Online Donation Service Providers


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This introduction to receiving online donations explains how credit cards are processed behind the scenes, outlines some of the online donation options for Canadian organizations, and discusses some of the factors to take into account when choosing a service provider.

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  • Now that you’ve heard about how one of the options (CanadaHelps) works, lets take a step back and look at what’s going on behind the scenes. Note: these pictures were created by Idealware, I didn’t make them. This is all about credit card processing. Direct debit is a bit different, I won’t get into it tonight. You can read about this in our article.
  • First, the visitor to your site (or your vendor’s site) goes to the work of establishing what they want/how much $$ they are going to give you. This could be simple, as in the case of clicking a “Donate Now” button and entering an amount to donate. Or it could be complicated, like on Amazon where you navigate lots of products you could buy and put one or more in your cart. Once this is all sorted out, however, there is some amount you are going to pay, so you enter your credit card information into a form and click submit. Note that this could be happening on your site, or on a separate site – like for CanadaHelps.
  • Once the visitor has submitted the form, the Payment Gateway (represented by the little red man) takes over. His first step is to check for fraud. This means checking that the credit card number is valid. It might also check that the credit card number matches the name, address, or CSV code (the 3 numbers on the back of the card). If the credit card isn’t valid, the Payment Gateway sends a message back to the website so it can show a message to the visitor. This actually does happen for charities, for example people checking if the stolen credit card numbers they have are valid. Otherwise it keeps going…
  • What happens now is that the credit card company transfers the amount of money being paid from their account to your merchant account. Now, note that a merchant account is NOT your bank account. It’s a special type of account that is only used for credit card transactions. You HAVE to have one to process credit cards. You might even need different merchant accounts for different types of credit card transactions (e.g. over the phone vs. online). The good news is, you don’t have to set a merchant account up yourself, you can use your vendor’s. CanadaHelps (check?), PayPal and other payment processors have their own merchant account for you to use.
  • Once the transfer of money to the merchant account is complete, the Payment Gateway comes back to your website and lets the visitor know that the payment went through properly (your website will display a confirmation message). Your system will automatically email the visitor a receipt. You will be able to view the transaction in your reporting tool, typically provided by the payment processor. Now the visitor is done and happy, but you’re not quite done yet.
  • Chances are, you want some kind of record of the payment in your database, assuming you have a database that tracks donors or constituents. This might be something simple and manual like exporting a file and importing it to your database. Or it could be fancy and synced up. It depends on what you need and how many transactions you process. It also depends on what you are using and if it is set up to work together.
  • Of course there’s one very important step left to go – you actually getting the money. If you created the Merchant Account in your name, the money will be automatically moved to your bank account within a few days. If you are using a vendor’s merchant account, the vendor will pay you. This will depend on the vendor. This could be through direct deposit, cheque, or wire transfer. For example, if you are registered with CanadaHelps then they will deposit the money directly to your account; however if you aren’t registered, they will send you a cheque. Some vendors will pay you within a few days, other may pay you once or twice a month.
  • So… here is the big picture again.
  • -walk through back end process -a number of options (inc canadahelps) – some will be talked about later -what are responsibilities of nonprofits (e.g. do you have to generate tax receipts? Integrate w your website?)
  • Yes of course there are fees…
  • Yes of course there are fees…
  • Online Donation Service Providers

    1. 1. ONLINE DONATION SERVICE PROVIDERS Tierney Smith Thanks to IATS & Idealware for help with this presentation
    2. 2. <ul><li>Behind the scenes </li></ul><ul><li>The spectrum of online donations </li></ul><ul><li>A few options </li></ul>AGENDA
    3. 3. BEHIND THE SCENES Diagrams created by Idealware
    9. 9. STEP 6: GET THE $$
    10. 10. PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Donation form on your website or vendor’s website Payment processor Your database
    11. 11. Less Work Less Control More Work More Control CanadaHelps Completely custom Very simple e.g. Click and Pledge Online donation service providers e.g. -GiftTool -Artez -Aura E-commerce solutions e.g. PayPal (Note that some common alternatives such as Google Checkout and Amazon Payments are not currently available in Canada) THE SPECTRUM
    12. 12. <ul><li>Do you process other types of online payments? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If so, consider an integrated tool e.g. PayPal, Gifttool </li></ul></ul>WHAT TO CONSIDER
    13. 13. <ul><li>What size & number of donations do you expect? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pricing structure is different for each tool </li></ul></ul></ul>WHAT TO CONSIDER
    14. 14. <ul><li>A setup fee when the account is opened </li></ul><ul><li>A monthly fee </li></ul><ul><li>Merchant rates for (a % of the volume processed for all major credit cards) </li></ul><ul><li>A transaction fee for every transaction processed </li></ul>SOME FEES YOU MIGHT HAVE…
    15. 15. <ul><li>Does the donations form need to look like your website? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Does integrate: GiftTool, Aura, Artez </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Can integrate: PayPal </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Separate website: CanadaHelps </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>WHAT TO CONSIDER
    16. 16. <ul><li>How much integration with your donor database do you need? </li></ul>WHAT TO CONSIDER
    17. 17. <ul><li>What special features are important? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. memorial gifts, recurring gifts, direct debit, international donations </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>WHAT TO CONSIDER
    18. 18. <ul><li>A Few Good Online Donations Tools ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>A Few Good Payment Multitaskers ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Comparing Low Cost Integrated Tools ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>A Few Good Methods for Processing Credit Cards ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>Note that not all options are available in Canada. </li></ul>RESOURCES
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