Accept Donations Online for Your Nonprofit

**Article updated on 01/03/14

Online fundraising has long been successfully used to raise money for specific events like American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®.  Now many organizations are looking to accept donations online through their general websites, and the giving is adding up.

If you want to start accepting donations online right now, I’ll show you what tool best fits your situation.  Before I get to that, let’s talk about some of the benefits of collecting donations online.

The Benefits of Accepting Donations Online

In case you’re skeptical, here are some reasons your organization should be collecting donations online.

Impulse Donors and Busy Donors are More Likely to Give

Donating online is easy and quick.  Donors don’t need to write a check, put anything in the mail or follow up to make sure you received their donation.  Due to the simplicity and speed, you are more likely to capture impulse donors who were moved by your organization from the content on your website.  You’re also more likely to capture people who want to support your organization, but just don’t have, or think they don’t have, the time to go through a long donation process.

Donors Can Easily Give Recurring Gifts

Many of the online donation tools make it easy for donors to give on a recurring basis, which in turn brings more money to your organization.  It’s also usually pretty easy to set up automatic recurring donations can save a lot of valuable time for your staff.  They’ll no longer need to send out reminders or remember to manually enter donations on a recurring basis.  All of that is already done for them.

Online Giving is Growing Substantially

According to the Blackbaud 2012 Online Giving Report, online giving grew 10.7% in 2012, and 14.3% for organizations with annual fundraising between $1 million and $10 million.  This trend seems unlikely to slow anytime soon, especially as the generations that grew up with technology get older and acquire more disposable income.

Now is a good time to start to accept donations online (if you’re not already doing so).

Your Nonprofit Can Build Relationships with Younger Donors

As shown in the Online Gift Donor Profile put together by Blackbaud, younger individuals are much more likely to donate online. Given that over 55% of their online donor sample was under the age of 46, an opportunity exists for organizations to start building a giving relationship with a typically difficult market segment.   While the younger demographics’ online donations may be relatively small, getting their contact information, sending them updates and thanking them for a donation can lead to larger future gifts and stronger advocates.

The Right Online Donation Tool for Your Situation

There are what seems like hundreds of different ways to accept donations online.  While some are generally better than others, I thought it would be more appropriate to suggest the best donation tool based on your current situation.  Of course, many of the tools can be used for multiple situations, but I felt like some fit better than others for certain needs.  I’ve covered the following situations here:

  • You Want the Easiest Possible Setup and Installation on Your Website
  • You Want to Accept Recurring Donations
  • You Want to Collect Additional Donor Info and You Have a Techie Available
  • You Want to Allow Event Attendees to Donate Online for Their Ticket

Along with the chosen tool, I’ve also included the pros and cons and a basic overview of how to get started.

A quick note, in a previous version of this article I recommended using Google Checkouts as a way to accept donations online for free. Unfortunately Google has discontinued Google Checkouts as of September 2013. For the time being, no other donation processor has stepped up to offer a free donation service. However, there are still many affordable options that I’ll go through in this article.

You Want the Easiest Possible Setup and Installation on Your Website

The tool I’d most recommend for easy setup and installation is Razoo’s donation widget.  It’s unbelievably easy to setup, but charges a somewhat high 4.9% processing rate for donations.

Pros:

  • Razoo offers by far the easiest solution to accept donations on your website.  They are setup as a foundation, and can already accept donations for your organization as long as your nonprofit files with the IRS.  For the most basic setup, you don’t even need to sign up for an account, although I would highly recommend it.
  • Unlike Amazon Simple Pay Donations and PayPal, there is no per transaction fee at all.  You are charged 4.9% no matter how large the transaction is, with no additional cost.
  • The entire donation happens directly on your organization’s website through the Razoo donation widget.  Online donors aren’t sent to another website once they’ve started the process.
  • Razoo also has an app that allows you to accept donations directly on Facebook.

Cons:

  • Compared to other payment processors like PayPal who charges 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction for nonprofits, the 4.9% processing fee is a little steep.
  • Razoo pays out nonprofits once a month instead of within a couple of days of receiving the donation.  Typically, you won’t get your money as fast as you would with processors like PayPal.
  • There is a $10 minimum donation allowed through the donation widget.

How to Get Started with Razoo:

  1. Search for your organization on the Razoo website.
  2. Claim admin access to your nonprofit by clicking the claim admin access link and creating an account.  This isn’t required, but once you claim access Razoo will email you immediately when you receive a donation.  You will also be able to access reports and information that you can integrate with your donor management system.
  3. Visit your nonprofit’s page on Razoo and click the share button.
  4. Where the heading “Donation Widget” appears click “Customize the Donation Widget”.  If you’re using WordPress you can download and install the Simple Razoo Donations plugin, allowing you to skip the remaining steps and manage your donation widget directly within WordPress.
  5. Customize the title, summary, color and accepted donation amounts.
  6. Click the “Generate Widget” button.
  7. Copy and paste the code in the box below the button onto your website.  How you do this will vary depending on how your website is set up.  If you have trouble contact Razoo support at (202) 800-1618 or through email at support@razoo.com.

You Want to Accept Recurring Donations

For recurring donations I was going to recommend using Network for Good DonateNow Lite, but then I saw that Razoo just added the ability to make recurring donations through their donation widget.  Even though I recommended it for easiest setup and installation, it’s too good to pass up here.  If you already went through the pros and cons for Razoo above, feel free to skip them here.

Pros:

  • Razoo offers by far the easiest solution to accept donations on your website.  They are setup as a foundation, and can already accept donations for your organization as long as your nonprofit files with the IRS.  For the most basic setup, you don’t even need to sign up for an account, although I would highly recommend it.
  • Unlike Amazon Simple Pay Donations and PayPal, there is no per transaction fee at all.  You are charged 4.9% no matter how large the transaction is, with no additional cost.
  • The entire donation happens directly on your organization’s website through the Razoo donation widget.  Online donors aren’t sent to another website once they’ve started the process.
  • Razoo also has an app that allows you to accept donations directly on Facebook.

Cons:

  • Compared to other payment processors like PayPal who charges 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction for nonprofits, the 4.9% processing fee is a little steep.
  • Razoo pays out nonprofits once a month instead of within a couple of days of receiving the donation.  Typically, you won’t get your money as fast as you would with processors like PayPal.
  • There is a $10 minimum donation allowed through the donation widget.

You Want to Collect Additional Donor Info and You Have a Techie Available

One of the biggest problems with the cheaper online donation tools is their inability to collect additional donor information outside of the normal name, address and email.  That’s where PayPal donation buttons shine above the rest.  They allow you to include additional form fields on your website that show through PayPal’s reporting tools.  Unfortunately, you’ll most likely need someone with HTML experience to help you add the code.

Pros:

  • PayPal is very likely the most trusted brand for online payments.  This trust may help some potential donors feel comfortable enough to provide their credit card information online.
  • PayPal Phone support is available if you have questions.
  • PayPal allows people to make a one-time donation via credit card without requiring the donor to have an account.  This saves donors time and a potential headache.  Plus, people usually prefer not to create another online account if they aren’t going to use it frequently.

Cons:

  • If you want to allow recurring donations and one-time donations you have to place two separate buttons on your website, which can be confusing to users.
  • You can choose between allowing donors to pick from a specified list of amounts, or allow them to enter their own amount, but you can’t allow them both options through one button.

How to Get Started with PayPal:

  1. Create a PayPal business account.
  2. Click “Create your button now” from the donation button page and fill out the form to set up your button.
  3. Update the final code provided by PayPal to include your additional fields.
  4. Paste the updated code onto your website.

You Want to Allow Event Attendees to Donate Online for Their Ticket

Many organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, use EventBrite to sell tickets for events, but many people don’t know that you can allow attendees to enter a donation amount instead of setting a fixed price.  This makes EventBrite a great solution for any nonprofit that wants to collect unspecified donations for ticket purchases.

Pros:

  • The tool is made entirely for events, with flexibility to offer multiple ticket types and discount codes.  EventBrite also includes tracking through charts and graphs, waitlists, and recurring events.
  • The event registration page can be customized to your organization’s look and feel including colors, logo, images and a personalized URL.
  • You can embed their ticket widget directly on your website so people don’t have to leave your site to see ticket details.

Cons:

  • The fees definitely add up.  EventBrite takes 2.5% plus $0.99 per ticket.  You’ll also have to pay to process the donation, which is typically just under 3% per ticket.  This means you’ll most likely be giving up over 5% for every ticket sold.
  • EventBrite won’t integrate directly with your donor management system, which means you’ll likely have to reenter the attendee information into your system.

How to Get Started with EventBrite:

  1. Follow the instructions on EventBrite’s “How to collect donations online using EventBrite” page.

Some Other Online Donation Tools

Here is a list of some other online donation tools to check out in case the ones provided above don’t meet your needs.

If you’d like online donations to integrate directly with your donor management system, here are links to the add-ons offered by the most popular providers.  By purchasing an add-on for your donor management system, the provider will allow people to donate through their website, then automatically enter the details of the transaction into your donor records.

No Matter How, Start Accepting Online Donations Now

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, online donations are growing, and as the Millennials get older the internet will increasingly become the preferred method for making donations.  No matter what tool you use, start to accept donations online, so you can increase your revenue and better support your services now and into the future.

Related Library Articles

How to Get More Online Donations

How to Maintain Relationships with Donors Using the Internet

Resources

2012 Online Giving Report – Blackbaud

Online Gift Donor Profile – Blackbaud

Image courtesy of Scott Robinson, Flickr

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