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Getting Started with Online Donation Tools. Nonprofit Technology Conference March 2008. What We’ll Cover. Donation Strategy in Four Minutes or Less Types of Online Donation Solutions Features and Functions The Joy of Fees A Selection of Vendors. Introductions.

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Getting started with online donation tools

Getting Started with Online Donation Tools

Nonprofit Technology Conference

March 2008

What we ll cover
What We’ll Cover

  • Donation Strategy in Four Minutes or Less

  • Types of Online Donation Solutions

  • Features and Functions

  • The Joy of Fees

  • A Selection of Vendors


What do you hope to get from this session?

Would you donate to your website

For many online donors, your website is your organization.

Would You Donate to Your Website?

Does it say what you want it to say?

Are you making the case
Are You Making the Case?

More people will donate if you ask them to, and you give them compelling reasons for why they should help

Ask them to help. Tell them why.

Are you backing up your words

Surveys show that donors really want to know what you’re going to do with the money. And what you’ve done with it in the past.

Are You Backing Up Your Words?

Give them some actual figures.

A button is not an outreach strategy

An online donation tool does not create donations any more than taking credit cards over the phone does.

A Button is Not An Outreach Strategy

Online donation tools are irrelevant if donors aren’t on your site

Reach out through email

Email pulls people to your website than taking credit cards over the phone does.

Reach Out Through Email

Ask them to donate, or to act, or just to view something on your website.

Give them a reason to come – and, ideally, to donate

Market your website

Put your URL on your business cards, on your letterhead, on event information, in your email footer – everywhere you can

Market Your Website

Post articles on your website and then promote them widely

Optimize your site so that people can find it through search engines

How else could you market your site?

How will you manage the donations

If you do get a lot of donations… event information, in your email footer – everywhere you can

How Will You Manage the Donations?

Will you need to register to fundraise in additional states?

How will you thank your donors?

Who will be in charge of the process?

How will you know if it worked?

There’s a lot more to think about than just donation tools

Quick group work

What will you need to do to be ready to make the most of online donations?

Do you need to update your website?

Do more to promote your website?

Perfect areas of your strategy?

Other things?

Quick Group Work

Form groups of 3-4, and take five minutes to discuss

Three different methods
Three Different Methods online donations?

  • Use a hosted stand-alone tool

  • Use an integrated tool that supports email, tracking constituents, etc as well

  • Build your own payment processing application

Hosted stand alone tool
Hosted Stand-Alone Tool online donations?

With a hosted stand-alone tool – like PayPal or Groundspring – you link to a donation form on the vendor’s site. It may look like your site, but it isn’t.

For those looking to get their feet wet, or for a solution they can plug-in to an existing set of tools

Integrated tool
Integrated Tool online donations?

An onlineintegrated tool – like Democracy in Action, Convio, or Kintera– is also hosted, and could manage emails, constituent data, and more in addition to donations.

You might build your whole site with it, or you might link to it.

For those who have many online needs, particularly those who don’t already have a strong infrastructure

Build your own
Build Your Own online donations?

Or you can create your own tool by:

  • Building a form functionality

  • Hooking it to a database

  • Integrating it all with a payment gateway such as PayPal Pro, Payflow, or AuthorizeNet

If you’re already taking donations, and have unusual needs or expect tons of donations

Online donation tools features and functions

Online Donation Tools online donations? Features and Functions

How donation tools work
How Donation Tools Work online donations?

Look of the donation form
Look of the Donation Form online donations?

Some forms can be tailored to match your website’s look and navigation

Fields on the donation form
Fields on the Donation Form online donations?

Some support eNews sign-ups, tribute gifts, customizable donation amount text, employer matching, custom fields…

Some allow you to have multiple forms

Payment types
Payment Types online donations?

Your payment processor might support American Express, Discover, PayPal, recurring monthly donations, eChecks, donations from outside North America…

Fraud prevention
Fraud Prevention online donations?

Vendors might check addresses, credit card CSV codes, or look for patterns to find fraudulent donations

Merchant account gateway
Merchant Account & Gateway online donations?

Charges are routed by a payment gateway into a bank account called a merchant account

Whose merchant account
Whose Merchant Account? online donations?

Reasons to Use Vendor’s

It’s easier

Likely cheaper for small orgs

Reasons to Use Your Own

Receive money faster

Your org is shown on credit card bill

Cheaper for a high volume

More flexibility

Acknowledging the donation
Acknowledging the Donation online donations?

The donor is thanked and emailed a receipt. The receipt might be customizable, tax ready, or account for less than 100% deductible gifts

Reporting online donations?

Once the card is charged, the donation can usually be seen online via reports – from basic to sophisticated

Exporting to another database
Exporting to Another Database online donations?

Most tools can export a text file – some provide tools to customize the file or allow you to access data via an automatic batch program

Receiving the money
Receiving the Money online donations?

You may receive your money by transfer or check. It may take a couple of days, or you may get paid once or twice monthly

Getting started with online donation tools
Whew! online donations?

The joy of fees

The Joy of Fees online donations?

How many and how large
How Many and How Large? online donations?

Estimate the donations you expect get so you can compare fees.

  • How many donations?

  • How much on average?

The wacky world of fees
The Wacky World of Fees online donations?


Paid per donation, may be a flat fee or a percentage or both


Paid up front to start the service

Discount Rate

Transaction fees charged by the credit card


The “rent” for the service

Merchant Account

Additional monthly or transaction fees to the merchant account, if you’re using your own


Possible additional monthly fee to the gateway provider, if you’re using your own merchant account. Ask to be sure.

Quick group work1

What are the key features that you need out of an online donation tool?

Quick Group Work

Back into your groups. Three minutes!

Where did these recommendations come from
Where Did These Recommendations Come From? donation tool?

  • Spoke to users

  • Interviewed vendors

  • Compared prices and features

We reviewed fees and features for 27 online donation tools

Stand alone few donations price is critical
Stand-Alone: Few Donations, Price Is Critical donation tool?

No fees except for 4.75% of each donation. Some customization of the form; strong international support

Basic Donate

Low cost – no fees except 4.75% of each donation - but not customizable at all. The visitor leaves your site for the NFG site

The cheapest of the tools at 2.9% of each donation. The donation form is unmistakably PayPal, but with the trusted PayPal name that could be a good thing

A widget that sits on your site and shows donation progress – and integrates with PayPal. Fees are the same as PayPal, for now

Stand alone best values for good tools 1 of 2
Stand-Alone: Best Values for Good Tools (1 of 2) donation tool?

Mid-priced specialist in donations, events, and registration. Fairly flexible donation form. Although it’s their merchant account, your org’s name appears on the credit card bill

Most affordable tool with your own merchant account. Their whole donor database comes free with it, as long as you keep your database under 500 donors.

Completely integrated and fairly flexible donation form, with support for products and events as well. They offer Canadian tax receipts and multiple language support.

Stand alone best values for good tools 2 of 2
Stand-Alone: Best Values for Good Tools (2 of 2) donation tool?

Custom Donate

DonateNow (formerly by Groundspring) is an affordable basic tool that can be completely integrated into your site.

Their “build your own form” tool is a good option for those who don’t want to go through the vendor for every change.

Stand alone more expensive for more features
Stand-Alone: More Expensive for More Features donation tool?

Half a donation tool and half a web development shop with a specialty in payment processing. A great choice for those ready to invest in a custom solution.

The highest transaction fees of any tool here, but they provide complete tailoring of forms and the tools to integrate data with offline databases. Takes 6-12 weeks for any form changes.

Extensive support for organizations and donors outside North America; there are probably better choices if this is not a priority

A selection of integrated online tools
A Selection of Integrated Online Tools donation tool?

Under $100/month

  • Wild Apricot

  • Network for Good Donor Suite

  • GivenGain

    Under $200/ month

  • CitySoft

  • Democracy in Action

  • eTapestry

  • MemberClicks

  • Z2 Neon

    Mid Market

  • Artez

  • LocalVoice

  • Orchid Suites

  • CitySoft

Lower Cost, Website Focused

  • CivicSpace

  • CivicSpace on Demand

  • Joomla (with integration)

  • Nonprofit Soapbox

    From Consulting Firms

  • AMP from Radical Designs

  • 44Fish from Antharia

    The Big Kahunas

  • Convio (+GetActive)

  • Kintera

  • Blackbaud NetCommunity

Discussion which looks best for you
Discussion: Which Looks Best For You? donation tool?

Which tools makes the most sense for your organization, or an organization that you’ve worked with?


Much more online
Much More Online! donation tool?

  • Detailed report on stand-alone tools

    • Charts of features and prices

    • Detailed reviews of all these vendors and seven more

  • Articles about

    • Options for simple websites

    • Integrated tools

    • Options for building a payment processing system

    • Data integration

    • And much more!

See much, much more at


Questions? donation tool?