A new nonprofit foundation wanted to collect donations through their recently-launched website.
Before discussing the options available to them from a site design perspective, they had gone to their bank, where they were advised to open a merchant account. The bank gave them a link to put on the site. The link led to the bank’s payment gateway.
The bank’s solution didn’t work
As I was building the donation page, I did consider using the bank’s payment gateway, however, it lacked the appeal and functionality that comes with a donation plugin. For example, there was no way for the foundation to collect the donor’s information or automatically send a thank you note. Redirecting the donor to a thank you page wasn’t an option either.
Since creating that functionality would have been time-consuming and expensive for the client, I advised the nonprofit board to use a plugin instead.
To make sure I chose the right plugin for the job, I had to ask the right questions. I wanted to be sure I was covering all the needs that were not being met by the bank gateway to be able to justify switching to the plugin.
What are the benefits of using a donation plugin?
There are several benefits to using a donation plugin over creating your own donation form.
- Plugins are designed to be user-friendly, and easy to use and add to the site. If you pick a popular plugin, you will have good support if you need it!
- They provide a secure way to accept online donations without having to start from scratch.
- They offer a variety of features that can make accepting donations easier for both the nonprofit and the donor.
- Using a plugin can save time and money by avoiding the need to hire a developer to create a custom form.
- They automate many of the tasks associated with managing donations, such as sending thank you emails and tax receipts.
- Plugins allow you to tailor what information you need to collect from the donor.
- Collecting donations is portable. You can set up a donation point at an event using a mobile device.
What basic features should a good donation plugin have?
There are some basic features to consider when choosing a donation plugin for your website. Some questions you should ask when initially looking to collect donations on your site are:
- Can you create a donation form and integrate it into the site?
- Does the plugin collect donor information?
- Which payment gateways does the donation plugin integrate with?
- Will you be able to accept a variety of payment methods – major credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, etc?
- Can the donor specify where their donation goes?
These are minimal requirements for me. There are more that are specific to the nonprofit. Let’s look deeper.
How do you choose the right donation plugin for your client?
First, we needed to take into consideration the site is small now but will grow. The plugin we chose needed to be scalable.
The questions I had for the nonprofit gave me a great list of requirements to work from.
What functionality do you need to include?
- Collect donor information
- Donate from a mobile device
- Allow the donor to download a receipt
- Integrate with Stripe, PayPal?
- Accept one-time donations
- Accept recurring donations
- Pay in-app or via PayPal
- Send email receipts
Also, consider, do you need to:
- Integrate with Mailchimp (or another mailing list)?
- Designate Honorarium/Memorium donations?
- Create reports?
What are the different types of donation plugins?
There are many different types of donation plugins on the market. Some are free, while others are paid. Most offer a free tier, or trial, with a paid level or add-ons. The most popular donation plugins include:
Each plugin has its own set of features and benefits, so we made sure to evaluate each one and choose the one that best suited our client’s needs.
If you prefer to build your own donation solution, you could create donation forms using form builders, such as:
So, what did we choose?
After looking at many options, we decided to use GiveWP with a number of paid add-on features.
It provided all the functionality the foundation needed.
We are able to collect the donor information the foundation needs with the information being collected in the foundation’s Mailchimp account. This means the foundation can send email newsletters to donors to keep them updated on how their donation is being used, as well as publish the names of donors to publicly thank them.
Donors have the ability to donate anonymously.
We added the ability to donate from a mobile device.
We used the text-to-give feature.
The Treasurer set up a Stripe account which integrates easily with the GiveWP account,
The donor can choose to make a one-time donation or make recurring donations for a specific amount of time, or until canceled.
Donors can make honorary or memorial donations.
A number of reports are available for reporting to the board, and for the accountant.
How can a donation plugin help you raise more money for an organization?
Using a donation plugin really can help raise more money for an organization!
When the donation form is appealing and is simple for the donor to use, they are more likely to come back to the site when there is another call for donations.
Most donation plugins make it easy for the nonprofit and their supporters to share an appeal on social media, or by SMS or text, increasing donations, which helps collect donations from a wider range of people, including those who may not be able to donate directly to the organization.
A donation plugin can also help an organization process donations more efficiently, saving time and money.
Finally, it can provide analytics, which helps track donations and donors so the organization can better understand its donor base and what motivates them to give.
Does your organization need more donations?
If your nonprofit website needs a boost in donations, it’s important to choose the plugin that gives you the best options.
At 3 Bees Digital, we can help you choose and implement a donation plugin that is perfect for your nonprofit. Our team will work with you to get you started and ensure that your donation process is smooth and easy for your donors.
Feature photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash