The BEST Online Payment Processing for Nonprofits: Our Top 18 Picks

Website & Technology September 22, 2022

Sonia Urlando

By Sonia Urlando

The BEST Online Payment Processing for Nonprofits: Our Top 18 Picks

 

If you want to collect donations online (and you do!), you’re going to need an online payment processor. Payment processors are a key piece of setting up your online payment services. After all, you need to be able to deposit the money you’re getting!

 

A quick Google search will show you countless options for the best online payment processing for nonprofits—but how do you know which is actually BEST?

 

We’ll help you make the right pick! Keep reading to get everything from features to look for, answers to FAQs and our top 18 picks for you to choose from! 

Why do you need to think about payment processing for nonprofits?

So you plan your fundraising campaign, you execute it like a champ, you blast through your goals… and then what?

 

That’s when your payment processor comes into play! Nonprofit payment processors are a backend tool that moves the money from your donors’ bank accounts straight to yours. This is often called the “merchant account.”

 

Where you would collect and deposit checks by hand in the old days, payment processors now handle those valuable online donations. Whether donors are paying by debit or credit card, the money gets right to you!

 

Using a payment processor as a middleman helps you:

 

  • Deposit online donations

  • Collect membership dues

  • Sell merch and event tickets

 

The best nonprofit payment processor makes this process simple and secure. Better yet, it builds trust in your relationships with donors!

How do nonprofits accept payments?

Nonprofits accept payments through a secure online donation form which is connected to a payment processor.

 

From there, people can pay with:


  • Credit cards: Donors simply type in the card number and the money zips over through a credit card network. This type of payment processing usually costs a fixed rate plus a percentage of each transaction.

  • ACH (“Automatic Clearing House”): Also known as “direct payments,” ACH processing moves the money directly from a donor’s debit bank account. Think of it as an electronic check! Because it cuts out the credit card verification process, it usually charges you a flat fee.

 

Be sure to have BOTH options available to your donors. That way, anyone can donate any time!

What's the difference between an online donation tool and a payment processor?

An online payment processor moves donations from donors’ bank accounts into yours. Online donation tools have a wider variety of uses!

 

An online donation tool supports multiple aspects of collecting donations, such as:

 

  • Gathering donor information (name, email, address, etc.)

  • Contacting donors

  • Running reports

 

Many of these tools already work with payment processors, so be sure you’re happy with the option they’re giving you before you sign up.

What features should my online payment processor have?

As you seek out the best nonprofit payment processor for your nonprofit, be sure that all of these features are included:

Security

If you’re collecting donations via credit card or ACH, you’re being trusted with peoples’ hard-earned money and personal information. The last thing you want to do is have that trust broken by a security breach!

 

The best payment processor for nonprofit security should:

 

  • Be PCI compliant. This is the baseline for safety when it comes to data security. PCI compliance comes in at four levels depending on how many yearly payments you process. Make sure your processor supports the compliance level you need!

  • Have fraud protection features. Fraud is a real issue when it comes to online transactions! Research your payment processor to see how extensive the fraud protection features are. For example, a payment gateway checks that donations aren’t coming from robots, and BIN (Bank Identification Checking) makes sure the donor bank accounts are legitimate.

  • Come with encryption. You know how spy movies will scramble and unscramble secret codes? That’s exactly what encryption does! Keep your donors’ data safe so only people with the online key can read it.

 

Safety is truly the number one concern of donors! While a funky donate page might turn off some of your donors, risky security features will stop ALL donations in their tracks.

Integrate with your site

A good payment processor should always integrate smoothly with your nonprofit donation website. Once it’s time for your donors to pay, the processor should look at home with your branding—think matching colors and fonts!

 

If the payment processor seems out of place, donors might worry that they’ve been redirected to somewhere risky. As we mentioned, people are rightfully afraid of security breaches. If your payment processing is integrated with your site, donors will feel safer completing their transaction.

Integrate with your fundraising tools

Donations don’t just go through your donation page! If you’re fundraising, chances are you’re using multiple fundraising tools to communicate with donors and market your campaign.

 

Make sure your nonprofit payment processing works for things like:

 

  • Text-to-donate software

  • Crowdfunding platforms

  • Ticketing software for events

 

Every avenue you use should be covered by your payment processor. This will make it easy to calculate your online donations in one place.

Integrate with your donor CRM

Your nonprofit’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is what helps you foster donor stewardship. Fundraising doesn’t end when you’ve hit your goals for a single campaign—the next step is growing donor relationships.

 

The ideal payment processor will help you gather donor information that can be entered into your CRM system. Even a simple name and an email address gives you a way to communicate moving forward.

 

When donors feel connected to your organization, they’re more likely to keep giving. Better yet, they’re more likely to set up recurring donations, or even volunteer!

User-friendly UX

From finding the donate page to inputting credit card information, every step of the giving process should be smooth and easy. If donating becomes frustrating, people are far less likely to follow through.

 

UX, or “user experience,” is exactly what it sounds like! If the experience of giving is seamless, your donors will focus on how good it felt to give rather than how tedious it was to donate.

Reporting

You shouldn’t have to hunt down the details of how much money you’ve raised. Payment processing for nonprofits should come with regular, easy-to-read reports that you can download with the click of a button.

 

We talk a lot about how giving should be easy for donors—but receiving should also be easy for you!

Scheduled or Recurring Payments

Recurring donations are essential to turning donations into a steadier stream of revenue. Your payment processor should be able to process recurring, pre-scheduled donations without any work on your part.

 

If people change their donations from one-time to monthly (woohoo!) then your processor should also be able to manage that change without a hitch!

Types of Payment Accepted

We already mentioned that you want to be able to accept payment both by ACH and credit card. Keep in mind there are a lot of different banks and credit card options out there!

 

Choose the nonprofit payment processor that allows you to collect donations from as many places as possible. You don’t want to miss out on donations on a technicality.

Customer Support

Look, technology is complicated. Sometimes things break, and sometimes supporters just aren’t super familiar with the internet.

 

Make sure your payment processor has real live people available in case of emergency. Whether it’s a phone number or a live chat box, your donors should be able to access support when they need it. An FAQ is great, but it doesn’t always cut it.

 

Good customer service from your payment processor is what will keep frustrated emails out of your inbox!

Donation receipts

Many people collect their donation receipts for tax reasons—especially if those donations are on the larger side. A huge part of payment processing for nonprofits is making sure the essentials go out without extra work on your part.

 

Check that your processor sends out those receipts right away so you don’t have to worry about it. This is an easy way to cross off a key step of donor management.

 

WildApricot is a donor management software which has exactly this feature built into its payment processing! Simple and secure, we’ve got you covered from the first click through the final report. Plus, our membership management software will take care of your donors after the transaction is made.

 

Sign up for your 30-day free trial to see for yourself!

18 Best Online Nonprofit Payment Processors

Now that you know the must-haves of online payment processing for nonprofits, here are the 18 BEST options we’ve found:

WildApricot — Best for All-in-One Donations, Events + Memberships

Wild Apricot logo

Hey there, it’s us! WildApricot Payments is considered one of the best alternatives to Paypal out there. It’s powered by AffiniPay, a credit card processing company specifically for associations.

 

WildApricot Payments was built SPECIFICALLY for nonprofit donations, and:

 

  • Is fully PCI Compliant

  • Has unlimited free support from our in-house team

  • Comes with one-click checkouts with no redirects

  • Transfers payments directly to your bank account within 48 hours

 

WildApricot Payments is priced at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, with zero set up or monthly fees.

 

If you like how we manage payments, just wait until you see what we can do for membership management. WildApricot can help you set up your website, build your donor database, communicate with donors and more!

 

Sign up for a free 30-day trial to test it out for yourself.

MemberClicks — Best for Small Staff Associations with Events

MemberClicks logo

MemberClicks is a membership management platform with the go-to processor for small staff associations. 

 

Rates: $16.95/month

GTR — Best for Event Registrations

GTR logo

 

GTR will be your best friend if your organization brings in most of its money through in-person, virtual and hybrid event registrations.

 

Contact for pricing options.

Square — Best for On-Site Payments

 

Square logo

Square is an easy to set up processor that allows you to accept donations online, in-person, through a payment link or with social media buttons.

 

In-person rates: 2.6% + $0.10

Online rates: 2.9% + $0.30

Key-in rates (for over the phone!): 3.5% + $0.15

Stripe — Best for Adding to Your Website

Stripe logo

Stripe payment processing for nonprofits supports credit card and ACH payments in over 135 different currencies across 47 countries.

 

Standard Rates: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
Registered Nonprofit Rates: 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction in the U.S.

ACH Direct Debit payments: 0.80% and up to $5 per transaction.

Paypal — Best for Getting Started Quick

Paypal logo

 

Paypal is one of the most well-known payment processors out there—though it does require donors to set up a Paypal account to donate.

 

Rates are 2.9% + $0.49 per transaction, but some 501(c)3 organizations can qualify for reduced rates.

CanadaHelps — Best for Canadian Charities

CanadaHelps logo

CanadaHelps provides in-depth fundraising tools for many charities across Canada.

 

Rates for one-time donations: 4%

Rates for monthly donations: 3.5%

 

Find a more detailed rate breakdown here.

Braintree — Best for Teams with Development Capabilities

 

Braintree logo

Braintree is a processor from Paypal which supports places like Uber, StubHub, Dropbox and more.

 

Rates: 2.59% + $.49 per transaction.

FaithLife Giving — Best for Church-Based Organizations

FaithLife logo

FaithLife Giving provides giving tools specifically for church-based organizations.

 

Credit/Debit Rates: 2.99% + $0.45

ACH/eCheck Rates: 1.0% + $0.45

CharityEngine — Best for Custom Donor CRM Plan

 

CharityEngine logo

CharityEngine is designed to take care of payment processing for nonprofits specifically, and comes with many online donation tools.

 

To get a quote, you can contact CharityEngine here.

Regpack — Best for Registration Management

Regpack logo

Regpack is a registration software for classes, camps, trainings and more!

 

Rates: $125/month per admin, 2.1% per transaction.

Authorize.net — Best for Hyped Up Security

 

Authorize.Net logo

Authorize.Net is a well-established payment processor owned by Visa. Its advanced fraud protection features are a must-have if security is your top priority!

 

Rates: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction along with a monthly fee of $25.

Fundly — Best for Quick Fundraisers

Fundly logo

Fundly is a crowdfunding platform that comes with built-in payment processing.

 

Rates: Platform fee of 4.9%, and then the credit card processing fee is 2.9% + $.30 per transaction.


Bloomerang — Best for Donor-Paid Transaction Fees

Bloomerang logo

Bloomerang accepts payment from all sorts of sources, and has a built-in tool to ask donors to cover transaction fees.

 

Credit and Debit Rates: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

ACH Rates: 1% + $0.30 per transaction.

Psst — Free and Cheap Online Payment Processing for Nonprofits

If you’re an up-and-coming nonprofit, it makes sense that you might not have the budget to splurge on a pricey payment processor! One key is to avoid those monthly fees.

 

Here are our favorite options for cheap or free payment processing for nonprofits:

 

Venmo — Best for Fledgling Organizations

Venmo logo

Venmo is the #1 most affordable option for payment processing for nonprofits. If you’re looking to get attention from a younger group of donors, you can set up a Charity Profile to use Venmo for nonprofits!

 

Rates: 1.9% + $0.10 transaction fee per donation received

iATS Payments — Best for Integrating into Your CRM

 

IATS logo

iATS Payments is an online payment processor that can be integrated with tons of nonprofit software companies.

 

Credit Card Rates: between 2.49% and 3.2%, depending on the card type.

ACH Rates: Flat fee of $0.26 per transaction.

 

No set up fees!

DonateKindly — Best for No-Fee Processing

 

DonateKindly logo

DonateKindly is a free donation form software used by places such as Habitat for Humanity and the Girl Scouts.

 

Rates: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

 

Snowball — Best for Mobile Donation Pages

 

Snowball logo

Snowball Fundraising is a donation software with advanced productivity tools, and specializes in features like text-to-give.

 

Rates: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

 

FAQ

Do nonprofits pay credit card processing fees?

Yes, nonprofits pay credit card processing fees. Depending on the payment processor and the credit card, these fees are usually between 2-3% per transaction.

 

Many nonprofits actually ask donors if they’d be willing to cover those fees! Include a note on your donation page about why these fees are there, and make the ask. Classly actually found that donors are willing to help out 55-60% of the time! 

What type of security should I look for?

The #1 thing is to make sure that your payment processor is PCI compliant. As we mentioned above, looking for things like encryption and fraud protections is also essential.

 

Some fraud protections include:

 

  • VPNs (virtual private networks)

  • Payment gateways

  • IP Blocking

 

Again, a bunch of these are detailed in PCI compliance requirements—if your processor says it’s PCI-compliant at the level you need, you’re set!

What is payment fraud?

Payment fraud is when someone steals a person’s private information (such as their credit card number) and uses it for false or illegal transactions. This can be done through hacking, or simply by tricking somebody.

 

You know those suspicious texts from strangers claiming to be the IRS? That’s an example of a scam where someone’s trying to commit payment fraud!

Can CashApp be used for nonprofits?

Yes, nonprofits can use CashApp. However, there’s not a huge benefit beyond how quick it is to accept transactions through your business account. 

 

Since CashApp is used for quick transactions between peers, it won’t help with things like collecting donor information or sending out receipts. Plus, donations aren’t tax deductible.

Can nonprofits take Venmo?

Yes, nonprofits can take Venmo! Scroll up for some more details on what that looks like.

Is Venmo free for nonprofits?

Venmo is not free for nonprofits, but it’s very affordable. There are no processing fees for receiving donations for the first 30 days. After that, Venmo charges a 1.9% + $0.10 fee to receive funds.

If you’re just starting up and looking to save costs, Venmo could be the way to go!

Is CashApp or Venmo better for nonprofits?

If you’re trying to decide between CashApp and Venmo for nonprofits, Venmo is probably the way to go. It’s familiar to lots of people, is backed by Paypal and now has a Charity Profile option to offer additional support.

Is Paypal or Venmo better for nonprofits?

Using Paypal for nonprofits is a trusted way to go. It’s well-established and offers detailed reports, but it also asks donors to create a profile before giving. While plenty of people have these accounts, it could be a turn-off for new donors!

 

Venmo, on the other hand, is great for fast, small transactions. It’s great for reaching younger donors, but is generally used more often for small transactions between peers.

 

Choose the online payment processor that fits the kind of donations you expect you’ll be receiving!

Can Zelle be used for non profits?

Zelle is used for donations to the American Red Cross, but is currently not recommended for nonprofits. The Wells Fargo website says: “For your protection, Zelle® should only be used for sending money to friends, family, or others you trust.”

 

Best use a different processor for now!

 

Using the Best Nonprofit Payment Processor

While setting up nonprofit payment processing is necessary, it doesn’t have to be scary! Working with the right online processor is what will bring your donation goals into reality. Explore your options, and remember to choose what’s right for YOUR organization.

All that’s left is to get started!

 

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