Time for Change
Published by Kieron James in Wonderful
According to JustGiving's co-founder, Anne-Marie Huby, the company faces criticisms and accusations in the media every couple of years. Last month a flurry of stories appeared in the national press about JustGiving's for-profit approach to fundraising and its high salary costs.
JustGiving's standard response is that their platform is "the best way to deliver a consistently great, and continuously improving, fundraising experience for all our users is to operate as a for-profit, for-good business."
Anne-Marie Huby believes "charities deserve the best, and it's the job of successful, sustainable businesses like JustGiving to make that happen." You don't however need to generate a profit to be successful and sustainable. The charity sector isn't motivated by profit, it is driven by a desire to do good. Fundraisers use JustGiving because it has a near monopoly. It sustains that position by using some of the charge it levies on charity fundraising to sponsor highly popular events like the Great North Run whose entrants are directed to JustGiving as soon as they are offered a place.
JustGiving has done an incredible job and should be applauded for its impact in the fundraising sector. It may help charities raise half a billion pounds this year. The company, and many of the charities that use its service, state that the cost of raising those funds - at around 7% including card-processing fees - is a price charities are happy to pay.
When JustGiving arrived around 16 years ago that was probably about right. Technology was expensive and the platform revolutionised fundraising. In 2017, given the sums involved, 7% feels like a high price for charities to pay.
I believe that with the technology we have today and the growth in corporate social responsibility there is another way. Name a UK high street bank which couldn't use a good news story right now. Find a corporation which wouldn't like to be seen contributing in a direct and meaningful way to the community in which it operates. Convince me that everybody training for the London Marathon; the good causes they're supporting; and those parting with their hard-earned cash to sponsor them, wouldn't prefer an extra 7% (and every penny of Gift Aid) to reach the charities they care about.
We can make this happen. We can create innovation and efficiency in fundraising without the need to make a profit. We operate the platform as a sustainable and successful non-profit and ask corporate sponsors - rather than charities, fundraisers or taxpayers - to meet the 7% costs described above. In return, corporate sponsors earn the right to bask in the reflected glory of doing something entirely philanthropic.
Furthermore, if we accept the 7% cost base that JustGiving tells us we need, we are also acknowledging the potential for a 13-fold multiplier effect. Assume a corporation donates £10,000 to a charity. The charity receives £10,000. Alternatively, the same corporation provides £10,000 in corporate sponsorship as a contribution to the costs of a non-profit fundraising platform. This contribution would allow the platform to support £132,857 of fundraising activity; to reach directly into the community; and represents a much more productive use of CSR than a passive charity donation.
Charities can get the best platform service and see a rise in money received. On 7 October last year, JustGiving tweeted that one million fundraising pages had been created on its website during the first nine months of the year. That's a lot of eyeballs and corporate sponsors would be happy to share in those views whilst supporting millions of people doing wonderful things for our charities. We believe that JustGiving shook up the market in 2001 but it now requires another shake up in the form of a fee-free, non-profit fundraising platform.
There really is another way.