With the internet being as popular as ever and continuing to grow, it makes sense to use it not just for conveying your message and creating awareness for your cause, but to also solicit and accept online donations.
Accepting donations online is an excellent way to convert interest in your group from online visitors and to greatly expand the outreach of your campaign to far-off friends, family, alumni, supporters, or other individuals with a desire to help further your cause.
When accepting donations online, it’s imperative to give a donor the option to pay with a credit card. Asking a potential donor to write and mail a check to you after they visit your web page, probably won’t result in the amount of donations you’re hoping for.
The problem for most non-profits when it comes to accepting online donations is that they don’t have the technical means to process them safely online. Obtaining the technical, security, and programming skills to manage an online donation campaign can be costly and time consuming. But with today’s internet tools, groups can safely, easily, and effectively solicit and accept donations online to either supplement a fundraising campaign or to run a campaign completely online.
There are different ways to go about accepting donations online with the help of third party companies. It can be as simple as adding a donation button to your website, or you can sign up with one of the many online fundraising services. The ideal way to take advantage of these excellent online options may be to implement a combination of them.
Following are several ways to help you accept online donations:
Accept online donations with a donation button
– Probably the easiest and fastest way to add a payment solution to your website or blog and start accepting donations today is to sign up with PayPal. You get a snippet of code for a button for your website and anyone who clicks on this button will be able to make a donation instantly. There are no sign-up fees or monthly fees; your donors don’t have to have a PayPal account to make a donation and you only pay a small fee per transaction. And if your group has registered for 501(c)(3) status, you’ll get discounted rates.
You’ll get reporting tools, you’ll be able to export reports to Excel, Quickbooks and Quicken, accept foreign currency. You can also accept donations with PayPal through your Facebook page.
– Google also offers a donation option through their popular Google Checkout service. Google Checkout also offers low per transaction fees, allows you to accept donations from different countries and even waives fees altogether if you’re a Google Grant recipient. In order to implement a Google Donation button, you have to identify yourself as an IRS Certified 501(c)3 organization.
Accept online donations via Facebook Causes
You can also sign up with the online platform Facebook Causes to solicit donations. If you already have a Facebook page, you can simply add a Causes Tab and start collecting donations.
Accept online donations via online fundraising services
There are dozens of companies that offer services for accepting online donations. They usually also offer reporting tools and back office tools whereas some customized or additional services may be optional and will be available for a fee.
Click over to our article 15 Most Popular Online Fundraising Services or search for “accepting donations online” to find companies that help you accept online donations.
Requirements to start accepting donations online through any of these services may vary slightly, but you usually have to be registered as a 501(c)3 organization and have to have a profile in the GuideStar database.
Often the service is offered for free or for a low monthly cost and a small transaction fee for each processed payment is added. Even if the company charges a set-up fee or monthly fee, the cost is usually minimal compared to the expense of implementing and maintaining donation and accounting services on your own.
Generally you will receive a free fundraising web page for your group that you can send your supporters to, a widget or payment button to place on your website and tools to track and manage your donations and donor information.
When signing up, you’ll basically go through the following steps:
• Your group registers and provides information
• The site automatically creates a web page for your group and/or widgets and donation buttons you can add to your group’s website
• Visitors to the site use your customized page or the button/widget on your website to make an online donation
• Visitors are taken to a secure third-party site for processing of the donation and collection of account data
• Visitors are returned to the original web page once the transaction is finalized
• The funds are deposited into their account (There may be a holding period)
>> Visit easyfundraising.org.uk for further online fundraising ideas and to support a cause. (Sponsor)
Making it all work
OK, so now you’ve set up donation buttons on your website and created fundraising pages on one or more third party service’s website. Now what? You’re ready to start accepting online donations, but to actually receive donations, you’ll need visitors and then you need to convert these visitors into donors. This sounds very simple, but does require some work.
To start, make sure you have all pertinent information about your non-profit, like your financials, mission, goals etc. easily available on the web. If you have your own website, make this info easily accessible and also add links to other websites that a have information about your group, for example news sites and sites like Guidestar and Charity Navigator. That way, when you do have a potential donor on your site, he or she will be able to find all important info about your group right away and without too much work on their part. Make it easy for them to get information about your group, so they feel confident to make a donation!
Once you have all your info readily available, create social networking accounts, like a Facebook Page, connect your online and offline marketing strategies, and keep improving your website!
Note: Regardless which option you choose, we recommend you consult your legal adviser before accepting any donations online.