How to pick an online giving platform

ADAM RATLIFF
Media Director
The Fellowship Network

“If there was ever an opportunity to transition your church or organization to online donations, now is the time. Ministries around the world are struggling to maintain cash flow from supporters during the COVID-19 quarantine. Having a reliable and straightforward method of processing payments over the Internet can be the difference between staying open or not. Fortunately, there are hundreds of options at your disposal. Each payment processor does essentially the same thing: capture the donor’s debit/credit card information in a secure online form and pass the information to a payment processor. The differences between various vendors will come down to two things: 1 – The robustness of their feature set. 2 – The percentage fee on each transaction. Features will range from a basic payment form with an emailed receipt all the way to complicated donor management systems with user profiles and accounting tools. The percentage fee will fluctuate based on volume (larger ministries can often access lower rates) and the margin your vendor has chosen to add. Right now, the standard industry rate is 2.9%. Anything lower than that is a good deal; anything higher is less than ideal.” 

If there was ever an opportunity to transition your church or organization to online donations, now is the time. Ministries around the world are struggling to maintain cash flow from supporters during the COVID-19 quarantine. Having a reliable and straightforward method of processing payments over the Internet can be the difference between staying open or not.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of options at your disposal. Each payment processor does essentially the same thing: capture the donor’s debit/credit card information in a secure online form and pass the information to a payment processor. The differences between various vendors will come down to two things:

  1. The robustness of their feature set
  2. The percentage fee on each transaction

Features will range from a basic payment form with an emailed receipt all the way to complicated donor management systems with user profiles and accounting tools.

The percentage fee will fluctuate based on volume (larger ministries can often access lower rates) and the margin your vendor has chosen to add. Right now, the standard industry rate is 2.9%. Anything lower than that is a good deal; anything higher is less than ideal.

Do not be fooled – it is NOT possible to process payments from consumer debit/credit cards without transaction fees. The worldwide financial system is well-protected by thousands of security specialists, and every step of the process requires someone (usually a bank) to be paid. The only way a vendor cam free transactions is if the process is subsidized, which raises all kinds of red flags. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!

When it comes time to pick an online payment system, find a healthy balance of ease-of-installation and features. For example, one platform might be super-easy to implement but not offer all the bells and whistles you may desire down the road. Another vendor might be more full-featured but require an experienced web developer to deploy. Find the solution that matches not only your budget but your team’s skill set.

“To help you get started, here are three options that I have personally recommended. They range from very easy to very hard, but they are all reputable companies with a good track record of integrity and security.” 

To help you get started, here are three options that I have personally recommended. They range from very easy to very hard, but they are all reputable companies with a good track record of integrity and security.

PushPay has the best mobile experience in the industry. They are trusted by some of the biggest names in churches and non-profits and would be an excellent choice as your ministry grows. However, they are more expensive and offer features that you may or may not need at this time.Stripe is a commercial processing system used by vendors and e-commerce systems around the world. They offer a discount for non-profits, allowing you to access their world-class custom integration options. For advanced users only, requires an experienced website manager to integrate properly. If you are a church of less than 200 people or a non-profit that takes in less than $500,000 per year from fewer than 500 donors, I recommend Rebel Give. If you are a church of over 500 people or a church or non-profit with a large and young-leaning donor base, I recommend PushPay. If you are a church of over 1,000 people or a non-profit that is managing thousands of individual donors, a custom solution using Stripe (with the software support team to implement it) is likely the right fit. Please contact us here at The Fellowship if you have any questions. Our team is here to serve you!” _builder_version=”4.4.5″]

  • If you are a church of less than 200 people or a non-profit that takes in less than $500,000 per year from fewer than 500 donors, I recommend Rebel Give.
  • If you are a church of over 500 people or a church or non-profit with a large and young-leaning donor base, I recommend PushPay.
  • If you are a church of over 1,000 people or a non-profit that is managing thousands of individual donors, a custom solution using Stripe (with the software support team to implement it) is likely the right fit.

Please contact us here at The Fellowship if you have any questions. Our team is here to serve you!

Rebel Give

Entry-Level
$ 79 Monthly
  • RebelGive is Christian-owned by a company that makes software for a living. They are new to the market but robust in functionality and features. Their fees are low and their setup is easy. I would recommend this option as your first choice.

PushPay

Intermediate
$ 199 Monthly
  • PushPay has the best mobile experience in the industry. They are trusted by some of the biggest names in churches and non-profits and would be an excellent choice as your ministry grows. However, they are more expensive and offer features that you may or may not need at this time.

Stripe

Advanced
$ 0 Monthly
  • Stripe is a commercial processing system used by vendors and e-commerce systems around the world. They offer a discount for non-profits, allowing you to access their world-class custom integration options. For advanced users only, requires an experienced website manager to integrate properly.