Making an online donation by credit cardMore people than ever are making donations to charitable organizations via the internet. They already shop, work and play online, why not give? If your group is not yet taking donations online, now is the perfect time to start. The tools that make online giving possible are becoming much more user friendly for both the charity and the donor. Plus the technology is more affordable than ever.

Now, to be sure there are many companies eager to help you with this task, from standard credit card processors to those specializing in nonprofits. After all, they make a percentage each time a transaction is made. But don’t let this commercial aspect or the cost deter you from taking online donations. The benefits can far exceed the small hurdles of setting up the donation capacity and paying the fees.

There’s a more extensive list of companies on the online fundraising directory page.  But today I’m going to focus on my three favorite providers, Network for Good, Firstgiving and Click and Pledge. Why did I pick these three? They offer lots of features and benefits for you, are low cost, and are great for nonprofits who are just starting out in the online donation world.

Network for Good logo Network for Good provides customized donation pages that will match your current website. It allows you to collect both one time and recurring donations. They also have an optional email newsletter tool to help you keep in touch with supporters. There’s a one time set up fee, monthly service charge and 3% per transaction. However, there are no long term contracts.

Network for Good also offers free training, advice and resources through their website Fundraising123.org. There’s a free newsletter and other tools that are available there, whether you sign up for their services or not.

Firstgiving LogoFirstgiving has unique benefits for nonprofits raising funds online. Two of their claims to fame are the personal fundraising pages and team fundraising pages. Why is this important? Friends asking friends to donate is a powerful way to raise funds! It’s the concept behind walk-a-thon participants who solicit pledges, marathon runners who raise thousands of dollars and other organized programs. This is one of the fastest growing areas of fundraising.

In fact, the drive for online donations doesn’t even have to start with the charity. Anyone who supports your cause can create their own personal fundraising page, send it to friends and family and bring in donations for you. There are two types of accounts, basic and premium with varying benefits and costs. There’s no monthly fee with Firstgiving.

Click & Pledge LogoClick & Pledge is my newest favorite online donation system. I was impressed with its features and benefits when I saw a demonstration at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) conference.  Besides online donation capacity, you can sell event tickets and merchandise through this platform.  It also offers volunteer and event management functions.

Their system is called Trio, since besides online donations, there are two additional modules for donor management and website management. Each module is priced separately so you only pay for what you need. For the online donations, there are two flexible payment plans, one has a monthly fee with lower per transaction costs, while the basic account has no monthly fee.

Comparisons

The great thing about these three providers is that they each offer quite different unique features.  Do you have 5K’s where your runners raise funds?  Then Firstgiving is the way to go.  With individual and team pages they are a perfect match.  Does your group have special events and sell branded merchandise?  Then consider Click & Pledge.  Of course all three take straight online donations!

Network for Good Firstgiving Basic Firstgiving Premium Click & Pledge Standard Click & Pledge Premium
Secure Online Donation Processing Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Automatic email receipts to donors Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Recurring donations Yes No No Yes Yes
Sell products No No No Yes Yes
Person-to-person online fundraising pages No Yes Yes No No
Team Pages No No Yes No No
Event registration No No Yes Yes Yes
Email Newsletters Yes * No No No No
Volunteer Management No No No Yes Yes
Website Management No No No No Yes *
Setup Fee $199 $0 $0 $50 $150
Monthly Fee $29.95 $0 $0 $0 $25
Processing Fee 3% 7.5% 7.5% 4.5% 3.95%
Per Transaction $0 $0 $0 35 .35
Annual Fee $0 $0 $300 $0 $0
* Extra charge applies
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Posted on 29 April 2009

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22 Comments For This Post

  1. Niels says:

    Thanks for this great overview. I was just looking around and find this very helpful. I have one question.

    Do these services easily allow for recurring gift setup? Some people would like to give on a month by month basis.

  2. Sandra Sims says:

    Great question, Niels! So I added it to the features chart above. Depending on the size of the organization there may be an advantage with setting up recurring donations offline. I set up a monthly giving system with a nonprofit with their bank (a local “hometown” bank) and they didn’t charge any service fees. While we’re on the topic I’d recommend Harvey McKinnon’s fundraising book Hidden Gold which is all about monthly donors and giving clubs.

  3. Niels says:

    Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for the additional information. That looks great.
    Niels

  4. Sally Herrholz says:

    My understanding is that technically any fundraising on the Web would require registration plus annual reporting in each of the 39 states with laws regulating charitable solicitations. Do any of the vendors include registration and annual reporting in their service?

  5. Syam Buradagunta says:

    Thanks for the info, but I have to question your definition of great. Do you really think 7.5% transaction fee is “Great?” Do you reaally think that FirstGiving deserves to get $7500 for every $100,000 that an org raises? That deosn’t sound “Great” to me.

  6. Sandra Sims says:

    Syam, while the service fee is higher with FirstGiving, they don’t charge a monthly fee (with the basic plan). It depends on the volume of transactions that an organization expects to see coming through what fee structure will work best for them. I won’t comment on whether a company “deserves” a certain amount or not. These service providers have to strike a balance between what is best for the customers and what is sustainable for them as a business. Ultimately it’s the customer that has to decide what’s best for their needs and the companies that are best able to meet these needs, not just with a good fee structure but also with customer service and features will be the ones that prosper.

    The transaction fee is one of several factors to consider when choosing a provider. It also depends on what functionality the charity needs. One of the benefits of FirstGiving is the team based and individual fundraising pages that are often used with walk-a-thons, for example. (There are a few other providers like Artez.com that also have that functionality.) Other nonprofits may not need this feature but need online event management or something else and go with another provider. That’s why it’s important for the group to first decide what their goals are with online giving, what functionality they need and evaluate each provider according to those goals/needs first.

  7. Syam Buradagunta says:

    Sandra based on that rationale would one be correct in assuming that you are comfortable with a fundraising consultant that works solely on commission? If not, could you explain what is different about it? Thanks!

  8. Sandra Sims says:

    No I do not endorse fundraising consultants take commission. Online donation service providers do not directly solicit donors like a consultant would.

    You’ve raised a lot of good points and I appreciate your comments. But let’s be honest, you work for a competitor to these companies. You have a great website and may have an excellent service, so its certainly one for nonprofits to consider. However, I’m not going to personally say one service provider is better than other simply because of the one factor – the percentage.

    As I said before, I believe what makes a fee structure best for one nonprofit or another is their volume of transactions and other individual circumstances. Nonprofits should look at all the options and decide for themselves which is best for their needs.

  9. Syam Buradagunta says:

    Thanks for your opinion. It’s a good discussion topic. I agree that online donation service providers do not directly solicit donors like a consultant would. That’s all the more reason that they shouldn’t receive commissions. They don’t do antyhing to raise the money regardless of the amount given. At worst, they should be charging a flat transcational fee that is above and beyond the credit card discount rates. This is much more fair because they won’t charge more based on transaction size b/c frankly, they don’t do any more or less work based on the amount donated. Thanks again.

  10. Jackson Jones III says:

    I have a question. Do you receive a commission or referral fee for either of these services? The reason I ask is because we have just completed our review of service providers in the area of online donation processing (we searched on’accept doantions online’ on Google and found your website) and during our own research have discovered that two of the three that you recommend are in fact the highest cost providers from a processing standpoint (C&P and Firstgiving).

    If you are receiving any sort of financial incentive from these providers you should disclose it.

    Our non profit is small and starting out and very cautious re the cost of service. We found that there are several other providers that offer similar or better services/features at a lower overall cost than the three you recommend.

    They are, ironically, listed in your own online directory of fundraising services and so I won’t relist them here.

    Anyway, thanks for this site. We found it very useful.

    Jackson

  11. Sandra Sims says:

    Hi Jackson — thanks for your comments. I am not affiliated with any of the 3 listed in this article. In fact the only partnership I have with an online donation provider is with DoJiggy . You have a great point about disclosure though. Most of the companies for which there is a financial affiliation with this site are listed on the partners or advertisers pages, which are linked at the bottom of every page. Otherwise we include a note on the page stating the relationship.

    There are so many providers and it depends on your org.’s specific needs which one is best. That’s why I list all the reputable ones I know of in the directory.

    Another online service that I recommend a lot (no affiliation) is GiveForward. They do not require a group to be 501c3 to raise money. So there are a lot of people using their service who are raising funds to help pay for medical costs, college tuitions or trips.

  12. Grag says:

    am looking for an online donation solution for a church that does mission to the rural world in Ghana so i wanna ask if you have the solution to that

    thanks

  13. John says:

    Greetings.

    We the small church wanna help to the poor, needy and orphans. but we ve no funds with us. will u able to help us through online donation?

  14. Pamela Grow says:

    This is a terrific side-by-side comparison Sandra. My only question would be do these providers offer EFT payments? For monthly giving I encourage a system that allows a donor to create a monthly debit directly from their checking account. Bank debit and credit cards expire and get lost and replaced – an EFT set-up allows for better continuity.

  15. Sandra Sims says:

    Hi Pam — great point. EFT has a lot of advantages over cc/debit. I have set up monthly giving for nonprofits by working directly with the bank. We didn’t have an online option set up for that though, it was just a paper based form.

  16. Jackson Jones III says:

    Sandra,
    I thought I’d close the loop on this discussion (sorry it took so long to respond to your answer). We chose to go with Acceptiva, they are the first provider listed in your directory. They had the lowest fees, unlimited number of secure pages for the same monthly fee, EFT/Echeck capabilities and recurring charge capabilities also. Besides the unbeatable pricing, we liked that they have a month to month contract for both the Acceptiva service and the merchant account and also offered a 30 day complete money back guarantee. So far we have donation pages, event pages, tribute gift pages and pages we use their (free) virtual terminal with. Again thank you for your directory, it was most helpful in the decision process.

  17. Syam Buradagunta says:

    Jackson, Acceptiva is great. Excellent choice. They have a great team and customer service as well. They have the ability to post back data as well which gives you unlimited flexibility for integration. We incorporated Acceptiva into SWEET 2 years ago for Habitat for Humanity and have nothing but good things to say about them.

  18. Jeffrey Golby says:

    Hi – great overview – I would love to add our company Global Currents (PINC Giving) to the list (globalcurrents.org). We operate in Canada US, Britan and Australia, super low transaction rate (3.8% +.25) and no monthly fee for most of our accounts and free set up for a few of our products too. In addition to the features that the others have we give donors the opportunity to ‘cover the cost of their transaction’ which is pretty great as for a donor it’s a couple bucks but for you it’s a big deal.

    Anyways – sorry to sound like a salesperson, I’m not, just really believe in the company. Read click on the WHO we are on the globalcurrents.org site to hear why we do what we do.

    best of luck

  19. stock donations says:

    Yes I have good experience by all those companies. I would like to include one more firm i.e. Stock Donator.

  20. nihal khan says:

    yes

  21. denise knox says:

    I was in army reserves for 8 years. Unfortunately it was reserves during desert storm and I did not have enough active duty time to receive any benefits from the army. I have been living with my husband 19 years. We have 2 boys 17 and 13. He has been a police detective for 20 years. I came to the marriage with 20,000 dollars and a paid off mustang. He quickly spent that money borrowing thousands at a time. I worked, took care of the kids and house for many years.
    I became disabled 10 years ago with a rare form of lupus.. I have had to take pain medication to be able to walk and still had to scrub floors, sweep rake leaves, cook dinner, do laundry, scrub bathroom, and all kids’ doctors, dentist’s haircuts, glasses and schoolwork. I did the best I could, with the condition I am in and the pain I endure constantly.
    The last three years my husband has become a severe alcoholic drinking every day he’s off and calls off(he has over 50 days of call off days a year). He starts drinking at 10am and drinks until 11pm and is completely drunk does terrible things and remembers nothing the next day. He comes home calls me unspeakable names, frightens the kids until Tyler sleeps with a knife, I keep access to a gun and C.J. won’t sleep in his own bed yet.. He took my bathroom out, it just stinks and oozes sewer out of the hole where the toilet used to be. I have holes all thru my house. Many walls are drywall that’s never been completed. He broke many phones; he broke his mother’s rearview mirror side mirror and windshield. But doesn’t ever remember it. I know he needs help being a police detective In Wilkinsburg for over twenty years, but he won’t get any. He just acts like nothing happened the next day. He’s called off all his days and has spent none with us, just drinking.
    I tried to separate before, he said drop it and if he doesn’t quit drinking he will give me 5,000 dollars alimony the rest of my life He said he could make that on two jobs he does under the table. He gets jobs with his connections then makes money giving the work to people. He didn’t quit drinking, or pay me, if I don’t listen to him; he takes the car and threatens to throw me out. He’s had multiple affairs; the worst were my neighbor, and an 18 year old 8 month pregnant tenant I found out about because she had an STD. He is now dating his daughter’s friends and brags about sleeping with them.
    He couldn’t pass his work qualification for shooting because his hands shook too badly. If he loses his job it will destroy us that’s why I won’t get a PFA because he will lose his ability to carry his weapon and lose his job and we will have no money.
    I have told him not to come here when he’s drinking and we are separated, we haven’t slept together in two years now.
    I’m scared but chucky promised to care for me the rest of my life when he had a moment of clarity. I’ve worked so hard since we have been together I deserve to be allowed to live whatever time I have left in peace with my kids.
    I have no good options financially. If I make him mad he uses it as an excuse to call off work and go on a four day binge. I can’t support my children I am seriously disabled. I need a car for groceries I’m not able to do it any other way with the pain and weakness I suffer and manage to smile always for my boys and joke with them all the time life is so good until he shows up, but C.J. doesn’t want to leave his friends. If I file for support I will actually lose the little help I’m receiving as well as have to pay medical so I won’t still have enough to pay for a place of safety for my children. I’m doing all I can with my obvious limitations. . I have no one to help me my mother gave me to my grandmother when I was 2 and my grandma is gone all my friends are in Dubois where I grew up. I’m alone. Since we’ve separated he is paying the mortgage, electric, cable, internet, water, sewage and garbage. With my $700.00 I have to pay groceries, clothes, all doctor and prescription co=payments, haircuts, glasses, .gas if he gives me the car and gas. I’m really struggling but that was what he agreed to. We don’t have enough to pay our share. Any help from any organizations or donations would be GREATLY appreciated. My mattress is my grandmothers. And it makes the pain so much worse but I can’t afford one even though it would make a huge difference in my mobility. I can’t get help from an attorney because Neighborhood legal services don’t deal with alimony.
    Thank You Denise Knox 412-266-8462 deniseknox6633@gmail.com

  22. Noah says:

    I’d like to throw DonationPay into the ring – we’re quite a bit less expensive than the services listed here while still offering the services of the premium services, like customized branded payment pages, customized email receipts, recurring payments, etc.

    Our team of founders were all NPO workers and built the tool to try to create their ideal service. We don’t charge any set-up, charge a simple 3.5% + 20¢, and about $20/month.

    Thanks!


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