Online Giving - What to Consider
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Online Giving - What to Consider

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 As we've discussed before, it's very important that all nonprofits offer an online giving option on their website. Simply put, many donors expect to be able to give online…and some may decide not to give if there isn't a simple donation form available to quickly donate with a credit card online.

Now that you've agreed that you need online giving, the next question is "How do I implement it?" I received a really good breakdown of what nonprofits should consider when deciding how they want their online donations to work in my inbox the other day. This email was from Mission Research, the maker of GiftWorks Fundraising Software (full disclosure: GiftWorks offers their own online giving module that is integrated with the base donation management software). You can find this information on their eNewsletter here.

The key decisions they discuss include:

1) Integrated or standalone? Integration with your donor management system is preferred, as the donation information is automatically entered instead of requiring manual entry of the gift data into the system. However, some donor management systems do not have this option. And this type of solution is often more expensive to implement. Integrated online giving makes the most sense when the nonprofit's donation management system offers the functionality and the nonprofit expects to receive a large number of online donations.

2) Merchant account or aggregator? Aggregrators (like NetworkforGood or Justgive) is easier to set up and often has no (or lower) monthly fees. However, aggregators may not allow you to customize your donation page, they often have higher per transaction costs, and you don't get the money immediately. Probably most importantly, a donor can choose to give anonymously through an aggregator, so the nonprofit may not be able to adequately thank the donor and connect with them in the future. Merchant accounts often require more effort to set up, but can offer lower per transaction fees and more customization on the donation page.

These decisions will also require considering what giving options you want to offer (recurring gifts?), how much management time is available to process online gifts, and how many online gifts you expect to receive.

Are you offering online giving? If so, how have you implemented? What have you learned from your experience? Let us know in the comments!