MissionFish has been acquired from the Points of Light Institute and initially they’ll continue to work with Points of Light to process and deliver eBay.com donations. For the future eBay will be setting up a new nonprofit, staffed by members of the MissionFish team which will be responsible for donation handling. (MissionFish is already a registered charity in the UK).
As well as any funds donated MissionFish also process Gift Aid where the seller is a UK tax payer. Using Gift Aid means that for every pound you give, the charity will receive an extra 25p from the Government.
MissionFish is funded by a deduction from donated funds processed. In the UK their take is between 3% and 20% (their average take is under 15%). They do not charge charities for registering with MissionFish to receive donations, any fees to Charity Direct Sellers for using eBay for Charity and charge no commission on Gift Aid, which is passed on in full. MissionFish has no shareholders and any surpluses generated are reinvested in fulfilling its charitable purpose.
Charities Direct indicate that MissionFish in the UK has an income of £2.82m with expenditure of £2.63m leaving a surplus of £190,000.
It’s never made much sense to me that eBay for Charity and MissionFish were separate organisations, especially as Charities Direct indicates MissionFish in the UK are headquartered in eBay’s Richmond Offices anyway. Whilst it’s a given that a separate organisation is needed to administer charity donations it makes sense for MissionFish and eBay for Charity to work closely together.
However I’m still confused as to the ultimate aims of eBay for Charity – there are three possible options, none of which appear to be fully exploited:
- To be used to increase sell through rates on eBay – Personally I have no qualms in admitting that I’ve used eBay for Charity purely to raise the profile of my eBay listings, and to drive traffic from an eBay for Charity listing to my eBay shop and other listings. However I don’t see eBay making full use of eBay for Charity to increase sell through rates or to achieve higher average selling prices.
- To be used as a PR opportunity on eBay – If the ultimate aim of eBay for Charity is for PR purposes then it’s not being maximised. eBay have run many “high profile” auctions over the years and still do on a regular basis, but they’re not always widely publicised, even within the eBay community. The Daily Deals get more promotion than eBay for Charity events.
- To raise as much money as possible for charity – Whilst those working directly within eBay for Charity are wonderful people, I’m not sure that eBay as a corporate company puts helping charities at the top of their priorities. That’s not to say eBay for Charity hasn’t raised a fantastic amount of money for good causes (over $241 million since the program started), but it could raise a lot more if this was eBay’s aim for the program. To put the $241 million raised over eight years into perspective, eBay reported $551 million free cash flow during the first quarter of 2011
eBay need to decide exactly what they want from their charity program, but I’m not sure that they have yet figured out where it sits within the organisation or what their aims for charity programs are. Hopefully the acquisition of MissionFish will raise the profile of charitable giving within eBay, and they’ll decide what the ultimate aim of the charity program is to be.