Quick Guide to Getting Started with Online Donations
by Sasha Daucus
Income from online donations is increasing dramatically for organizations, according to a study published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Up by as much as 48%, online donations allow donors great convenience in giving.
During the recent natural disasters, organizations with online donations capability were able to accept donations immediately while visibility of the problem was high. Donors eager to be of service were satisfied, and the organizations they were able to donate to became memorable in their minds.
If your organization does not have a ‘Donate Now’ button, it can be easy to implement. If you have never used this kind of service before, below is a quick guide for what you need to know to provide this service to your donors.
What you need to accept payments over the Internet
The simplest way to accept credit cards over the Internet is to establish an account with an online donations processor. Through them, you will establish a merchant account with a bank, and a way to insure that payments will be secure, called a secure payment gateway service.
A merchant account is an account that consolidates your payments from credit cards, debit cards, electronic checks and other payment processing services. Funds are transferred electronically to the merchant's bank account.
A secure payment gateway service provides technology that protects you and your donors from fraud. It encrypts text sent from the merchant web site and then decrypts the information on the other side. (This is referred to as SSL encryption. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer.)
Usually you will get both a merchants account as well as secure payment gateway service from a single provider called an online donations processor. They specialize in receiving and processing online donations. Through the processor, you create a donation page for your website that looks as though it is just another page on your website.
(Update for 2009)
With our Online Donations Extension of the Donor Portal, FundRaiser can accept payments from most payment gateway services.
When the donor makes a donation on your web page, the online donation processor authenticates their credit card (or bank account), places a charge on it, and deposits the donation in your bank account. They also send the donor and you a notification email message. Using the information from your email notification message, FundRaiser can record the donation automatically or you can enter it manually.
FundRaiser Software offers an StarDonor Integration module that enables automatic recording of online donations in FundRaiser Select and Professional. (FundRaiser Basic users process online donations manually, as you would any other donation, by check or cash). With the module and one of the compatible online donation processors, you can:
- Accept donations by credit card or e-check
- Create new donor records in a single click from online donors
- Renew memberships 24/7
- Schedule monthly recurring gifts
- Designate donations for general funds or for specific purposes
- For more information and tech tips on processing online donations using FundRaiser software see Tech Tip: Recording Online Donations
"Online Donations Surge", Chronicle of Philanthropy: http://philanthropy.com/free/articles/v16/i17/17002501.htm
Sasha Daucus is marketing coordinator at FundRaiser Software. In her free time she enjoys cooking and listening to world music from the Mediterranean region.