Pennies (digital charity box)

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MottoGiving small change a big purpose
FoundedNovember 6, 2007 (2007-11-06)
6418982 (company limited by guarantee)
Registration no.1122489 (UK)
20106331 (Republic of Ireland)
Area served
United Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
Key people
Alison Hutchinson CBE (CEO)
Sir Martyn Lewis CBE (Ambassador)
Robert Leitão (Chair of Trustees)
£4.2 million (2017)

Pennies is a registered charity in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Its purpose is to raise funds for a variety of UK registered charities through micro-donations made by customers at the point of sale (a form of 'digital charity box'), to promote the third sector and to encourage charitable giving.[1]

The Daily Telegraph has described it as "a new channel for an old habit" that has adapted the shop counter charity box for the internet and card using generation.[2]


Shoppers are privately invited to donate small amounts (1p–99p) to charity when they pay for goods and services by card in participating retailers. All the money raised through Pennies goes to charity.[3] Pennies’ partner retailers nominate the charity or charities to benefit from donations.[4] In January 2013, just over two years after launch, people had donated 4 million times through Pennies, raising £1,000,000 for charity.[5] As of September 2015, over 20 million consumer donations had been made through the digital charity box.[6]

Retailers that have customers paying by card can easily implement Pennies on their payment system. Those with electronic stock control software set up Pennies as a stock-keeping unit. Sales staff are not involved in donations; when the customer is ready to pay for goods or services, the PIN pad prompts the customer with the option to round up or top up their purchase and add a donation to the payment.[7]

Pennies launched online in November 2010 with Domino’s Pizza and has since partnered many other national, regional and local companies, both in-store and online. In its first year, Pennies received over one million donations, totalling £250,000,[8] rising to £300,000 for the calendar year 2011.[9] Pennies is available in store with a range of retailers, including The Entertainer, Zizzi Restaurants, The Fragrance Shop, The Rugby Football Union and London restaurant chain Drake & Morgan. It is available online with Domino’s Pizza, Travelodge, Evans Cycles and Dobbies, among many others.

By February 2012, one million donations had been made at Domino's; although the most common amount was 1p, the total had reached £230,000.[10] Other businesses chose to offer customers the option to add a fixed 'top up' amount, such as a 25p donation at Zizzi.[11]


In June 2011, Pennies won an award in the 'fundraising' category of the Technology4Good awards (T4G).[12][13] It was also nominated by Third Sector magazine in its Britain’s Most Admired Charities 2011 awards in the Most Innovative Charity category.[14] In late 2012, Pennies won the 'Best Not for Profit IT Project' in IT Industry Awards held by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and Computing magazine.[15]

In May 2013, Pennies was named as a finalist in the first Google Global Impact Challenge UK, which recognises innovative non-profits using technology for social good.[16]

Pennies has also received messages of support from prominent figures in the retail and technology industry. Joanna Shields, former Vice President of Facebook, described Pennies as "a simple idea that removes friction from giving",[17] and UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox has said that Pennies' "simple yet clever technology can make a real difference when the charitable sector needs it most".[18]

Public figures such as Prince Harry, Cheryl Cole, Jason Donovan, Gary Barlow and Jeremy Irons have also supported Pennies.[2][18]

The Pennies Foundation[edit]

The Pennies Foundation is a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales and a company limited by guarantee registered in England.

The November 2010 annual accounts showed that philanthropists and foundations had contributed over £1 million to The Pennies Foundation in cash and in kind as start-up gifts, to establish the charity's infrastructure and cover its running costs in the early years. Point-of-sale donations were accounted for separately as "'pennies' donations received" and set aside as "designated funds", to be passed on without deduction.[3] However, the Foundation acknowledged in 2011 that, in order to be sustainable in the long term, it will become necessary to start retaining a small percentage of each donation.[19]


  1. ^ "'The Pennies Foundation'". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Kara Gammell, Donate your change and help raise £150m, The Daily Telegraph, 22 Nov 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-17.
  3. ^ a b Annual report, 30 November 2010, page 16.
  4. ^ "'Pennies FAQ". The Pennies Foundation. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  5. ^ Charity Tech Insight, Pennies reaches GBP1m mark through micro-donations
  6. ^ Alice Sharman (10 September 2015). "Pennies reaches 20 million micro-donation milestone". Civil Society. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
  7. ^ The Logic Group (24 June 2011). "The Logic Group and Pennies team on charity donations at point of sale". Press release. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  8. ^ Jill Insley (2 December 2011). "Charities for Christmas #2: Pennies". Guardian. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  9. ^ Merry Christmas from Pennies, The Pennies Foundation, 23 December 2011.
  10. ^ Sophie Hudson (14 February 2012). "Domino's 'rounding up' donations through Pennies reach one million". Third Sector. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  11. ^ "'Pennies with Zizzi' scoops RealIT Awards top prize". The Pennies Foundation. 21 March 2012. Archived from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  12. ^ 2011 Winners, Technology4Good awards. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  13. ^ Pennies scoops Technology4Good fundraising award, The Pennies Foundation website, 8 June 2011. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  14. ^ Gemma O’Reilly (22 August 2011). "Six contenders in the running to be named Most Innovative Charity". Third Sector. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  15. ^ Stuart Sumner (15 November 2012). "The UK IT Industry Awards". Computing. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  16. ^ Google Global Impact Challenge 2013
  17. ^ Joanna Shields discusses Pennies, YouTube
  18. ^ a b Messages of support, Pennies website
  19. ^ Wiggins, Kaye (5 July 2011). "Pennies Foundation to start making deductions". Third Sector. Retrieved 8 August 2012.

External links[edit]