Partner-First Makes a Difference: A Case Study

Partnering with iATS helps mobile canvassing organization put more money into the hands of nonprofit clients.

The organization, Grassroots Unwired, puts mobile-first technology in the hands of nonprofits bridging historical canvassing with groundbreaking technology. Early on though, it quickly became clear to the founders that Grassroots Unwired would deed to integrate donations into the existing technology. How could they do this when canvassers are on the street with unreliable connectivity and need to collect credit card information quickly and easily? 



After a lot of searching, Russ Oster, Founder and CEO of Grassroots Unwired found a payment processor who could integrate with a card reader offline, but the relationship was less than ideal. The on-boarding process for nonprofits working with Grassroots Unwired was clunky. Customer support and responsiveness was a constant frustration and the organization never felt they were a priority with their chosen payment processor. 

Thankfully, Russ and his team met iATS Payments at a nonprofit trade show in 2018. It was a major turning point for Grassroots Unwired.  



Initially, Russ was skeptical. He’d heard before about payment processors who promised the moon but when it came time to implement, couldn’t deliver. It only took a few conversations with iATS, to prove they were the real deal. “iATS gave us everything we needed from the start. They were a great match for us,” said Russ. “We had a successful integration and a big part of that success was iATS knowing and understanding nonprofits in a way that big payment processors just can’t compare.” 

What Grassroots Unwired needed was a turnkey partnership so that all of the nonprofits using their platform would have an easy onboarding experience. iATS delivered exactly that. Often, nonprofits have existing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or are with another payment processor and want to switch. iATS takes the time to work with these nonprofits and find the best way to integrate with their existing systems. The onus isn’t on the nonprofit to change what is working for them. “Whenever we can bend over backwards so that it’s easy and not too disruptive for our nonprofits, we are willing to do that,” said Russ. “Thankfully, iATS shares this sentiment and they’ve customized software solutions with their in-house development team to support new clients of ours.” 

For example, Grassroots Unwired has several nonprofits who have fundraising events once a year, such as a walk or run. These nonprofits rely on these commonly one-day events to do all of their fundraising. These nonprofits don’t want to pay year-long subscription fees for payment processing. Once Grassroots Unwired raised this issue with iATS, the team at iATS created a blanket policy so that, in certain cases, the nonprofits with once-a-year events can pause their account, only paying when they use the service. “It’s this level of service that shows iATS understands nonprofits and has built their system for their specific needs,” said Russ.



The biggest benefit of working with iATS for Grassroots Unwired has been not having to triage payment processing. Clients aren’t raising concerns about payments anymore, like they used to with their previous payment processor. “It’s such a win for us to not have to discuss payment processing with our clients,” said Russ. “We aren’t experts in payments and with iATS as a partner, we don’t have to be. We know it just works and our nonprofits get the money in the bank.”   

The partnership between Grassroots Unwired and iATS has helped a lot of nonprofits, significantly improve their ability to fundraise. One example is a nonprofit with an annual run/walk in Central Park in New York City. Before using Grassroots Unwired with iATS, they raised $4,000 on their single-day event, and that was without accepting donations by credit card onsite in the park. After switching to the platform with iATS Payments, allowing easy credit card processing and offline capabilities, the nonprofit raised $14,000 the following year at the same event. 

“I can’t emphasize enough the level of frustration with previous payment processing partners,” said Russ. “Thankfully, with iATS, there’s no reason to think we’ll ever experience that again.

“iATS is a dream partner to work with.”