How to Begin Accepting Payments on Your Charity Website

If you’re like most other not-for-profit (NFP) organisations, you rely heavily on donations to further your mission and serve more people. While third-party fundraising platforms are a great way to drive online donations, setting up your own charity website to accept payments safely and easily is imperative to build trust and improve conversion rate.

There’s only one concern though: Online donations can be complicated and you’re also responsible for complying with regulations that keep donors’ personal and financial information safe.

So needless to say, payment processing for your nonprofit is a subject you can’t afford to avoid. The right payment options can help you get the most out of your fundraising activities by:

  • Offering one-off or recurring donation options
  • Allowing you to accept money on your website, in-app or via social media
  • Helping you to create custom donation pages to showcase your story, build trust and improve donations conversion rate

In this post, you’ll learn the basics of what makes a fail-safe nonprofit payment processing solution and important things to be mindful of.

Let’s get started!

Credit Card Processing for Nonprofits

To accept online payments, you need to be able to safely manage financial information on your website. So the first step is to make sure you have the proper compliance and security measures in place.

Many people have a hard time understanding the basics of payment processing. This is usually because the terminology can be confusing. So let’s look at a few important payments terms you’ll need to be familiar with:

  • Payment processor: The payment processor is the financial institution that provides the payment processing services to the online merchant (you).
  • Merchant account: Merchant accounts are bank accounts that allow your nonprofit to accept online donations. This is required if you want to use a payment gateway to process transactions on your website.
  • Payment gateway: A payment gateway allows you to securely send and manage credit card information for processing.

All three of these things work in sync to allow your nonprofit to accept online payments, but the payment gateway is the bridge that connects the payment processor and the merchant account. It provides secure credit card processing for nonprofits.

Things to Look for in a Payment Gateway for your Charity Website

Not all payment companies are created equal. So you’ll want to do your homework before you partner with anyone. It’s easy to get lost in a maze of options and features. Here, we’ve listed five non-negotiable things to look for in a payment gateway:

Security: A secure network is the number one thing you need. Anyone that visits your website must know that their information will be kept confidential. For this reason, you should look for a company that is PCI compliant, preferably with Level 1 compliance.

User experience: In addition to safety, your supporters will expect a frictionless experience on your website. For example, if your website takes too long to load or you require too much personal information, people will decide to take their money elsewhere. Read these expert tips to amp up good UX on your website.

Fees: If you’re a small organisation, then a “pay as you go” model might make sense. But as you continue to grow, you might find that the fees are quickly adding up. This includes not only domestic fees but also international and multi-currency fees, which tend to be higher. Be sure to check if your chosen payment solutions company offers special prices for charities.

Software integration: Ideally, you’ll find a payment gateway that integrates with your existing software. And you want something that is compatible with other payment systems as well.

Accepts domestic and international payments: Did you know that cross-border transactions fail 20 percent more often than local transactions? This is because banks in other countries can have difficulty communicating with one another. You want to find a payment gateway that accepts payments in a variety of currencies and markets around the world.

4 Practical Ways NFPs Can Accept Payments Online

Setting up a payment gateway is only the first step to getting started taking payments. Each service your nonprofit offers will require different resources to get it up and running. Let’s look at some of the most common nonprofit services and how you can get started with each:

Online store to raise funds with branded merchandise

Selling branded merchandise that helps raise funds for your cause is a great way to get your nonprofit’s name out there. A personalised online store is a great way to allow supporters to display your cause everywhere they go.

Of course, selling your merchandise is only part of the work. You’ll need a way to get your store up and running and fulfill customer orders. There are several ways to do this.

Some nonprofits choose to set up their own online store but there are limits to this. It’s usually a good idea to use a separate eCommerce platform that will integrate with your current website. As your charity grows, you’ll have the option to add more products and features.

Accepting donations on the site or in-app

For most charities, the purpose of their website is to accept online donations. Donations are, after all, a crucial part of ensuring the financial stability of your organisation.

There are many things to think about when you’re creating a donation process for your nonprofit. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when it comes to accepting donations:

  • Make your donation page easy to navigate so you don’t turn away potential donors.
  • Consider using fundraising software to offer things like recurring giving, employer donation matching, and a donation ‘gauge’ or ‘thermometer’ to encourage more giving.
  • Optimise your donation page for mobile phones and tablets. As mobile usage increases, so does mobile giving.
  • Provide pre-selected donation amounts with the option to fill in a custom amount. In general, it’s a good idea to restrict information input fields to a minimum.

Membership programs & subscriptions for recurring donations

Many of your organisation’s supporters will show their support by joining your membership program. Memberships give donors the opportunity to pay a recurring fee and access more value from your nonprofit. There are many benefits to providing a membership subscription.

For a nonprofit, the biggest benefit is the opportunity to change and influence the community. By providing high-value resources, you uplift a community of like-minded individuals and create stronger bonds to your organisation.

But while they are extremely beneficial to your charity’s financial health, recurring online payments can be tricky to manage. Every month, you have the potential for credit cards declining, cancellation requests, membership renewals, and more.

For that reason, you’ll need robust payment software that is able to manage recurring income.

Fundraising events

Most charities will have some sort of yearly fundraiser to raise money for the organisation. After all, fundraising events are the second highest preferred method of giving for Australian donors. And research shows that 70% of Australians have attended a fundraising event in the past year.

This is good news since your fundraising success depends on your ability to sell as many tickets as possible. For that reason, you’ll want to make the sales process easy.

It’s a good idea to have an event platform that will make it simple for you to sell and accept payments for the tickets. You’ll want a system that offers fast payment processing, real-time sales tracking, and minimal fees.

Final Considerations

Charity payment processing is crucial to your ability to further your mission and help more people. To manage this successfully, make sure your website is easy to navigate and is optimised for mobile and tablet devices.
And integrating multiple channels is a great way to direct more people to your website. Make sure you offer flexible payment options and create trust by displaying secure payment badges on your donation page.

If you’re looking for a payment solution for your nonprofit, Bambora is here to help. We are PCI Level 1 compliant and ensure that customer bills, fixed fees, subscriptions, memberships, charity donations, and instalment plans are collected efficiently and securely.

Contact us so we can learn more about the needs of your organisation and find the solution that’s right for you.

* * * * *

About the author: Victoria Galloway is Bambora APAC's Technical Copywriter, and has been writing and producing in the payments and eCommerce space for a number of years in the UK and Australia

We are open for business!

Welcome to the world of payment solutions. Choose your country and start accepting payments from customers all over the world.