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 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.


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

Posted on 29 April 2009

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