Spare app sends change to local food banks

Everyone knows that every little bit helps. What Andra Tomsa, founder and CEO of Spare Change Inc., is asking is for is people to try the Spare app, and start sending their minuscule, but valuable, bits of change to those in need.

“I am a non-technical founder of an app which is very fun,” Tomsa said and laughed. “My background is I have a Masters in Development Economics. I came at this more from the financial lens, and then found a syntax solution to it, but I’ve been lucky enough to work with really talented people to see the vision through.”

The basis of the company and the app is to take whatever purchases of food or drink the user buys, and round-up to the nearest dollar. An example is someone buys a coffee for $1.97 and 3 cents is donated by the app to local food banks. Tomsa said there are 20 partnering New York food banks, one in Canada, which will benefit from people using the Spare app.

“Essentially we’re allowing people to feed families every time they eat,” Tomsa said. “Which has become especially important in this pandemic time when so many people are facing food insecurity. So, it’s meant to be very easy, very accessible tool that doesn’t break the bank to participate in, but actually makes a meaningful difference to food charities.”

How the Spare app works, Tomsa said, is people download Spare available on the Apple and Google app stores, and use it much like Venmo is used.

“When a user first signs up for the app, they’re prompted to connect an account, whatever card you use when you dine out, or buy groceries. Whatever you use to buy food,” she said. “When you’re prompted to do that, you’re taken out of our app and into Plaid.”

Plaid is a financial services company based in San Francisco that handles applications that connect users’ bank accounts. Recently, it was bought by Visa for $5.3 billion.

“That’s how it works, the user gives permission once and then the the app goes and rounds you up automatically, thereafter,” Tomsa said.

Tomas calculated that an average user gives $15 a month.

“It takes only 34 active users to give $500 a month reoccurring,” she said. “And that $500, typically, food banks convert money – a lot better than we can – into meals, so that $500 turns into 2,500 meals.”

Tomas also mentioned a rewards program which had to be delayed during the economic shutdown and is “slowly being rolled out again.”

“We also have relationships with partner venues that participate in our reward program,” she said. “If a user rounds up three times at a partner venue, they get a free drink. For the venues, this makes sense, because they’re driving repeat business … plus it allows them to plug into the good will of giving back to food banks without actually giving to the food banks themselves.”

As a single mother, Tomsa said she definitely pays attention to what she spends, and has been rounding up without any complaints.

“It’s meant to be a tool that’s accessible, even if they’re not wealthy or able to write a big check,” she said. “And this is something they can do daily.”

To learn more, go to spare.usa.

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