What is the best online donation platform for charities?

We redesigned our website in 2016 (hope you like it, feel free to let us have your suggestions!) When we were thinking about what we wanted, we contemplated having a way for the public to donate online. We’re a locally-focused charity, and we don’t rely on donations to survive – but we’re glad to have the option available. I thought you might find our research helpful, so I’m sharing it with you here.

I researched the subject, and found that there are certainly plenty of options out there for charities to choose from. In the end, we decided to focus on exploring the three most popular options. These are, in order: JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving, and BT’s MyDonate.

The main influence on our choice was one that is probably quite familiar to you – cost. And that’s why we ended up using BT’s MyDonate on our new website.

Giving and the public eye

When it comes to brand awareness, there’s one clear winner. JustGiving is likely to be the first thing that comes to mind when talking about donating online. 25,000 charities have signed up to JustGiving, making it the largest online donation platform in the UK. Its website is also in the top 500 most visited for the UK. In comparison, BT’s MyDonate has just over 10,000 charities registered (Virgin Money Giving hasn’t released any recent statistics but a release back in 2014 put it at 9,000.)

But for a locally-focused charity like ours, this wasn’t a great influence on our decision. We’re not expecting to get much interest from people browsing the directory of charities that the donation provider has on their site. For cause-based charities, such a directory might be a good way to pick up a few extra donations from someone looking to donate to a particular cause. (Though, if we were, maybe the one with less ‘competition’ could be considered the better choice!)

But at what cost?

The biggest prohibiting factor we found that stopped us from going with JustGiving is its monthly fee. As we don’t focus on donations, we knew we could never justify spending £15 a month on JustGiving.

Virgin Money Giving fared a little better, as it requires only a one-time fee of £100. But similarly, that £100 has to be recouped first, before we can actually benefit from donations.

BT’s MyDonate, in comparison, is just what we were looking for. With no fees, it was perfect for the intermittent donations we’d likely be receiving. Not only that, there is zero commission on donations. Pretty generous compared with JustGiving’s rather large 5% (including on Gift Aid!) and Virgin Money’s acceptable 2%.

JustGiving Virgin Money Giving BT MyDonate
Commission 5% 2% (excl. Gift Aid) 0%
Processing fees £0.13 £0.16 1.3% credit card, £0.15 debit card
Other fees £15/mo (excl. VAT) £100 start-up fee (excl. VAT) n/a

To simplify that a bit, if someone were to donate £10 using each of the platforms above, we’d receive £12.35 from BT MyDonate, £12.14 from Virgin Money Giving and £11.73 from JustGiving!

So, all in all, while there’s not a massive difference between the three platforms, we feel that JustGiving’s high take from donations on top of the monthly fee made it rather unattractive for smaller charities.

What’s on the plate

Feature-wise, the three biggest platforms are more or less in parity. These didn’t play a big role in our own decision, but they might help tip the balance for you.

Fundraising – help them help you

One of the most interesting features offered by all three platforms is fundraiser events. This lets people raise money for your charity, whether it’s a sponsored run, or to honour someone special. These events will get their own page that serves to both highlight the cause and collect donations. And any money raised will go straight to their charity of choice. For fundraisers, it can really take away the administrative hassle and let them concentrate on the important part – raising money!

Gift Aid – money for nothing

Gift Aid is a great scheme and well worth signing up for. Simply put, it allows charities to receive an extra 25% absolutely free on top of eligible donations. However, having to track donations and submit Gift Aid claims manually can end up quite time-consuming, and even potentially expensive. So it’s not surprising that all three choices offer the ability to claim back Gift Aid for you. Just register your charity with HMRC and the platform of your choice will handle all the paperwork for you. Every penny counts for charities, and that extra 25% will really make a difference.

Giving – why they’re here

One interesting feature unique to JustGiving is the ability to receive donations by text. This is quite popular with charities of all sizes, because it reduces the effort needed to make a donation. The more steps needed, the less likely that someone will follow through with a donation.

Similarly, both JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving allow donors to use PayPal. Again, this makes it quicker and easier to donate. The downside of BT’s MyDonate is that it doesn’t support this, meaning that donors have to fill in their personal and card details before they can donate. But, in our case, we felt this an acceptable compromise given the lack of fees.


So, if you’d like to check out what our BT MyDonate page looks like, you can see it over here (no donation required, I promise!) And don’t forget, these aren’t the only choices – there’s lots of options available, including a number of less-known smaller platforms, and what right’s for us might not be right for you. The best advice I can give is to explore the various platforms out there, because there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution.