A Few Good Online Donations Tools

What tools can help you collect donations via credit card through your existing website?  In this adaptation and update of our 2005 report, we look at the considerations and the options for taking online donations.

As Idealware’s very first report, we completed a detailed comparison of online donation tools.  That was in 2005, and as you can imagine, it’s gotten pretty out of date.  But through the generous support of readers like you through our Idealware Research Fund, we present here an updated, high level version, to provide you the current lay of the land in the online donation space.

There are a number of excellent options that allow even small nonprofits to accept credit card donations on their website – there’s no reason for any nonprofit to consider online donations out of their reach.  And more or more donors expect the ability to donate online. 

Remember, of course, that donations won’t come pouring in just because you can take them online.  Think carefully about how you will encourage potential donors to go to your website.  How will they know that online donations are an option?  How will you ask them to give?  How will you integrate your online donation capacity into your direct mail and offline campaigns?  How will you connect with donors after an online donation to make sure they have the receipts and acknowledgement they need? And how will you encourage online donors to become even more involved in your organization?

But this article focuses on the tools.   What software can you use to plug online donation functionality into an existing website?  There’s an often bewildering set of options, jargon, and fees.  In this article, we break down the options, what features are available, and a set of software tools that might work well for you.

A quick note before we dive in.  Organizations are often looking to support more than just donations.  If you need to support a whole collection of online payments (like event registration, item sales, and membership dues), some of these tools may apply, but there are additional considerations.  Check out our Few Good Payment Multitaskers for more information.  If you don’t yet have much of a software infrastructure, and are looking to support donor tracking, website management, or broadcast emailing as well as online donations, you should consider an online integrated package that does all of those things.  See our Comparing Low Cost Integrated Tools for a look at those systems.
 

How Do These Tools Work?

 Online payment processes are, unfortunately, complicated.  But we're here to help!  We walk through the donation process below, with some key considerations, but to see it in diagramatic form, check out our Payment Processing in Pictures article.

The donation process begins with a request for donations on your website.  This might be a “Donate Now” button or a link with information describing all the good work you do and how you use donors' money. When donors click the button or link, they are taken to a form where they can determine how much they would like give, enter their billing and credit card information, and fill out any other information you request. 

The actual look of the form is one of the big differentiating factors between the tools.  Some tools – such as PayPal and Network for Good’s Basic DonateNow – make it obvious to the donor that they have left your site and are now being asked to donate through a different website.  A majority of the tools allow you to tailor the appearance of the donation form to match the colors, fonts, and images to your own website.

 All donation tools ask the donor to enter their credit card number and contact information, but the other fields shown on the donation form vary substantially from vendor to vendor.  Most allow the donor to choose to target their gift to a specific program or to sign up for a newsletter.  Some provide support for tributes, memorials, premiums (i.e. thank you gifts) or employer matching.   Customizable donation amounts and text tailor the donation choices shown to the donor.  The ability to include custom fields in the form allows you to collect organization-specific functionality – or to support targeted gifts, newsletter sign-ups, tributes and other functionality in an alternate method.

Different vendors allow for different types of payments.  All support Visa and Mastercard; many support American Express, Discover, or other cards.  PayPal is increasingly used as a payment method.  Many vendors provide recurring donation functionality so that donors can automatically give the same amount every month.  eChecks (also known as EFT or ACH transactions) allow donors to enter check information and have money automatically transferred from their checking account.  Some can also handle donations from outside North America; US-based vendors need a specific setup to be able to verify credit cards issued by foreign banks.

When donors enter their information and click to finalize their payment, the backend payment process begins.  The credit card is validated, to ensure that the number is acceptable and that funds are available.  Some vendors provide additional checks to try to reduce the number of fraudulent charges: Does the CSV code (the three digit code on the back of the card) and/or the billing address match the one in the credit card issuer’s record?  Does the donation match a fraudulent pattern, likely resulting in a charge that is not a legitimate donation?

Hold on a second.  Fraudulent donations, you may ask?  Who makes fraudulent donations? You’d be surprised.  There are several reasons why unscrupulous folks might make donations using stolen credit cards.  For instance, many use nonprofit sites, which they expect to have fewer fraud controls than a ecommerce site, to check which of a long list of credit card numbers are valid.  Fraudulent donations cause a big administrative headache and fees when the card owner cancels the charge. 

If the payment information passes the screening process, the card is charged.  There are two backend entities that facilitate this process.  When the money is received from the donor, it is deposited into a type of bank account called a merchant account.  This merchant account may be in your name or the vendor’s name.  The actual process of communicating with the credit card company and bank is done by a service called the payment gateway (also referred to as an internet gateway or payment processor). 

The whole transaction process happens in a matter of seconds.  When the transaction is complete, the visitor is shown a confirmation page and sent a confirmation via email.  Usually the donor is sent a tax-ready receipt via email; some vendors will account for less than 100% deductible donations in these receipts (for instance, to account for a thank you gift).  A few vendors provide a donor website to allow donors to see and edit their donations.

At this point, a record of the transaction contact and donation information is typically available in an online reporting tool.  A few tools allow you to see a summary of donation tools over time, enabling you to compare what you received this month to last month, or this year to last year.  More sophisticated filtering, when available, can help you analyze your donations.  While this kind of fancy reporting can be helpful, most care more as to how easy it is to load the donation data into their primary donor management system.   Make sure you can export to a text file.  Files that are compatible with a specific database or features that allow you customize the export file will help to make this data ready to import into your database.  Some vendors provide programmatic access to data, for instance through secure FTP or web services, that allow you to program a custom routine to automatically pull data into your database.

Actually receiving the money takes a little more time.  If the merchant account is in your name, the donated funds will be electronically deposited into your bank account in three to five days.  If you are using your payment vendor’s merchant account, you will get the money from the vendor by check or electronic deposit (EFT).  Most vendors pay monthly; a few pay twice a month or even more frequently.

When considering online donation tools, organizations often wonder about the state specific fundraising regulations.  Do you need to register in every state to do any fundraising online?  Possibly.  Organizations that are fundraising by direct mail in a particular state must register as a charitable organization in that state, but the laws are hard to apply directly to internet fundraising.  Conventional wisdom states that you probably don’t need to worry about it if you’re not raising a lot of money from residents of that state (say, under $1000), and you’re not specifically targeting members of a particular state. Some online donation vendors that are nonprofits themselves tell you they are registered in all applicable states, so you don’t have to.  Does it help you that the vendor is registered?  It’s possible.  It certainly doesn’t hurt.  But the law could also be interpreted to mean that both the vendor and your organization (as the entity for which the donations are being solicited) should be registered in any states where “substantial” funds are being raised. Whatever a vendor (or this article) tells you, you should consult your own lawyer and make your own decisions. 
 

How to Choose


With all that being said, what are the key considerations in choosing an online donation tool?

Consider whether donations are just a small piece of a larger puzzle

Do you need substantial functionality around product sales, event ticketing, or member registration?  Are you planning sophisticated email campaigns integrated with your online fundraising?  Are you considering redesigning your website, or the way you update the text on it?  Are you dissatisfied with your current method of storing donor or member data?

If so, you should consider a tool that addresses those needs as well as donations.  See our Few Good Payment Multitaskers or our Comparing Low Cost Integrated Tools articles for a look at those systems.

Decide whether you want to use a vendor’s merchant account or your own

To take online donations, you will need to use a bank account that accepts online credit card payments, called a merchant account.  Some vendors will allow you to use their account, or you can apply for your own.  If you already have a merchant account (for instance, for taking credit card payments over the phone) it is possible that you can use it for online payments as well – but there will still be some verification and paperwork to do.

Why would you use a vendor’s merchant account?  It is easier to use a vendor’s account than to do the paperwork for your own account, and is likely to be cheaper for small organizations.  There’s less administrative hassle on an ongoing basis.  The vendor will also answer donor questions if the donor has concerns about the charge they see on their credit card bill. 

Why would you establish your own account?  For one, you receive the money faster – generally within five days rather than in bulk once or twice a month.  This also assures that your organization’s name is shown on the donor’s credit card bill, rather than the vendor’s (however, some vendors can display your name even if you use their merchant account).   If you have a high volume of donations, using your own merchant account is generally cheaper.  It also gives you more flexibility to choose the merchant account that has the rates most favorable to your typical donation volume, or even to build your own payment functionality down the road.

In general, it makes sense for organizations that are just getting started with online donations to use a vendor’s merchant account, while those who are ready to invest more seriously should consider setting up their own account.   Most vendors who require you to have your own merchant account will recommend several with whom they work.  In fact, the vendor may limit you to using one of a specific set. 

Calculate the size and volume of donations you expect to get

Different vendors use different pricing structures… which can be pretty baffling.  It’s important to estimate how many donations you expect to get per month and how large a typical gift will be in order to compare fees across vendors. 

Some of the fees you may encounter are:

  • Setup Fees:  You pay these fees only once, before you start using the tool.  What the vendor actually sets up varies widely – check to see if it covers everything you will need to have done.
  • Monthly or Yearly Fees:  Think of these as the “rent” for the system.
  • Transaction Fees:  These fees are variable with the number of donations that you receive.  They are calculated either as a percentage of each donation, a flat fee per donation, or both (i.e. 3% plus $0.40 per donation means that $3.40 would be deducted from a $100 donation).  You may also hear about a Discount Rate.  Unfortunately this has nothing to do with savings to you.  This is simply a name for the transaction fees charged by the credit card, which are always included in either the vendor’s or the merchant account’s transaction fees.
  • Merchant Account Fees: If you are using a merchant account of your own, there may be separate fees paid to the company that supplies it to you.  These are typically more transaction fees, and may include monthly fees or “statement fees” (just a monthly fee by another name).
  • Gateway Fee:  If you are using a merchant account of your own, there’s a chance that you may need to pay an additional monthly fee to an internet gateway provider.  You always need a gateway provider, but their fees are typically included in either the vendor’s fees or the merchant account’s fees. Ask your vendor to be sure.


As you study these, you may notice that different types of fees are likely to be better for different types of organizations.  For instance, if you only expect a few donations, it’s likely to be cheaper for you to use a tool that charges more per transaction and less per month.  If you expect a lot, the opposite is true – it’s worthwhile paying more in setup and monthly fees to decrease the transaction costs that apply to every donation.

Decide if the donation form needs to look like your website

Some vendors’ donation forms look nothing like your website, and some even display prominent logos for the vendors themselves.  Others offer forms that are tailored to match your organization’s website and navigation – but you typically pay for the privilege.  If you are just getting started, it make sense to get your feet wet with a cheaper tool that doesn’t allow as much flexibility – a recognized brand like Network for Good could even lend additional credibility to your donation processing.  However, you will appear more professional and likely raise more money with a donation tool that matches your site’s look.

Weigh the time required to import donations into your donor database

If you need to pull the data from the donation tool into another database, consider how much you are willing to spend to save yourself time doing it. Nearly every tool will let you export your data as a text file in order to import it to a separate donor database – an investment of about an hour a week.  However, some tools make this data integration process much easier.  Some allow you to create a Excel file that specifically matches your donor database.  Others allow you access to your data programmatically so that you can set up an automatic process to synchronize the data. 

Decide on critical features

Is it vital that you be able to accept tribute or memorial gifts?  Support employer matching?  Include organization-specific custom fields?  Handle recurring gifts, eChecks, or donations from outside North America?  Receive the donation money more than once a month?  Define what features you can’t live without, and narrow the list to those that can support these features. 


Some Good Online Donation Tools


Let's get to the part that you're likely waiting for:  the actual tools.  While there are dozens of online donation tools that can help, here are few good ones that are particularly commonly used.

If you expect only a few donations, and price is a key concern

If you are just looking to get your feet wet with an online donation program, a tool that charges minimal fees when you don’t get any donations might make sense

Click and Pledge (www.clickandpledge.com)
Offering reasonable functionality at very affordable prices, Click and Pledge could be a good choice, especially for organizations who only expect a few donations.  The donation form can be integrated somewhat with the look of your website.  The tool also has strong international support.  They charge a $5 monthly fee, plus 4.5% and $0.35 of each donation.

Network for Good Basic DonateNow (www.networkforgood.org)
Network for Good is a low-cost but completely un-customizable tool that could be a good choice for organizations interested in testing an online donation program. The extensive Network for Good branding gives the donor little doubt that they have left the organization’s website to make a donation on the Network for Good website.   The only charge is a 4.75% transaction fee.

Inexpensive, but not focused on donations

There’s several tools that offer very attractive prices – but they might be less attractive to your donors.

PayPal Donations (www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/xcl/rec/donate-intro-outside)
With no way to customize the look of or the fields on the donation form, PayPal’s user experience is unmistakably PayPal.  People’s reaction to PayPal vary widely – it’s widely known and trusted by tech-savvy donors, but often (wrongly) associated with fraud in less tech-savvy donors’ minds.  However, it’s one of the cheapest ways to take donations.  While donors used to have to create a PayPal account to donate, that’s no longer true – they can simply use a credit card as a donor most typically would expect

Google Checkout
(checkout.google.com)
Google offers their Google Checkout service for free to nonprofits they’ve approved for a Google Grant (their non-competitive grants www.google.com/grants/ for Google Ads and other things).  This means that you literally pay nothing, including transaction fees – which is a hard price to beat.  However, the flow isn’t optimized for donations – it forces the user to create a Google Account, and to associate a credit card with their Google Account, before they can get on with actually making a donation.  It’s a flow that may be confusing to less tech-savvy donors – and if people don’t donate, it doesn’t matter how free it is.

Amazon Payments
(https://payments.amazon.com/sdui/sdui/business/asp/donations)
Similar to Google Checkout, Amazon offers a payment tool optimized for e-commerce rather than donations… but at 1.9% +$0.30 per transaction, it’s also very inexpensive.  Like Google Checkout, donors need to sign in to Amazon and setup their credit card before they can fill out the donation form.  This may confuse donors without an Amazon account, but Amazon is widely used enough that many of your donors may already have one. 

Best values for all around good tools

There are a number of tools that offer solid features and a lot of customization at affordable rates. Some of the most widely used ones include:

Network for Good Custom DonateNow
(www.networkforgood.org)
This, the second of Network for Good’s donate options, is entirely different from the first. It’s an affordable option for organizations that don’t need complex customizations or their own merchant account.  Their clean and professional donation form can be seamlessly integrated into each organization’s website.  It’s $30 per month, and 3% per donation.

GiftTool (www.gifttool.com)
GiftTool is a solid choice for middle-of-the-road needs, particularly for organizations that need to support events or product sales as well as donations.  They offer complete integration of their clean and user-friendly donation form into your website. As a Canadian company, they offer additional receipt and language options to support Canadian organizations.  They charge a flat rate – currently $1.23 – per credit card donation, making them attractive to those who receive large donations, but less so to those who expect a lot of little ones.  You can use their merchant account or your own.

QGiv (www.qgiv.com)
QGiv provides online donation (as well as event registration) functionality that is fully integrated into your site, with a lot of features including tributes and recurring donations.  You need a merchant account, but they set it up for you.  It’s $20 per month, with 3.95% plus $0.25 charged per transaction.

 

As Idealware’s Executive Director, Laura directs Idealware’s research and writing to provide candid reports and articles about nonprofit software. Prior to Idealware, Laura founded Alder Consulting, where she helped nonprofits create Internet strategies, select appropriate software, and then build sophisticated websites on a limited budget. She has also selected software, designed interfaces and conducted user research for multi-million dollar software and website implementations with such companies as Accenture and iXL. Laura is a frequent speaker and writer on nonprofit technology topics.
 

License: 
Copyright © Idealware

Comments

Affordable, Easy-to-Use Fundraising Software for Nonprofits

Not sure how we were missed, but DoJiggy has been providing nonprofits with affordable, easy-to-use online tools for more than a decade. Our fundraising software solutions offer customers online tools for the exact type of fundraiser they are hosting...whether it's a walk-a-thon, charity golf tournament, online charity auction, fundraising event, or online donations drive....we have a solution for you.  (Keep in mind that each of these types of fundraisers requires different features - that's why our software solutions work! they help you accomplish exactly what you need to. it's not a "one-size-fits-all" solution)

http://www.dojiggy.com/app/services/index.cfm

DoJiggy also has a merchant services division that specializing in nonprofit payment processing. Some great features include: low processing rates, no binding contracts, easy 1-2 day approval, and a "free donation website" for new accounts.

http://www.dojiggymerchantservices.com/

We also offer a number of FREE FUNDRAISING RESOURCES - providing helpful planning tips, how-to guidelines, sample fundraising templates and more. check it out! http://www.dojiggy.com/app/services/index.cfm

 

Using Chargify to collect donations

 We have been using Chargify.com to collect recurring donations.  They have been great!  They automate the collection of donations, they send emails to our donors, they automate the process when a credit card transaction fails, they supplied us with signup pages and gave us a non-profit discount.  I would recommend checking them out.

Mobile pledge and donation

http://launch.pledgewell.com offers mobile pledging from any mobile phone, and offers fulfillment , so you have a trusted partner in collecting outstanding mobile pledges. It's a great way to reach donors at events.

Donor managed recurring donation accounts

We are currently using Click and Pledge as our donation portal. One of the problems that we have is that the only way a donor can change any of the details related to their pledge is to delete the account and create a new one, including changing the amount of their pledge, updating their credit card information, etc.

Are their donation portals that allow a donor to create a secure account and manage it themselves? 

 

Click and Pledge information listed here inaccurate

Click and Pledge is $50 a month, not $5. The product is good, but customer service is frustrating and it's far too costly if you're a non-profit that doesn't receive that many donations throughout the year.

Re: Click and Pledge

We verified the prices in 2010 when we published this article, and the nature of technology and the marketplace is that prices change and vendors go out of business. While we're aware that, to some degree, our articles go out of date the moment we publish them, it's not possible for us to keep abreast of every change as it happens--instead, we schedule a regular review cycle for articles and make it a policy not to change information in the article between those scheduled updates. We'll put this article into the queue to be updated in the near future, and thanks so much for your interest and feedback.

A Recurring Donation Option

 We accept recurring donations from suporters and needed a way to automatically charge them, manage our supporters, email our supporters when they are being charged, etc.  We are now using Chargify to do this and we are very happy with them.  It prevented us from becoming PCI compliant since we are not storing or touching any credit card information and it has automated our donations.  They also give a non-profit discount.

PCI Compliant

I'm interested in Chargify. But What do you mean It prevented you from being PCI compliant?

thanks - Jeremy

Gnosis Media Group has a great text to give service

Just wanted to make our readers aware of our text donation mobile giving service: http://s.gnoss.us/texttopledge

Thanks,

Eric Bryant

Gnosis Media Group

Great article, very useful.

Great article, very useful. I am looking now for donation tools for my website

Thanks!

another tool

Another great tool for organizations to use is OSI Affiliate Software http://www.osiaffiliate.com because they can get others to promote their organization and then reward the people that promote them. 

Online Donation Sites

Ticketbooth offers <a href="http://www.ticketbooth.com.au/services/event-ticketing/">online event ticketing</a> and donations for Australian schools and non-profits as well. There a new company but seemed really helpful.

Donation Websites

A useful collection of donation websites: http://www.squidoo.com/donation-websites

Super helpful

Thank you so much - just the right thing to stumble upon as I started my research on the perfect donation tool for a client of mine. It's a non-profit that isn't expecting too many donations and you've answered all of the questions to help me get going. Thank you!

Very Thankful

Wow, I'd just like to thank IdealWare for having such an array of articles that are oriented to non-profits in order to demystify this highly technical process.  Thanks so much.  Very appreciated. 

Causecast Provides Free Donation Processing to All Nonprofits

Sign up for Causecast for fee-free donation processing.  Your organization pays only the merchant processing fee which is the lowest we've ever seen.  We negotiated this for nonprofits and its about 2.8 percent. 

 

We do not charge any fee of our own.  

 

 

Causecast is able to do this because its main business is in providing a workplace giving solution for corporations (at http://causecast.com/).  So, if you are listed with Causecast (again, totally free) you will also be able to get donations and volunteers from employees inside corporations which are often matched by the employer.  

 

There's really no easier way to be included in workplace giving, plus you get the free donation processing widget as a bonus.

 

I need a simple site for an individual

Okay, so my friend's 5-year old son was just diagnosed with leukemia and we're going to have a big golf tournament in the spring. We want people to be able to pay for their tickets and also donate money to the cause right away. We're not a non-profit organization and this will be a one time event. Which sites would work in this situation? Also, what's the best way to set it up so that the money gets to our friend? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

PayPal versus Custom Forms. Is it worth the extra cost?

Thanks for a very informative article. 

At CharityWeb we offer PayPal as a payment option on our forms along with eCheck and major credit cards.  I think a lot of small organizations use PayPal for Non-Profits because there is no monthly fee involved.  Most research shows the average online gift is between $60-$80.  If using a custom provider like one of those mentioned in the article or the comments section -- I strongly believe they would capture at least one more donation a month which would more than pay for the services.  We hear from organizations that PayPal confuses clients and they feel like they've lost the connection to the organization.  If you are an organization currently using PayPal and are considering other options, I hope you'll think about some of the intangible benefits a custom designed form and customized emails / receipts provide.  

CharityWeb has been helping non-profits raise funds online for over 14 years.  We're known for our custom work and flexible solutions.  We offer low setup rates for a custom system and a flat per transaction charge.  Our custom giving forms take into account usability research to increase the success rate.  Our monthly fee with merchant account is $48.90 and processing is .79 to us and 2.2% + .25 to our merchant partner. 

Also. . .

 I'm a co-founder of DonationPay and just thought we should throw our hat into this ring.  We've forwarded this article along to many of our prospective clients- though it doesn't mention us- because it does such a great job of explaining industry processes, defining common terminology, and is a good tool for organizations to use as they are prioritizing their needs while searching for an online service. 

DonationPay offers fully customized payment pages (as many as your organization needs for daily donation collection, events fundraisers etc. at no additional charge) and extremely affordable credit card processing.  Our monthly fees are 20 bucks per month and a 3% discount fee- for those fees, we offer an industry leading payment gateway and donor management tools with easy Excel reporting, and much more.  Each organization gets their own merchant account and funds are direct-deposited daily.  Also, we really care about our organizations and I think we offer the best customer service in the industry.  

your idealware comment

Hi AJ,

Thanks for posting on the idealware article. Because of your post, I went and checked you out. You may be a good fit for us, and I probably would not have found you without reading your post. I am still looking at some options, so I am not fully ready yet, but I am getting close. I do have some questions, such as what the donor will see on their cc receipt, your name or ours?

A totally free site!

There's also www.givenow.com.au which provides online credit card donation facilities for free for any community organistion registered in australia.

It's free - it's focused on the community sector and according to their website have raised more than $16million so must be doing something right! 

 

Razoo as an option

A full service option that allows a non-profit to just add a link to their page is razoo.com.  They have successfully provided the backend engine for GiveMN.org, a statewide giving day.

Another option: FoxyCart

We've set up donation processing for a couple sites using FoxyCart, a hosted shopping cart that is not focused on donations but works well for that. It is more technical to set up, but it does let you completely control the experience and add fields to the form.

For example, here's one site for which we built a customized donation form that feeds to FoxyCart:

http://www.postcarbon.org/support/donate/

The cost is $19/month for FoxyCart, and then whatever the transaction fees are for your merchant account. You can hook it into PayPal for a no-monthly-fee payment processing solution, or you can use a conventional merchant account to a gatway such as Authorize.Net.

Michael Slater
www.webvanta.com

Donor Tools

Another service to consider is <a href="http://www.donortools.com/"> Donor Tools</a>.  This is a <a href="http://www.donortools.com/features/unlimited-users">donor management service</a> that provides branded donation pages, donor tracking, thank you letters and email, reporting, and self-service so donors can monitor their own giving history. Donor Tools integrates with Pay Pal. The starter account is $5 a month, and the only thing left out is integration with QuickBooks.

Anyone tried Fundly?

Thanks for a great article.

Has anyone tried Fundly?  They claim over $200M raised and seem to support either simple donation pages or embedding their donation widget in your own site. 

"affiliate" networks for NPO

Good roundup of services for accepting donations. We use Convio to support our event-specific sites as well as online donations through our primary site and are currently getting between 2/3 and 3/4 of our donations via that channel.

I am curious about what I call "affliates:" services that collect on behalf of the NPO and/or send a portion of sales to the NPO. It came to mind reading the article because we get emails from Network For Good, iGive, etc with statements saying we received money through them. Going to the Network For Good site to review our account info, I saw that the monies came through a number of different services, including Facebook Causes and other online charity. I believe that iGive is one of the cause-shopping services...

Is there a better name for these types of services than affliates? Are some more reputable or highly rated than others?

Thanks!

Salsa (DemocracyInAction/Wired for Change)

I'm surprised that Salsa is not mentioned yet. Forms are completely customizable. 501(c)3's use DIA's merchant gateway and do not have to arrange for one separately. Recurring donations are handled nicely.

Best of all, since Salsa is an open platform pages are completely customizable. I can vouch that donations are dependably paid out monthly via check.

Salsa (DemocracyInAction/Wired for Change)

 Yes, Salsa is certainly a tool worth considering, but it's not a stand-alone donation tool (or at least, it would be very expensive as one) -- rather, in our lingo it's an online integrated tool, which includes broadcast email and constituent tracking functionality as well as donation functionality.  You can see it covered at http://www.idealware.org/articles/low_cost_integrated.php

Donation Tool Tech Requirements

Thanks for a great article!

It might be helpful to mention which scripting languages these tools run in. I primarily develop websites in PHP, but a lot of these tools are in ASP.NET -- which will definitely narrow my options for projects that require this sort of technology. 

 Another great tool is

 Another great tool is Events.org, they are the least expensive online donation tool that I've ever used and the system is reliable.  For free, you can set up an web page for online donations and event registration and the organization just pays for the credit card processing fees.  We use the full software which includes a lot of reports, the ability to customize the webpage, and manage donations and event guests.  They also help run our checkin and check out as well.  www.events.org

Additional Donation Options

 I wanted to let you about two other options in the 'Best values for all around good tools' category.  The first, WebLink, is a application that allows you to set up personalized donation, membership, and event registration forms.  The second, DonorPages, is an application that supports peer-to-peer online social network fundraising.  Both WebLink and DonorPages can process bank account and credit card payments via a Level 1 PCI-certified gateway.

ChaverWeb as an online donation option

If you are a Chaverware user, ChaverWeb, (http://www.chaverware.com/_Chaverweb.pdf ) as an extension to Chaverware allows you to collect online donations in a very flexible way, allowing donations to many different funds, and tributes with notifications as well. ALl of the online transactions are electronically entered into your Chaverware software so that you don't need to receive notification of the online donatino and THEN enter it, the entry is done for you. If you want to learn more, go to www.Chaverware.com or call Chaverware at 1-800-CHAVER1 (800-242-8371)