Skip to content

How to Collect Donations Online

Written by

Last editedMar 20233 min read

Donations keep your non-profit up and running, which is why it’s important to make the process as easy as possible for your supporters. Some generations might still prefer to pay their charity of choice via card or cheque. Yet most of today’s donors will expect to be able to pay online or by mobile app. It’s fast, secure, and convenient. Whether you’re new to online fundraising or are looking for ways to make your payments platform more efficient, it’s helpful to ensure you’re using the right tools for the job. In this guide, we’ll tell you how to collect donations online and give you a few steps to ensure success.

How to get started with online fundraising

Imagine that you’re launching your first website. What is the best way to collect charity donations online? There are three fundamental elements of online fundraising:

1. A payment gateway to accept donations

You don’t need to process donations on your own; this is what dedicated payment gateways and third-party payment processors are for. The best way to collect donations online is with a payment gateway that integrates into your website, such as WorldPay, GoCardless or even PayPal. It gives site visitors a user-friendly checkout page where they can enter their payment details. If you don’t have your own charity website, you can use online fundraising platforms for this purpose like GoFundMe or JustGiving.

2. A dedicated database to collect and store data

The second element of online fundraising is a database platform to keep track of all your financials. When you collect donations online, track these transactions as you would a for-profit sale. Accounting tools like Xero and Salesforce are great for keeping track of donor names, amounts, dates, and other details – or you could use dedicated donor management software.

3. A platform to promote your online donation page

Once you have a payment page and donor database, it’s time to promote your charity online. Email management tools like MailChimp and Drip send automated marketing emails at your command. Social media is also a must-have for online charities, allowing you to interact with your followers and promote upcoming fundraisers both online and off.

How to collect Direct Debit payments with GoCardless


Create your free GoCardless account, access your user-friendly payments dashboard & connect your accounting software (if you use one).


Easily set up & schedule Direct Debit payments via payment pages on your website checkout or secure payment links.


From now on you'll get paid on time, every time, as GoCardless automatically collects payment on the scheduled date. Simple.

Get started in minutesLearn more

What are online fundraising platforms?

Successful charities integrate the three elements mentioned above into a donor-facing website. You need to collect donations with a payment processing system, manage donor relationships, and automate processes with software.

Using an online fundraising platform like JustGiving offers the benefit of an easy set-up and compliance. However, they’re best for peer-to-peer giving, allowing friends, families, and followers to sponsor one another for one-off events. They won’t let you take recurring payments or manage ongoing supporter relationships. This is why it’s better to use a platform that lets you take donations directly from your own website. 

How to collect charity donations online

As with for-profit businesses, charities should find ways to accept multiple payment methods to suit their donor preferences. Payments for charity could include a mix of direct debit, credit cards, and even in-app payments.

1. Credit card payments

If you want to accept credit and debit card payments, you’ll need a payment gateway like Stripe, Braintree or Adyen. These integrate directly into your website with a custom checkout page to take one-off and regular card payments. They handle communication with the payment processor and ensure payments are PCI compliant. Your charity will be charged a fee for each transaction.

2. Direct debit

One of the best ways to collect donations online is with direct debit. This is a standard way to collect regular payments from donors, pulling them directly from customer bank accounts with full authorisation. Your supporter sets up a direct debit mandate authorising your non-profit to take payments on the agreed-upon date. GoCardless specialises in taking one-off and recurring direct debit payments, with lower fees than card processors.

3. Digital app payments

Some donors prefer to pay with their phones, which makes it worth considering tools like Apple Pay and Google Pay. These facilitate online donations by allowing donors to make a payment with a quick tap or swipe. They’re also secure, using biometric data to authenticate payments. 

What is the best way to collect donations online?

There are plentiful ways to make online payments, so you’ll need to think about the size and scope of your charity to find the right fit. There’s no one-size-fits all solution for collecting online donations – however, it’s best to offer a variety of payment methods where possible.

When it comes to facilitating monthly donations from donors, GoCardless is hard to beat. Hundreds of charities are already using GoCardless to accept their online and in-person donations, including Norwegian Refugee Council and Comic Relief. It’s easy to integrate seamlessly with existing billing and customer relationship management systems, with scalable payment solutions for start-ups and sizeable charities. Collect one-off and regular donations at lower cost in comparison to card fees, all while reducing the chances of payment failure to ensure a steady cash flow for your non-profit.

We can help

GoCardless is a global payments solution that helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of financial admin your team needs to deal with. Find out how GoCardless can help you with one-off or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

Get StartedLearn More
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Contact sales

Try a better way to collect payments, with GoCardless. It's free to get started.

Try a better way to collect payments

Learn moreSign up