro-donations matter

If you were one of those who were able to attend in person, thank you so much, and a special thank you to all those that joined us live online too and took part in the lively virtual chat alongside proceedings.

Pennies would like to say a huge thank you to Worldpay from FIS for their support for this year’s event, and Avvio Reply for the fantastic production, which was once again high value and as entertaining to watch online as it was in-person.

And we also extend a massive thank you to our guests, supporters, partners and everyone who helped make the evening so special.


Watch the full event online now

If you missed the event of the autumn, we have you covered – and are now hosting the whole event either to watch again or enjoy for the first time – over on our YouTube channel here.

Pennies CEO, Alison Hutchinson CBE, addresses the room at the Pennies Autumn Celebration 2021

Pennies CEO, Alison Hutchinson CBE, addresses the room at the Pennies Autumn Celebration 2021.


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