On a mission to become the country’s best-loved toyshop, The Entertainer aims to create special memories and deliver outstanding service. In a bid to further their charitable impact, an idea at the heart of the business, the toy retailer introduced the Pennies donation option to stores in 2011, giving customers the chance to round-up their card purchases and donate the spare digital change to charity.
The majority of the funds raised through Pennies support 10 regional children’s hospitals across all four nations of the UK – as well as Jersey and the Isle of Man. But fuelled by their love of community, The Entertainer wanted to find a way for customer donations to help small, local children’s charities too.
That’s why, in 2016, CEO Gary Grant asked us to start setting aside just 15% of each micro-donation for a new initiative called Jack Gives Back – named after The Entertainer’s famous jack-in-the-box mascot. Each year, staff from every toy store have the opportunity to nominate a small children’s charity, operating in their local community, to receive a one-off Pennies grant of £1,000 – funded by the donations reserved for the Jack Gives Back fund.
Since launch, over 400 charities have been supported by Jack Gives Back with Pennies, meaning that as well as supporting major children’s hospitals like Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal, your donations are also helping local communities. To date, the Jack Gives back grants have helped small charities to support children’s health, improve education, tackle child poverty, alongside hundreds of others causes.
At Pennies, we are delighted to support Gary and The Entertainer team with their Jack Gives Back initiative. We are continually humbled by the generosity of The Entertainers customers and how micro-donations really do add up to making such a difference. It is super to have been able to grant critical funding to over 400 local charities all operating close to each of the stores, supporting their communities and so many children in different ways.
Alison Hutchinson CBE, CEO at Pennies
In 2019, we ran the initiative with The Entertainer for the third time, helping customer donations reach even greater numbers of local causes. We caught up with some of the benefitting charities to find out just how your donations have made a difference this year.
Friends of Barnet Environment Centre
In North London, your generous contributions have helped Friends of Barnet Environment Centre – nominated by The Entertainer in Brent Cross – to continue educating young people and provide them with experiences inspired by the natural world. Their Vice-chair of Trustees explained: “We are most grateful! It will help a great deal in enabling us to continue our work educating young people about their environment”.
Further west, Anna’s Challenges was nominated by staff at the Basingstoke branch. Funds are helping the charity to purchase equipment for the cystic fibrosis team at Basingstoke Hospital. One of their Trustees said, “We’re so grateful for your support” and explained that the donation will go a long way to helping children with cystic fibrosis and their families in the local area.
Ochil Explorers and Lisa’s Gift
Meanwhile in Scotland, Ochil Explorers are using their grant from the Sterling store to keep providing outdoor activities for young people in the local community. Your donations will also be helping pupils in Scotland with financial assistance to participate in a multitude of activities, both school-based and extra-curricular, through Lisa’s Gift – nominated by The Entertainer Braehead. A trustee from Lisa’s Gift said:
Thank you so much for your wonderful donation to the charity. It seems that every week we are receiving more and more requests for financial assistance from schools throughout the region and the only way we can continue to help is by constantly replenishing the Lisa’s gift account. Without the kindness shown by groups such as yourselves we simply could not continue to function and help numerous disadvantaged children to participate in curricular and extracurricular activities. Your generosity means everything to us.
Carolyn Moran, Trustee at Lisa’s gift
It is clear your digital pennies are hugely important to big and small charities alike, helping maintain vital community services and supporting thousands of beneficiaries. The next time you give a little via Pennies in your local toy store, remember you’ll be doing more than just supporting the amazing children’s hospitals and hospices – you’ll be helping hundreds of other charities working to help children and young people in your local community.
This Giving Tuesday, we would like to thank everyone who is involved in the Jack Gives Back initiative and all of the customers who’ve added a little extra to your bill to change the lives of so many.