BT has launched MyDonate, a new website allowing charities to collect funds free of charge online. Designed and created with the support of Cancer Research UK, Changing Faces, KidsOut, the NSPCC and Women’s Aid, the aim, says BT, is to provide a ‘service that the charitable sector wants, making it the first not-for-profit fundraising service not to charge a subscription fee, set-up fee or commission’. Ian Livingston, BT Group CEO, said that he hoped that MyDonate would increase the online donation market which, according to the Charities Aid Foundation, accounted for only 7 per cent of the £10.6 billion donated in the UK last year.
The danger is that the new site will in effect undermine social enterprises already working in this area such as the highly successful JustGiving.com, which provides the same service but makes a small charge for it. BT is committed to investing a minimum of 1 per cent of its pre-tax profits in community and environmental programmes every year, but it’s debatable if competing with social enterprises that are already working well is a good use of that 1 per cent.
The point has not gone unnoticed by the self-styled ‘barefoot entrepreneur’ Robert Ashton, who, in the latest of a barrage of press releases, comments: ‘It’s a great shame that with all the technology and buckets of cash at BT’s disposal they choose to compete with an existing charity service rather than adding something of real value to the Third Sector and creating something totally new of their own.’