Last editedJun 20236 min read
A suitable payment processor for nonprofits can empower donation collection from anywhere globally, streamlining fundraising by allowing the secure, swift, and convenient collection of donations. The choice of a payment processor can significantly influence a nonprofit's operational efficiency and donor satisfaction, making it a vital component of a successful fundraising strategy.
What is a payment processor for non-profits?
A payment processor for non-profits facilitates the transfer of funds from donors to charities using credit or debit card or bank payment methods. Payment processors for non-profits complete transactions securely and efficiently, capturing the payment details, ensuring the donor has sufficient funds, and then coordinating the transfer of these funds to the charity's account.
Why do non-profits need a payment processor?
While in-person fundraising events are still prevalent, most donors prefer online charity. Integrating a payment processor into your website allows your organization to accept various payment types, including cashless transactions via automatic bank transfers and card transactions. A reliable payment processor can also facilitate automatic recurring payments, providing a more predictable cash flow for your charity.
Key features of non-profit payment processors
The best non-profit payment processors share several standard features.
They’re secure: A good processor adheres to all security requirements, such as PCI-DSS compliance rules (if accepting card payments) and data encryption, and provides automated security tools to safeguard your donors' details.
They’re regulated: as well as being secure, processors should adhere to relevant regulations; for example, GoCardless is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority
They’re user-friendly: processors should offer easy-to-use interfaces and dashboards to make donation collection quick and straightforward.
They streamline collection: Processors for non-profits should offer a seamless checkout and donation process for a charity and its supporters, making collecting, tracking, and recording donations easy.
They integrate with your website: The processor should offer easy integration with your existing website through payment pages, payment buttons or access to an API.
Top non-profit payment processors
Here are our top choices for non-profit payment processors, considering features, flexibility, and cost.
GoCardless is a bank payment specialist processing over £30 billion of transactions annually. Bank payment methods, such as Direct Debit, accounted for 31% of all UK charity donations and totalled £1.1 billion last year.
GoCardless specialises in collecting bank payment donations, reducing fundraising costs and payment administration. GoCardless offers a reliable, secure and cost-effective payment processing option for non-profits.
Stripe is a robust platform for both online and offline fundraising. Its platform seamlessly integrates with a charity website or crowdfunding page and provides point-of-sale (POS) terminals for in-person events. With a flat rate of 2.4% + 20p per transaction, Stripe also offers discounts for registered charities.
WorldPay is another excellent choice for accepting donations on a website. It includes a central dashboard for managing customer donations, allowing you to collect recurring payments, track donor habits through data analysis, and create a custom checkout page. While WorldPay includes a monthly membership fee, it does not offer specific charity discounts.
Designed specifically for small and medium-sized charities, LibertyPay provides a cost-effective solution with rich features. It allows you to take online payments and phone-based card-not-present payments. The pricing is bespoke, tailored to the needs of each customer.
Apart from its business and personal services, PayPal offers tools for non-profits. Charities can benefit from PayPal’s discounted rates starting at 1.4% + 20p per transaction after opening a business account. It also provides a dedicated Donate button for easy integration into your website.
Payment processing for non-profits: key takeaways
Plenty of choices exist when it comes to payment processing for non-profits. As well as choosing a provider, charities also need to consider the payment method - this comes down to a choice between card payments, bank payments, or both.
Bank payments vs card payments
Let’s review bank and card payments from the perspective of fees, payment success rates, automation, and the level of manual administration involved.
Bank payments, such as Direct Debit, are typically cheaper than card payments, particularly for larger sums of money. Card payments can incur per-transaction fees, usually consisting of a small fixed amount plus a percentage of the transaction value. Depending on the card issuer, these can be significant, particularly for higher-value transactions. On the other hand, bank payment fees tend to be lower, fixed and predictable.
Exactly how much you'll pay to accept card payments will depend on the card network & your specific fee structure, but on average, fees range between 1.5% - 3%. Not only is GoCardless cheaper, but we also provide pricing transparency. Accepting a £500 card payment will cost a merchant between £7.50 and £15. However, with GoCardless, that transaction cost is much lower. Learn more about GoCardless Direct Debit.
Payment Success Rates
Bank payments traditionally have higher payment success rates compared to cards. Card payments are subject to card expiry, loss, theft, or insufficient funds, which can lead to declined transactions. On the other hand, bank transfers are less likely to fail because bank accounts cannot be lost, stolen or expire. However, a bank transfer can still fail due to incorrect account details or insufficient funds, but the success rate of bank payments is much higher than card payments. Learn more about payment success rate.
Modern banking systems have enabled automated bank payments, reducing the manual effort involved. Automated bank payments, such as Direct Debit, can be set up for recurring transactions, providing convenience to both parties.
Historically, bank transfers might have involved a higher manual admin level than card payments. But this gap has been significantly reduced with digital banking and automation technologies. Both payment methods allow seamless integration with accounting software, automatic invoice generation, and other administrative efficiencies.
One area that gives bank payments the advantage over credit and debit card payments is that of failed payments. As we have seen, card payments have a high failure rate (10 - 15%), and this creates manual as failed payments have to be chased and manually reconciled.
What non-profits should look for in a payment processor
Let’s recap the key features and functionality non-profits should seek in a payment processor.
User experience: Ensure the processor is user-friendly, reducing reliance on specialist developer knowledge, thus saving time and resources. A complicated interface may lead to administrative headaches.
Fee structure: Consider the transaction fees and any hidden costs. Are there setup fees, monthly fees, or early termination fees?
Security: Check for robust security features. Ensure the platform complies with all security protocols and uses encryption to protect sensitive data. The last thing your non-profit needs is a security breach.
Administration load: Evaluate if the processor creates manual admin tasks that increase your team's workload. Some processors might automatically manage receipts and donor management, reducing the admin load.
Payment reliability: Look at the processor's reliability when handling transactions. Frequently failed payments can cause frustration and potentially lose supporters. Consider how the processor handles bank payments versus card payments - the ease and success rate of these transactions can vary.
Case study: payment processing for charities
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), an NGO aimed at providing help to displaced people across 35 countries, teamed up with GoCardless to optimise their direct debit donations process.
The shift to GoCardless significantly improved the NRC's donations system, with 35% of their global bank-to-bank payments now processed through the platform.
Head of Donor Systems at NRC, Brage Storkerson stated,
Key to the partnership was GoCardless’ Success+, a machine-learning-based system for effectively managing failed payments. Storkerson explained,
This approach has increased NRC’s successful recapture of failed payments by 7%, enabling more funds to aid displaced people.
Regarding administration, GoCardless saves the NRC hours of manual admin each month. Storkerson confirmed the benefit by saying,
NRC’s relationship with GoCardless is a crucial asset, as Storkerson affirms,
We can help
GoCardless is built to serve non-profits and charities, providing reliable and efficient bank payment processing, and allowing secure, worldwide donation collection ideal for charitable organisations.
You can conveniently set up payments through our dashboard or over 350 partner apps, such as Xero and Quickbooks, including instant, one-off, or recurring payments. GoCardless does all the heavy lifting for you, allowing you to focus on finding more donors.
Frequently asked questions
Can a bank be a payment gateway?
Yes, a bank can indeed act as a payment gateway. A payment gateway is a tool that transmits payments between customers' banks and the merchants' banks. Some banks do offer payment gateway services in addition to the typical banking services they provide.
However, the bank must have the required technology and infrastructure to act as a payment gateway. This involves having systems to authorise transactions, check for fraud, and coordinate between multiple parties. Not all banks can do this, so many businesses and nonprofits opt for dedicated payment gateway services. These services may be provided by other financial institutions or by specialised technology companies.
The key advantage of using a bank as a payment gateway is that it can streamline operations, as you work with a single entity for all your financial transactions. However, the trade-off can be cost and flexibility, as banks may not always offer the most competitive rates or tailored payment processing solutions.
Is PayPal good for nonprofits?
PayPal can be a suitable payment processor for nonprofits, offering accessibility, ease of integration, and strong security measures. However, assessing your organisation's specific needs is vital, considering associated fees and evaluating the level of customisation required before making a decision. Exploring other payment processors, such as GoCardless, can provide additional options and features that may better align with your nonprofit's goals and requirements.