Marathon runners raise £1,411 on Virgin Money Giving

Data recently released by JustGiving suggested that more money is raised by London Marathon fundraisers through its site compared to the service provided by our not-for-profit online fundraising site Virgin Money Giving. This research used a small sample of two charities and 500 fundraisers. It stated that the average fundraiser raised £714 on Virgin Money Giving compared to £1,173 on JustGiving.

A comprehensive marathon performance report published by us showed that the average 2010 Virgin London Marathon fundraiser on Virgin Money Giving raised £1,411. This figure is based on the entire population of London Marathon fundraisers and charities using, not a sample.

Jo Barnett, executive director at Virgin Money Giving, said: “Virgin Money Giving was launched in 2009 to grow the overall online fundraising market. When we launched, only 2% of all charitable donations were donated online and it is Virgin Money Giving’s aim to help increase this figure.

“Evidence has proved that online giving is the most beneficial form of giving – boosting Gift Aid as well as cutting costs, time and administration associated with offline donations.

“We are very proud of the work that we have done so far – and that through online giving more money is able to reach good causes.”

The recent Virgin Money Giving Index indicated that the average donation now stands at £34.93, across all fundraising activity – not just marathon donations.

Gift Aid penetration is currently at 87%.

5 Responses to “Marathon runners raise £1,411 on Virgin Money Giving”

  1. 1 David Wood February 25, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I must take issue here*. The research was done independently, and you have not linked to the report, here is that link:

    Do you hold your users in such low regard that you feel you should shield them from the original report, lest they form their own opinion?

    You have failed to mention that this wasn’t JustGiving’s own research, but that it was outsourced so as to be independent. You can understand why this is important. It surprises me that a similar exercise hasn’t been done by you. Or has it, and you didn’t like the results? (Please note, that is a genuine question, and is in no way meant to imply such a thing has happened at all).

    The sample of 500 is still of a decent size for this analysis to be sound – the tests that were done were, and I quote:
    “The statistical analysis involved two steps. The first was an F-test to determine whether the variances of the two samples were unequal and in-turn determine which two-sample (independent group) t-test would be performed. The F-test indicated that the variances where un-equal and therefore a T-test that assumes un-equal variance was used.”

    500 is a large enough sample size to be statistically significant and sound. Those that are reading that took science to A Level will remember doing t tests, and that we got statistically significant results with samples sizes in the tens. This is in the hundreds. Further more, the “p value” ( was <0.05, showing the results to be well within the bounds of statistical significance, and not due to chance.

    Samples are essential. Understandably, all of your data and all of JustGiving's data is not freely and publicly available, nor that of all the charities out there. So samples of the data must be used. If you are using a samplw, it makes sense to take the data from charities (as I assume you wouldn't want to release ALL of your data). If it came from you, or from JustGiving, there is a chance, because of your vested interest, to unintentionally release more flattering data. Thus a complete set of charity data is the best choice.

    Granted, sampling has its issues, but it is essential.

    So, what happens if we look at the whole population of JustGiving's London Marathon participants? We'll have to see if they release the numbers.

    The London Marathon is a good way to judge performance, as it is the largest selection of like-for-like data available. It will be interesting to see what happens after this year's event.

    *When I have done this previously it has taken in some cases over a month for my comments to appear. For those reading, this was written on Feb 25th.

  2. 2 Antony (Virgin Money Giving) February 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Hi David,

    Thank you for your post.

    We of course hold our charities and fundraisers in the very highest regard.

    To clarify, the research was conducted by JustGiving and not independent. Cranfield Institute of Management confirmed that they validated the statistical methodology only.

    And yes the sample was indeed valid with two charities and 500 fundraising pages. We have simply provided the complete picture using all data not just a sample.

    I would like to address your comment around, “our vested interest”. Virgin Money (Virgin Money Giving’s parent company) has an ambition to “make everyone better off”. That means we aim to make customers better off by delivering great value, straightforward products and services. We make our staff better off by making Virgin Money a great place to work. We aim to make shareholders better off by delivering a fair profit from Virgin Money’s commercial activities and importantly we aim to make society better off by taking some of our profit and investing it in activities which will benefit the wider communities we live in.

    That’s where Virgin Money Giving comes in. We have invested in and created a not-for-profit organisation (VMG) which helps charities and fundraisers raise more money for good causes.

    I hope this provides you with some context around how we operate as a business. No vested interest, simply mutually beneficial relationships and win-win outcomes for everyone.

    Virgin Money Giving exists to raise the bar in online giving. Together with JustGiving we aim to grow this market because of the many benefits it affords both charities and fundraisers. To this end we met with JustGiving last week and agreed this is the outcome we will both strive for in the weeks, months and years ahead.


    Virgin Money Giving

  3. 3 David Wood February 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you for your quick reply. I assumed the research was independent as the report said: “Independent analysis has confirmed the gap in fundraising performance between JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving.
    Dr Catarina Figuera, Director of Executive MBA Programme and Senior Lecturer in Applied Economics at Cranfield School of Management, has analysed the online fundraising results achieved by London marathon runners on JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving in 2010. The data for the study was provided by JustGiving member charities which also used Virgin Money Giving.”

    As for “vested interest”, you misunderstand me. What I meant was that you, and in the same way JustGiving, have vested interests in yourselves. Thus, charity data is better, as, because of your natural bias, you (or JustGiving) might unintentionally release more flattering data. This is also the same reason you get “double blinding” in clinical trials of drugs. It is better that the doctor doesn’t know whether or not he is giving the new treatment or a placebo, and likewise, that the patient doesn’t know too. In this way people’s biases and interests can be negated.

  4. 4 Antony (Virgin Money Giving) February 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Hi David

    We agree, and as you point out with your quote from the original JustGiving article, the release could lead to a stronger interpretation. When we contacted Dr Catarine Figura she confirmed via email that the research was not independently conducted by Cranfield School of Management.

    I understand how information published by us or any other fundraising site could be seen to contain bias. This is why, in the interest of transparency, the average fundraising total published above is for all fundraisers that used Virgin Money Giving for their Virgin London Marathon fundraising. By not using a sample we’re not intentionally selecting fundraisers that show a better result for us.

    We hope this resolves the issue for you, although if you have further question let us know.

    Virgin Money Giving

  5. 5 David Wood February 26, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Not really I’m afraid.

    First up, you seem to have entirely missed the point of sampling. I have evidently done a poor job in explaining, and will try again:

    It’s all well and good releasing the average for the entire VMG population but we do not have the JG figure to compare it with. Likewise, if JG were (before all of this) to release their figure without yours, it would not help with a comparison. Thus, we *must* have a sample of charity data to compare, like for like, how the two of you did.

    I hope you understand why this sentence:
    “By not using a sample we’re not intentionally selecting fundraisers that show a better result for us.”
    leads me to say “Not really I’m afraid” when asked if my issues have been resolved.

    We don’t know JG’s figure, which is required for the “complete picture”. It could be loads better than the sample in the UK Fundraising report I linked to. Why haven’t they released it? I don’t know, but it took their analysis for you to release yours (except in a report marked Private and Confidential, hence my inability to share it with anyone). Maybe they waited because they wanted to get a fair comparison between your site and their’s, and, the only way to do this is with a sample of data, as that is all that is available.

    Do run anything you say about statistics by a statistician, as they can stop embarrassing posts like yours.

    On top of that, you appear to be guilty of omitting important information. Granted, the analysis was by JG and not independent, but, as you yourself have said, you emailed and discovered that it was instead the methodology that was independently assessed, and validated. One of the Great Things about statistics is that, given the data, it doesn’t matter who does the maths, the result will be the same. That JG put in the legwork and worked it all out, and then, got somebody else to double check their working and show that it was right is important.

    The reason it is important is that understandably, JustGiving or yourself, will naturally paint yourselves in the best possible light in your press releases, blogs and out put. Thus, if JustGiving come along and demonstrate beyond doubt a statistical difference in performance of 60% in their favour, people reading it (like me) may well be sceptical and say “Well, you would say that, how do we know you got that right?”. Getting independent validation, well *validates* what has been done, so people can see it is not just one company bigging themselves up.

    Now, I have been busy of late, so haven’t searched to see if anyone reported this, but more accurately, saying that it was JG’s analysis, but independent validation. However I expect you did not find one as you emailed Dr Catarine Figura and got her to confirm that it was just an independent validation. It seems to me dishonest to leave this out of your blog, if you are not going to link to any references for the report, and only include it when pressed by someone in the comments. Thus, your talk of transparency seems entirely hollow to me.

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