10 years of creating a happier world with Virgin Money Giving

Holly Branson with Jo Barnett, managing director of Virgin Money Giving
Image from Kami White
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 15 November 2019

One of the best parts of my job is getting out and visiting our wonderful Virgin companies. This week, I travelled to Newcastle to visit the team at Virgin Money and celebrate Virgin Money Giving’s 10th birthday. As a patron of the not-for-profit, I couldn’t be prouder of their incredible achievements – supporting 1.3 million fundraisers to date and raising over £800 million for good causes!

Holly Branson with Jo Barnett, managing director of Virgin Money Giving
Image from Amy Drysdale

It was a perfect time to visit as Virgin Money enters a new era of innovation after merging with CYBG. The company is on an exciting cultural journey, as we merge two great brands under the Virgin Money umbrella, so it was fantastic to get together with hundreds of our wonderful Virgin Money people and discuss what it means to be Virgin.

I joined two insightful Q&A’s with Helen Page, group brand and marketing director, and Jo Barnett, executive director of Virgin Money Giving. I first met Jo when I joined Virgin over 10 years ago and interned across different Virgin companies. We’ve remained close ever since. Jo really embodies what it means to be Virgin, saying ‘screw it, let’s do it’ and never resting on her laurels. In fact, she regularly has coffee with their industry competitors to make sure Virgin Money Giving is staying ahead of the curve. This is something that Virgin Money and Virgin Money Giving work hard to consistently achieve. In true Virgin style, the companies have challenged sectors ripe for disruption, constantly innovated, remained agile, and embedded purpose to change business for good. I feel like the video below really says it all!

Virgin Money Giving was born in 2009 when Virgin Money secured sponsorship for the London Marathon. At the time, one player (JustGiving) dominated the online fundraising industry. In a sector where the entire purpose is to make the most of the money raised for good causes, it operated with a for-profit business model and charged hefty and hidden fees. Virgin Money wanted to disrupt this market by providing a not-for-profit alternative that challenged the status quo. As Jo said in our Q&A: “We knew painting the marathon red wouldn’t be enough - we needed to make a real difference.”

Holly Branson with members of the Virgin Money Giving team
Image from Kami White

Drawing on the expertise of Virgin Money, Virgin Money Giving offered the same service with just a two percent fee (to cover overhead costs). They also turned a one-day event into an entire online fundraising network that creates impact 365 days a year. This approach to a sponsorship opportunity was truly innovative and embodies the best that business can bring to charity.

Holly Branson with the Virgin Money Giving team
Image from Holly Branson

We also spoke a lot about purpose throughout the day and it was great to learn more about Virgin Money’s performance metrics - which are widely based on values. I also shared my number one piece of advice when it comes to embedding purpose - put your people first and make them feel that every idea is welcome. This is how people thrive, live out your values and create change. 

Holly Branson stands next to a sign that says 'Making you happier about money' at the Virgin Money offices
Image from. Kami White

It’s such a joy to chat to the passionate people who work across Virgin and discuss the importance of putting purpose and people first. I’m so excited to see the Virgin Money rebrand come to life and I’m confident that the positive impact created by Virgin Money Giving will continue well into the future.