Virgin Money Giving will close this year as London Marathon partnership ends

26 Aug 2021 News

Virgin Money will close its online fundraising platform on 30 November when its partnership with the London Marathon comes to an end. 

The website, Virgin Money Giving, was created as part of the company’s sponsorship of the London Marathon, and the final event sponsored by Virgin Money takes place in October. 

Today, Virgin Money said will offer a full service to users until 30 November. Since its launch in 2009, it has helped 20,000 charities and raised over £900m. 

Virgin Money announced that it would not be continuing to sponsor the London Marathon back in 2019, a year after it had been bought by another banking group, CYBG plc.

Virgin Money Giving had told Civil Society News that it was in discussions with the London Marathon about conitnuing its relationship as a platform provider beyond 2021.

The group later rebranded as Virgin Money UK plc.   

‘Strategic review’ 

Today, Virgin Money said that it had decided to close the service after a strategic review found “significant investment [is] required in the service for it to remain competitive”. 

The statement also highlights that the platform will no longer benefit from “brand exposure” related to the London Marathon. 

Helen Page, chief brand officer at Virgin Money, said: “Virgin Money Giving was created to support our sponsorship of the London Marathon and disrupt the online charity giving market. The not-for-profit service has helped millions of fundraisers and donors raise over £900m for good causes and has changed the sector for the better.

“Following the end of our sponsorship of the London Marathon, it is the right time to bring the service to a close and help our charity partners to move to an alternative and sustainable giving platform.”

The statement adds that many of Virgin Money Giving’s charity users already have accounts with rival platforms.

Around 26 jobs are expected to be lost as a result of the closure, but Virgin Money said it would use its redeployment scheme to minimise compulsory redundancies.  

Pressure on fundraising platforms 

In recent years there has been increased pressure on fundraising platforms like Virgin Money Giving to reduce the fees they charge. 

Virgin Money Giving introduced a “donor covers fee” option in November 2018, which gives donors the ability to cover the 2% platform fee on behalf of their charity. This was expanded in September 2019 to cover the 2.5% payment processing fee. 

JustGiving and GoFundMe, the two biggest fundraising platforms, generate their income by asking donors to “tip” the platform to cover their costs. 

In January 2019, BT announced the closure of its fundraising platform, BT MyDonate. 

Platforms have also come under increased regulatory scrutiny, amid concerns about transparency and potential fraud. Most, including Virgin Money Giving, are now signed-up to the Fundraising Regulator. 

Unlike its main rivals, Virgin Money Giving does not offer a crowdfunding feature for individuals. This means people can only set up fundraising pages for charities which have signed up to receive money via its platform. 

In 2020, Virgin Money Giving said it was used by 18,500 charities and 120,000 fundraisers each year. This compares with millions of people who use JustGiving and GoFundMe, which operate globally. 

During the 2017 London Marathon, the Virgin Money Giving website crashed repeatedly, leading to harsh criticism from fundraisers and a commitment from the platform to invest in its technology.  

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