With the click of a button you can donate a $1 or more to New England Science and Sailing, the Misquamicut Beach Recovery fund, or any other of more than 1,000,000 GuideStar™ charities.
“It’s EZ Pass for giving,” Watch Hill resident and co-founder of PennyClick Cricket Barlow said.
Barlow and her husband Drew Hollenbeck launched PennyClick in November 2012, with the idea of helping nonprofits raise money.
The organization allows users to put $25 or more into an account and then donate $1 or more of that money to more than 1,000,000 GuideStar™ charities. If a user doesn’t want to use all of the money at once the money stays in the account, but the money placed into the account is immediately tax-deductible.
“The idea is to make giving easy and for people to be able to give in a smaller amount,” Barlow said.
Barlow and Hollenbeck split their time between Watch Hill and Boston and both of them began volunteering for various nonprofits as children. As a member of several nonprofit boards Hollenbeck helped people raise money but he always hated asking people for money. The couple began thinking that the solution to that was micro donations combined with social networking and they started plans for PennyClick based on that about 18 months ago.
In addition to giving directly to a charity PennyClick allows users to create a fundraiser or wish for a charity of their choice. For instance user Thomas Mitchell created a wish for New London’s Recovery Yoga:
“Peace through strength,” Mitchell wrote on his wish. “For our returning vets, that's more than a slogan, and the Yoga for Vets program helps make it a reality. Can you help me get Recovery Yoga 20 mats? Just a dollar helps, and more is welcome! Thanks – Thomas”
“People like to know where their money is going and the wishes allow for that,” Barlow said adding that currently there are about 50 active wishes on the site.
And the wishes reflect the passions of Pennyclick’s users. There are wishes for the New England Science & Sailing Foundation, the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association, the CDC Foundation, even the American Vegan Society.
The wishes are where the social networking comes into play. Each wish has a public list of those who donated and while some users choose to remain anonymous most do not. Barlow said many of the wish creators see who has donated to their cause and often then donate a $1 or more to those people’s causes.
“There’s all this reciprocity going back and forth,” Barlow said.
There are no user fees for PennyClick and the nonprofits do not have to pay a set up fee, however after the first free year nonprofits have a $25 monthly maintenance fee. The nonprofits receive donations bi-weekly and get assistance with marketing including emails, twitter and other social media.
“Nonprofits can only spend so much time fundraising but by joining PennyClick the get the friends of the nonprofits networking for them.”
PennyClick is a nonprofit, but its marking arm, based in Stonington, is a for-profit business.
Barlow hopes that over the next year PennyClick continues to expand by having more nonprofits and users sign up for the organization, and that PennyClick helps nonprofits get better connected on social media.
“We want PennyClick to be the website for nonprofits,” Barlow said.
Many of the nonprofits and wishes currently active such as NESS, Recovery Yoga and the Misquamicut Beach Recovery are nonprofits that are close to Barlow’s heart, which is after all the whole point of the user experience on PennyClick.