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Click-to-give-for-free sites "a gimmick"

Click-to-give-for-free sites "a gimmick"

The founder of a failed click-to-give-for-free site declares the online

fundraising model “a gimmick.”

Following the closure of eGiving.com, a click-to-give-for-free Web site designed to raise funds for four aid agencies, its founder Josh Wine told Third Sector magazine that the model was unlikely to succeed. “I don’t think click-to-give is going to be very important – it’s a gimmick,” he said. “The only success has been the Hungersite.”

The site folded at the end of January 2001 after making only around £600 for its four charity partners Oxfam, ActionAid, Care International and Save the Children Fund. The site aimed to generate 100,000 clicks a day after six months succeeded in generating only 15,000 clicks in total.

Launched in October 2000, eGiving was set up with venture capital by four entrepreneurs who met at Oxford University. They planned to sell software products to charities after they had “become a trusted name.”

Oxfam was impressed with the site. Corporate Partnerships Manager Malcolm Fleming told Third Sector magazine in October 2000: “we were approached by lots of Internet ‘giving’ projects, but this one is better. It is a no-commission vehicle and looks as if it has the capacity to drive

significant traffic.” Simon Llewellyn, head of corporate development at Care International, told Third Sector that he expected the site “to do better than thehungersite.com in the US.”

Matthew Hunt, PR manager for eGiving, stated in October 2000 that the site was “unashamedly for-profit.” He added “charities go to their supporters and corporate donors to tell them about this project. This is not an adjunct to their fundraising activities, this is part of the future for

fundraising, offer low costs and high returns.”

The short future of this particular dot com venture can be partly explained by this business view. If eGiving did rely on charities to help them find corporate donors, then they were being unrealistic. Not surprisingly, charities would be unwilling to work hard to help another company find corporate supporters, and very soon such a partner would become very much “an adjunct to their fundraising activities.”

UK Fundraising’s Howard Lake warned of the negative elements involved in click-to-give-for-free sites at the time of the launch. Third Sector reported that he “congratulated the site for involving major players – Citibank, GroupTrade and Ask Jeeves are the current sponsors – but emphasised the disadvantages to fundraisers of anonymous online fundraising.”

The attitude of the charities involved could well have been unrealistic. For example, Third Section quotes a spokesperson from ActionAid saying: “We are disappointed that what looked like an easy form of fundraising hasn’t worked. It’s another sign that e-commerce is fraught with difficulties.”

While this doesn’t mean that the other partner charities shared this view, it is still alarming that a large international charity can still see Internet fundraising as an easy option.

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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