The Big Give’s mission is to provide a platform to promote causes and inspire people to give. Since 2007, our core values have stayed the same to provide an efficient and trustworthy service for important charities to raise funds, philanthropists to amplify their giving, and individuals wishing to donate money online.
Founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sir Alec Reed CBE, the Big Give’s biggest annual match-funded campaign, the Christmas Challenge, has raised millions of pounds for thousands of charity projects since it launched on the Big Give in 2008. As the 2021 Christmas Challenge is set for another record-breaking year, we interviewed The Big Give’s founder.
What was the initial inspiration that led you to the creation of the Big Give?
The motivation was my own frustration. I was finding it very difficult to give money away intelligently and cheaply.
In 2008, you ran the first-ever Christmas Challenge. How did you plan the campaign, and how did you feel when the match funding ran out within 45 minutes?
Originally, I started by encouraging charities to share confidential details that philanthropists could use to assess whether they should give, but this was a failure. So, I decided to fund and champion charities myself through the Reed Foundation, and we offered that on The Big Give website because there were about one thousand charities on there at the time. It was amazing, although we broke down a couple of times, the money went very, very quickly. So that told me that there was something there that could be developed. That is matched funding.
Each year, the Christmas Challenge continues to grow, and this year we saw an inspiring 1206 charity applications. What would your advice be to charities taking part in the Christmas Challenge for the first time?
Not to be too ambitious, it’s not good to ask for too much from a champion if you’re unlikely to reach your fundraising target. Also, to make sure that you’ve got the Pledges in position to back the Champions and ensure that your charity has the facility for general fundraising.
What are some of the long-term objectives for the Big Give that you would like to see completed?
I would like to see it become much bigger because I think it has the potential to do so. I’d also like to introduce some sort of marking system that charities can use to evaluate their own fundraising, and maybe some more assistance for charities in how to go about fundraising. Above all, what I’d really like to see is The Big Give in America and other Western countries.
In today’s fast-changing world, fund generation for charities has never been more key. What do you feel sets the Big Give apart from other fundraising platforms?
Well, it’s very easy and the choice is partly made for you. It’s like a share portfolio in that you’ve got a mixture of charities, and just as with shares, one or two charities might not perform as well as one had hoped, but because of the matched funding, those that do perform well wipe out any disappointment from those that don’t. You’ll find that maybe your favourite charity gets five times what you give it, because you gave it the Champion funding. Whereas you might find at the other end of the scale that there are one or two small charities that don’t meet expectations.
How do you think Philanthropy will be changing in the coming years?
I think that Philanthropy will change to some extent through taxation. I think that there ought to be international taxation. Developing countries have an enormous impact on the well-being of developed countries and are often very short of resources that are needed to fight climate change and poverty.
What is your favourite thing about the Christmas Campaign?
The excitement of seeing the money flow in over the week, and how much goes on the first day, because this gives us an indication for the rest of the week. It’s great to see these charities raising so much money. We really don’t want to say no to charities when they apply because of a lack of funds, and therefore what I’d really like is more Champions. It’s the Champions that are curtailing the groove at The Big Give. We’ve got the charities but need more Champions. I think we could have raised another five million pounds overall with more Champions.
What charities will you be supporting in this year’s Campaign?
The Reed Foundation sponsors a great number of charities, and we really try to pick up the orphans that the other Champions haven’t chosen.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
Just the satisfaction that comes from the success that one’s donation becomes. I mean, four or five times gearing on it is a pretty good return in any walk of life. So, the one million that the Reed Foundation gives ends up as five million in the pockets of charities, which is fantastic. The Big Give to date has raised over £160 million pounds altogether, and we are anticipating that this year’s Christmas campaign will set a new record of over £20 million pounds.
So how can you get involved?
The Big Give launches the annual Christmas Challenge on midday, Tuesday 30th November 2021. For one week, until midday, Tuesday 7th December, you’ll have the opportunity to donate to over 500+ charities across a broad range of charitable sectors. For a chance to get involved, save the date and have twice the impact this Christmas by having your donation doubled!
Check out the wonderful Champions joining us for the Christmas Challenge this year!
See you soon,
The Big Give Team