Random Thoughts on Life and Work

August 11, 2006

Online Donations

Filed under: Online Donations — Darren Mullenix @ 8:34 am

In yesterday’s post, I touched on the subject of charities accepting donations on the web.  Today, we are going to go a little further into some of the details of what makes a successful non-profit website.  Let’s take the easy one first – payment acceptance.

There are a number of companies out there who can provide the technology to enable charities to accept donations through their website.  But there are few who truly understand the unique nature of charities and their online needs.  Here are some examples of the technology available.

  1. Network for Good.  Network for Good (NFG) allows donors to designate a charity as the beneficiary of their giving.  The payments are processed through NFG’s merchant account and NFG sends the designated charity a check at the end of each month, net of their 3% fee.  The donor receives a receipt from NFG – not from the designated charity.  NFG also provides a mechanism to place a button on the charity’s website to facilitate giving.  However, the receipt still comes from NFG and the donor is provided with whatever messaging is on the NFG website at the time.  It is not your messaging.
  2. JustGive.org.  JustGive is another online aggregator and is very similar in purpose and process to Network For Good.  Again, the main issue is that all of the communication to your donor will come from the other entity – not from you.  The advantage of NFG and JustGive is the speed and ease with which you can get started.  But think carefully about the communication issues.
  3. PayPal or Google Checkout.  Either one of these payment acceptance systems will work but neither of them are truly set up for donations.  They are designed for e-commerce and feel cluncky and inefficient.  But for donors who are frequent users of either system, it can be effective for a charity to have an account with either one.  However, I would not recommend the use of either one as a direct donation acceptance platform on a charity’s website.
  4. Cashlinq.  This is my favorite.  In the fairness of full disclosure I need to point out that I am a former employee.  However, Cashlinq is the type of company that a charity needs to look for.  Cashlinq provides a customizeable donation page that is branded for the charity.  Their security is the best in the business and meets all card company requirements.  Cashlinq can provide the merchant account, the donor interface, security, and donor information.  Receiving the donor information is particularly important for interaction and the building of the online community.

These are 4 examples of systems and technology that are commonly available to charities to start taking donations online.  There are of course self designed or created solutions but those definately require more in-house expertise.  If you are designing your own solution for your website, remember that you will need a merchant account to accept the credit card donations.  Find a company that will understand the concept and investigate their history a little bit.  Some are not as reputable as others.  After all, somebody is accepting payments for online porn site membership.  Is it the same company that you deal with? 

Just a thought.

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