More encouragement for smaller UK charities to start fundraising online

I doubt if there can be many fundraisers out there who would claim that online fundraising does not represent a significant opportunity for income growth (if they do then I can only assume that they’re intending to retire within the next 5 years or so). Even those in the most sophisticated organisations generally admit that they are only just beginning to tap into online income potential. However, I do meet quite a few – particularly from smaller organisations – who admit to holding-back on online fundraising because of a lack of experience, resources, or budget (or all three).

If this is you, then don’t worry – you’re not alone. Research undertaken this year by sector think tank nfpSynergy revealed that only 41% of UK charities with under £1m turnover actually have the facilities to accept online donations. Given that the majority of the UK’s c200k registered charities raise under £1m, that’s a lot of fundraisers missing-out on the opportunity to generate income online.

Fortunately there was some news earlier this month that will hopefully generate some discussion amongst the missing 41% and help motivate more of them to think about fundraising online. Everyclick, the UK search engine that donates 50% of its revenue to UK charities, has launched a new online fundraising platform adding personal sponsorship fundraising pages, ecommerce, and eVouchers to its secure online donation and search fundraising services.

Of the three it was the personal sponsorship pages that I was most interested to see, as they enable charities of any size and level of experience to offer online donors the ability to set-up their own fundraising page to raise money from their friends and family – and so tap into the growth of Community Fundraising 2.0.

Unfortunately, I must admit to being a bit underwhelmed by what they’re offering. Given the length of time that such services have been available from competitors such as JustGiving and bmycharity I had hoped that Everyclick might have taken the opportunity to leapfrog them and offer a richer fundraising environment. Perhaps with such things as video and blog functionality to really help individuals engage with their personal networks. Instead, the pages only provide the basic minimum of functionality, with tabs for the fundraiser, their charity, and a list of people supporting them. Embed code is provided for a simple widget and search-related income can be allocated to individual pages, but that seems to be it. Have to admit it all looks a bit old fashioned and seems like a missed opportunity for Everyclick – especially given that they’re the company who launched the innovative Santa Swing video campaign last Christmas, providing personalised video cards (with your friends dancing as Santa or an Elf – still live and well worth a look).

Financially, the heart of Everyclick’s competitive proposition is that more of the money donated goes to the chosen charity, thanks to their charging a 4.8% all-inclusive transaction fee which it claims results in its charities receiving £12.20 from a £10 credit card donation with Gift Aid compared to £11.93 from “a leading competitor”.

Clearly when comparing the different companies providing these types of service, transaction fees are an important consideration. But both the functionality and look and feel of the pages that can be created are also very important – increasingly so as people get more used to creating their own rich media online profiles at social network sites. So I’m really surprised that none of the UK companies providing these services has yet broken-away from the basic ‘electronic sponsorship form’ page style.

However, at the end of the day the fact that such services are available to all charities with no set-up costs and no specialist experience needed remains a very good thing – and hopefully the coverage achieved by the Everyclick launch will not only benefit them but also the sector at large as more small charities wake-up to the range online fundraising opportunities now available to them.


3 thoughts on “More encouragement for smaller UK charities to start fundraising online

  1. Hi Bryan

    Bmycharity has moved beyond the “electronic sponsorship form” – charities that recognise that every individual fundraiser is personally introducing their brand into a defined social network are increasingly using Bmycharity’s CMS-controlled pages to deliver messages that go far beyond collecting sponsorship.

    For example, at, Orchid not only welcome donations, but invite people to become fundraisers, give information on cancer self-checking and can give details of current projects, tailored by fundraising activity.

    At, The Children of Sumatra (a tiny charity) stream video of their work and provide before-and-after images to illustrate what a difference £120 can make. Much more than just a sponsorship form.

    Since 2001 we’ve focused on making the process of collecting sponsorship much easier and more efficient, but online sponsorship is now essentially a commodity – I’ve counted 4 new entrants in the market in 2008 including Everyclick. The future is making the whole event fundraising process more efficient – here’s how Bmycharity’s changing the game in 2008:

    1 – Recruiting new fundraisers through our existing users and through affiliate relationships.

    2 – Managing Challenge Events from start to finish – from climbing Kilimanjaro to Skydiving – we manage the whole booking process so there is no admin left for the charity at all.

    Much more than “electronic sponsor forms”.

    Best wishes


  2. Hi Ben, thanks for the update on Bmycharity.

    It’s great to hear that your company is offering functionality beyond the traditional electronic sponsorship form. However, the couple of examples you provided still seem to follow a pretty traditional format – more like traditional webpages than the type of rich personalised profile users of social network sites are becoming used to.

    I was thinking more of functionality designed to further enrich the supporter experience, like microblog newsfeeds with details of how preparation for events are going (with optional RSS updates to sponsors), sponsor commenting, videos embedded in YouTube style windows rather than links-out, etc.

    There is no doubt that the great success of companies like yours, Justgiving, etc. has been based on making event fundraising far easier (no paper forms to tout around) and more efficient (donations up-front and a high Gift Aid take-up). However, it seems like this efficiency is now the commodity component of such services and that competitive advantage in the future will actually be more founded on providing a more interesting and personally engaging experience for the supporter.

  3. Hi Bryan

    We certainly make fundraising easier and more efficient, but a key ingredient you have not mentioned is “faster”. The lion’s share of donations that we process are made during working hours, and we find that conversion ratios are at the best when the proposition is simple, clear and focused on specific outcomes – “make a donation”, “create a page”, “register for an event” etc.

    Three groups of people use our sites – donors, fundraiser and charity professionals – and while the first two typically want to be in and out quickly, the onus is on the third to encouage them to dwell a little longer – after all the fundraisers have invited the charity into their personal social network. That’s why we enable charities to embed video, add feeds, provide updates etc (it’s all there, but most charities rarely use it).

    I agree that efficiency is a commodity component, but it’s the message rather than the medium which is going to engage site visitors – so we challenge our client charities to use the unique control we provide to make their Bmycharity sites engage, inform, invite and recruit. In short, to achieve much more than just giving!

    Putting sponsorship forms online is an old story – but finding new fundraisers and giving them a better-than-ever experience of fundraising is not. With 7 years of experience profiling fundraisers and donors we now help charities find the kind of people who will support them at the lowest possible cost – while raising the most money. And we make reaching your target and booking your event simpler than ever before – for example, anyone wishing to take part in a charity skydive need only set up a page at and as soon as the have raised £500 online they can book a skydive anywhere in the UK. Many go further – here’s a fine example:

    The bottom line – lower supporter recruitment costs, fewer demands on professional fundraisers’ time and more money collected. We’re not trying to replace Facebook, we’re replacing the most costly and time-consuming elements of Events Fundraising.

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