Fundraising website Virgin Money Giving is to close on 30 November 2021.
The decision, announced by Virgin Money this morning, follows the final London Marathon with Virgin Money as its sponsor in October. The date had been moved again from April due to the pandemic.
Virgin Money Giving was established in 2009, in parallel with Virgin Money’s sponsorship of the London Marathon.
It was promoted as a not-for-profit entity that would direct a larger proportion of donors’ gifts to charities. Fees charged were intended to cover the organisation’s operating costs. In today’s announcement Virgin Money states that the site was set up “at a time when the online fundraising market was dominated by a very small number of providers, with high costs for charities and donors”.
Since 2009 Virgin Money Giving has helped 20,000 charities and “over a million fundraisers” raise more than £900 million online.
Why is Virgin Money Giving closing?
Sky News reports that the announcement was originally due to be made next week.
Virgin Money undertook a strategic review of Virgin Money Giving ahead of the bank’s final sponsorship of the London Marathon next month.
The company stated that:
“Given the significant investment required in the service for it to remain competitive, and without the brand exposure provided by the London Marathon, Virgin Money has decided to wind down the platform after the 2021 London Marathon in October.”
What can charities expect from Virgin Money Giving before it closes?
Virgin Money Giving will continue to offer “a full service for charities and fundraisers until the service closes for donations on 30 November”.
It has also said that it “will support charities to find alternative platforms where needed”, although it notes that many charities registered on Virgin Money Giving are already registered with alternative fundraising platforms.
Virgin Money Giving says that it is contacting all charities registered with the service, fundraisers with live pages and regular donors with details of the changes.
Helen Page, Chief Brand Officer at Virgin Money, said:
“Virgin Money Giving was created to support our sponsorship of the London Marathon and disrupt the online charity giving market. The not-for-profit service has helped millions of fundraisers and donors raise over £900 million for good causes and has changed the sector for the better.
“Following the end of our sponsorship of the London Marathon, it is the right time to bring the service to a close and help our charity partners to move to an alternative and sustainable giving platform.”
Virgin Money says that the closure of Virgin Money Giving will result in “a reduction of up to 26 staff roles”. It adds that staff affected “will be supported through Virgin Money’s redeployment process, with the aim of securing other internal opportunities and minimising compulsory redundancies wherever possible”.
Reactions to the closure announcement
Several other fundraising platforms issued statements acknowledging what Virgin Money Giving had achieved.
Founder and CEO of fundraising, donations and events registration platform Enthuse Chester Mojay-Sinclare said of VMG’s closure announcement:
“It’s always a shame to see businesses leave the sector, especially for the company’s customers and staff in this challenging period – a time when the sector needs more competition and independent players to drive innovation. Household brands and multinationals have helped support the early adoption of digital fundraising in our sector, but as technology has developed, alternative approaches have emerged that can help drive the next generation of digital fundraising.”
Keith Williams, COO/CMO of Funraisin, said:
“Virgin Money Giving and their teams have been instrumental in supporting our sector in so many ways through technology, thought leadership, policies and raising hundreds of millions of pounds for great causes that need vital funds. I am truly sad to see a platform that supports 1000’s of great charities leave the market, especially now; when charities need solutions more than ever, rather than more challenges.
“Like we did 18 months ago with our COVID support package, we will be putting together a well thought out short and long-term support package for charities most affected and plan to provide the details over the next coming days.”
Others commenting on the closure suggested reasons for it, including plenty of criticism of VMG’s focus on its business model. Some of these comments might be pertinent to those charities who are already asking online about a suitable free or low-cost alternative platform to switch to.
What to do next?
Charities looking for advice on how to migrate from Virgin Money Giving are being offered some suggestions by other rival platforms. In addition Fundraising Everywhere are offering a free online panel event:
Charity Digital is putting together a podcast on the topic:
Brad French offered some advice based on his experience with fundraising platforms:
- Virgin Money Giving to let donors cover transaction fees (28 November 2018)
- Virgin Money Giving introduces separate campaign pages for charities (15 September 2014)
- Over £250m raised by Virgin Money Giving (19 June 2014)
WATCH: Interview with Virgin Money Giving’s founding MD
UK Fundraising’s Howard Lake spoke with Jo Barnett in May 2009 not long after it launched.