JustGiving criticised for refusing to waive Stephen Sutton £180k commission

Charity website instead decide to donate £50,000 to the recently deceased fundraising teenager

Jack Simpson
Friday 16 May 2014 13:23 BST

Donors who have contributed to the fundraising efforts of the teenage cancer sufferer Stephen Sutton have called on the charity website JustGiving to waive their £180,000 commission fee.

Stephen, who died on Wednesday after long battle with cancer, raised nearly £4 million for the Teenage Cancer Trust after his fundraising campaign was supported by a host of high-profile celebrities and shared on social media.

However JustGiving, the e-commerce company that managed Stephen’s fundraising page have decided against waiving the five per cent commission fee that is paid for use of their website and support services – which totals £180,000.

Instead, they decided to donate £50,000 to Stephen’s campaign.

In reaction to the news, there has been a wave of messages aimed at JustGiving’s social media sites that have criticised the company and have urged bosses to waive the fee.

Some Twitter users called the decision “not right” and "madness", while others said that the £180,000 would not cover the “free” publicity and marketing they had had as a result of Stephen’s campaign.

JustGiving has defended its decision to keep the fee and claimed that the reported £180,000 was well above the figure it actually received.

Rosalind Holley, the site’s head of marketing, claimed that the company needed to hold on to the funds to be able to provide service for campaigns like Stephen’s in the future.

She said: “We reinvest all our fees back into JustGiving to improve our service to our users and we believe charities need technology innovation like never before.

“Innovation requires investment."

In a statement released today the co-founder of JustGiving, Anne Marie-Hulby, said Metro’s claim that JustGiving "stands to make £180,000 from the £3.7 million fund" is wide of the mark and that having made a donation of £50,000 to Stephen’s page earlier this month, and thanks to the volume discount that Teenage Cancer Trust benefits from, the company's fee is less than a quarter of this.

Despite this, many feel Britain’s biggest website for charity giving should decide to not take any fee in this instance.

In the past JustGiving has decided to waive fees for certain fundraising campaigns.

Two years ago, JustGiving decided to waive its fee on the money raised by Claire Squires, the marathon runner that tragically died while taking part in the 2012 London Marathon.

The decision came after a massive public outcry urged the website to waive the five per cent fee on the £1.1 million raised by the deceased 30-year-old hairdresser.

This year, JustGiving once again decided against taking a fee from the £76,000 raised for the National Osteoporosis Society by Rob Berry who also died during the London Marathon.

Donations continue to pour in for Stephen.

After being diagnosed with the terminal condition last year, he wrote himself a bucket list, which included raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Since then, he has managed to secure a staggering £3.7 million in funds for the charity.

On Monday, following Stephen’s death, JustGiving released a statement saying: "We were incredibly sad to hear today that Stephen Sutton has passed away, following his return to hospital.

"Stephen’s achievements in raising money for the Teenage Cancer Trust were absolutely inspirational and JustGiving is honoured to have played a part in enabling people from all over the world to donate in their thousands to Stephen’s cause.”

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