The Story so far
Eleven years ago, members of the founding team were part of a working group tasked with investigating fundraising opportunities for various Charities. As part of their broad ranging inquiry the group investigated the international “giving landscape” and in particular how various governments were handling International Development Funds and what they were doing to fulfil their Millennium Development Goals. They concluded that efforts were often indifferent at best and in too many cases, too little was actually “getting through”. They looked at grant-making and were disheartened as the raising of any sort of significant money seemed hugely time-consuming, often expensive and altogether very daunting. All too often it was a case of “needing money to make money”. Those without, went without.
The more they investigated and the more they “peeled the layers”, the more concerned and disheartened the team became. So many levels of the food-chain were compromised or at best, inefficient. Systems were antiquated and practices inefficient. There were too many people with vested personal or commercial interests, too many fingers in pies and just too many steps in the chain with charges and fees whittling other people’s money away. Too much was lost between the donor and beneficiary. Too much was being wasted. Yet, given all that, there was so much to be encouraged by.
Major technological changes were happening and surely these created opportunities to do things better (?) People were still giving and willing to do more. People were still volunteering and working to make a difference. What was absolutely clear throughout was that the money that was getting through was lifeblood to those relying on it.
So, surely there had to be a better way; a more efficient, more transparent and altogether more effective and productive way that would see more of the giving going where giving should?
The team changed track and looked at what was really happening and why. We looked at common practices and who was involved at every stage of the process. Why were they there? What did they actually do and what did they charge? Where was the money going and why?
It was patently obvious that the non-profit sector itself was at full stretch. Some organisations were making excellent use of the systems and solutions available to them but, for many, these were simply unavailable or out of reach. In reality, many of these systems, which had become standard and taken for granted, were actually inadequate, ineffective, antiquated and inefficient. It was clear that these systems had to change.
Why was this? What was happening?
The greater interest of the sector, as a whole, seemed to be neglected or overlooked. It just seemed that too few with the ability to make a difference were stepping right back to see what could be done and then making the changes that could transform the sector. On the contrary, the prevailing imperative was a commercial one and it was in the opposite direction. Silos of technology were constantly being developed but these just seemed to promote more competition. Little was shared and when it was, it was either too complicated or too expensive and therefore beyond the reach of many. Charities themselves were stretched and locked into a system that necessitated they looked after themselves and their beneficiaries first and foremost. Their very own survival was uppermost.
The prevailing imperative was a commercial one. It was a battle of survival between the Charities themselves. Those charities doing well continued to do better because of their branding and marketing resources while those Charities with fewer resources, expertise or connections were languishing in a struggle for their very existence. The sad fact was that so much depended upon them all.
Surely, society would be better off if everybody had equal access to better services and solutions so that there was more expertise and money to go around? Access to something that helped everyone to help everyone else was achievable, surely?
What was required was a single point of access to services that gave equitable access to increased funding which gave everyone equal ability to optimise their funds and then move those funds without incurring continual charges and never-ending fees.
What if there was a single online platform that did all that and maybe more?
A small team of highly skilled volunteers was assembled. This team bought into this vision of a single platform. A platform that relied on cutting edge technology, which gave all Non-Profits the opportunity to raise and earn more money with none of it lost to commissions and unnecessary transaction fees, charges and “middlemen.”
The team rallied to utilise their various networks, skills and expertise to identify opportunities and make it all happen; a single integrated platform that made raising money easier and the distribution of it more efficient and less expensive.
The team agreed that it couldn't possibly be a “commercial” operation. The decision was made to make it the property of a Charity which operated to help all Charities help others. This would remove the commercial imperative of making a profit but rather it would open the doors to philanthropists and corporates to work and contribute together and to make a genuine, infinitely scalable contribution to society as part of their corporate citizenship.
Giveall2Charity was registered as a Charity in the UK in November 2009. It owns and operates the Giveall platform which was originally intended to be a commission-free online fundraising and donations platform with an integrated cash management and banking facility whereby:
The platform was designed to work for charities, rather than using their money to create commission, fees, charges and interest for others and therefore against them. The platform had to be secure. It had to be a lot of things and the more that fell into place, the more possibilities became apparent and possible. Consequently, Giveall began to evolve before it had even been launched.
Leading technology and service providers were approached and some of these were convinced of the opportunity to make a real difference. Some, of course, turned Giveall2Charity down but others willingly donated their time and software or supplied it at a dramatically reduced price (Giveall would not have been possible without the foresight and generosity of these organisations). Momentum built quickly as people bought into the vision. It seemed that this was the sort of thing that many had been looking for. Radical and exciting deals were done with corporates who wanted to be a part of this new way of supporting those who needed the help of others. New ways of dealing with old problems were made real. Where there was a cost, it was borne by founders and friends of Giveall2Charity.
Existing technology and systems were deployed where appropriate and improved upon where necessary. It was applied in new and different ways. Where something was absolutely necessary but simply too expensive or inefficient, it was built from scratch or tweaked from what was available:
If something could make a difference and it “wasn't broke” it was incorporated. If something had been done successfully before it was done again while new ways were tried, tested and deployed where appropriate.
The team had been consulting with leading Non-Profit and City figures throughout this development phase and the closer Giveall, in its then more limited form, got to launch, the more ideas, suggestions and input came in. What was interesting was that more and more people were buying into the Giveall vision and a view was emerging that, given the structures that were now in place, Giveall should be taken even further.
There were essentially a number of areas of activity that would make a tremendous difference to the sector and were an easy fit for the platform. Time was given to considering what was required to make them a reality against the resources available and a strategic decision was made to take another year and add some of them immediately. The rest would be developed at a later date.
The key addition was the Giveall Payroll Giving platform.
Payroll Giving is an excellent and tax efficient way for people to support their favourite good causes. Unfortunately, uptake has never been what it could or should have been. Payroll Giving was looked at in detail and after speaking to leading figures in the industry it was felt that Giveall could address their concerns and make a considerable difference to the burden on employers and the amount of money that was flowing through to Charities.
Giveall2Charity became an HMRC-approved Payroll Giving Agency and through Giveall provides the only fully automated online Payroll Giving service in the world. This dramatically reduces the administrative burden for everybody. Critically, Giveall Payroll Giving is 100% commission-free and there are no transaction fees for the organisations registered with it. That means that 100% could now go to the Charity of choice, which is exactly where we assume donors want their money to go.
From a strategic point of view, Giveall Payroll Giving gives corporates something they have been looking for and gives Giveall scalability through the corporates via their employees (donors).
Going forward, we are excited about Giveall Payroll Giving and we hope that it will not only channel more money through to Charities but encourage more companies and their employees to get involved in corporate and individual charitable activities.
We were keen to provide all Charities with other tools and services to help them operate more efficiently and right from the start we realised that we were forming solid relationships with organisations willing to help in all sorts of different ways. We negotiated dramatically reduced bulk rates to secure these solutions and services and they are available to all Charities registered with Giveall.
The Giveall platform, following a robust and painstaking testing period launched in the UK on 17/01/2013.
At launch, it was offering services in 4 key areas:
These “other essential services and solutions” include SSL Certificates to secure Charity’s websites (and all transactions with them) and state of the art reporting tools to streamline their activities. This list of solutions will grow steadily.
To make a difference we had to take our responsibility to be sustainable very seriously and our business model was worked on over and over again. We wanted to make the utilisation of the Giveall platform as easy and accessible for as many Charities as possible and we were determined to see as much money as possible get through to the Charities. We disagreed with the principal of taking a commission on donations as we felt that money donated to others was never intended to be ours.
To be sustainable and to continue to offer the range of benefits we did (let alone incorporate other services) we needed to charge Charities a fee. We did, however, realise that even a modest amount could be well beyond the comfort of smaller Charities and/or alienate them and they would miss out (this being a recurring theme in the sector).
Our original intention was to charge larger Charities (only) while giving smaller organisations full access to the full array of Giveall services and solutions for free. Unfortunately, legal advice indicated that we would incur a massive VAT input liability so we had to do a re-think and charge all Charities. In keeping with our overall approach we feel we have responded with a solution that works for everyone. This differential pricing reflects our determination that Giveall should be open and available to the entire Non-Profit sector.
Too often, smaller Charities miss out because they can't afford a solution or they don't have the expertise to avail themselves of it.
Therefore, “large” Charities pay £20 (plus VAT) per month while “small” Charities pay just £1 (plus VAT) per annum. A sponsor has generously stepped in to cover the registration fees of these small Charities for which we are extremely grateful.
As the platform grows organically our intention is to investigate lowering these charges over time.
NB: We use the Charities Commission’s definition of a “small” charity as being one with a turnover less than £10,000 per annum.
The determination to “level the playing field” and to give everyone a “fair go” remains a key driver within the Giveall team.
Giveall’s pricing structure gives all charities an excellent and affordable opportunity to utilise the platform. Effectively, the larger Charities are subsidising the smaller ones. This is, in our opinion, quite the opposite to prevailing practise whereby the larger Charities have resources that give them an extraordinary competitive advantage over their smaller “rivals”. Further, this ethos of the strong helping the weak sits well within the charitable space and is consistent with Giveall’s underlying ethos.
Giving smaller Charities this opportunity should, by itself, makes a dramatic difference to the society we all live in. In the UK, there are over 70,000 Non-Profit Organisations officially described as small. These are organisations that make such a critical difference at grass roots level to the lives of many and yet much of their work is unheralded and unsupported. It stands to reason that, given the massive impact the smaller Charities have, any increase in the funds or services available to them can only make society better and more equitable.
We believe in the strong supporting the weak. Along with our partners we are using our money, time, energy, expertise and contacts to help all Charities help others. Via Giveall, larger Charities are supporting smaller Charities and hopefully these smaller Charities will grow to support others in time. All of them are working to make the society we live in a better place.
On Giveall, the large support the small and the strong support the weak. However, this is not all one-way traffic.
The Giveall Integrated Cash Management Facility ensures all Charities earn higher rates of interest on all deposits. Many Charities have multiple bank accounts and many of them don't earn any interest at all because they simply carry no weight with the banks. With Giveall, the deposits of all Charities, while individually protected, are consolidated so that all Charities earn higher rates of interest, regardless of their having £100 or £100 million in their account. Therefore organisations, large and small, are benefiting from the extra strength of this consolidation of funds.
What makes Giveall even more exciting is that any Non-Profit Organisation (“NPO”) with special tax status with HMRC can utilise the platform. This means that Giveall reaches beyond the 160,000+ registered Charities to the 300,000+ other non-profit organisations making a positive impact upon society.
The reach across the UK (alone) is massive and the potential for change enormous.
The Giveall platform will be made available to other regions this year and this is extremely exciting.
Giveall uses the fees it receives, donations to Giveall2Charity, interest on its own funds and any revenue from its affiliate relationships to fulfil its objects and sustain the platform.
Any funds left over at the end of the year after Giveall has met its running costs and objectives will be used to reduce the following year's subscription fees. (NB any funds being held by Giveall prior to clearance earn interest for the Charities, not Giveall). Ultimately, our goal is to reduce the subscription to as close to zero as possible.
Giveall has made extraordinary progress in some areas and steady progress in others. The platform is barely recognisable from the more limited offering originally designed and tremendous advancements have been made from a technological and partnering and networking point of view. The number of charities registered with the platform is growing steadily and we expect this to increase dramatically with the launch of this, version 2 of the Giveall platform and the freeing up of resources for marketing and PR that comes with the completion of the redevelopment work. Further dramatic impetus should come from the corporates already in the process of signing up for Giveall Payroll Giving.
Key achievements to date include: