In this week’s episode of In Conversation With… Ben talks to Co-Founder and CEO of Sustainably, Loral Quinn, about using apps and open banking to streamline donations to charities and enable more people to make an impact with their spare change.
Sustainably rounds up spare change from each purchase (for example, if you spend £1.59 it rounds up to £2) and then donates that change to your chosen charity through the Sustainably app.
Ben and Loral talk about changing the future of giving, being inspired by platforms like Uber and Spotify and how Sustainably can achieve mass adoption of this new technology.
Watch the full episode at the end of this extract.
Loral, thanks for joining me on the podcast. Do you want to start out by telling about Sustainably?
Hi Ben, thanks so much for having me on the podcast. Sustainably is a new way of living and giving and all about doing good as part of everyday life but with total privacy, transparency and control. You can give to causes you care about without giving your personal details and micro-donating your spare change and lots of other convenient ways.
It’s all about giving to good causes that you care about on your own terms.
How does it work?
You go to Sustainably and download the app and then you connect your card through open banking.
One of the ways you can give is by rounding up and micro donating your spare change. That happens automatically. You can set a limit on how much you donate and when you reach that limit it will stop until the next month. Every time you donate you get an instant Impact Update saying what’s happening with your money and you get Impact Points which will become a virtual currency for impact and rewards.
So if I spend £1.59 on a coffee, it rounds it up to £2.00?
Yup exactly and when your round ups have reached £5 we move it straight to your cause and you get an Impact Update that day saying what’s happening with your money. You get to donate without us sharing your personal details, so you never get hassled for giving more and you can pause and change it whenever you like: the frequency, the amount, and you get transparency into what’s happening with your money.
There are two ways to give: through round ups or through Monthly Happiness which is when you choose a day of the month and a cause and then when you give you get an instant Impact Update. Again, we don’t share any of your details so you don’t get hassled for more and you can change it at any time through the app - so you don’t have to call the bank or change a direct debit or get unwanted communication.
What comes through on the Impact Update?
At the moment, we get the charities to upload content about the challenges that they’re working on so for example if you grove £5 it tells you what’s happening that day with that £5 and in the future it will be around data visualization and sustainable development goals, like how much plastic you’ve removed from the ocean or how many trees you’ve planted, for example. It’s all about getting that instant update and being able to track the impact you’ve made, all in one place. We’re all about removing the friction from giving.
Can I give to any charity?
We’ve got 33 that we support at the moment and you can go on Sustainably and suggest a cause and we get in touch and try to sign them up. It’s really easy to get onboard and we do some AML checks and monitor their activity so that we know that the money is going to all the good causes in the right ways. If there isn’t one you like on there right now, you can suggest your own and it's really simple.
What led you to this idea and what problems were you trying to solve?
There were a few, actually. With technology you see a lot of payment automation, for example you get in an Uber and then the payments happen in the background and lots of different subscription services like Spotify and all of this digital change that’s happened in other industries hasn’t really happened in the giving sector.
We saw an opportunity to combine what was happening and ethical retail (like TOMS shoes) and Acorn Investing, which rounds up your spare change into your investment portfolio, and gamification, like what’s happening with Pokemon Go. We used all of that sort of stuff for inspiration to create a product that would lead the transition to positive sustainable impact for people, brands, and good causes. That’s where it all came from. It’s about removing friction and making it really simple and allowing people to have the do good, feel good and see that impact on their own terms, with anonymity and privacy around their data. A lot of the research we’ve had says that’s how people want to give.