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Charities use mobile technology to boost donations


The charity website Justgiving.com is souping up its mobile service after a surge in fundraising on the go helped to fuel a 26 per cent rise in donations so far this year.

The company is benefiting from a tie-up with the mobile giant Vodafone, called JustTextGiving, which was struck almost two years ago. The service simplified donations by phone by giving all registered charities their own unique code so they can contribute to a good cause free of charge via text message.

Justgiving, which digitised the dog-eared sponsorship form when it launched 12 years ago, charges its 9,000 charity members a 5 per cent commission on donations. Most of those are also among the 17,000 who have signed up to JustTextGiving.

"Not only does it mean charities discover mobile giving at no cost at all, but it also helps them to understand how else they could be using digital media," said Anne-Marie Huby, Justgiving's co-founder and managing director.

The company is streamlining its own mobile donation service so people can give in one touch of the button rather than two.

If the rise in donations it has seen was sustained for the whole year, Justgiving would have brought in £60m more than in 2012, when it collected £242m.

The tie-up has helped Justgiving to stave off growing competition from non-profit sites such as VirginMoneyGiving. Huby believes that her company is still winning more market share as giving moves online.

"Online giving is still a small proportion of what people give in the UK. There is still an ongoing move to online which I can only assume we are benefiting from," she said. "All players in our space are seeing more people move to online, exactly as they did in earlier times with banking and shopping. It is a much more efficient way of collecting money."

The business was set up by Ms Huby, the former UK chief of the charity Médecins Sans Frontières, and Zarine Kharas , who quit a City career that took in the leading law firms Linklaters and Simmons & Simmons and the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston to try something different.

Justgiving has also been cultivating corporate clients. It has more than 500 signed up, including John Lewis and Deutsche Bank, which can use the website to show off the efforts of their employees in one place and choose to match funds raised.