How Your Nonprofit Can Accept Donations Online Right Now [Updated for 2020]

Using a credit card for online donations to a nonprofit

This post was updated on May 18, 2020 to reflect our current recommendations for tools and services that allow you to accept donations online.

Online fundraising has long been used to raise money for specific events and campaigns. Now, nonprofits are successfully finding ways to accept donations online through their own websites—and the giving is adding up.

If you want to accept 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 accept 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. According to the 2018 Global Giving Trends Report, 54% of donors worldwide would prefer to give online with a credit or debit card.

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 (or something like a #GivingTuesday campaign). 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

The 2018 Global Giving Trends report also found that 45% of donors around the world are enrolled in a monthly giving program. Many of the online donation tools out there 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, which 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 2019 Charitable Giving Report, online giving in 2019 grew 6.8% across organizations of all sizes. This trend has remained steady over most of the last decade and 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 Next Generation of American Giving, online giving appeals to both older, more established donors as well as younger generations. While the younger demographics’ online donations may be relatively small (making up 14% of all giving), getting their contact information, sending them updates and thanking them for a donation can lead to larger future gifts and stronger advocates.

Boost your online fundraising strategy with our resource hub ›

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:

  1. You want to easily accept donations with a form on your website.
  2. You want to promote online giving to website visitors with a donate button.
  3. You’d like to allow event attendees to donate online with their ticket.

For each recommended tool, get a general overview and learn more about the pros and cons.

1. Use a website form to accept donations on your website

One of the best things you can do for the future of your fundraising is to accept online donations directly on your nonprofit’s website. There are lots of benefits to using your website to collect gifts as opposed to sending supporters elsewhere to complete their transactions. So how do you make it happen?

Here at Wired Impact, all of our websites include our online donation system. It integrates with payment processors like Stripe or PayPal, allows you to customize your donation forms, offer recurring donations and let donors cover the cost of any processing fees.

But for others out there, we suggest looking into a third-party tool that allows you to add your donation form right into your Donate page. For this, consider an option like Donorbox. It gives you a quick and easy way of adding a donation form to your website through pop-ups or embeds, including a WordPress donation plugin.

Donorbox Pros:

  • Quick to set-up even for non-technical people
  • Accepts a variety of payment types, like cards, bank transfers and Google Pay
  • Allows donors to make recurring gifts

Donorbox Cons:

  • You’re limited on the amount of customization you can do to match your website.
  • Some users dislike having to manage this tool and a separate payment processor.
  • If you raise more than $1,000/month, you’ll have a 1.5% platform fee plus a payment processing fee.

For more comparisons and user insights, check out the Donorbox profile on Capterra.

We reviewed the GoFundMe Charity platform that launched at the end of 2019 and were impressed by their online giving button capabilities. Unlike traditional GoFundMe crowdfunding campaigns, this new service gives nonprofits a chance to use GoFundMe to process donations and also add a corresponding donate button right on their own websites. 

GoFundMe Charity Pros:

  • You don’t need to mess around with code to create your donate button.
  • The button can be used on your website without having to set up a specific campaign on the GoFundMe platform.
  • It makes your donate call-to-action easy to find for website visitors.

GoFundMe Charity Cons:

  • The button might not seamlessly integrate with your existing website design.
  • You’ll still send donors to complete their gift on another website, which means you could lose some people along the way.
  • The standard plan has platform and processing fees tacked on, but you do have the option to pass those fees on to donors.

To learn about using other donate buttons across the web, check out our additional recommendations.

3. Accept donations for, or in addition to, event registrations

Just like online donations, we believe that nonprofits benefit the most when they host event registrations directly on their website. Events can generate significant revenue through ticket sales and donations, while even free events build goodwill and help reach even more people in your community.

That’s why we offer an Event Management system with our nonprofit websites. We understand that organizations need flexibility when it comes to promoting events, accepting RSVPs and processing ticket fees or related donations.

Another option that organizations rave about is Ticket Tailor, which offers a 20% nonprofit discount (free events are actually free). While it’s not fully integrated with your website, this service does allow you to embed forms in your event pages and collect all of your attendee data. Plus you get access to a ton of guest management tools to carry your event across the finish line.

Ticket Tailor Pros:

  • You can build custom forms for each of your events, like asking attendees for t-shirt sizes or dietary restrictions.
  • With instant payment, your funds aren’t stuck somewhere that you have to wait to access. 
  • You can create automated communications to send event attendees after registration and the event itself – or even integrate with a tool like Mailchimp.
  • For paid events, add a suggested donation on to every ticket price.

Ticket Tailor Cons:

  • There are fees for paid events, but you have the option to pay-as-you-go ($0.65/ticket) or choose a monthly plan, which starts at $25/month. Processing fees are added on top of that but can also be passed to ticket purchasers.
  • Some users complain about the lack of customization on electronic tickets, which are more Ticket Tailor branded than your own organization.
  • There is also  limited customization when using an event page on their site in terms of using multimedia and text layouts, as well as when embedding a form directly into your own site.

The Ticket Tailor profile on Capterra can help you dive deeper into the technical weeds and user reviews.

Additional Online Donation Tools

Want even more options? Here is a list of some other online donation tools to check out in case the ones provided above don’t meet your needs or you want to branch out to multiple fundraising tools.

No Matter How, Accept Online Donations Now

Online donations continue to grow and have increasingly become the preferred method for making donations. No matter what tool you use, accepting donations online can increase your revenue and better support your services now and into the future.