Jo Barnett, Executive Director - Virgin Money Giving

Let’s talk about… transparent pricing

Change is in the air when it comes to digital fundraising. BT MyDonate closes its free service at the end of June, JustGiving has announced a change to its pricing structure, new entrants such as Facebook and GoFundMe are being more vocal in the market and Virgin Money Giving is now part of the bigger CYBG banking group with the benefits that brings in terms of digital expertise, customer reach and the opportunity to expand its services.

With so much change going on in the fundraising platform space, I wanted to share my thoughts with you on some of these developments and restate our commitment to be as transparent as possible with you about our pricing and fees.

The true cost of service

One thing doesn’t change though, and that is the need to give charities and their supporters clear and transparent pricing. It’s vitally important that they understand the true cost of the service they are using, and that it both protects the reputation of charities with its supporters and doesn’t mislead users through clever positioning. As we all know, the reputation of a charity with its supporters and the need to not take their generosity for granted is everything!

At a time when charities rely on digital fundraising to help them generate many hundreds of millions in donations, it is critical that fundraising sites not only provide a secure and robust service, but also invest and innovate to keep improving their offering to charities and their supporters. This requires a fundraising site to generate a sustainable income in order to both fund the development of their service, build increased resilience and security, and provide customer service that supports the needs of their customers.

Making it easy to compare fees

The Fundraising Regulator launched last year to make sure that it was easier for donors, fundraisers and charities to understand the fees associated with the money they raise online. This transparency is what has always been at the heart of our simple pricing and not-for-profit business model and we were one of the first platforms to sign up to the Fundraising Regulator’s code of practice.

However, as things stand, with JustGiving’s latest pricing change, you would have to be a whizz with a spreadsheet to compare the real cost between providers. Working out who pays what on a ‘free’ offering for charities that actually defaults to donors being asked to pay between 5% and 15% on their donation, takes card fees on this of 1.9% + 20p, and takes a 5% fee on Gift Aid collection is confusing at best. Oh, and then there’s a monthly fee for the charity, plus additional costs incurred by the charity’s corporate partners. Where the Regulator aimed for ease and simplicity, I fear the world of fundraising and the cost associated with it is probably more confusing than ever!

In my view the answer is simple. Irrespective of what you charge, all fundraising platforms have a responsibility to be clear and upfront about it. No hidden charges. Donors, fundraisers and charities should know the exact cost of the service they pay for. That’s what we do and commit always to do. And, because we’re not-for-profit, all of our customers can be confident that we only charge what is necessary to deliver and invest in our high-quality service.

Let me know what you think and drop me a line at feedback@virginmoneygiving.com

Jo Barnett, Executive Director – Virgin Money Giving