Oct 12, 2016
To accept donations, nonprofits and churches once had to wait for a donor’s check in the mail, take that check to the local bank, cash it, and wait for the money to hit their account.
We’re happy to say that the days of inconvenient payment processing are over (although you can definitely still take donations by check, too!).
Now, nonprofits have more mediums and opportunities available to to them to process payments than ever before.
By far the biggest disruption in payment processing in modern fundraising is the introduction of new technology to accept mobile and online donations.
In this article, we’ll discuss the ways that churches and nonprofits are using this new technology to enhance their fundraising and process payments more quickly and conveniently.
Here are the payment processing methods we’ll look into:
- Text-to-give and text-to-tithe
- Online donation forms
- Email donation buttons
- Mobile bidding
- Mobile kiosks
Let’s get started!
1. Text-to-give and text-to-tithe
What is it?
Text-to-give (or text-to-tithe for churches) is perhaps the most popular form of mobile giving out there, because it meets donors through a channel they use daily.
Instead of having to access a new technology or learn a new interface, donors can give right from their smartphone’s native texting application.
While there’s some variation among how different text-to-give services work, the most robust text giving looks a little something like this on the donor’s end:
- The donor texts your nonprofit. To initiate a text giving transaction, the donor simply texts the amount they want to give to your nonprofit’s unique phone number.
- The donor receives a link. The donor will automatically receive a follow-up text with a link to a mobile-responsive confirmation email that the donor must follow to confirm their donation.
- The donor confirms their donation. To confirm, the donor simply has to send the prewritten email they’ve received. If this is their first text-to-give transaction, they’ll be taken to a simplified donation form first, so they can fill in their contact and payment information.
It’s really that easy! And because it’s so easy, text-to-give is an excellent giving channel both to incorporate into specific campaigns and to use for everyday fundraising.
How is it commonly used?
One of the first times that text-to-give came to the public’s attention was during the Red Cross’ Haiti earthquake relief fund campaign in 2010. The disaster left millions of people in dire need, so the Red Cross needed an efficient way to administer aid.
The campaign managed to raise nearly 500 million dollars, suggesting that text-to-give can be a highly effective channel for raising a lot of money, and fast.
Nonprofits are still using text-to-give during disaster relief efforts and other flash fundraising campaigns.
Another good example would be giving days, like #GivingTuesday, during which nonprofits are trying to reach a fundraising goal in just 24 hours.
The success of campaigns like these would be limited without the help of a tool like text-to-give.
Since donors will have so little time to submit their donations, it’s especially important that they can give on the go during flash campaigns. They have to be able to stop what they’re doing and give now, or else there’s a slim chance they’ll be able to make a donation to your campaign.
With text-to-give, donors can simply take out their phones and send a text message, like they do every day!
During Weekly Church Service
While nonprofits often use text-to-give for specific campaigns, many churches use it weekly!
Now, more and more churches are using text-to-tithe as an alternative to passing around a collection plate during their weekly church services.
Instead, congregants can make an offering right from their phones!
Text-to-tithe can really come in handy for churches and help them raise more.
Fewer people are carrying around cash these days, so using text-to-tithe to process donations enables more members of the congregation to contribute.
If your church is considering a text-to-tithe tool, check out this resource to help you narrow in on the perfect tool for you!
The takeaway: Because it meets donors where they are, text-to-give can help nonprofits and churches quickly raise a lot of funds in a range of scenarios, from those as urgent as disaster relief to those as general as day-to-day fundraising.
2. Online donation forms.
What is it?
The rate of online giving continues to grow from year to year. In the past year alone, there’s been nearly a 10% increase in online donations.
That means that the ability to accept online donations is now a necessary staple of any nonprofit or church fundraising strategy.
To accept online donations, organizations and churches must turn to online giving software.
This type of software is often built into nonprofit CRMs and allows organizations to generate customizable online donation forms that they can integrate into their websites to accept donations.
The ability to give online makes donating more convenient for many donors, which results in more donations.
Instead of having to take the time to write and mail in a check, they can hop onto their computers and submit their donations by filling out a simple form.
How is it commonly used?
Everyday fundraising and fundraising campaigns
Luckily, online donations forms can be used for almost any type of fundraising!
Nonprofits and churches everywhere have started using online giving in addition to direct mail fundraising to process general donations and those for specific campaigns.
With online giving software, your organization can generate multiple, campaign-branded forms and place them on your website. That way, it’s easy to distinguish between the needs of multiple campaigns and accept donations for each.
Or, consequently, many donation forms will allow you to include a field where donors can choose which campaign or project their gifts would be allocated to. That way, you can accept donations for all of your campaigns without having to build multiple forms.
The same goes for churches. Online tithing is the perfect opportunity for those who might have missed this week’s service to make an offering later!
The ability to give online provides donors with more choices on a number of levels; they’ll have both multiple giving channels and multiple campaigns to choose from.
When your donors can choose their own involvement based on their passions and preferences, the donations will skyrocket!
Online donation forms aren’t just great for processing standard donations. They can also be used to facilitate more specialized online transactions, too.
Using the form-building capabilities included in your online giving software, your organization can create a variety of customized forms for all of your fundraising needs.
For example, here are some common types of webforms that nonprofits use:
- Event registration and ticketing.
- Membership subscription and renewal.
- Individualized peer-to-peer donation forms.
- Online merchandise storefronts.
- And more!
The point is, your nonprofit or church can use online donation forms to process payments for nearly any type of fundraising to make giving more convenient in any scenario.
The takeaway: Online donation forms provide donors with an excellent alternative to direct mail giving. Your nonprofit or church can use them for fundraising of all shapes and sizes, standard or specialized.
3. Email donation buttons
What is it?
Email donation buttons are another way for donors to give to nonprofits and churches over mobile.
With mobile giving software, your organization can easily incorporate a donation button into the very body of your email. It’s essentially an online donation form right in your donors’ inboxes!
Submitting a donation through an email donation button is similar to submitting one through text-to-give. Donors simply have to click the button and confirm their donations by sending in a prewritten email.
About ⅓ of online donations come through email, and incorporating an email donation button into your emails will only result in more gifts from this channel.
That’s because the process is so simple. Donors won’t have to click out of their email and follow a rabbit hole of web pages to submit a donation; instead, they can do it without even leaving their inboxes!
How is it commonly used?
If your nonprofit or church is using email to make an ask for any of your fundraising campaigns, email buttons are the tool you need!
By using these buttons, following up on your email appeals will be more straightforward to donors.
Not only does having the “Donate Now!” button right there eliminate any possible confusion around how to donate, but donors will also be more inclined to follow through when they can give right there, right then.
You can also incorporate email donation buttons into your email newsletters (you know, in case any of your donors or congregants are feeling especially generous!).
However, use this tool strategically. You don’t want every email you send out to come across as a request for donations, or else you could tire out your donors.
The takeaway: Email donation buttons are a mobile giving method that allows donors to give right in their email inboxes, anytime, anywhere. As such, they’re perfectly suited to email appeals.
4. Mobile bidding
What is it?
One of the most specialized giving channels that has arisen in recent years is mobile bidding.
Mobile bidding is a new bidding method that nonprofits can use to help them run more profitable silent auctions.
During historical silent auctions, organizations had to use paper bid sheets to collect bids on their items. They would then have to manually determine winning bidders and process those winners’ payments by running their credit or debit cards through a third-party payment processing system that may or may not have integrated with their event planning software.
Mobile bidding has completely disrupted traditional silent auction payment processing.
By using this tool, silent auction participants can pre-register their payment information and place bids directly from their phones.
Winners are automatically charged, and their transactions filter into your event planning software, allowing your organization to better track results and gain deeper insights into your event fundraising.
Not to mention, your organization will see more donations with mobile bidding, since participants don’t have to handwrite their name and bidder number every time they wish to bid on one of your items.
Instead, they can bid directly from their phones, which they’re probably already using anyway!
How is it used?
As you’ve probably already guessed, mobile bidding is used for silent auctions!
Since this type of event relies on such a specialized form of fundraising, it warrants a specialized software that can address its particular format.
However, the functionality of mobile bidding software goes beyond the ability to accept bids on auction items. This software also includes other capabilities that can help you raise even more from your silent auctions.
For example, most mobile bidding software includes a donation portal where guests can make standard donations throughout the event. Many organizations use this feature to conduct live appeals, which are donation requests made during fundraising events.
Your organization can ask your audience to help you reach a fundraising goal before the auction’s end and then process donations directly from your mobile bidding software.
Most mobile bidding software also gives your organization the ability to sell fixed-price items (like raffle tickets or merchandise) that can help you further supplement the funds you raise from bidding.
Mobile bidding can make your event more efficient and lucrative. If your organization chances to be hosting a silent auction, you should definitely consider this option!
The takeaway: Mobile bidding is a new, specialized solution for processing payments during charity silent auctions. Not only does it help organizations raise more from the auction itself, but it also includes other functionalities that can help them increase event proceeds.
5. Mobile kiosks
What are they?
Mobile kiosks provide nonprofits with another way to accept donations on the go!
These tools are essentially portable tablets with a built-in card processor that allow organizations to accept donations on site.
As such, they’re well-suited to event fundraising (but more on that below!).
You can customize your kiosk to the needs of your organization and fundraising campaigns.
For example, you can design it to match the look and feel of your brand and also set multiple gift levels that tell donors exactly where their gifts are going. You can even create event registration forms, so guests can sign into your event!
In other words, you can basically bring your online donation form to life whenever you interact with donors in person.
What are they used for?
Mobile kiosks are easily portable, meaning they’re perfect for collecting donations on site whenever is needed.
As such, there’s no better place to use them than nonprofit and church fundraising events!
With mobile kiosks, making in-person donations will be much simpler for donors and congregants alike.
No longer will they have to wait in line for one of your staff or volunteers to register them for your event and swipe their credit cards.
With an intuitive process, donors and congregants can give using a kiosk in just a few minutes. Churches can especially benefit from using kiosks because they can be used in a variety of situations besides just accepting credit card tithes during sermons.
Live events, youth group parties, and angel festivals are all great opportunities for churches to use mobile kiosks. Since the process is quick, congregants can give on impulse or when they’re feeling generous, which means that they can get back to participating in your event.
Since there are so many ways you can use a giving kiosk, you should look for one that is portable so that you and your team don’t have to carry around a bulky or complicated device. Additionally, look for a kiosk the makes the giving process fun or enjoyable. This will help separate giving from other credit card transactions, making the experience memorable.
Whether you’re a church or nonprofit, if you want to use mobile kiosks for your event, make sure to let guests know in advance that they can give via credit card. Additionally, have signs that illustrate the steps on how to use the device.
Instead, they can quickly run the transaction for themselves! And, as we’ve touched on before, the more convenient giving is, the more likely your donors are to do it.
This setup allows your organization to process a bulk of in-person donations much more efficiently, since you can do it online and don’t have to worry about a complicated setup for taking payments.
Mobile kiosks are just one of the ways that you can collect donations at your fundraising events (text-to-give and mobile bidding are also popular options), but for the right organizations, they’re another excellent way to disrupt traditional, physical payment processing.
The takeaway: Organizations use mobile kiosks to process on-site donations, especially during fundraising events. These devices make giving simpler and more convenient for attendees and your staff, helping your event run more smoothly!
These are just a few of the many ways your nonprofit can utilize technology to disrupt traditional payment processing.
We hope that you’re able to adopt some of these tools to see improved fundraising results and more efficient operations for yourself.
For more payment processing advice, check out the following additional resources:
Credit Card and ACH Fraud. Learn how your organization or church can detect and avoid fraud. That way, more of the funds you raise can go toward your cause.
Credit Card Processing Guide. Brush up on the basics of credit card processing with this complete guide.
Payment Processing Rates. Not every payment process will charge the same free. Learn about the costs of payment processing with this article.