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10 questions to ask your online fundraising platform

Following Virgin Money’s announcement last week that their charity fundraising website, Virgin Money Giving, will close for donations on 30th November 2021, many charities are now having to re-consider which online fundraising partners to work with.

But with so many online fundraising platforms to choose from, how do you find the right one for your cause? Here are 10 questions to ask when comparing and reviewing the different options. (And here’s how JustGiving compares to Virgin Money Giving if you’d find a quick comparison table handy right now)!

1. Will your donations be safe?

Every online fundraising platform will have a process for transferring funds to charities. Be sure to have a look at what that process is and whether they keep the donations in a protected fund. This means that if something were to happen to that company, your money would be safe.

At JustGiving we have measures in place to protect all donations made through the site and we ring-fence all donations in a safeguarding account, passing these on to your charity within days of a donation being made.

Trust and security are important to us, and we’re proud that JustGiving was the first fundraising platform in the UK to be an Approved Payment Institution (API), regulated by The FCA, giving you and your supporters peace of mind that your donations are safeguarded by the highest industry standards.

2. Do their goals and values align with yours?

Or put another way, why do they exist? If their ultimate goal is more aligned with their own CSR goals than maximising the amount of funds you raise, then it’s unlikely they’re a long-term partner..

We believe the world will be a better place when good takes over. Helping people raise more online for the causes they care about is all we do.

3. Is this platform new to the market?

When researching which platform to register with, it’s important to look at their history as a business as well as their reputation. How long have they been operating for? Are they well established or are they new and potentially carry more risk? Can people give anywhere in the world?

Back in 2000, JustGiving was established with one single purpose – to help all charities make good things happen by helping them raise more online. 20 years later, we’re still doing what we do best and we love what we do.

4. Are they trusted by other charities?

Take a look at how many and which charities are already registered and using the platform. This will give you a good idea of whether the platform meets the needs of a wide range of charities, both in size and in type. Choose a handful of charities to contact and ask them about their experience of the platform and whether they would recommend it. Most platforms will have case studies on their website that you can read and information about any industry awards they have won. Over 45,000 charities worldwide have used JustGiving since 2001 to enable people to show they care for good causes.

5. Will you get a good return investment (ROI)?

Most online fundraising platforms charge a fee in some form or another, which is important in order for them to be a sustainable business and partner you can rely on. What’s key is whether you get a a good return on those fees. For everyone penny you invest in your tech partner, how much more are they helping you raise? Will your fundraisers raise more? Is it easier for your donors to give so gift conversion is higher? And don’t forget saving time and reducing costs – how many hours a week could you save with the right reporting tools?

We recommend posting in forums like Fundraising Chat or in the Fundraising Everywhere community to get other charties’ experiences of fundraising platforms and which ones have saved them time, reduced costs and helped them raise more. All this leads to a cracking ROI.

6. Does their business model encourage innovation?

Whilst cost is a consideration, it’s just as important to look at their business model. What does the company do with those fees? Do they reinvest it into their platform and constantly innovate? How often do they update their platform and release new products and tools to help you grow?

We regularly update charities we work with here on the JustGiving blog and also hold regular webinars to keep you up-to-speed on our latest improvements and innovations.

7. Do you have {insert important feature that matters to YOU}?

It can feel a little overwhelming seeing ALL the options that different fundraising platforms can offer you. And whilst it’s great that they have all these features, all that matters is whether they have the features that are valuable to your organisation. We recommend that you make a list of features, decide which ones are essential vs nice-to-have, and tick off whether the fundraising partner you’re evaluating does what YOU need it to do.

If their website doesn’t have the info you need to do that (sorry if that’s us – eek), book a call, join a webinar or ask on social media to find out. Share your wishlist with us and we’ll fill it in.

8. Do your supporters know and trust them?

When choosing an online fundraising platform, it’s important to weigh up whether you want a white label solution, or a website that is a well-known brand and has its own following. Like JustGiving, and Virgin Money Giving, this option will attract new people to fundraise online for your cause, and give donors confident to give online. Check-out their TrustPilot score, find out how many fans they have on Facebook and how many followers they have on Twitter. It will give you a good indication as to whether they are known and trusted by your supporters. It’s also worth testing the experience people will have on the platform and see what features they have to help your supporters raise more money.

9. How robust is their platform?

Make sure your preferred fundraising platform can handle big spikes in traffic at a moment’s notice, so you don’t miss out on donations. How many donations per second can they handle? Can they increase their server infrastructure at a moment’s notice? At JustGiving, we have supported many fundraising campaigns that have seen exponential growth within a few hours, such as Captain Tom’s 100th birthday fundraiser last year, which initially had a fundraising target of £1,000 and went on to raise over £32 million! During the fundraiser’s peak we had 90,000 users on the site – that’s like having everyone at a full Wembley Stadium on your website, all at once.

“JustGiving has played a key role in enabling so many people to donate to Stephen’s Story. To date, over 166,000 donations have been made with many thousands happening at the same time. JustGiving increased their server infrastructure to unprecedented levels to keep the site up and running. They have done this seamlessly and we are enormously grateful for their support. Our own online systems are not built to cope with such incredibly high volumes of donations.” Siobhan Dunn, Teenage Cancer Trust CEO

10. What value do they add beyond the technology?

It’s worth considering what they do for the charity sector as a whole. Do they sponsor and attend conferences or hold training events of their own? Do they share fundraising tips and insights to help all charities? For us, the answer to this last question is an important one and something we’re passionate about. We regularly share advice, tips and success stories to help all charities, big and small, raise more online.

Transitioning from Virgin Money Giving to JustGiving

We’re here to help and have lots of experience making it smooth and easy for charities to migrate to JustGiving. Visit to find out more and get in touch.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Candid launches ‘U.S. social sector’ dashboard | Philanthropy news

Candid has launched a U.S. Social Sector Dashboard, a free resource designed to “demystify” the sector by providing data on its scope, constraints, and potential.

Developed with funding from Amazon Web Services and Vanguard Charitable, the dashboard offers key data and insights about the makeup and impact of civil society, including previously unreleased statistics on the racial composition of leaders and funding flows to charities. According to the dashboard, the social sector, which employs 12.5 million people, comprises more than 1.81 million nonprofit organizations: 501(c)(3) charitable organizations (80 percent), which include public charities (73 percent) and private or community foundations (7 percent); 501(c)(4) advocacy and social welfare groups (4 percent); 501(c)(6) business associations (4 percent); 501(c)(7) social and recreation clubs (3 percent); labor unions and other 501(c)(5) groups (3 percent); and fraternal societies categorized as 501(c)(8) and 501(c)(10) organizations (2 percent).

According to the dashboard, religious organizations currently make up 18 percent of public charities, followed by those focused on human services (17 percent), community and economic development (15 percent), education (14 percent), sports and recreation (8 percent), arts and culture (7 percent), philanthropy and nonprofit management (7 percent), health (7 percent), and the environment and animal welfare (4 percent). In terms of funding flow, in 2018 public charities received $292 billion in contributions from individuals, $76 billion from foundations, $40 billion from bequests, and $20 billion from corporations; $174 billion in government support; and $1.6 trillion in earned income.

And among reporting nonprofits, 60 percent of CEOs identified as white, 10 percent as Black, 5 percent as Latinx, 3 percent as Asian/AAPI, 1 percent as Native American/Indigenous, 3 percent as multiracial/multiethnic, and 1 percent as additional ethnicities, while 17 percent did not disclose. Among board members, 66 percent were white, 15 percent Black, 7 percent Latinx, 5 percent Asian/AAPI, 1 percent Native American/Indigenous, 2 percent multiracial/multiethnic, and 0.4 percent additional ethnicities, while 4 percent did not disclose.

“Candid exists to get people the information they need about the social sector to do good. Many of our tools focus on one organization, one grant, or one issue at a time; that kind of focus can be critical for decision makers,” said Candid executive vice president Jacob Harold. “This new dashboard builds on that focus by offering a fuller picture of the social sector as a whole. We hope that this tool will help people build a better understanding of the nonprofit and philanthropic ecosystem and its central role in our society.”

(Photo credit: GettyImages/Prostock Studio)

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UW–Madison receives $20 million for Letters & Science building | Philanthropy news

The University of Wisconsin–Madison has announced a $20 million lead gift from brothers and alumni Jeff Levy (’72) and Marv Levy (’68, JD ’71) in support of a new academic building in the College of Letters & Science.

Construction on Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall, named for the parents of Jeff and Marv, is expected to begin in 2023 and be completed in 2025. Once complete, the building will establish a unified home for the Department of History and nine other L&S academic departments, programs, and centers that currently are spread across eight facilities on campus. The five-story building will feature nineteen classrooms as well as a space where students can gather and interact informally with each other and their instructors to maximize collaboration.

The Levy brothers own and operate Phillips Distributing Corporation in Madison. Their commitment was contingent upon the Wisconsin state legislature and governor including the project in the 2021-23 state budget with $60 million in state support, which occurred earlier this year.

“We envision this vital new facility as a highly collaborative and state-of-the-art learning environment for all,” said College of Letters & Science dean Eric Wilcots. “We are immensely grateful to the Levy family for their support of this vision. Our students deserve classroom space that enhances interactive learning and engagement through cutting-edge technology. They also deserve a building that inspires, rather than intimidates. The Levy family’s gift will reverberate through future generations, touching many lives.”

“We are proud to help make this building a reality. We hope it will be a central educational location for the undergraduate experience at UW-Madison,” said Marv Levy. “Our hope is that by honoring our family legacy of charitable giving with this gift, we can offer to future generations some of the opportunity that the UW has provided us.”

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U.S. nonprofit sector uneven in impact and recovery, report finds | Philanthropy news

While nonprofits have contributed significantly to U.S. society and economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health of the sector is uneven in both impact and recovery, a new report from Independent Sector finds.

Based on aggregated survey and research data from multiple sources in four categories — financial resources, human capital, governance and trust, and public policy and advocacy — the second edition of the Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector (43 pages, PDF) found that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic varied by subsector and organization size, with arts organizations and those that rely on fees for service hit especially hard. Yet, even as 40 percent of nonprofits saw declines in total revenue and all subsectors except social services saw drops in gross output, the sector contributed 5.9 percent of GDP in 2020 — up 0.4 percentage points from 2019. And while 57 percent of nonprofits cut overall expenses, 64 percent suspended services, 44 percent reduced the number of programs or services, and 47 percent reported serving fewer people in 2020, Independent Sector’s Trust in Civil Society survey found that, as of early 2021, 57 percent of surveyed Americans had received nonprofit services and 84 percent expressed confidence in the ability of nonprofits to strengthen American society, up 3 percentage points from 2020.

According to the report, the sector’s advocacy efforts in 2020 helped secure notable federal resources that served as financial lifelines to nonprofits, particularly through the Paycheck Protection Program, payroll tax credits, and temporary universal charitable deduction. In addition, a study by Nonprofit VOTE found that voter engagement efforts helped reach underrepresented communities and narrow participation gaps.

The report outlines recommendations in each category to strengthen the sector, including prioritizing flexible funding, developing a shared understanding of equitable financing, promoting evidence-based practices to close workforce diversity and equity gaps, building capacity of virtual volunteering, improving the quality and depth of metrics for equity and “healthy” governance, improving digital access and literacy, and establishing public policy advocacy as a core competency of nonprofit management and governance.

“We have much to do to build the nation we, as changemakers, dream of becoming,” wrote Independent Sector president and CEO Dan Cardinali in the report’s foreword. “What can galvanize us to greater positive action? It’s that the everlasting human qualities of resilience, kindness, and collaborating for collective progress do not fade easily. They are within our grasp every day, giving all of us hope and confidence. The health of our nation is the sum of the richness and diversity of our members and sectors working together, elevating dignity, honoring our differences, and building for the common good.”

(Photo credit: Los Angeles Regional Food Bank)

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