If you run one of the 12,000 charities that relies on BT’s MyDonate platform to raise funds, then you have a big decision to make. Come Sunday 30 June 2019, BT MyDonate will cease to exist.
It had a good run, raising around £45 million per year for charities without commission and a hugely competitive flat 15p debit card fee, but the internet charity landscape is a very different place today than it was in 2011. In a statement announcing its imminent closure, BT said highlighted the “many alternative fundraising platforms, including several fee-free offers”.
It looks like BT’s generous offer was too big a drain to maintain, and the statement suggests that cut-throat competition is alive and well, even in the charity donation sector.
The good news: that means you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a suitable alternative. To make that whole transition more painless, we’ve outlined a number of options below to help you make an informed decision about which service to place your trust in next.
Virgin has made quite a big play of enticing former MyDonate customers over to its platform: Virgin Money Giving. Any charity that signs up to the service by Tuesday 30 April 2019 will have the usual £150 plus VAT joining fee waived, and the company has emphasised the sustainable nature of its business to reassure customers burned by their BT experience. “Not all fundraising platforms are the same and we believe our model offers a viable, long-term, transparent solution for charities,” said the company’s executive director, Jo Barnett.
This purported sustainability is important, because it’s not the cheapest solution out there. Virgin Money charges a fee of of 2% per transaction, which is says is required to cover running costs, as well as a bank card processing fee of 1.45%. That means a £10 donation with gift aid would see £12.15 coming into your coffers.
It has a decent amount of features, including donate buttons, reporting, data management and regular giving options. That, along with it having the trusted Virgin logo prominently displayed, makes it a compelling offer – especially with the joining fee waived.
Monthly Fee: £0 | Transaction Fee: 2% | Card processing fee: 1.45% | £10 donation earns: £12.15
Just Giving is another big brand looking to entice homeless BT MyDonate customers in, this time with an offer of three months of the company’s ‘Grow’ plan free for those looking for a new payment partner. The offer is open until Wednesday 31 July 2019, and just requires charities to sign up to with the promo code ‘HERETOHELP’. Do be aware that once the three months are up, you’ll be paying £15/£36 per month depending on the amount you raise per year, though you can drop down to the free start account if you wish. The differences between the two are explained here.
Along with a pretty advanced feature set that includes mobile-friendly donate buttons for your websites and strong analytics tools, Just Giving’s main advantage is its scale. Its 22 million-strong customer base is a built-in advantage, which could help push people over the line – especially if you represent a lesser-known charity.
But you pay for that recognition in the fees: the site charges 5% on donation and Gift Aid contributions, alongside a bank card processing fee of 1.25%, or 1.45% if donors wish to pay via PayPal. That means a £10 Gift Aid donation will earn you just £11.74.
Monthly Fee: £0 for Start, £15 for Grow (rising to £36 for organisations that raise over £15,000 per year | Transaction Fee: 5% | Card processing fee: 1.25% | £10 donation earns: £11.74
KindLink manages to undercut the two bigger names above, although it does so with a £2 monthly running fee that goes to its payment partner Stripe. After that, the rates are quite competitive. Its transaction fee is just 1.45% (plus a further 10p to Stripe) and there’s no fee for adding Gift Aid. That means that a £10 donation with Gift Aid would raise £12.30 for your organisation.
It doesn’t just take payments, either, offering automated donation management tools, cloud-based CRM software and automated Gift Aid reporting. The plan is to add project management tools eventually, but it’s not a bad opening offer.
KindLink has also proffered a friendly hand to ex-MyDonators: the company won’t charge bank fees on the first £1,000 raised and provide a free 45-minute digital training session. Just sign up here before Tuesday 30 July to take advantage.
Monthly Fee: £2 | Transaction Fee: 0% | Card processing fee: 1.45% + 10p per transaction | £10 donation earns: £12.30
Wonderful.org manages to beat Kindlink by providing a service with no transaction fee and no card processing charge, meaning that a donation of £10 gets the full £12.50 including Gift Aid. This, according to the company FAQ, is all down to its corporate sponsors.
The catch to that is Wonderful.org is quite small with just 941 charities listed on the site at the time of writing. Given it’s relying on corporate sponsors to cover the running costs of everything from web hosting to office space, it’s not clear what would happen if it reached the scale of Just Giving, so question marks over sustainability remain. But in the short term, at least, it simply can’t be beat with 100% of donations going to your organisation.
Monthly Fee: £0 | Transaction Fee: 0% | Card processing fee: 0% | £10 donation earns: £12.50
Golden Giving is another alternative that’s worth a look, managing to lose just 28p from a £10 + Gift Aid donation for a total of £12.22.
As its comparison page shows, it also has quite a few features that its pricier rivals do not, including contactless donations, tickets, memberships and raffles. That, it claims, means it supports nine out of the 2017 CAF Giving Report’s top ten ways for charities to raise money, so it’s certainly worth consulting.
Monthly Fee: £0 | Transaction Fee: 1.75% for online payments | Card processing fee: 0.35% + 7p | £10 donation earns: £12.22
The real choice
If it all comes down to funneling as much donation money through to the charity as possible, then it’s no contest: Wonderful.org gets you 100% of the money raised with no strings attached.
But that’s a simplistic view, and it also makes you a hostage to fortune. If the end of BT MyDonate has taught us anything, it’s that services that minimise their cut won’t necessarily be around forever – and Wonderful.org’s offering is even more generous than BT’s 15p per transaction offer.
It’s also the case that you may find you raise more overall by losing a little per donation. JustGiving may only see £11.74 of a £10 Gift Aid donation reaching your coffers, but it’s a brand that people are extremely comfortable paying money to, and plenty of people already have their card details on record there removing a big barrier to donation. You may find that you get more frequent donations, even if the individual donation size is a touch reduced.
In short, explore all the options and see which is best for you. And don’t feel pressured into acting immediately: if you’re a BT MyDonate customer, you can still take donations until midnight on Sunday 30 June. So use that time to think carefully about what next step is right for your organisation.
About the author; Alan Martin is a tech journalist who has written for Wired, New Statesman, Alphr, Trusted Reviews and more