Charity Tuesday – Justgiving

Love it or hate it, Justgiving is a website that bounces around social networking sites such as Facebook a lot. I don’t have the stistics or useful things like real figures, but I’d say “a shit load” of us have been pestered by friends to give a “tiny bit” of money to their charity of choice for doing something “pretty awesome” like running the London Marathon, shaving their long beautiful hair off, or frying eggs on their now shaven heads.

Gone are the days we run around the playground asking friends to scribble their name and address before your sponsorship event, and then having to run back to the same people afterwards for the actual money, when most of them have either left school, hiding from the government or abducted by aliens never to be seen again, until they come up to your with their sponsorship forms.

Justgiving created a new way for people raise sponsorship money, even before online shopping and banking were common place. (And for those of you who still fail to sponsor me because “I don’t do online sponsorships because I’m scared of it even though the rest of the world are doing it, can’t I just give you cash that you’d inevitably put in your wallet, forget about, and maybe end up spending by mistake only to be out of pocket” – screw you) Now most charities wouldn’t know what to do if Justgiving decides to close down tomorrow.

So I personally find it a bit sad to think that people still sometimes criticise Justgiving as an organisation because they’re a private for-profit company who’s profiting from the service they provide.

Here’s a little insight into what a typical sponsorship form might look like:

Again, I have no statistics to back me up on this so you’ll just have to take my words for it – “fuck loads” of sponsorship forms don’t add up because of human errors, sponsors not having the full amount and sponsee eventually giving up getting the full amount. This is before taking into account the opportunity that a sponsee could simply pocket the money they’ve received.

If your charity has a decent supporter base or in midst a fundraising campaign, you’d have to sort through hundreds if not thousands sheets of mind numbing sponsorship forms.

I know you might be wondering – what’s the big deal? Just count the money and be on your way.

Problem is for the little thing called Gift Aid – an extremely valuable stream of income for charities, accounting for potentially 25-28% additional income. And to get a penny from these free money sitting at the HM Revenue, you better get your sponsorship form paperworks right – and god knows if some poor government paid intern has to sort through the millions of sheets of sponsorship paper to make sure the government didn’t get short changed by charities. It can happen.

And this is the beauty of online fundraising – it doesn’t matter if you have the handwriting skills of a snake wearing a mitten, electronic forms has the advantage of data validation meaning unless you’re really hiding from the government, your details are probably gonna be correct after you hand over your debit card details.

With electronic input comes automated Gift Aiding – you don’t need a drone sitting at their desk picking through thousands of sponsorship form a day – you submit an overall report of the sponsors details collected on a regularly basis with a click of a button.

This is money that’s essentially cost free to collect for the charity – Justgiving handles all that admin duties, which has already been substantially reduced thanks to self-verification by the sponsors and auto validation using the magic of computers.

And it’s not just about efficiency either. Let’s move away from that and think about paper sponsorship form risks:

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions by complete strangers holding pieces of paper that looked like it barely survived a nuclear fallout, with absolutely no clue to what charity they’re supporting, and these are the stupid ones. There’re literally hundreds of different authentic sponsorship forms you could download and print off for use from charities and be on your merry way to raise money for your “porno magazine subscription fund” (word of advice, those stuff are free on the internet).

Thankfully more and more charities (my beloved BCH for instance) are on the alert and started withdrawing downloadable sponsorship forms – which to be fair could most often be made by an 8 years old child on MS Word.

Of course I’d be niave to think that it’s all pros and no cons. Online transactions do no doubt involve certain risks, which everyone should be cautious of anyway. Although the biggest criticism Justgiving receives, seems to be the “for profit” nature of their organisation, benefiting from charitable money. I don’t have the latest figures and I don’t trust Wikipedia enough to state 5% as their current charge plus credit card processing fees and annual fees.

My suspicion is that with the rise of Virginmoneygiving and recently BT following suit, Justgiving has to become more compeitive possibly in their pricing AND their service which has gone through some dramatic changes over the last year.

What I have to say though is – while both Virgin and BT’s services are practically free (I think they both take a percentage from the gift aid fees), they ARE ultimately branding vehicles backed by global size for profit companies.

Justgiving proved this was a viable market that’s mutually benefitial to the charity world and its own organisation – I genuinely don’t see huge issues with them making a living out of it especially if they’re staying in touch with the charity world AND moving forward with their user base, as demonstrated with their quick integration with Facebook fairly early on.

I can go into more depth about Justgiving, and maybe I will at a later date – in how it could still improve and all that. But right now, I crave sleep and thus sign off from this rather unprofessional view of the first Charity Tuesday blog post.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: