Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
March 17, 2022
Andi Thieman | PennyLoafer
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Andi Thieman, I’m the founder of PennyLoafer, a platform that makes charitable giving simple and more strategic for everyday donors. We create ongoing giving strategies around select causes, like climate change and mental health, with the goal of getting more people donating regularly to causes they care about, feeling impactful, and learning along the way.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
My career actually started in tech. I worked in sales and account management at startups in New York. But having studied community development in college, I knew I eventually wanted to get back to the nonprofit sector. I went back to school for a masters in social work, and worked in nonprofit consulting and human services. My work involved a lot of strategic planning, grant writing, and best practice research for nonprofits and public agencies. I really liked thinking strategically about problems and planning with intention. The idea for PennyLoafer came after taking stock of my own giving habits. They seemed disjointed and often reactive. I would donate when crises happened, or requests came my way: a natural disaster, a friend’s charity run, supporting a local food pantry during the pandemic. To be sure, these were all good things to support, but I wondered how I could be more intentional and strategic with my giving, especially around causes that I cared about. So, I set out to create a solution.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I think philanthropy can often feel like something that’s reserved for wealthy people, who can set up a foundation, hire staff to research their giving strategies, and give a lot of money away. I want people who may only have $5-$50/month to donate to feel like they also have the power to influence change. PennyLoafer aims to provide the everyday donor, who has limited time and resources, with an ongoing giving strategy they can feel good about and leave them feeling impactful with their giving. Ultimately, I think people are inherently good and often want to do more than they actually end up doing. Just like we may fall short on our goals to go to the gym more, eat healthier, or read more books, we can fall short on our charitable giving. This gap between intention and action is where I think PennyLoafer can really help.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
PennyLoafer is helping people put their values and beliefs into meaningful action each month by eliminating some of the most common barriers to giving. These include finding the time to research and vet organizations, feeling overwhelmed by issues or the number of nonprofits to choose from (1.5M operate in the U.S. alone!), and skepticism of how the money will be used or if it will have an impact. The platform enables recurring monthly donations to causes people care about (including climate change, mental health, quality education, and racial justice). And creates collective impact as each month, all donations to a cause are combined and sent to a different, vetted charity. Along the way, donors learn about a wide variety of nonprofits and the different strategies they deploy to address the given cause. Since our launch in September 2021, PennyLoafer donors have collectively given more than $10K to charities, and growing! Our average donation is ~$20, so that feels pretty cool.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
Certainly the nonprofits. Learning about all the amazing work that’s being done in each of our cause areas, and the dedicated individuals who work day in and day out to make it happen is really inspiring. I feel lucky to get to share their stories and missions with our donors. I also feel inspired by people’s desire to do more and want to make it as simple as possible for them to connect to causes and align their values with their giving.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
My vision is to increase both the quantity and quality of giving from everyday donors. I’d love for PennyLoafer to be the trusted platform people can turn to when they want to make an impact with their giving and support a cause, but they’re not sure where to start or don’t have time to do the research. I want to continue to grow the number of donors, charities, and causes we support. And I’d love to have guest experts help choose nonprofits and highlight people working close to these issues (policy experts, changemakers, community organizers, and more) so that donors can learn about different ways people think about evaluation and impact.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
As a first-time, solo entrepreneur it’s definitely been more isolating than I was anticipating. It’s been helpful to find a community of other female founders to celebrate wins and talk through challenges. Prioritizing my time and attention is another area I’m working on. As a one-woman band, there are so many things I could be focusing my time on, especially when it comes to growth and user acquisition, so being able to prioritize what’s most important now is a constant challenge.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
Our small actions add up. You can make a difference even with $5/month. Big issues like climate change and the mental health crisis aren’t going to be solved overnight, and certainly not with one intervention. But we can all be part of the solution.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
One thing I often reflect on is: How am I contributing? And I take this to mean: How am I making the world a better place today, this year, in life, etc.? Our contributions can be as little as being kind to someone in a one-off interaction, calling a friend we haven’t spoken to in a while, or helping a neighbor take in their groceries. But it’s a helpful exercise and standard to hold myself to, both personally and professionally. For me, it shifts the focus from societal pressures of “success” to the ultimately more fulfilling benchmark of “service”.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
To learn more or start giving regularly to causes, check out pennyloafer.org. Donors simply choose a cause and a monthly giving amount that fits their budget. We take care of the rest! PennyLoafer doesn’t take any fees and all donations are tax-deductible. You can follow us on socials (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) or just reach out to say hi. I’d love to hear from you!
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give do-good organizations the resources and support they need to increase awareness and grow their audience so they can maximize their impact. If would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to email@example.com.