One of the best parts of my job is getting out and visiting our wonderful Virgin companies. I traveled to Newcastle (a city I love!) this week 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! Isn’t that just amazing.
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 and we’ve remained close ever since. She really embodies what it means to be Virgin, saying ‘screw it, let’s do it’ and never resting on her laurels. In fact, Jo regularly has coffee with their industry competitors to make sure Virgin Money Giving is staying ahead of the curve. Something that Virgin Money and Virgin Money Giving 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 founded 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.”
Drawing on the expertise of Virgin Money, Virgin Money Giving was able to offer the same service with just a two percent fee (to cover overhead costs). They also turned a one-day fundraising event into an entire 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.
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.
It’s such a joy to chat to the passionate people who work across Virgin anddiscuss the importance of putting purpose and people first. I’m so excited to see the Virgin Money re-brand come to life and I’m confident that the positive impact created by Virgin Money Giving will continue well into the future.