Saturday, February 13, 2010

Easy Ways to Accept Donations Online

There are a lot of options out there to help non-profits accept donations online. I want to briefly mention to different categories of solutions to help people who are trying to figure out what is best for their non-profit or church.

  • Perhaps the easiest solution is to use a service like PayPal. You sign up for an account and give them your account info and you are up and running soon. This is technically called an aggregation service, because you do not need to have any special accounts set up—PayPal has done that and accepts payments on your behalf. Google has a similar solution except that it, unlike PayPal, unfortunately requires donors to have Google checkout accounts. With these types of services you will have to pay higher per-transaction fees (10 to 30 cents) and transaction rates (around 3%).

  • The second option is to get what's called a merchant account. This is a special bank account that allows you to accept credit card payments directly (instead of through an aggregator, like PayPal). This is a process that requires an application and some extra steps to setup, but it is often worth the time. The per-transaction rates are almost always lower this route, but there are monthly service fees that are standard (around $10 to $30). Because of this, merchant accounts best for non-profits who are accepting more than a couple hundred in donations a month (but you'll have to do the math to make sure). The cool thing is that if you decide to get a merchant account, your donor's bank statements will actually have your organization's name next to each donation (as opposed to PayPal or Google).

If you want to accept donations online, the second option is a little trickier (because of security standards called PCI-DSS). But, there are companies out there like BlueFire Donations, which can help make this a breeze, helping get non-profits accepting credit credits online in no time.

Got a question? Post in the comments and I'll do my best to help out.

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