Accepting Donations Online, and How Stripe Can Help (Freebie Included)

Accepting payments directly from your site is a great way to maintain user experience, lend credibility to your organization and have greater control over data. However, becoming your own online merchant comes with a slew of headaches. Setting aside days to find the best rates, fretting about monthly and per-transaction fees, testing for PCI compliance, and dealing with multiple 3rd party vendors when a problem arise are all common occurrences that must be dealt with.

Luckily, major brands like Paypal and Google stepped up to help alleviate those headaches. And though both of these tech giants allow processing donations, more companies have cropped up with the model of catering specifically to Nonprofits. Start ups like Piryx, Razoo and FirstGiving sprouted up with an even greater focus on empowering Nonprofits with greater marketing and social media tools to spread their message. But even though these services offer great social networking features, are easy to implement, and will securely and quickly process incoming donations, they still suffer from two crucial pitfalls:

  • Higher transaction fees. (Sometimes much, much higher)
  • User must leave your site.

Now, this is not an article about why you should stop using the third-party payment processing service you are currently using. This is an article about why you should consider collecting donations directly on your site, too, and how Stripe can help.

Arguably the most popular payment processor is Paypal. But, because Paypal can be easily added to any and all websites, we can tend to think of it as unimpressive and some say unprofessional when it is the only option when making a transaction. Additionally, if someone is confused by the Paypal checkout process, had a poor experience with them in the past, or for another reason chooses not to use them, that donation is either delayed or lost completely.

So, Why Am I Focusing On Nonprofits?

Nonprofits can use the most help. In the early stages, success or failure can be determined by a single donor. And although money doesn't guarantee success, making sure that those who do want to donate can certainly helps. Just having the ability to take money from people over the internet is not good enough. There’s more to it than that.

You need to inspire people to realize your cause can make a difference -- and encourage them to be curious, comfortable, and happy to support it. There is a serious disconnect when you are forced to move someone away from your site in order to support you. That needs to stop.

Welcome Stripe Payments

Stripe is an online payment processor that makes it incredibly easy to start accepting payments directly on your website -- today. There’s no sign up. No monthly minimum transaction amount. There’s no catch. With Stripe you can:

  • Securely accept donations directly on your website1
  • Funds deposited into a bank account on a seven-day rolling basis
  • Incredibly powerful and developer-friendly API
  • No multiple third-party vendors to deal with
  • Unmatched customer support
  • Attractive and easy to use Dashboard (Live demo)
  • More representative credit card statements  (ie. DONATION TO YOUR ORGANIZATION)
  • Same or lower fees than Paypal2
  • Keep the user on your site and maintain the site experience

Stripe lets you easily and securely add a donation form directly on your site -- no iframes, javascript embeds, nuttin’. This allows you to maintain the user experience, design the form however you wish, add and record custom fields, and convey a level of seriousness that many Nonprofits lack.

Aside from the brand image and user experience reasons to keep the user on your site, Stripe makes the life of the developer building your site stress-free. With a powerful API, thorough documentation, plenty of example applications, and many more on github, they’ll have ample access and references for integrating Stripe into their site or app. And since Stripe is actually processing the donation, you do not have to worry about PCI Compliance.

Stripe also offers more advanced features that allow accessing customer details (non-billing) so you can set up recurring billing, retrieve transaction details, update and save customer details, and more.

If you are interested in using Stripe and want to test drive the Stripe Dashboard before making any promises, click here. If you are impressed and may want to use the service in the future, click on the Save Account link at the top of the screen. After entering an email and password login you’ll be moved to another screen to enter your bank account information. Once you hit submit, you can start accepting donations.

What About That Freebie

I put together a simple script that uses Stripe to process a donation, forward the user to a “Thank You” page, and send a receipt to both the administrator and the donor. 

View on Github

For testing purposes Stripe does not require an SSL Certificate. However, once you go Live, you’ll need it.

Thousands of notable companies and nonprofits are already using Stripe to save money and impress their users. Why not do the same?

1 With the help of an SSL Certificate. SSL Certificates encrypt sensitive data, and is required to work with Stripe. Ask your web administrator or host to install an SSL Certificate for you. Prices should range between $100 and $350 annually.

2 While both Stripe and Paypal offer 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, Paypal charges 3.5% for AMEX. And while Paypal does offer a discount rates for registering your 501(c)(3) with them, you lose all the added benefits of using Stripe and, even worse, possibly donors who would have contributed had you not been using only Paypal. 

Tommy is a front-end developer who builds dynamic, interactive sites for Viget clients such as ESPN, Dick's Sporting Goods, and PUMA. He works in our Falls Church, VA, HQ.

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