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Red Nose Day and Online Fundraising Websites

In its 25th year, the 2013 edition of Comic Relief has raised over an astonishing £75million. In a heroic effort, the British public joined forces with well-known celebrities and personalities to help raise money for good causes in the UK and Africa. The usual faces such as Lenny Henry were present, whilst David Beckham, Simon Cowell and Ricky Gervais also made appearances.

As is the tradition on Red Nose Day (RND), I was dressed in red. This year I sported a red tee shirt and my red Sport Relief socks. My preferred method of donation is via text as I find it the easiest way. By texting APP to 70005 I was able to give £5 to help the cause. People using online methods however found donating a lot harder than I did. Those who tried to give money via the JustGiving website were left disappointed as it crashed on the morning of the event, whilst tweeters also complained of slow response times on the RND website.

It’s not the first time this year that JustGiving have been involved with website problems.  In January, we noticed that the Dryathlon site performance was being hampered by the online fundraiser. A spokesperson for the company said a problem at its hosting company took it and many other websites offline. Fortunately the offline website did not hamper the fundraising effort as Just Giving was a "peripheral partner" for Comic Relief and only a few tens of thousands was raised via the site.

Whilst hosting problems was the reason for the crash, it made me question what similar organisations were doing in terms of performance testing.  Even as a novice to the performance testing game, I can see that performance issues are a major risk to the online fundraising market. These sites often experience high load, which in turn can cause slow response times and turn away potential givers.

With people tightening their purse strings it’s amazing that this year’s Comic Relief total surpassed previous years. However, if these online sites have performance issues it will surely make people think about their methods of donation.  

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