Charity fundraising website makes every penny count – and accounted for

1 November 2011

Alive and Giving

Chester Mojay-Sinclare found himself answering two questions when fundraising for Australian charities during a post-school gap year: how do I decide which causes to donate to, and how much goes directly to those causes?

Potential donors in the UK can find the answers to those questions and more on Aliveandgiving.com, the innovative online charity fundraising start-up that also helps charities to avoid high payment processing set-up costs and all the headaches that go with sorting out admin issues. As an alternative to the controversial practice of ‘chugging’, Alive and Giving has won a number of UCL awards - not to mention received ever-rare positive press.

With so many charities – around 220,000 in the UK - vying for donations, and so many potential donors concerned about how their contributions are being used, perhaps the only surprise is that Alive and Giving wasn’t thought up sooner. Chester Mojay-Sinclare returned from his travels in Australia with a plan for an online charity fundraising start-up that would enable viewers to ‘search, compare and donate’ with comparative ease. The idea was more timely than he could have imagined.

Shortly after enrolling for a philosophy degree at UCL, Chester pitched his idea at a London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge workshop. He was approached by five UCL and London Business School students, who together had the specific skills to develop a complex system that can handle large volumes of regular tax-efficient donations (Alive and Giving processes the Gift Aid on behalf of the charity and takes care of all the associated admin costs, for a small fee).

The start-up won the London Entrepreneurs’ Challenge 2009, and later a Bright Ideas Award, in the same week that ‘chugging’, the coercive and sometimes aggressive fundraising method used by many charities, had received negative press. “The idea of a business that enables charities to communicate to the public in a transparent and effective way, while saving themselves thousands of pounds in payment processing set-up fees, couldn’t have come at a better time,” says Tim Barnes, Executive Director of UCL Advances.

With prize money of over £35,000 from both UCL and outside sources, Chester secured an equity partnership with WooWise Ltd, a social networking company to whom he was introduced by UCL Advances. Together with his business partner, Melissa Johnson, who has a Masters in Social Development Practice from UCL, Chester is looking to increase the number of charities participating, as well as develop new fundraising technologies due to requests from the charities already featured. He has also been given valuable meeting space in UCL Advances’ new Business Hatchery.