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4 fintech startups changing the way people donate to charity

Over the decade since the global financial crash, charities have had a tough time securing donations. Cultural shifts mean that trust in institutions has plummeted and people are less willing to indulge doorstep or street fundraisers.

Many charities have been hit further by a raft of new regulations including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and because in the charity sector data is king, the new EU ePrivacy Regulation, due to hit the statute books next year, is likely to cause a few sleepless nights too.

But charities across Europe and the world do vital work and businesses are more keen than ever to find ways of partnering with them at a local and national level. As Andrew Nisbet, Director of The Nisbet Trust, says: “[local charities] are building the kind of society and communities we want to live and build businesses in, and they need our support too.”

Fintech is beginning to get a foothold in this most traditional of sectors, and entrepreneurial companies developing new, exciting products that can increase donations. Here are just four fintechs that are responding to the way people want to donate today.


Pennies is a UK fintech registered charity founded in 2010, and it has been a very big hit with the public, non-profits and with retailers. It’s easy to see why. The Pennies platform acts as a digital charity box, allowing retailers to fundraise on behalf of their chosen charity via the payment terminal.

The company says that, to date, 60 million customer micro-donations have been made using Pennies, raising more than £15 million for over 400 UK charities via 50-plus retailers including brands such as Domino’s Pizza, Screwfix and Travelodge.

What makes Pennies particularly interesting is the results, and the fact that smaller charities can raise big sums very quickly. Earlier this year, in just three months, Adnams Brewery raised £13,000 for The Royal British Legion, all from micro-donations. This shows how fintech can tap into cultural changes such as online payment to harness the power of small change to make a difference.


Cryptocurrency and charity donations aren’t the most obvious bedfellows. But blockchain tech company KryptoPal looks set to change this. KryptoPal is an innovative startup aimed at eradicating the current issues surrounding the take-up of blockchain and crypto. It has created one platform that can be integrated into existing applications, removing the need for users to adopt new apps.

The company has now turned its attention towards democratising crypto for charities and recently teamed up with Swiss NGO help2kids to develop new software allowing the charity to accept donations in cryptocurrency.

Some brave non-profits have already investigated the potential of crypto, including UNICEF Australia, which launched 'The Hope Page' earlier this year, a ground-breaking initiative that allows visitors to the site to donate their own processing power to mine cryptocurrency on behalf of UNICEF. But KryptoPal is taking the idea of crypto-donations seriously, and looks like it could be the first to scale.


Cleo is not primarily a charity app, it’s an AI-powered chatbot that looks after your money; offers proactive advice and insight, auto-calculates how much you can afford to save each month, and generally acts like a financial adviser crossed with your mother. It replaces all your banking apps, and for that alone it’s got a fanatical following.

But the reason it’s likely to be so influential in the not-for-profit sector is that it’s fast becoming the first-choice financial app for millennials, and it has a charity-giving function built in. Cleo’s charity function is incredibly simple, allowing users to give a percentage of the amount of their savings each month to two small, independent charities that work in the financial inclusion sector. This is definitely one to watch.


Goodworld is similar to Pennies, a fintech that makes giving small amounts to charities very simple, quick and easy. But it’s different in one big way: it’s creating a new service aimed at the banks. Goodworld’s current product is the only one that allows users to donate via Facebook or Twitter to a participating charity using only a simple ‘#donate’ hashtag.

The Washington DC-based company is now looking to scale and has recently partnered with Verrency, an Australian digital payments innovator. This partnership will allow traditional banks to offer a new service: a Corporate and Social Responsibility offering that enables customers to automatically round up their debit and credit card transactions to the nearest selected amount, and donate this figure directly to their chosen charity.

These four companies are in the vanguard of fintechs who can see the opportunity presented by the charity sector. They won’t be the last.


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