Selfless Brits gave an average of £214 each to charity last year, according to new research from BT MyDonate - a not-for-profit, online fundraising service for UK charities.

But despite the most popular method for donating to charity now being via online transactions, almost 70% of people surveyed had no idea that some online fundraising platforms charge up to 10% commission on processing donations. 

The research indicates that 88% of people surveyed think that fundraising platforms need to make their charges more clear and 79% of people that have donated via a fundraising platform in the last year think the charges were unclear.

A similar number (89%) of people think fundraising websites should also be regulated to make the costs more transparent for donors and 68% of people think that charities should sign up to multiple platforms to give their supporters a choice.

[Read more: Top acts of kindness to strangers revealed]

Jake Humphrey recently starred in a video to show how BT MyDonate does not charge commission:


Last year, fundraisers using BT MyDonate gave an additional £1.3 million to charity because no commission was taken. To help you visualise what this could help buy:

  • 520 clean water wells for a village
  • 6,500 wigs for cancer sufferers who have lost their hair
  • 650,000 mosquito nets
  • 81 annual salaries for a helpline call operator

Before researchers told respondents about commission charges, 64% of people incorrectly believed that well-known commission charging fundraising platforms gave the most to charity. Once knowing this information 73% of people said that they wouldn’t have donated via a commission-taking platform if they had known about the charges and worryingly, 32% of respondents wouldn’t have donated at all out of principle, meaning charities could miss out on vital donations.

Suzy Christopher, Charity and Community Director, BT said: “"It's clear that fundraisers and donors want greater transparency around what they're charged when donating online. The vast majority of people are unaware these costs exist, and we believe more needs to be done to ensure that people trust the companies they're donating through, otherwise the whole sector loses out. After learning about the different charges, 70% of people said they'd now to choose to donate via BT MyDonate." 

Ben Skelton, Director at charity Dig Deep said: “The research is shocking but not surprising. Everyone is so busy with everyday life that finding the time to research the different platforms and their charges is hard. Building trust with fundraisers is key, and it is vital that there is transparency about some of the hidden costs of fundraising. We work hard to ensure that our fundraisers’ donations support the causes they intend, and communicate how we do this clearly with our supporters.” 

Some 86% of people believe that charities should make donors aware of the different charges fundraising sites take.  This is an approach that Riding for the Disabled Association takes. Sal Atkinson, Head of Fundraising, RDA UK says: “We’re not surprised that people were unaware of the charges as they’re not always clear.  We’re signed up to several different fundraising platforms so that our supporters can use whichever platform they choose. However, the money we gain from commission free donations makes each gift go further and allows us to offer more life changing activities to disabled adults and children in the UK.”

Despite the commission charges, the spirit of giving remains high in the UK, with a third of people already actively planning on doing something for charity throughout 2016 with the 16-29 age bracket being the most geared up to raise funds. With the popularity in recent years of shows such as Great British Bake Off, it seems this has had an impact on charity fundraising with cake or bake sales being the most popular way to fundraise. This is closely followed by the good old-fashioned raffle. Workplace collections are most popular in Edinburgh, whereas Sheffield residents are most likely to give something up for charity, such as sweets or alcohol.

BT MyDonate is one of the few platforms available to UK charities that doesn’t take commission or charge charities a monthly fee or registration fee. That means charities can receive an additional 63p per £10 donation with gift aid when using BT MyDonate.