How to Easily Take Donations Online

What tools can help you collect donations via credit card through your existing website? With a number of excellent options that allow even small nonprofits to accept credit card donations on their website – such as Click and Pledge, Network for Good, QGiv, and GiftTool -- there’s no reason for any nonprofit to consider online donations out of their reach. 

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 Tip focuses on the tools.   What software can you use to plug online donation functionality into an existing website?  In this article, we break down the options and a set of software tools that might work well for you.  The accompanying article (see For More Information) goes into considerably more detail, so might be helpful if you're struggling with the terminology and considerations.

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.

For More Information

A Few Good Online Donations Tools
The full article from which this Tip was excerpted

Payment Processing in Pictures
A look through the complex world of payment processing in diagrammatic form

A Few Good Payment Multi-Taskers
Looking to handle more than just donations online?  This article talks through tools that handle not just donations, but also event registration, membership dues, item sales, and more.

Recording: Getting Started with Online Donations ($20)
In this recording of a live seminar, we walk through screenshots and options to help you understand what features you might want in an online donation tool, and the vendors that can provide them.  We also periodically offer this as a live online seminar -- take a look at our training calendar for upcoming dates.