Let’s talk about… the past, the present and the future

Jo Barnett, Executive Director of Virgin Money Giving, celebrates the company’s eighth birthday and looks to the future of digital giving

Birthdays offer an opportunity to look back, but also look forward. Virgin Money Giving is eight years old this month and I’m proud to say that over this period we’ve helped over 14,000 charities raise over half a billion pounds and saved charities £18 million… and counting.

When we launched Virgin Money Giving there was one dominant player in the UK market , so our arrival as a non-profit organisation shook things up. The fact we were backed by Virgin Money – experts in customer service, payment and IT systems – helped too as we understood the importance of looking after the needs of our charity partners and their trustees as well as those of the donors and fundraisers. It was for this reason that we committed to collecting Gift Aid for free on behalf of the charities and keeping our fees low, implemented robust processes to protect charity funds and ensured that money donated through Virgin Money Gigivng was passed to our charities as quickly as possible. All elements that remain core to our service today!

Standing on our own two feet

I remember the early conversations with Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the CEO of Virgin Money, around how important it was to us that Virgin Money Giving would be a not-for-profit company. It was – and still is – important that as much money as possible goes to the charities we partner with, that we build a business for long-term success and that we have consistent investment in Virgin Money Giving to meet the changing needs and desires of our customers.

Today we have over 14,000 registered charities, and we continue to grow every year.

The rate of technological development has accelerated and to meet consumers’ expectations, sites like ours have to innovate and evolve much quicker, and extend the support we give to different types of online fundraising. For us that has meant expanding beyond event fundraising to support online appeals, “in memory” donations and corporate fundraising as well as developing our mobile proposition. How and when people give has changed as much over recent years as what they want to give to online, and mobile and social media engagement has been a big part of this. Donors and fundraisers have rightly increased their expectations and become more demanding: they want to raise money online for whatever they support, whenever they want and through any device they have at hand – and they want to know what happens to their money and that as much as possible has gone to their cause to make a difference.

The more the merrier

It’s great to see how much development and diversification has gone on in the sector since our entry eight years ago, with the launch of many smaller platforms that address the very specific needs of different charitable organisations.

As more money is donated online, it is almost inevitable that there will be increased regulation of this sector, and that’s right and proper. But it will change our market as it becomes harder for small and low fee providers to meet the standards. It might lead to greater consolidation of small companies, which would almost inevitably have an impact on competition, choice and price too .

Few of us would question that the market has really benefited from innovation and competition since 2009 and I hope that continues to thrive over the next eight years too!

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