There are tons of articles all over the Internet that cover how to accept online donations. They go over best practices, tips and tricks, updates about new technology… the works. What they don’t often go over is the process of getting ready to accept donations online. Here’s the nitty-gritty of what you’ll need to get ready:
1. Find Your Platform
This is the first big step toward accepting online donations. There are lots of options out there; some are more customizable than others, rates are different, and donation options vary from provider to provider. While you’re doing your research, be sure you consider the features included in each platform, rates and fees, whether or not you have to sign a contract, and what capabilities are necessary for your organization.
Take your time! Finding the right donation platform will have a huge impact on your nonprofit’s fundraising.
2. Gather Your Documents
Once you’ve found a platform, you’ll need to apply for an account. Most nonprofit donation platforms require a few specific documents, but not all application processes are the same. To be safe, make sure you have your IRS exemption letter, banking information (including bank statements or bank letter and a voided check), and your organization’s W9. Gathering your information before you start applying can help you get through setup more efficiently!
3. Figure Out Your Processing
A merchant processor is a company that manages the exchange of money between two parties (if you want to learn more about how it works, read this). Many nonprofit donation platforms will be able to set you up with a merchant processor as part of the set up process. If you already have one, though, you can work with the company to see if they’d be willing to use that processor. That part of the process can vary from company to company, so make sure you double-check!
4. Wrap Up Loose Ends
This is the time to double-check your account. If you’re doing direct deposits, make sure you’ve got the right bank account associated with your donation platform. This is also when you should confirm that you can accept all the types of donations you want to accept. One good thing to research is whether or not you can accept American Express cards; American Express customers usually have to set up their accounts personally before giving their account information to their donation processor.
5. Get Your Page Set Up
Depending on the platform you decide to use, you may be able to tweak your donation page to make it fit your needs. If you can customize it, go through and add the donation options, events, and other elements at this step.
6. You’re Good To Go!
Once you’ve got your processing and account set up and your page is ready to go, it’s time to go for it! Your page is probably hosted on your company’s own server for security reasons; you’ll likely have to get a link to the page and make sure it’s connected to your webpage.
7. Tell The Whole World
Get your page out there! Here are some ideas to get you started.