Chester Sinclare has had a busy couple of years, but it all came to a head last week when the 21-year-old launched his charity comparison website while also embarking on his final year of a philosophy degree at University College London.
His site, aliveandgiving.com, allows people to search for charities according to sector or location, and then produces a list of relevant charities, with financial information about how much of a donation to each of them will be spent on administration and front-line services.
Sinclare says the idea came to him during his gap year, when he worked in face-to-face and telephone fundraising in the UK and Australia. "Transparency is a huge issue for donors," he says. "I believe a lot of donors think a lot less money goes to the cause than is actually the case.
I wanted to communicate that it's better than people think."
The site has received funding from a number of sources, including Camden Council. It has also had a £20,000 loan from UCL, which Sinclare says he hopes to pay back in the next three years.
He says aliveandgiving.com is different from potential competitors, such as Intelligent Giving, because it does not give an opinion on charities.
"We're not a watchdog, we don't criticise," he tells Third Sector. "Our only goal is to fundraise and make the sector more transparent."
Sinclare has arranged a partnership with the social networking site smooch.com for the project. It is in charge of managing the IT and will also provide free advertising space for aliveandgiving.com on its own website.
One of its main IT management tasks will be to keep charities' financial information, originally taken from the Charity Commission website, up to date. Sinclare says it will be updated every month. Another charity partner, the Dove Trust, will be responsible for back-office administration and handling the process of passing donations on to the charities, which it has been doing for charities since 1983.
There is no charge for a charity to be registered on aliveandgiving.com. The site's costs are covered by a 5 per cent administration charge on each net donation, which will go to the site, and an additional 3.99 per cent charge on all donations for which Gift Aid is claimed, which will go to the Dove Trust to cover its costs.
Sinclare says lots of "exciting stuff" is being launched on the site in the coming months.
"I can't say too much at the moment, but it will include the option for people to buy vouchers that recipients can spend on donating to charities of their choice through the site," he says.
- Will the new fundraising site aliveandgiving.com encourage more transparency in the sector? Vote now in our poll: www.thirdsector.co.uk