Crowdfunding: A viable option for UK charities?

Crowdfunding: A Viable Option For UK Charities?

Fundraising online has grown in leaps and bounds since we first published this post in 2013. In 2012 over $2.7 billion was raised. Within two years that number grew to $16.2 billion according to research firm Massolution. It grew a massive 167% from 2013 which stood at $6.1 billion.

Kickstarter is the best known crowdfunding platform, but can it work for charities? In short, the answer is yes! Crowdfunding is still a viable option for UK charities, it’s a great opportunity. It’s why and how you choose to use it that makes all the difference.

In this post we compare the current bigplayers in Crowdfunding. What is the best 'Kickstarter for charities'? What are the costs involved and what we can learn from some of the most memorable campaigns of the last year?

What are your options?

Our list has more than doubled from 2 years ago.Projects created by UK registered charities can currently find a home with all of these platforms:

A summary of crowdfunding platforms for UK charities
Name Flexible - funding or Fixed funding * Charges Gift Aid Reclaimable


Flexible -Campaign period - 30 Days

£15 per month
0% fee on text donations
5% fee on all online donations + Gift Aid
Credit cards - 1.3%, Debit cards - 17p, PayPal - 1.45%

Indie Go Go Both

Fixed - 5% if you reach your target, 0% if you don’t (+ 3% plus 30p credit card processing fee )

Flexible - 5% if you reach your target, 5% if you don’t  (+ 3% plus 30p credit card processing fee )

Crowd Funder Both

5% + VAT  [VAT is 20% on the fees (1%) so the overall fee is 6%]

BuzzBnk Both - they operate a ‘milestone’ system

5% ( + 2% credit card fee or  £0.37 debit card fee)

Total Giving Flexible - Campaigns and Fundraisers

No Fees
PayPal 1.4% + 20p

Virgin Money Giving Flexible

One-off set up fee - £100
2% transaction fee
Card processing - 1.45%
AmEx - 1.6%
PayPal - 1.6%

Fundrazr Both

No set up fee
5% FundRazr fee plus Payment Provider fee of 2.9% + 30¢* per transaction.

You Caring Flexible No fees
Card fees - 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Pledgie Both 3% Pledgie Fee
PayPal Fee not disclosed

* Flexible-funding means that you still get the money even if you don’t hit your target (you just get charged more). Fixed funding platforms, like Kickstarter, only offer you the cash if you reach your target. More risk, but the possibility of greater financial gain. Tough decision.

How to set up a project?

1. Have a great idea!

What do you want to achieve? You need a specific goal with a catchy angle that will appeal to your supporters.

2. Gather your supporters.

Do you have enough of a community around you already? Create an email list of everyone you want to target. Most successful campaigns already have a dedicated community before launching.

3. Budget.

Include the final fees you pay to your chosen platform.

4. Create.

Write your pitch and make shareable content; video, images, infographics (simple is fine!)

5. Rewards.

Design rewards if you have them - remember to include P&P costs in your budgeting, and involve outcomes from the project you’re pitching for - be as creative as possible.

6. Build anticipation.

Tell your community you’re about to launch a new campaign and create desire.

7. Check.

Get several people within your organisation to edit the project before it goes live

8. Go live!

Email your mailing list, hit up your social networks, remind people of the great rewards they get.

9. Engage.

Approach the broader public once you have some of your own community on board. Send press releases out.

10. Incentivise.

Introduce something new (information, a new reward) shortly before the end of your time period to get the project back on people’s radars

What we can learn from some of 2015’s most memorable campaigns...

Brixton Cycles


Not a charity but fundraising for a good cause nevertheless. After 3 decades in Brixton they are under threat of being thrown out their space to make way for luxury apartments. Gathering their community of supporters they launched a well planned and executed campaign over the course of 6 months and smashed their initial target.

Lessons learnt

  • Planning - 6 months in advance for them
  • Build anticipation
  • Be press savvy and get attention

Greek Bailout Fund


This was probably the craziest and most ambitious project of the year! The target; £1.6 billion. Granted it was unsuccessful over all but it had serious interest and traction. The IndiGoGo page crashed because of the flurry of traffic!

It did manage to gather almost 2 million Euros in funding under 10 days from over 100 000 people. After the initial fundraising goal failed he created a new page to support a specific group of charities to help unemployed youth in Greece.

Lessons learnt

  • Choose flexible funding! For charities this is a must. The initial campaign had to return all initial funds because it chose fixed funding.
  • Plan Plan Plan! This was a great idea and had a lot of people interested but unfortunately lack of planning left it in a mess.

Knickers Models Own


This is not something you could ever recreate but a great story indeed! For the entire 2015 year Caroline Jones has exceeded her targets in crowdfunding in honour of her late Mum.

Their combined love of fashion and her mother’s ongoing volunteer work at her local for Cancer Research charity store meant when her mom passed from cancer she wanted to raise money and give back. She pledged to wear only charity shop outfits every day for 2015. She smashed her initial targets and went on to raise well over £35000 for Cancer Research UK.

Lessons learnt

  • You need a good story
  • Make it personal
  • Turn supporters into ambassadors

Are you looking to run a crowdfunding campaign on a new web platform? Our web platform is created with charity objectives top of mind!

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Update: this post was originally published in 2013 and has been revamped and updated to the current version.

14 December 2015