Innovation That Matters

Unify’s digital tools will enable cashless people to continue donating money to those without a home. | Photo source Unify Giving

App connects donors to the homeless through digital donations

Computing & Tech

For those wishing to make a donation, the donor can tap the homeless person's RFID wristband on the street or use the 'Unify Sofa-Giving' function in the app

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Spotted: The London-based social startup Unify Giving is developing an app together with data science company Closer that will allow people to digitally make contactless donations to the homeless community. 

According to a 2020 report carried out by UK Finance, 2019 saw only 23 per cent of payments made in cash, down from 48 per cent in 2014, and forecasted for cash to make up just 9 per cent of all transactions by 2028. As society moves more and more towards digital living, cash and loose change are becoming less common. Unify identifies our increasingly cashless society and how this affects individuals reliant on cash handouts for their survival.  

Unify’s digital tools will enable cashless people to continue donating money to those without a home. For those wishing to make a donation, it will be as simple as tapping the homeless person’s RFID wristband on the street or by using the ‘Unify Sofa-Giving’ function in the app. People in emergency refuge situations or substandard housing can also receive donations through Unify, which will be stored safely on an individual profile linked to that recipient. 

According to Unify, most existing solutions and charities have high overheads which substantially diminish the number of donations reaching the end cause. “Unify uses lean principles to keep overheads low, which means over 92.6p of every £1 goes directly to the person experiencing homelessness, to be stored in their secure profile and later spent on essential goods and services using a restricted pre-payment card distributed to the recipient upon subscription. Unify promises to have utmost transparency on where donations go,” Matt Bamber, Founder of Unify told Springwise.

Without proper means to save, and fear due to increased street violence, Unify said that an individual’s cash which they carry is usually spent swiftly. Unify therefore aims to empower people that are homeless to make their own decisions about how they spend their donations. However, Unify is aware that people will often withhold making donations as they don’t want their money to be put to the wrong use. By restricting a donee’s cash withdrawals and the purchase of alcohol and other abusive substances, Unify ensures that donations are spent positively. Moreover, Unify’s design allows the person experiencing homelessness to access modern-day online banking.

Unify aims to encourage more people to make donations, which is why they have integrated a credit system. For every one pound donated, a Unify credit is received that can be exchanged for exclusive vouchers and offers in their in-app Marketplace. 

A campaign is currently live on Indiegogo; Unify is asking for an initial €77.6 thousand for the first roll-out, with which they will purchase 770 wristbands and pre-payment cards, and complete the technology. The partnership with Closer will hopefully allow Unify to launch in the UK and Portugal, with strong partnerships being implemented throughout Europe and the USA. 

Written By: Katrina Lane

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