Virgin Money cashes in on open source for charity


Virgin Money, the financial arm of Virgin Group, has chosen open source business intelligence (BI) software to provide reporting and analysis for new fundraising and donation website Virgin Money Giving.

Virgin Money Giving is a new website designed to help charities raise more money for their good causes. It launched in August this year.

Jaspersoft's reporting and analysis software will provide the analytics for contribution types and donors.

Neil Barry of Jaspersoft sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) explained why Virgin Money Giving needed the BI: "Virgin said to me that there are a lot of large charities and also huge numbers of smaller charities," he said.

"These guys don't have IT teams or reporting skills, and it's very hard for them to analyse all the information that is coming through."

Jeremy Walters, head of systems development at Virgin Money Giving, said in a statement: "Open source software enables innovative business models, including the one we're rolling out to support charitable giving in a responsible way."

He added: "As a not-for-profit business, Virgin Money Giving can work with companies such as Jaspersoft to ensure that a much larger percentage of donations go to the important causes donors choose."

According to Jaspersoft chief executive officer Brian Gentile, the Virgin Money team chose Jaspersoft as it needed a Java-based BI toolset that had a high level of functionality, and wasn't willing to compromise on features.

He said of Virgin Money: "It wanted to use an open source tool if possible because it was consistent with its mission, which is to keep costs low so it can in turn help non-profits."

He added: "More of the money they are contributing and collecting can go to the cause rather then to the administration."

Virgin Money analysed other BI tools, but Gentile claimed that there were clear reasons why it opted for Jaspersoft's own brand of open source rather than technology like SAP's BusinessObjects or Oracle's Cognos.

"They are very big now very heavyweight. You couldn't use small modules of BusinessObjects," Gentile said of the competition.

"If you're a developer, it becomes far too weighty and complicated to use. You wouldn't choose it it wouldn't be the right fit."