Accepting Online Donations: Tools for Nonprofits

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It’s late at night. Someone is visiting your website and they like what they see. They want to donate to your cause, but it’s too late to call the office and too bothersome to write out a check. Where is the “Donate Now” button? You do have one, right?

Most nonprofits are heavily dependent on donations from the public to sustain their programs. A nonprofit’s website is increasingly the first public face of a nonprofit - and an excellent channel for receiving donations. Not quite sure? Watch this TechSoup webinar on making it easy for supporters to give by accepting online donations.

So, how does your organization choose from a bewildering number of systems for benefiting from the goodwill of people who want to give online? There are numerous providers of online financial services, but we’ll take a look at a few options that have been well-received in the nonprofit world. Questions on which donation service is right for a particular organization or situation abound on online forums like Quora (2, 3) and LinkedIn (2, 3), including in the NetSquared LinkedIn group. And on our own blog, community members have written about how to take credit card payments with a mobile phone, distributed donations, and even contests for paperless fundraising.

Idealware, which helps nonprofits choose effective software, looked at this topic last year. For the budget-conscious nonprofit that only wants basic donation capabilities they recommend Click and Pledge and Network for Good’s Basic DonateNow. Network for Good’s custom version of DonateNow is recommended as an “all-around good tool”, along with GiftTool and QGiv.

Idealware goes on to look at the pros and cons of using systems that aren’t tailored towards accepting donations, like PayPal, Google Checkout and Amazon Payments. They also have information for organizations that are looking to handle online payments for more than just donations and groups that need an integrated package of website management, donor management and donations tools.

That article from Idealware is pretty thorough in its treatment of the pros, cons and wherefores of online donation handling. And the forums provide a personal perspectives on the best tools for how to handle the intricacies of a specific organization’s needs. Are there any great tools missing from those recommendations? Let us know in the comments.