Head of Fundraising and communications at the Irish Red Cross By Ronan Ryan The Irish Independent ran an article yesterday highlighting that charities won’t receive the VAT donors will have paid on text donations. They are targeting the wrong people. The main problem with text donations that any fundraiser will tell you is that the operators keep so much of the donation. It varies by the type of text, but premium rate services can sometimes be up to third of the cost of the text. This has always made me very uncomfortable as a fundraiser – how can I ask a donor to give money when so much of it goes to Vodafone, o2 or others? What the Indo should be up in arms about is the fact that the operators haven’t made charity text donations free altogether. They have in the UK – why don’t they here? And they can do it – I have personally been involved with two separate campaigns – one for Haiti and one for New Zealand and Japan where the operators waived their fees and 100% of the text went to the cause. But each time it was at the instigation of an industry insider who had the necessary contacts in each of the big mobile operators and could arm-twist them into the concession. It shouldn’t be this much work – in each case at least a week of negotiation. Untill the operators do this, let’s give the revenue a break. VAT on the ‘donation’ is only an issue as it is not actually a donation in the eyes of the operators – it is a service and they are charging VAT on their service. If they waived their fees, the VAT issue would disappear too. And the world would be that little bit better off. All opinions are my own, Ronan