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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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JustGiving defends itself from Daily Mail attack

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Online fundraising platform says it raises more than cheaper or free alternatives

Online fundraising platform JustGiving has defended itself after criticism of its business model from the Daily Mail.

The right-wing newspaper, which instigated a bizarre campaign against Scotland’s third sector last month, has printed a story claiming charities are unaware of the commission the website takes from each donation – despite it being listed clearly on the site.

The article slams JustGiving, which helped charities raise over £440 million last year and reinvests all of its profits into the business, for costing more than other similar sites and slates it for taking a cut of over £20m per year from donations in order to pay overheads such as staff costs and upkeep of the site.

The tabloid even produced a table showing JustGiving give £11.74 (including Gift Aid) to charity for every £10 donated by a member of the public in comparison to £12.37 from MyDonate and £12.15 from Virgin Money Giving.

Anne-Marie Huby, co-founder of JustGiving, defended her business's pricing and said every two years there is a spike in media interest in how it operates.

“Our response to those questions remains the same: charities deserve the best,” she said.

“More charities, fundraisers and, more recently, crowdfunders choose JustGiving than any other platform because they raise more, net of fees, than cheaper or free alternatives.

“JustGiving helps good causes raise more money, and grows faster than others, precisely because we make a profit and plough it (all of it) back into making our service better.

“We do a better job also because we hire great talent, and pay market rates. In the real world, engineers, product managers and data scientists do not work for free.”

Huby, the former boss of Médecins Sans Frontières UK, set up the business in 1999 with former lawyer Zarine Kharas.

She says this year the platform is hoping to help raise over half-a-billion pounds for charities.

She continued: “This could not be achieved without continuous investment, and a great team working day in, day out, to help good causes grow.

“I have spent most of my professional life working for non-profits, directly or indirectly. I am chronically baffled by the suggestion that a good charity should be a poor one, run on a shoe string.

“Does anyone really want to go back to the days when fundraising was done by old ladies in petticoats shaking tins outside the church hall?

“With charities now running big chunks of the social safety net of this country, not to mention essential medical research – to name just some of the essential things that charities do for all of us – I really do not think so.

“Instead, charities deserve the best, and it’s the job of successful, sustainable businesses like JustGiving to make that happen.”

A number of charities have sprung to the defence of JustGiving saying that they simply wouldn’t have had the technological experience or capacity to have raised as much money as they have wtiout the site.

Richard Taylor, chair of the Institute of Fundraising and executive director at MacMillan Cancer Support, led the praise of the company.

He said: “JustGiving was a pioneer of online fundraising that transformed the way people give to charitable causes in this country and has raised a huge amount of money for important causes, including ours.

“Thanks to Zarine and Anne-Marie’s vision and leadership and continued investment in world-class technology, charities of all sizes can simply use JustGiving and keep their focus on raising more money, and the entire sector is stronger for it.”

Just last month the Scottish Daily Mail was criticised by charities for irresponsible journalism and creating “fake news” about the country’s third sector.

The tabloid paper published three days’ worth of articles including a bizarre story about how four “charity fat cats” happened to live in the same street in Edinburgh.