Raising money in memory

Charles 10 Comments

The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky

The words of the well-known hymn put us in mind of our undertakerly comrades, slow adopters in everything — justly cautious of novelty. In the last year there’s been a lot of waking up to the benefits of online charity fundraising for communities of bereaved people. High time. The practice of collecting cash at funerals is in many ways breathtaking, leaving an undertaker open to heaven knows what imputations of impropriety. In any case, cash collections have poor yields.

Here at the GFG-Batesville Shard our specialist finance team has been looking at online charity fundraising from the point of view of consumers — who else? We’d be grateful for your feedback on their findings.

If you’re an undertaker who doesn’t yet get it, wake up!

Fundraising in memory 

It is increasingly popular to ask for donations to charity instead of funeral flowers. 

Yes, you can have a cash collection at the funeral service. Your funeral director will be pleased to organise this for you and send the money to your chosen charity. There’s unlikely to be a separate charge for this. 

But you will almost certainly raise much more money, and therefore do more good, if you ask people to contribute through a fundraising website. It’s far less painful for them to part with virtual money than five pound notes. 

What’s more, a fundraising website enables you to make the most of the money subscribed because the website can reclaim Gift Aid (tax back), which adds 25% to each donation.  

With Gift Aid, a £10 donation is worth £12.50. 

Which is the best value fundraising website?

The best known fundraising website is JustGiving. But there are lots of other fundraising websites out there offering different terms and levels of service. 

By the time JustGiving has deducted commission and a fee for processing a credit card, your £12.50 is reduced to £11.74. Some charity-giving websites offer better terms than JustGiving — but few are as easy to use. Some of them are not-for-profits, some are charities and a good many, like JustGiving, are for-profit and very rich. 

All fundraising websites enable you to make a donation to a major charity. Some of them, though, charge charities a joining fee and/or an annual subscription. All of them ask new members to fill in forms and submit paperwork to verify their credentials. 

So if it’s a little, local charity you want to support, check first and make sure it’s already a member of the charity-giving website you favour, or you could cost it some expense and a lot of hassle.

 Choose with care

In addition to its level of charges on donations, you also need to check out how easy a website is to use. According to CivilSociety: “A survey of charities conducted by civilsociety.co.uk in 2012 found that on average just 11 per cent of charities were recommending their supporters use BT MyDonate, compared with 43 per cent recommending JustGiving and 27 per cent for Virgin Money Giving. Asked to rank the platforms based on performance, MyDonate did not perform as strongly as competitor products in the market, specifically JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving and own-site platforms – topping the rankings only on the question of ‘value for money’, given that the platform is entirely free for charities to use.”

The two specialist ‘in memoriam’ fundraising websites (*)

There are two fundraising websites, Memory Giving and MuchLoved, dedicated exclusively to people wanting to make donations in memory of someone.

Some of the best

Here are some of the best fundraising websites together with their charges:


Charges: 1.3% credit cards, 15p debit cards. No commission payable on donations. Some users find the website clunky and baffling. MyDonate is a not-for-profit run by British Telecommunications plc. 

Charity Choice0-25p

Charges 25p to process donations made by card unless the donor opts not to pay this fee. No joining fee for charities.  CharityChoice is a member of the Wilmington Group plc. 

Virgin Money Giving 3.45-3.6%

Charges: 2% transaction fee + 1.45% card processing fee for all cards except American Express 1.6%. PayPal 1.6%. £100 joining fee for charities. A not-for-profit service owned by Virgin Money. 

Every Click 5.8%

Lists all charities. Will contact your chosen charity once the money is collected and ask it to register if necessary at no charge. Everyclick is a limited liability, for-profit company. 

*MuchLoved 4.5%

3.6% on the donation + 3.6% on gift aid where applicable. This is inclusive of all debit/credit card fees. Regardless of whether debit or credit card it’s the same all-inclusive 3.6% to keep the charges clear. No other VAT or membership fee for charities. All processing via the Charities Aid Foundation who administer the service and have been established for over 80 years as the leading UK charity donation processor. No joining fee for charities. MuchLoved is a charity. 

MuchLoved raises money for charities through its excellent online memorial website. It enables people who are unable to afford a donation to write a message. It also enables people to share memories and participate in, say, commemorating the anniversary of the person who has died by lighting a virtual candle. 

MuchLoved is a charity, so all profits are ploughed back into improving its service. It is highly sophisticated but very easy to use. Your funeral director can administer the donations process or you can do that by setting up an ‘in memory’ page yourself. Your memorial page can be public or private, and you can choose the administrators, as many as you like. Through MuchLoved you can link to any other fundraising platform and also to social media — so you can, for example, link through to your Facebook page. You can fundraise for all UK and international charities. In terms of branding, MuchLoved takes a low profile and puts the chosen charity in the spotlight. 

You can use MuchLoved as a one-off fundraising platform, or you can use it for continuing remembrance of the person who has died. 

*Memory Giving 5.02-5.96%

5% on the donation + 0.96% UK credit card transaction charge/17p debit card charge. No charge on Gift Aid reclaim. No membership fee for charities. Memory Giving is a private limited company owned and operated by 5th Generation funeral directors Julian and Matthew Walker, based in Berkshire. 

Simple, straightforward and easy to use. Ideal for a one-off charity fundraising effort. Collects for any charity or multiple charities per collection page, full reporting to you, your charity and your funeral director. Charity funds transferred weekly, independently audited and HMRC compliant. Charity- and funeral director-friendly system also offering conventional off-line collection process alongside on-line giving. SAIF and NAFD supplier memberships held. 

JustGiving up to 7.55%

5% on the donation plus Gift Aid, hence 6.25% on the actual donation before credit card fees of up to 1.3%. Variable fee for charities 2-7.55%. Annual £180 annual membership for all charities. Website very user-friendly. JustGiving is a private limited, for-profit company.


  1. Charles

    This is a subject that I blogged about http://stneotsfuneraldirectors.co.uk/2012/12/how-much-of-your-donation-actually-goes-to-charity/ this time last year, when one of our competitors saw that we were offering the ability to donate online, free of charge, and had an easily downloadable gift aid declaration which could be returned to us electronically. They use a service which charges a commission. We don’t.

    Although I see that it makes the funeral director’s life easier (which of course is what a funeral director is paid for) and potentially raises more money for charity at the same time, I just can’t get my head around the concept of charging a commission for raising money for charity. Surely the only justifiable amount to give to a charity is 100% (or 125% or even 140% if you’re a higher rate tax payer) of what is raised?

    This from the smallprint on the website of one of our competitors: “Love2Donate adds Gift Aid to your donation and charges an administration fee of 5%. The net effect is a greatly increased donation to the charity. Our administration fee is comparable to other charity donation giving sites.”

    Love2Donate adds gift aid..? No it doesn’t. The tax man adds gift aid IF the donor is a tax payer and chooses to gift aid his/her donation.

    If you’re an undertaker who doesn’t get it, wake up?

    If you’re a member of the public who doesn’t realise you’re being charged for making a donation, that’s ok is it?

  2. Charles

    Charles, a hell of a lot of my congregations don’t know how to access the internet! better to hit them for cold hard cash on the day whilst their emotions are still strung out from my fine words. what could be done however, is to put a web address on any order of service stationery for the more technically minded amongst us, or even a qr code affixed to the collection box for scanning by the even more technologically advanced amongst us.

  3. Charles

    If you want people to donate to a charity at your dead person’s funeral, why do they have to be geeks before they qualify?

    Those StupidNames, the assumption you can get your head around all that ridiculously confusing iCrap and that you’ll accept they have to make a profit from your donation… I see nothing wrong with my fiver bunged into a bucket at the crem, and I won’t be inveigled into all this hype on the internet that makes strangers rich out of my generosity and charities’ need.

  4. Charles

    Thanks all, really useful feedback. Presumably your clients pay something for using a credit/debit card, Andrew?

    The people who run these websites have overheads + pretty complex software to design, so I don’t know that a service charge is all that unfair, but I agree that it’s a short step to viewing these websites as cash cows and perhaps that is how some of those who run them see them.

    The problem with bunging crumpled fivers into a tray, surely, is that you can’t reclaim gift aid on it. There is a fee for the admin, obviously, bundled in to the ‘professional fee’.

    It is my perception that MuchLoved is run as a labour of love. It is my unshakeable belief that Jonathan Davies, who runs it, is not in it for the money but for the good he can do. I suspect that if he were able to get ML to break even he’d be a very happy man. Say what you like about the rest, but point no finger at MuchLoved, please.

    1. Charles

      We took the decision not to accept credit card payments for donations. A donation should be, we thought, an amount you can afford to give (equivalent to cash if you like) – not something to have on the never-never. We absorb debit card fees (25p per transaction) and see it as our bit towards making the service free.

      Marketing material arrives in the post from these companies on a weekly basis. Some of it offers commissions or incentives to funeral directors for using the service. Postal marketing is expensive and has no guaranteed result. That tells me they’re either charging too much or making excess profit, or both. They’d be better giving that money to charity, surely?

      1. Charles

        Do you reclaim gift aid, Andrew?

        So long as the sum recorded is greater than the sum donated, charity giving sites are going to be attractive to givers. That 25% gives quite a lot of wiggle room for marketing and an attractive profit margin.

        Charities are highly professionalised these days. Their top execs pay themselves ‘market’ salaries. The amateur spirit and volunteering have been marginalised. Charities argue that they are as a result more efficient and therefore more effective than they were in the days when altruists rolled up their sleeves instead of reaching for their plastic, and did good deeds for love, not money.

        Charities are all over these rundraising sites like a rash.

        1. Charles

          No funeral director can reclaim gift-aid, in the same way that no online donation service can reclaim gift-aid. We can, and do, facilitate the charity reclaiming gift-aid from HMRC on behalf of our/their client.

          “That 25% gives quite a lot of wiggle room for marketing and an attractive profit margin.” I don’t follow this at all, I’m afraid. The 25% margin is not profit, it’s a tax allowance, reclaimable by the charity via HMRC.

  5. Charles

    if there’s one thing I’ve learned from being in the funeral profession for 25 years is that we have to be all things to all people. So if people want to put a £5 note in the collection box then that’s fine with us and if people want to pay by credit card on line by scanning a QR code on the back of a service sheet then that’s fine too. It’s not about what’s easiest for us, it’s about providing a good service and making things as easy as possible for our bereaved families, who, quite frankly, have got enough to worry about. If there’s £25 million a year in unclaimed Gift Aid and on line donations will reduce this, then surely that has to be a good thing. We partner with MuchLoved and have found them to be friendly, helpful and honest.

  6. Charles

    Charity always begins at home…..we give families the opportunity, especially if they can’t afford the funeral, to ask the congregation to give generously to help out with the funeral costs.
    For those that find this a little bit astonishing/distasteful we supply as far as possible Donation Envelopes from the family’s chosen Charity which are inserted into the ‘programme’, and sent directly to the Charity at a cost to the donator.

    1. Charles

      Very interesting that you give people the opportunity to help out with the funeral expenses, Paula. It’s odd that this doesn’t happen much more widely in a country which loves to give to charity. Yes, as you say, in more and more cases, charity begins at home these days. Good for you!

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