I have always considered justgiving to be one of those truly inspired and yet oh-so -simple, ideas that the Internet brought with it and one that has become fairly synonymous with its sector i.e. charity.
My first words last weekend, when my sister asked me to sponsor her to do a fun run, were ‘just email me your justgiving page details’. Imagine my surprise when she said she would ‘put my name on the form’…yes, believe it or not, she actually had a piece of paper and a pen and, horror of all horrors, NO JUSTGIVING page! I had no idea that people still did that and if I my memories of calling in the debts on those forms are anything to go by, she will be years collecting up her pledges, just as I was when I attempted my sponsored silence about 25 years ago.
However, collect her cash or not, what I hadn’t thought about until a recent chat with a charity who shall remain nameless – and why would I, I usually simply tick the ‘Gift Aid’ box and move on, was the 5%. I guess if I had thought about it I would have known and indeed felt it fair enough that justgiving received some kind of admin fee for their trouble and enterprising idea, but 5%? This seemed to be a bit of a hornets nest.
5 % of the circa £25 million donated via justgiving in this year’s London Marathon is, now, let me see… yes, £1,250,000. That is quite a lot of money diverted from charity even before we move onto the admin costs of the charities themselves. And, it seems that the normal card transaction fees are outside of this charge, making the 5%, or 5.75% if you include VAT, quite a hefty sum.
So, my question is this, is it wrong? justgiving are set up as a profit making private enterprise an d in answer to their critics state that “Fundraising costs in the UK [...] between 15% and 25% (source: www.charityfacts.org). So Justgiving’s 5% represents excellent value, especially for smaller charities with limited resources.”
I don’t know what to think about this. It is a dilemma and if I am honest, if I had thought of it, I would a) be fairly well off and b) doubtless be justifying my fee on the basis that some 5000 registered charities benefit from the £340million or so channelled through justgiving.
However, it seems that the gripe from charities is that not only do they have to pay the 5%, they also have to accept the rise and rise of justgiving as a charity brand in its own right, taking limelight from their own brands and marketing efforts. A whisper tells me that there are a couple of new entrants who are charging less than justgiving and allowing charities the option of white labelling their online fundraising tools.. so who are they, does anyone know? will they be the ones to level the playingfield and is there really a problem here, or is this a storm in the charity digital tea-cup?