The Startups 20: JustGiving

Having set the benchmark for charitable giving, this UK startup has become a global fundraising powerhouse

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Founders: Zarine Kharas and Anne-Marie Huby
Founded: 2000

The JustGiving Story

JustGiving sprang onto the UK startup scene way back in the year 2000, founded by Zarine Kharas and Anne-Marie Huby.

Prior to starting up, Kharas had worked as a lawyer, and also in investment banking. Huby was in the charity sector, working at Medecins San Frontieres, first as head of media and then as an executive director.

The pair launched JustGiving, an online platform that connects charitable organisations and good causes with donors and supporters.

The business grew so much since launch that by 2009, it was able to begin the JustGiving Awards, which has since become an annual opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the platform’s users.

Although initially focused on fundraising, the company expanded in 2015, announcing the launch of its additional crowdfunding functionality. It has since gone on to host an astounding 500,000 crowdfunders.

No wonder it had also caught the attention of Blackbaud, a cloud software company working in the social good space, which acquired JustGiving in 2017.

In 2019, JustGiving completely removed fees from the platform for donating to, or fundraising for, UK charities. Instead, it began offering donors the opportunity to make a voluntary contribution.

Why we chose JustGiving as one of the Startups 20

Since launching, JustGiving has raised more than £3.6bn for good causes in 160 countries, amassing more than 27.6 million registered users, and working with more than 29,800 charities internationally.

And with 85% of postcodes in Britain having connected with a charity or good cause on the platform, you could say it’s become a household name nationally, too.

Some of the most well-known charities in the UK use JustGiving, including Cancer Research UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity, the British Heart Foundation, and Help for Heroes.

In 2009, the RSA (Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) awarded co-founder Kharas the Albert Medal, for making fundraising and technology more accessible to charities.

The company was subsequently voted the Best Giving Platform by charity members from the Institute of Fundraising for two years running, in 2014 and 2015.

Adding to this fantastic run, Kharas was made a Dame in 2015 for her services to business and charity, with this title being one of the most prestigious accolades available in the Queen’s honours list.

JustGiving in 2020

JustGiving has continued to push the boundaries of how technology can be used to do good.

It kicked off the year by becoming the first UK fundraising platform to offer ‘Pay with Bank transfer’, allowing donors to support causes via simple, day to day banking.

It has also launched an integration with Strava, a running and cycling app, which lets fundraisers share training updates, photos, and information with their supporters.

But it’s JustGiving’s response to Covid-19 that has really made the company shine this year.

It’s one of the partners of The 2.6 Challenge, a fundraising campaign that was launched during the pandemic to help organisations that would otherwise have raised money from events, but couldn’t due to Covid-19 restrictions.

But that’s not all. Staying true to its “tech-for-good” philosophy, JustGiving launched livestream fundraising, allowing people to both watch and donate to a fundraising activity in the same place. One example of this is the lockdown hit Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz, which used this feature to raise funds.

As well as this, the company launched its Positive Postcards during the pandemic. These are a series of virtual postcards that fundraisers can send to their supporters to raise awareness of their cause and can be shared on social media, as well as used to ask for donations.

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Written by:
Scarlett writes for the energy and HR sections of the site, as well as managing the Just Started profiles. Scarlett is passionate about championing equality and sustainability in business.
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