Donation scheme attracts political interest

Third sector minister Phil Hope has agreed to organise a meeting about a scheme that would allow shoppers to round up their bills to the nearest pound and donate the overpayment to charity.

Pennies4Change, set up by international fundraising business Votiva, offers software that would allow overpayments made using credit or debit cards to be sent automatically to the company’s charitable foundation.

Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, praised the scheme at an adjournment debate in the House of Commons last Thursday and challenged Hope to organise a meeting with major retailers and banks to make sure the scheme’s “simplicity, integrity and national unity” was not undermined by individual companies attempting to “selfishly brand this good idea with their own logo”.

Gardiner said the scheme would appeal to the public, who he said liked to make spontaneous donations.

Hope said he was not in a position to endorse a specific proposal but agreed to a meeting. He said the Pennies4Change scheme was “an extraordinarily positive way for individuals to give spontaneously and to make giving an integral part of their everyday lives”.

Votiva estimates that the scheme could raise £100m a year with a take-up rate as low as four per cent.

Hope has also called on business to buy from sector suppliers and invest more in charities and social enterprises.

“If we could get private sector organisations to build third sector organisations into their supply chains, we would get so much more from them,” he said. “To push it even further, what about investing in the third sector? Many charities, particularly small ones, find that access to funding and finance is one of the biggest barriers to their growth and development. Perhaps we could promote that, too.”

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