5 Minutes to Online Donations

October 20, 2008

Posted in Fundraising and Technology.

I’m embarrassed to admit that Camp Fire doesn’t take online donations. In preparation for an appeal letter, I decided to buckle down and set it up. I’m going to use PayPal because we already have a PayPal account and it’s a quick way to take online donations without a lot of hassle.

How to Accept Online Donations

1. Sign up for a PayPal account, or sign in if you have one.

2. Go get a donation button:

Generate a button using their button wizard or grab the code and modify it manually.

3. Place it on your website. I created a donate now page I can use (and continually tweak) as a landing page. I also added it to the homepage and sidebar of our website so it was available from anywhere.

4. Options (beyond 5 minutes): I also took advantage of the custom thanks and cancellation page options to set up thank you messages and direct any abandoned donations back to our site. I wanted these to be in my control, not left to a generic message from PayPal.

5. Add conversion goals to your Google Analytics account. You do have analytics, right? Set one goal for getting people to your donate page and another goal for having them visit your thanks page (because they actually donated).

PayPal vs. Other Options

In the future, I’ll look to streamlining the process and moving as much of the form into my own site. I’ll let someone else continue to handle the transaction – I don’t want to store or even see credit card numbers. But I want as much of the experience and layout in my control as possible.

I’ve also looked into other services like Network For Good but the fees are higher. There is a trade-off, though – more customization, reporting, and fundraising tools. As we develop our online giving and have some expectations on volume, I hope to move to something more powerful.

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