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Pocket Change Goes a Long Way
Pocket Change Goes a Long Way

U.K. universities build a culture of philanthropy—one penny at a time

By Precious Dorch-Robinson


Keep the change. That's what hundreds of U.K. university staff members have told their institutions as part of a fundraiser to help needy students.

At least five U.K. universities have joined the micro giving platform Pennies from Heaven, which has raised more than 300 million pennies for 265 charities from employee payroll deductions at companies including Barclays and HSBC. Here's how it works: Say a staff member's pay is £720.85. The employee receives a paycheck for £720 while the remaining 85p goes to charity.

"It's an easy way for people to give—a few pence each pay period," says Linda Ajam-David, fundraising officer from the University of the West of England, which has used the program to raise £1,153 for students facing financial hardships.

Pennies from Heaven administers the program for a small fee, and institutions recruit employee donors. UWE advertised the payroll deduction program through a campus e-newsletter, an attachment to pay slips, and posters at campus cafes. An added incentive for the 196 staff members who signed up: a free cup of coffee or tea at a campus cafe.

Cardiff Metropolitan University used a similar recruitment method when it started signing up employees in January 2015. Today, 173 staff members are regular donors to the institution's student hardship fund. Students in financial crisis can access money for everything from paying rent to buying groceries. Donors receive handwritten thank you cards, and the staff bulletin features stories of students helped by the fund.

"Student hardship has struck a chord with some of the academics, who see students on a daily basis and can appreciate their struggles," says Sheona Evans, development manager at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

The program also raises awareness of the young development office, which opened in 2009. Professors are coming to the office for help funding projects. "Long term," Evans says, "this might help to create a culture of giving."

About the Author Precious Dorch-Robinson

Precious Dorch-Robinson is a spring 2016 Currents editorial intern.




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