An MP has labelled JustGiving a “disgrace” over fees it earned for money fundraised following terror attacks and major incidents, in a letter to Tracey Crouch, minister for civil society.
Referring to 2017’s terror attack in Manchester Arena and fire at Grenfell Tower, Neil Coyle, Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, wrote that he was “very disturbed to learn” that JustGiving had retained profit made through fundraising.
He wrote: “This is on top of their admin fees and comes from their policy of keeping 5 per cent of all donations made through their platform. I think this policy should be waived in circumstances like terror or tragedy on the scale of Grenfell and it is a disgrace that their corporate profit has been put before the need to ensure they operate ethical policies”.
Coyle called on Crouch to ask JustGiving to return £500,000 they “picked from the pockets of victims of terror and tragedy last year”. He said that this should form part of discussions about explorations of ways to stop digital giving platforms from taking commission from Gift Aid, as first outlined by Treasury minister Robert Jenrick.
In the letter which was also sent to Jerry Needel, president of JustGiving’s owner Blackbaud, as well as tweeted by Coyle, he added: “No member of the public last year could have known that their generous support for families affected could end up in the coffers of an American private equity owned firm”.
Writing for LabourList, Coyle said “no one disputes the need” for JustGiving to charge an admin fee, saying “UK taxpayers seeking to donate sums to good causes that would otherwise reach the taxman are also seeing a portion of their would-be tax go to JustGiving, which the Treasury intends to address in the Budget”. But said that he dispute the additional 5 per cent taken by the platform, which he said: “This allowed them to rake in £200,000 following Grenfell suffering, over £277,000 due to the suicidal murderer in Manchester and almost £17,000 on the back of my own community being attacked.”
He added: “The idea that JustGiving would not exist without terrorism to raise running costs is an offensive business model and one that cannot be true. It is not quite as offensive a pretence, though, as picking the pockets of terror victims and their families.”
JustGiving has previously defended itself from criticism over its payment structure, which it says it reinvests in innovation to ensure charities and individuals can raise as much as possible through the platform.
A spokesperson for JustGiving said: “JustGiving allows quick, transparent and secure fundraising, when people are most in need. We are extremely proud of our world-leading platform, which has enabled our online community to support millions of people and causes around the world, including during major incidents.
“We are always looking for ways to improve our platform and we are working with the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator to ensure that our community can provide support whenever and wherever it is needed.”