A few weeks ago I wrote a column in praise of the excellent charity Help for Heroes (H4H). Today I am going to disagree wholeheartedly with their public criticism of the excellent Just Giving, a private company which has enabled over half a billion pounds for charity.
What is Just Giving's crime? It charges 5% commission on donations. It is privately owned. Run for a modest profit. Pays its CEO and staff very well indeed. Simple as that.
This, we are told, is wrong. Instead, H4H is advising donors to use another site, one that doesn't make profits. A site that has been around now for a long time but, strangely, hasn't raised a great deal of money. And which, despite its relaunch, will take a very long time to scale the heights acheived by Just Giving.
It is on issus like this that I despair about our elements within our sector. Surely what matters about Just Giving isn't that it is profitable but that it has transformed giving in this country. Everyone knows someone who has used it. It is a brilliant innovation. Gone are the days of sponsorship forms, running after people for money and maybe getting round to claiming Gift Aid. Just Giving takes care of all of that. Charities should be falling all over these people in gratitude, not criticising them!
The oppobrium comes, I think, from a deep naivete about the way things like Just Giving happen in the first place. The founders had to develop new technology. They had then to get take-up to high enough levels to cover massive early outlays. And, on a personal level, they had to put their reputations and, probably, personal lives on the line for several years. Just to stay alive.
Now they are successful, yes, it all looks very good for them - the two owners have 10% each of the company. But it was not always thus. Not that they were motivated first by profit - both had a bigger goal: to transform UK fundraising. It was just that they figured the best way to do this was through a profit-pursuing company.
So come on, if you are one of those people nodding with agreement at the criticisms of Just Giving, ask yourself this. Would you prefer a return to the dark-age we were in before their appearance? Would you be happy for that half a billion to have been, at best, a hundred million - with next to no Gift Aid collected?
Thought not. So let's judge achievements, not mechanisms. Ends not means. And recognise a brilliant success story for what it is.