Online donations are a critical element of any fundraising these days – at least that is the perception.  No charity can afford to be without the facility to receive online donations, but the question of how much money is actually raised here by individual organisations is difficult to fully comprehend.  That said, collectively there is big money going through these systems.  This explains why there are so many options now available to implement online donations.

I have written this blog in three sections, so click on the links if you want to jump ahead; major options for online donations – a quick guide to what they offerfee comparisons for online donations and recommendations for online donations.

Major options for online donations – a quick guide to what they offer

Some quick research shows it is not completely straight forward to make a comparison between all the options for online donations.  Is it a coincidence that barely any sites quoted a cost of donating based on the same amount (it was a donation of anything from $10 to $60 to $100 that is being used to demonstrate what fees are incurred), so it would be easy to compare?

I should preface my findings on the comparisons I was to able to make by saying, many of the larger charities will have implemented an integrated online donations system into their website. They will have built it in and negotiated directly with their bank. The initial setup will be absorbed in the cost of building a comprehensive website – so for them it is hard to know what if any ongoing fees are being charged for online donations. For the majority of charities, they can not afford the luxury of building this sort of website.

Here are the sites I have taken a look at; Shout for GoodGiveEasyGoFundraiseEveryday HeroMy CauseEgiveGiveNow and PayPal.  There may be others I have missed, but for the most part these are the major players.  So here is the lowdown on the players in the online donations market…

Shout For Good – this is the new player on the market. They have received a lot of media hype of late particularly if you were a fan of The Block.  They offer mobile online donations with the idea that you can donate small amounts by say sacrificing a cup of coffee.

GiveEasy – this has only been around for a short while and was built around its mobile phone app.  For donors, once you have the app downloaded it is very easy to nominate a charity and select an amount to give and choose from a variety of payment options.

GoFundraise – they have been around for a long time now. This is a platform which enables people to set up mini sites to raise money for their favourite charity.  So if you want to go in a fun run or do some crazy activity and tell your friends to support you, this enables it.  However you can simply use it as a tool to process online donations.

Everyday Hero – this is a direct competitor to GoFundraise.  Their offering at a base level is fairly similar.  The points of difference become more detailed for those in fundraising wanting all sort of reporting tools for example.

MyCause – This one boasts of having raised over $21M to date.  This tool will even allow people to create their own cause, so you can raise money to support a sick relative for example.  It also offers all the systems for online donations to charities.

eGive – this is a fully automated system which claims to offer many extra advantages to organisations with the likes of a client relationship management system.  The website is probably the least appealing of all of them and the information is not as straight forward to find, but it would appear they have a very competitive product.  That said, you do not go to their website to donate, their solution fits into your website, thought is not clear how this works.

GiveNow – this is who eGive believe is their greatest competition.  They claim to have raise over $34M to date and very boldly state they are commission free.  They are an off-shoot of Our Community.  However this tool does not allow you to integrate it into your website.  You must go to the GiveNow website.

PayPal – this well known payment option provider offers a simple solution for charities.  Donors do not need to have a PayPal account to use it.  Their biggest advantage is that they are a big business when it comes to payment gateways.  They have all the security and support system down.  This is just an extension of what they offer for businesses around the world.  The systems are easy to implement and add to your website.  In fact many web platforms (particularly all your free to use ones) pretty much have drop and drag options for you to start using PayPal on your website.

Fee comparisons for online donations

Here is the interesting finding – nobody seemed to quote the same amount for the use of credit cards.  It varies from 0.99% from MasterCard and Visa to as much as 2.5% for American Express on some sites.  All sites pass on these transaction fees.  I am sure there are arguments as to why these multi-million dollar global companies have to charge fees to charities…just not really sure what they are.  I am also unsure as to why their fees would vary from place to place.  Why American Express can get away with charging higher fees than anyone else I am sure retailers around the world would love to know.

Transaction fees:

Shout for Good  – 6.5%

Give Easy – 5.95%

GoFundraise – 6%

Everyday Hero – 6.5%

My Cause – 7%

eGive – 0%

Give Now – 0%

PayPal  – 2.4%

Now I should point out that their are variations and additional charges with some.  For example there is an extra $0.30 charge for PayPal and there are variations on when / how / where / if any GST is charged.

Recommendations for online donations

If you want the cheapest option for process online donations and you don’t mind that people have to move away from your website to do it, then GiveNow is the way to go.

If what you want is donation button on your website without all the hassle of having to build one or deal with banks etc, then PayPal is your best option.

If you want to integrate a solution into your website without having to reinvent the wheel, then I suggest contacting egive to find out more.

If you want a site where you can allow people to create activities to fundraise for you and control their own lists and information, GoFundraise and EveryDay Hero are you best options.

If you already have a method for process online donations, but you want to get into the mobile technology, then GiveEasy would appear to be your best option.

Indeed many organisations are listed on multiple websites, because it is about processing your online donations in any way you choose to give and whatever website you happen to stumble upon.  Of course that also means a little more paperwork and monitoring for those hard working people in fundraising.

While the basic options for all these are free to sign up for, I do recommend being open with your audience in telling them how much of their donation is being absorbed by who.  They may just prefer to make a direct transfer or give a little extra to cater for the fees.  They may be reading this blog themselves so they know the best way to give.

In the end the way you market a charity is a key factor to consider.  People will give because they feel a connection with your cause and they will give more if they know where it is all going.  I have written previously about the need to tell people that not all the money is going directly into services, so I suggest you read those blogs again before you design the page for your online donations.