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Nonprofit Payment Processing Buyer's Guide


Nonprofit Payment Processing | The Buyer's Guide for 2020

A payment processor is a company that manages card transactions between a merchant and a customer. In the nonprofit world, this refers to a charitable organization and its donors. Every nonprofit professional should understand their payment processing system, especially because they rely on donations from their supporters.

Most payment processing systems, like those used by for-profit organizations, say they can work for your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. However, these general payment processors are probably not meeting your nonprofit’s unique needs, whether that’s recording the right donor data, handling recurring gifts, or sharing information with your nonprofit’s CRM.

With a dedicated payment processor designed specifically for nonprofits, you can leverage this tool to help you increase fundraising and better manage your donor data.

Our team at iATS Payments wrote this guide to go over the basics of nonprofit payment processing in order to help fundraisers like you better understand what’s going on behind the scenes. In this guide, we’ll also review a list of tools that might meet your nonprofit’s unique needs:

  • Credit Card Processing for Nonprofits: The Basics
  • Nonprofit Donation Processing Tools
  • iATS Payments: Payment Processing Dedicated to Nonprofits

Ready to start truly understanding what is exactly going on with your donors financial information? Let’s get started.

Check out our guide to learn about nonprofit payment processing and find the best tools for you.

Review the basics for nonprofit payment processing here!

Credit Card Processing for Nonprofits: The Basics

With the rising prevalence of online donations, it’s important that your donors’ financial information is kept safe and processed efficiently. If you don’t consider it necessary to invest in a high-quality and capable payment processor, think about all the ways your nonprofit might receive money, and what would happen if that was compromised. This includes gifts received, merchandise sold, event tickets purchased, and membership fees collected.

To get a better sense of how payment processing works, especially for nonprofits, let’s review some key terms:

  1. VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN helps ensure that your internet connection is secure for payment processing. Using data encryption, VPNs help prevent fraudulent payments and unauthorized users.
  2. Payment Gateway. When a transaction is made, the donor’s card information goes through the payment processor’s payment gateway. This is a fraud prevention method and protects donors’ information throughout the entire process until it reaches the merchant account.
  3. Merchant Account. This is the account where the nonprofit accepts and holds all donations from debit or credit cards. This is set up between a nonprofit and a merchant-acquiring bank and usually has a small fee taken for each transaction put into the account.
  4. Third-Party Processor. This is a payment processor that helps nonprofits accept online funds without having to create their own merchant account. This processor doesn’t partner with a bank and instead gives the nonprofit access to the processor’s merchant account.
  5. Aggregator. This is a larger company that processes transactions for many other companies or nonprofit organizations. The funds go to the aggregator’s account with other organizations and companies. From there, the merchant is paid out, sometimes only once a month. A good example of this is PayPal. Aggregators are simple to work with but won’t offer much nonprofit-specific support compared to a nonprofit-dedicated processor.
  6. ACH (Automated Clearing House). ACH is responsible for the electronic fund transfers between banks and merchant accounts. These usually take 72 hours to be completed. To increase online donations, your nonprofit payment processor should be able to accept credit card and ACH direct debit payments.

There are many payment processors out there, some that only work with for-profit organizations and some that also work with nonprofits. However, to really maximize fundraising success and feel complete trust in your nonprofit’s financial processes, consider investing in a payment processor that was built specifically to serve nonprofit clients.

For one thing, larger aggregators are likely to have so many clients to cater to that they won’t understand or hear out the unique challenges that your nonprofit faces.

Additionally, with a payment processor dedicated to nonprofit organizations, you might also have access to other fundraising related perks like branded online donation forms and integrations with your constituent relationship management (CRM) system.

Check out our list of nonprofit donation processing tools.

Nonprofit Donation Processing Tools: Find The Best One For You

Many nonprofit donation processing tools depend on iATS as their payment processor, the only payment provider designed exclusively for nonprofits. Our incredible network of partners uses our unique features to offer meaningful tools for nonprofits to engage with supporters.

Before talking more about the iATS Payments platform specifically, let’s review a couple of our nonprofit fundraising software partners.

Each of these donation processing tools can help meet a unique need your nonprofit may have and uses our trusted payment processor that’s custom-built for nonprofits.

Learn about how OneCause, a top mobile bidding app, uses nonprofit payment processing.

Mobile Bidding Software | OneCause

Overview of This Mobile Bidding Software

OneCause is a comprehensive fundraising software that is trusted by over 5,000 nonprofits. First starting as a solution for charitable event giving with “BidPal,” OneCause has since grown to help nonprofits of any size undergo many campaigns and supplement existing efforts.

With OneCause, your nonprofit can easily facilitate online giving with branded giving pages and customized forms, as well as help you plan events and sell event tickets. If you want a solution that will not only help you increase fundraising but also empower your supporters, consider investing in OneCause.

OneCause’s Top Features

If your nonprofit hosts multiple charity auctions, OneCause has unique tools that can elevate the experience and streamline planning. OneCause offers Mobile Bidding and Auction software that can:

  • Help you manage silent auctions, live auctions, and online auctions.
  • Seamlessly capture guest info.
  • Securely process credit cards during check out.
  • Empower attendees with bids on their mobile phones.
  • Provide instantaneous checkout and automated receipts.

Take advantage of these top features and securely process gifts with OneCause!

MaestroSoft, an event management tool, also depends on nonprofit donation processing.

Nonprofit Software For Event Management | MaestroSoft

Overview of This Event Management Software

MaestroSoft is a suite of event management solutions for nonprofit organizations. Many nonprofit organizations plan events each year, whether it’s an in-person live auction or an online fundraising campaign.

With MaestroSoft, your nonprofit can facilitate online registration, event payments, and even mobile bidding. Let your guests buy items on the spot and provide a smooth check-out process. Your team can manage and plan all of your events remotely and get a comprehensive look at all your processes with access to 280+ progress and analytics reports.

MaestroSoft’s Top Features

If you’ve decided to invest in MaestroSoft to aid in your future event planning, you’ll have access to these top features:

  • Track and manage your event guests’ important details!
  • Stay on top of your event’s budget by recording all of your expenses, keeping track of payment dates, and instantly generating expense reports.
  • Organize your tables by tracking table purchases as well as managing table blocks and seating requests.

MaestroSoft gives you extensive tools to help supplement your event planning and process all necessary transactions.

If your nonprofit hosts auctions, Auction & Event Solutions is a great tool and uses a trusted online payment system for nonprofits.

Auction Nonprofit Software | Auction & Event Solutions

Overview of This Auction Software

For over 30 years Auction & Event Solutions (AES) has been helping nonprofits streamline auction and event management. AES was built for nonprofits and works to improve the event experience for guests, staff, sponsors, and volunteers.

Additionally, if your nonprofit depends on auctions for your fundraising efforts, it helps to invest in software that specializes in auction planning.

Auction & Event Solutions’ Top Features

AES offers your guests elevated tools and multiple options to improve the entire bidding and auction experience:

  • Mobile bidding allows your attendees to bid and give from the comforts of their phones.
  • Paper bidding is also supported by AES. Let guests use paper bidding for silent auctions, live auctions, raffles, and more!
  • DIY solutions customized to your event might be what your nonprofit needs the most. AES provides software, training, and even one-on-one support.

Consider investing in AES and start increasing fundraising today.

Azily Solutions uses a trusted nonprofit payment processor for its school food service tool.

School Food Service Management | Azily Solutions

Overview of This School Food Service Management Software

Though not a nonprofit tool, Azily Solutions offers an easy to use school-meal and foodservice software called Freedom Cafe.

Many schools often don’t have enough time or money to prioritize their food service. However, Freedom Cafe provides easy to use point of sale and admin software that was made with direct input from actual school lunch staff. This way, you know it’s meeting your staff’s unique needs.

Azily Solutions Top Features

With Azily Solutions’ Freedom Cafe, your school can easily:

  • Manage students, accounts, and reports from a centralized software solution.
  • Sell school lunches easily and efficiently with their point of sale system.
  • Process applications in an efficient manner. This can be extremely helpful for students who are on free or reduced lunch.

Your students’ school lunches play a big part in their performance and overall health. Ensure you can provide this service in a seamless and management way with Freedom Cafe

CiviCRM, a donor management tool, can also handle credit card processing for nonprofits.

Nonprofit Software for Donor Management | CiviCRM

Overview of This Donor Management Software

CiviCRM is a constituent relationship management software that allows many organizations to easily store and manage their donor data. Working seamlessly across different platforms and devices, CiviCRM can automatically create profiles for each of your contacts and let you manage these contacts from one place.

CiviCRM’s Top Features

CiviCRM is best known for its open source license. This means that CiviCRM is:

  • Free for anyone to download.
  • Completely configurable and customizable to reflect your specific organization’s brand. You can try and tailor the code yourself or find a programmer to help you with this process.

CiviCRM, as a leading open source CRM, is reliable and easy to use by anyone.

cloudStack can help with Salesforce implementation and depends on a nonprofit payment processor.

Software for Salesforce Implementation | cloudStack Services

Overview of This Salesforce Implementation Software

cloudStack Services is a Salesforce certified software. It acts as a virtual helper to nonprofits and other organizations implementing Salesforce into their systems. cloudStack Services develops solutions for the Salesforce platform, whether it’s in Sales, Service, Marketing, or the Community Clouds.

cloudStack Services builds out solutions that are customized to your needs and organization during the Salesforce implementation process. Better handle your Salesforce implementation and gain meaningful guidance for your nonprofit’s internal processes.

cloudStack’s Top Features

cloudStack helps many nonprofit organizations perfect the Salesforce implementation process with:

  • Custom development to configure Salesforce to match your organization’s specific processes and requirements.
  • Data migration help. Easily extract, translate, and clean up your data and migrate it to Salesforce with cloudStack Service’s help.
  • Complete Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack implementation.

Salesforce is used by many organizations, so learn how you can best take advantage of it with cloudStack Services.

If you use Salesforce, learn why Brickwork by iATS Payments might be right for you.


DonationPay is a top solution for its nonprofit donation processing.

Software for Custom Donation Pages | DonationPay

Overview of This Custom Donation Pages Software

DonationPay is not only a comprehensive fundraising solution but also very affordable for nonprofits. With DonationPay, you can increase your fundraising efforts with its user-friendly and quick donation process.

Many nonprofit organizations have benefitted from DonationPay and improved their overall fundraising process with its real-time updates and leading customer service.

DonationPay’s Top Features

DonationPay works to support all fundraising campaigns and any organization with its highly customizable donation pages. For instance, you can configure these pages for:

  • General online donations
  • Event registrations
  • Church fundraising tithes
  • Membership program dues
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns

Having a customized donation page for each of your fundraising efforts improves the donor experience and also ensures that you get all the necessary information you need.

Semper IT can help with workflow optimization and also nonprofit donation processing.

Nonprofit Software for Workflow Optimization | Semper IT

Overview of This Workflow Optimization Software

Semper IT is a company that focuses on IT services for Canadian nonprofit organizations. If your organization relies on either Drupal as your CMS or CiviCRM as your CRM, Semper IT will help you optimize your workflow and build their mission. With nearly 24/7 support, working with Semper IT is always there for you.

Semper IT Top Features

If you think Semper IT is able to meet your unique needs, you can take advantage of these services:

  • Consulting and custom development of Drupal websites and the CiviCRM
  • Data migration to get your data into your new CRM.
  • Semper IT staff will work to troubleshoot if you have any issues.

Semper IT is a niche product, but if your organization fits the mold you can benefit highly!

Sumac can handle pledge management with its secure nonprofit donation processing.

Nonprofit Software For Pledge Management | Sumac

Overview of This Pledge Management Software

Sumac is a leading solution for nonprofits getting a better grip on their fundraising processes. All within just its Basic CRM package, Sumac lets you manage your contacts, process payments, improve your email marketing, and manage your donations.

From there, you can add-on other features to make your CRM even more comprehensive and customized to your specific needs.

Sumac’s Top Features

One of the top add-on features to Sumac’s Basic CRM is its Pledge Management feature:

  • Eliminate the work of entering payment information over and over again.
  • Automate the payment process for recurring donations or pledges.
  • Track irregular pledges and prevent lapsed pledges.
  • Accept pledges right on your website.

If your nonprofit processes more than 10 pledges a month, consider investing in Sumac.

myDropWizard uses a trusted online payment system for nonprofits and can help make sure your Drupal site is in peak condition.

Solution for Website Support | myDropWizard

Overview of This Website Support Solution

If your nonprofit organization depends on Drupal as its CMS, myDropWizard is here for 24/7 maintenance and support. myDropWizard is made up of Drupal experts to help you maintain your online site, keep it up-to-date, and regularly check for bugs!

By offering basic site maintenance, myDropWizard ensures your website is always in tip-top shape!

myDropWizard’s Top Features

myDropWizard works to make sure your Drupal site is always working at peak performance with:

  • Updating your Drupal modules.
  • Troubleshooting if the site goes down.
  • Debugging errors.
  • And more!

Maybe myDropWizard can help your nonprofit optimize its online presence.

Helping Habit is great for volunteer management and can also securely accept donations online.

Volunteer Management Platform for Nonprofits | Helping Habit

Overview of This Volunteer Management Software

Many nonprofits and volunteers can take advantage of Helping Habit to help organize their volunteer schedule. Once on the website, users can browse different volunteer opportunities based on their charitable interests and own schedule. Helping Habit can also process donations for you!

If you want to better manage your volunteers as well as attract more volunteers for future events, Helping Habit can help.

Helping Habit’s Top Features

As a nonprofit, you too can use Helping Habit and post your volunteer opportunities for users to easily browse through:

  • Filter by one-time or ongoing events.
  • Easily promote your cause as volunteers are encouraged to share their experience on social media.
  • Meet people who are excited to help and want to volunteer.

If you host many volunteer opportunities, Helping Hand can help promote each event and organize your volunteers from an online platform.

Grassroots Unwired is great for advocacy management and nonprofit donation processing.

Solution for Advocacy Management | Grassroots Unwired

Overview of This Advocacy Management Software

With Grassroots Unwired, any nonprofit or political advocacy organization can create a successful advocacy campaign based on messaging or fundraising. Focusing its efforts on in person or event-based fundraising and advocacy, Grassroots Unwired helps you engage your constituents as well as process online donations and manage events.

Grassroots Unwired’s Top Features

If you’re starting an advocacy campaign for your nonprofit’s cause, consider investing in Grassroots Unwired to help:

  • Facilitate face-to-face fundraising for advocacy efforts.
  • Political canvassing with its canvassing mobile app. This way people can access information from wherever they are as well as easily collect signatures and collect donations.

Increase in-person advocacy efforts with Grassroots Unwired!

Take advantage of Auction Frogs secure nonprofit payment processor.

Nonprofit Software for Web-based Fundraising | Auction Frogs

Overview of This Web-based Fundraising Software

Handle all of your online fundraising needs with Auction Frogs. With Auction Frogs, your nonprofit can effectively plan online auctions, engage gala event guests digitally, offer mobile bidding, and even facilitate crowdfunding. Quickly process donations and bids for all these tools and streamline the entire fundraising process while also increasing revenue.

Auction Frogs’s Top Features

If your organization depends on Auction Frogs for fundraising, you can take advantage of:

  • Facilitating an online auction. Offer standard bidding, encourage bid wars, and provide auto-bidding.
  • Crowdfunding tools with a customized website, social media integration, and more!

Optimize and elevate your online fundraising with Auction Frogs’s tools.

Use Ski Club Pro for its online nonprofit payment system and team management software.

Team Management Software | Ski Club Pro

Overview of This Team Management Software

Ski Club Pro is focused on helping ski and snowboard clubs manage their members. Ski Club Pro strives to bring you an affordable solution made specifically to help streamline registrations, manage rosters, and process medical releases. Created by former ski racers and professionals, Ski Club Pro can help your organization raise money and inspire athletes.

Ski Club Pro’s Top Features

By just investing in the basic Ski Club Pro package, you have access to:

  • Program registration for your various sessions.
  • Medical releases for members.
  • Realtime rosters.
  • Team evaluations to learn more about progress.

Take your snow sports team to the next level with Ski Club Pro.

Davos can provide solutions to help grow your audience with capable fundraising software and a nonprofit payment system.

Software to Grow Your Audience Online | Davos

Overview of this Online Audience Growth Software

Davos is an easy-to-use online fundraising platform that is a great solution for small-to-medium sized charities in Canada. Davos understands that nonprofits thrive on positive relationships so it provides professionals with tools to build long-lasting relationships.

Davos’ Top Features

With Davos as your dependable online fundraising solution, you can:

  • Create comprehensive donor profiles.
  • Build fundraising campaigns easily with templates and then further customize to your nonprofit.
  • View a charity dashboard to track engagements.

Develop your online relationships and grow your audience effectively with Davos.

Check out iATS Payments, a payment processor dedicated to nonprofits like you.

Learn more about iATS Payments, a dedicated payment processor for nonprofits.

iATS Payments: Payment Processing Dedicated to Nonprofits

iATS Payments is a solution that many nonprofits and related fundraising tools take advantage of to securely process payments. With over 20 years of experience, iATS Payments is the only payment processor exclusively made for nonprofits and understands this sector's unique needs.

Never worry about your fundraising efforts with these iATS Payments features:

Credit Card Processing

iATS Payments accepts most major credit cards, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, working to cover all our bases. There are no hardware or software requirements, you immediately have access to customized fraud prevention tools, and there’s 24/7 online reporting.

Direct Debit & ACH

With ACH processing, iATS Payments can receive donations directly from a donor’s bank account. This way, you increase fundraising channels in a safe and secure manner. Take advantage of the full refund capability and easily setup and manage one-time and recurring payment programs.

International Processing

iATS Payments can even accept payments from international countries. You can receive gifts from over 40 countries and easily process foreign currencies with minimal hassle.

Security Solutions

iATS Payments’ first priority is your donors’ financial information. We at iATS invested in multiple security products to help keep your donors and their gifts safe. For instance:

  • Tokenization & Encryption. This is when card information is hidden as it goes through the payment process. iATS Payment offers advance tokenization and encryption process to protect data at no cost.
  • PCI Compliance Assistance. iATS is Level 1 PCI Compliant and can help you learn more about this. The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) are guidelines created by credit card companies to ensure all businesses meet security standards. If your software processes payments you need to ensure it meets PCI Compliance.
  • Fraud Protection Tools. iATS Payments offers additional fraud protection tools to protect your organization and donors’ information. These tools can be customized to your nonprofit so you only invest in what you need.

In addition to simply helping nonprofits process donations and other funds they receive, we at iATS Payments also offer our own solutions that can help elevate and optimize your fundraising efforts:

Aura by iATS

Aura by iATS is our online donation form which makes accepting online gifts easy and quick. With Aura, you can create as many forms for your website as you need. Customize it to your campaign and accept donations from one-time to recurring credit card and ACH donations.

Take a look at these top Aura by iATS features:

  • Brand form to website and organization
  • Embed form in the main website
  • No set-up fee
  • 24/7 reporting

With Aura by iATS, make online giving easy and keep donors on your website for future engagement. Click here to learn more about Aura by iATS.

Brickwork by iATS

If your nonprofit organization also depends on Salesforce, a leading industry CRM system, consider looking into Brickwork by iATS! Brickwork by iATS is our Salesforce payment app and is ideal for nonprofits who use the Nonprofit Success Pack and the Salesforce CRM. With Brickwork by iATS, easily process credit and direct debit payments from your website’s online donation or through Brickwork by iATS’ virtual terminal.

With Brickwork by iATS, you can:

  • Seamlessly integrate with your Salesforce CRM and the Nonprofit Success Pack
  • Download it for free from the Salesforce AppExchange
  • Use Aura by iATS to create online donation pages
  • Accept all donation types (one-time, recurring, ACH)

Minimize manual data entry and streamline processes and procedures for your nonprofit’s fundraising. Click here to learn more here about Brickwork by iATS.

If you use Salesforce, learn why Brickwork by iATS might be right for you.

Additional Payment Processing Resources for Nonprofits

If you want to learn more about payment processing for nonprofits and the best way to accept donations online, check out these additional resources our team at iATS Payments put together:

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