Technology firm launches charity search engine to ‘democratise’ sector

15 Mar 2018 News

A UK technology company has today launched a charity-specific search engine and peer-review site, which it says will help to “democratise” the charity sector.

What Charity rolled out its whatCharity.com site today for London-based charities only. After this trial period, What Charity, said it would begin uploading national charity data to the platform in May.

The site is free to use and is fully mobile responsive and aims to help “donors and volunteers see exactly the support charities need, whether it be time, money or goods and services”.

The platform said it will “level the playing field” in terms of generating income for smaller charities and pointed to 2017 Commission data which showed that 70 per cent of the sector’s £73bn annual income is received by less than 2 per cent of charities.

All registered charities will have a “free, automatically generated profile” on the platform, with information taken directly from the Charity Commission’s digital register. The platform also features a peer-to-peer review and “star ratings” system, which is designed to “allow donors, volunteers and beneficiaries to evaluate their experiences with the charity”.

The platform claims this system will allow the sector to “tap into a potential £665m worth of additional revenue in donations” and will also help “confront the decline of volunteering, utilising the fact that 30 per cent of London-based employees would volunteer more if they had better access to charities and could find more local opportunities more easily”.  

Would-be donors will not be able to donate using the platform, but charities will be able to "provide their own links to fundraising pages" at no fee.

'Tiered monthly subscription fee' to be introduced

A spokeswoman for What Charity said that basic profiles for the platform "are free and always will be free" but suggested that as the site develops, the organisation would look to introduce a "tiered monthly subscription fee" based on charity size. 

"We are developing further functionalities for more advanced features to help with permission-based marketing," she said. "As well as digital and promotional communications. This will help reduce overall marketing costs for charities. We will then introduced a tiered monthly subscription fee based on charity size for these optional features."

She would not disclose how much the platform cost to launch. 

Sector ‘five years behind other markets’ in terms of technology

Tiia Sammallahti, founder and chief executive of whatCharity.com, said: “The decade long sector conversation about increasing transparency, focus on impact and donor engagement has not yet materialised through the creation of accessible digital consumer products, nor has seen a dramatic shift in the sector’s mindset. This leads to the fact that 93 per cent of the UK public believe charities to be important but hard to navigate, lacking transparency and are perceived as financially inefficient.

“We offer a digital solution to a sector which is currently five years behind other markets in terms of its utilisation of technology and how it can be used to improve engagement with the public and deliver more resources to the sector”.

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