eBay charity auctions now charged up to 20% "processing fee"

Mission Fish, the managing provider for eBay Giving Works, has changed its fees to a tiered structure, taking up to 20% of the seller’s charitable donation.

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of the eBay Giving Works program. Don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of charity auctions, I just don’t think it is managed properly on eBay. My skepticism has now gone to another level. Until a few days ago, Mission Fish (who manage and distribute the payments to the charities) took a flat rate $3 fee plus 2.9% for credit card processing costs from every donation. I thought that was more than necessary, but apparently they didn’t because they have just increased the fees to a tiered structure.

Granted, a small number are paying less fees, and the minimum donation has been reduced to $5 from $10, but I personally think this is an unwarranted increase. The new fees are:

Donation Amount
Mission Fish Deduction
$5 - $49.99
20% of donation amount
$50 - $199.99
15% above $50 plus $10
$200 - $999.99
10% above $200 plus $32.50
$1000 - $4999.99
5% above $1000 plus $112.50
$5000 +
3% above $5000 plus $312.50

So, if you donate $75, you are now giving Mission Fish $13.75 instead of $5.18. If your donation is $250 they now charge you $37.50 instead of $10.25. The break point is $17.50. If the donation amount is less than $17.50, the new fees are lower than the old ones.
Luckily, none of these fees apply to non-profit organizations who sell directly on eBay. Still, it looks like Mission Fish is making a lot of money from the eBay Giving Works program.
Lest you think I am not sympathetic to eBay’s problem –I am.  It seems that after every catastrophe, the scammers come out of the woodwork looking for a way to make money on eBay (and other internet sites) off of someone else’s misfortune.  This was especially true after Hurricane Katrina.  But there has to be a better way than using Mission Fish.  eBay does have another way (see below) but it is very difficult to navigate successfully –I suspect Mission Fish helped eBay design the system that way intentionally.
eBay does allow charity listings that are not part of their Giving Works program, but they make it quite difficult for you and will shut down your auction if you do not comply. The regulations (from eBay Help files) are:
Guidelines for non-eBay Giving Works charity listings

Sellers may only list items for charity without eBay Giving Works if they:

  • Are soliciting on behalf of recognized tax-deductible charitable organizations (for example, 501(c)(3) status or equivalent with the IRS).
  • Receive advance written consent for the solicitation from the benefiting nonprofit.

To verify you received permission, you must include a scanned copy of the consent in your listing. It must appear with the nonprofit’s letterhead, signed by an officer and include the nonprofit’s tax-deductibility status as well as your name or eBay User ID, dates of event/listings, and donation amount (percentage of the final sale price). It must be large enough to be easily legible, and it must appear as a picture rather than a link.
I had a charity auction shut down after Hurricane Katrina because the permission letter from The Samaritans (my chosen charity) was apparently not legible enough. So make sure to test that if you want to go that route.
My suggestion – donate directly to the charity and by-pass eBay Giving Works entirely.
Another option is to volunteer with the non-profit and offer to list the items for them. You would have to sell under their user ID, but this is another way to combine eBay and your favorite charity that doesn’t involve lining Mission Fish’s pockets.

See Also

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *