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The end of Virgin Money Giving

For anyone that uses this service, you’ll be aware that it will be packing its bag and heading into the sunset, come the end of November.

As the biggest sponsor of the London Marathon, the non-profit organisation will be sorely missed, as it’s one of the most popular fundraising platforms amongst charities across the UK. The Virgin brand is a household name, and many companies sit under its umbrella—apparently, the decision to close down Virgin Money Giving came after a ‘strategic review’.

The fundraising platform launched in 2009 and has been the forerunner ever since, helping to raise more than £900mn during its reign.

The problem, now it’s disappearing, is finding a suitable alternative.

Some fundraising platforms charge the good causes they serve a monthly fee for appearing on their site, as well as operational and payment processing fees when donations are made.

The main player in the market now will be JustGiving. This organisation is a profit-making entity, which could explain its high fees, compared to rivals, and why it appears to have a bigger marketing budget in which to become a recognisable brand.

So, JustGiving is a business…does that ‘sit right’ with you, the fact that it makes a profit from charities in dire need of every penny of funding they raise?

Look at it this way, if a charity wanted some leaflets printing, it would likely approach a local printing company, who would make a profit from their order in the same it would any other customer. Charities aren’t immune to paying costs and helping other businesses make a profit.

JustGiving used to charge a 5% fee to supporters for every donation they made; however, from March 2019, this became a voluntary ‘tip’, which the company suggests is the amount needed to run the platform. I think what rankled with the public was seeing the sheer amount of profit JustGiving made from Captain Tom Moore’s fundraising during the pandemic. The veteran brought in more than £32mn on behalf of NHS charities, of which at least £2mn went to JustGiving, as the Moore’s fundraising platform of choice. Maybe seeing that huge amount posed a moral question, of how much a non-profit organisation should make from charities—even though these tips were all freely given by the many supporters of Captain Tom Moore’s campaign.

Just by being the next well-known brand after Virgin Money Giving will probably see JustGiving hoover up a good portion of their customers. But there are alternatives, it may just take a little research to determine which is right for your charity.

If you only use fundraising platforms when your supporters raise money for your charity, e.g. trekking across the Himalayas or sitting in a bath of baked beans for a few days, then GoFundMe is a good option. An individual’s challenge can be listed for free and the platform’s payment processing fees are certainly reasonable.

Givey is another option. It’s free for charities to be listed on the site but it charges 5% of the total donation to people when they give their money. Though this sounds quite a lot, the platform is aimed at smaller charities that don’t attract huge donations.

Kindlink also charges zero fees to charities appearing on their platform, and their payment processing fees are amongst the cheapest.

BOPP is a relatively new platform that charges nothing to charities to be listed, and which creates QR codes that can be added to a cause’s social media and marketing literature, etc. The codes lead supporters to the relevant donor page and the whole process takes less than 30 seconds via a mobile phone, which makes it a convenient choice at events, etc. According to Charity Digital (who has recently collaborated with BOPP to offer reduced fees to its members), there are two pricing bundles. BOPP’s Value Bundle means organisations pay monthly (£9 with Charity Digital’s discount), with no extra transaction fees on their first £5000 raised. Donations after this will be charged at 0.5% per transaction, up to a maximum of 50p.

With BOPP’s Pay As You Go bundle, organisations pay 0.5% per transaction, again with a maximum fee of 50p and a minimum of 5p.

The CAF (Charities Aid Foundation) has created its own platform, CAF Donate. With no listing fees, the platform covers its costs by taking a staggered approach to fees. One-off donations cost more to process than regular contributions made via Direct Debit, for example.

Lots of people raise money for their favourite good causes via Facebook Fundraising. Easy to set up and share via an individual’s profile, the money can be transferred directly to the cause if listed on Facebook, or to the fundraiser’s personal account via Stripe; though the latter could invite some sticky situations.

Localgiving is another option that’s definitely upfront with its fees. Charging an annual membership of £80, it may seem above the budgets of small charities; however, it also offers funding opportunities, training, and more benefits to its members.

Neighbourly invites individual giving via its pages. Charities can create a profile for free and encourage users of the site to raise money on their behalf. Fees are 5% of the amount donated.

There are others to choose from, though I think I’ve covered the more well-known and well-used ones here. My advice would be to check the small print before signing up with any of them, so you know exactly how much it will cost you to raise funds on their platform.

It may be a good idea to enlist a couple of platforms, as each one will accept certain payment methods but not others, and it’s wise to cover all bases when fundraising. The last thing you want is to engage a supporter and find they’ve clicked off, turned away, or donated elsewhere because their preferred way of sending money isn’t applicable.


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