Since craft retailer Hobbycraft teamed up with ‘digital charity box’ provider Pennies it has attracted a significant level of donations from customers and improved engagement with both shoppers and employees.

Speaking at the recent RBTE 2017 event Dominic Jordan, retail operations director at Hobbycraft, told a packed auditorium that the partnership has been extremely successful since the company installed the Pennies software into its payments solution – with the help of K3 Retail.

When installed it appears at the Point-of-Sale – either on the payment device in-store or at the online checkout – and asks customers if they would like to make a micro-donation. This is frequently in the region of 20-30p and is added to their total transaction.

Jordan says the implementation was “relatively easy” when Hobbycraft ran an initial trial at its Bournemouth store in July 2016. The success of this pilot led to it being rolled out to 85 outlets around the country.

There are a number of benefits of adopting the Pennies solution to charitable giving, according to Paul Seaman, head of business development at Pennies, who says the idea was to “replicate the dropping of coins into a bucket”. The solution therefore involves no-pressure to give, it’s an ad-hoc donation mechanic, it’s private, it is for small sums, and there is no chance of any follow up to try and get donors to make further donations.

“It just sits there and has no negative impact on conversion. It helps retailers engage with their customers because they ask what the chosen charity is about,” says Jordan, adding that it also acts as a great way for employees to engage too: “Supporting a charity is great for the team. Everybody from the CEO down gets involved. ”

Pennies involves retailers choosing their own charity and this enabled Hobbycraft to extend its commitment to long-standing chosen charity ‘Together for Short Lives’, which runs 53 children’s hospices.

With some of the hospices near particular Hobbycraft stores this has helped engender much greater engagement in the local areas: “It helps Hobbycraft feel we’re a local craft shop with links to the local community – including through the charity.”

Pennies has very quickly helped Hobbycraft boost the level of contributions it makes to the charity, with almost £100,000 having been raised in the last six months from only half the stores. The expectations from Seaman are that micro donations given via the Pennies eco-system will continue to grow – beyond the 40 million contributions given to date, especially as a third of these were undertaken in the last 12 months.

He forecasts that 15 more merchants will be added to the existing 60 by the end of the year – helped by the fact that “our technology partners [such as K3 Retail] make it very easy for retailers to join in”. There really is no reason why retailers should not adopt the Pennies solution and help more charitable causes.