If you have not heard, Blackbaud just bought JustGiving for £95m ($123m USD) pending regulatory approval. If you are not familiar with JustGiving then you are clearly not based in the UK. JustGiving is synonymous in Britain with peer to peer fundraising. Every marathon, swimathon, cycle ride or mountain trek will invariably lead to sponsorship via JustGiving’s website. This is despite very many charity’s attempts at breaking free from JustGiving’s hold over the donor. The non-profit may try to make use of competitors’ services or encourage supporters to use homemade or white labelled sites but the supporters still return to JustGiving in their droves.
In my mind it is clear what Blackbaud can get out of this purchase. JG have a very large market share in the UK, have a very good reputation among donors and only slightly less so among the non-profit recipients. Their platform is user friendly and customisation and configuration opportunities are relatively advanced compared to their competitors.
What does JustGiving get in return? They have the lion’s share of the UK market. And therein lies the problem. They have tried to break free from the UK for some time but without any great success.
The UK has a special model that JustGiving and others are well placed to take advantage of. GiftAid allows nonprofits to claim a percentage of the donation back as a tax rebate. JG and others take a cut of this reclaimed tax. Away from the UK, the lack of this tax incentive means that JG and others have to compete on fees alone.
This cannot be the only reason for success. After all within one market everybody should be on a level playing field. The Crowdrises and Classys of this world could also take advantage of GiftAid but, so far at least, have yet to do so.
The exporting of financial services to other countries is notoriously difficult. Just look how many international banks you see on your high street. It is understandable that JustGiving would have found it difficult to succeed abroad.
Blackbaud has the expertise in many overseas markets that could help advance JG’s ambition. It has much deeper pockets which also helps!
In the UK, JG often comes under fire for charging non-profits larger than necessary fees. Whether they genuinely are too large is questionable but perception is everything. Will Blackbaud be able to alter this image? In the past Blackbaud has suffered from this too but, especially in the US, has been able to soften this point of view and is now seen as giving much back to the non-profit community.
How will both companies change because of this? Until regulatory approval has been met, both organisations will carry on as normal and are not able to give any indication as to the direction their products will take. What is clear is that there is some overlap in products. Everydayhero and Teamraiser both offer similar functionality. Will they both remain alongside JustGiving? How will Blackbaud’s limited JustGiving integration application (BlackbaudLinks) be developed? Or will Blackbaud rely on other more sophisticated applications that bring in JustGiving data such as Importacular?