Online Donation Tools

Probably the most widely used Web-based technology for nonprofits are tools that allow your organization to accept a donation or pledge online via your website.

Why is offering an “Online Giving” option important?

  • It’s expected – Most donors have become accustomed to initiating many transactions online and expect to be able to make their gift via your website.
  • Immediate call to action – Motivated donors can give immediately via donation buttons and links from your home page or in response to email newsletters and solicitations.
  • Cost-effectiveness – By reducing postage and mailing costs as well as donation processing costs online donations can be one of the most cost-effective methods used by your non-profit.
  • Timeliness – Take financial advantage of planned or unplanned media attention given to your nonprofit.
  • Attract new donors – Constituents, search engines and other sources send people to your website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Eliminate data entry – Let your constituents enter data online and have it automatically entered into your donor management solution.
  • Higher average donations – Households with Internet connections tend to be wealthier and better educated – 2 demographic traits shared with higher charitable gifts
  • Attract younger constituents – Internet users are 20 years younger than direct mail users.
  • Access funds faster – Online donations can be collected in real-time and deposited to your bank account quickly.
What to look for in an “Online Giving” solution:
  • Forms that can be customized to match your website design and collect exactly the data you want from constituents.
  • Data Security – Forms and process must be hosted on secure server so that data is encrypted during transmission. The forms should also clearly identify that data is secure to enhance donor confidence. Also look for processing service providers that have met PCI compliance standards.
  • Support for all the payment options you wish to offer. For instance, credit card are widely used, but you may want to give donors the option of paying by e-check or ACH payments (bank drafts) which can reduce processing costs and enhance automatic collection of monthly pledges.
  • Support for more complex giving options such as sponsorship or membership levels, tributes such as honorarium and memorial gifts, monthly pledges, etc.
  • Online administrative function for reviewing and then downloading donations into your fundraising system, database or spreadsheet.
  • Automatic email acknowledgements of payment.
  • Real-time authorization of credit card payments so that constituents know if their payment was made successfully and can correct (or change) card data due to data entry problems or restrictions on processing.
  • Payment processing should be via an online credit card merchant account established for your non-profit so that donors’ credit card statements clearly identify the transaction as being for your organization (less charge disputes).
  • Ability to handle other types of online e-commerce such as forms for special event registration, fundraising item sales, membership renewals, etc. Some systems even allow you to create forms for constituent interactions that do not involve a financial transaction such as information requests, volunteering, petition sign-ups, etc.