The match-funding scheme the Big Give temporarily suspended its Christmas Challenge scheme this morning after its website was unable to cope with demand.
The scheme, which has £5m to match-fund public donations made through the Big Give website to participating charities, opened to the public this morning.
People trying to access the site were greeted with a message apologising for the difficulties. "The Big Give is experiencing high traffic volume," a statement on the site said. "We have temporarily halted the Christmas Challenge but expect to be back online soon." The message initially said it would be back online by 2pm.
The appeal closes on Friday and the amount of match funding available will be staggered over the next five days. Last year the challenge raised more than £9m for charity, with the first £1m raised in 45 minutes.
Sir Alec Reed, who set up the Big Give, which helps philanthropists find charities to support, said charities needed money now more than ever. "I am pledging £1m to match donations made to a whole range of charities on the Big Give," he said. "The more you give, the more of my money your charity will receive."A spokeswoman for the Big Give declined to give further details on the scheme before the end of today.