There are tons of donation platforms out there for nonprofits to choose from. The big question is, how can you make the right decision? Here are 11 key things to consider before committing to a platform:
1. Number of donors – Some platforms are better suited for smaller organizations with fewer donors, while others can handle large donations. Make sure the platform you choose can accommodate your needs. This also means considering future growth and whether the platform can handle it. Look for the ones that best suit your needs based on your capacity and the capacity of the organization. If you target a wider donor audience, you should look for platforms with that feature. This way, you do not hinder your chances of getting donations from a wider audience now or in the future. Note that this feature may come with more cost.
2. Platform Fees – Some platforms charge fees for using their service. These fees can eat into your donations, so find a platform that fits your size. These fees or charges can come in a monthly subscription, a percentage of each donation, a setup fee, or a per-transaction fee. This may also turn off users who intend to donate to your platform since they may find the charges per transaction outrageous. You may need to compare and contrast different donation platforms since we have many of them to see the ones with lower charges. You should never ignore these points because they will be a guide to know what to do before putting your interest in joining any platform. Ensure that you carry out thorough research first. Never rush things. Also, use client review sites to get first-hand information from users. This way, you can identify hidden costs.
3. Type of Donations Accepted
The next step is to consider how you want to accept donations. For example, if you want to accept online donations, you’ll need to make sure the platform you choose offers that option. On the other hand, if you’re only interested in accepting donations via check or cash, you can narrow your options down significantly. We are now in a digitalized world where most people make payments using their digital wallets. Since most people are familiar with Bitcoin or other forms of cashless payment, it is worth considering choosing a platform that supports this feature.
4. Donation Options – Some platforms offer various donation options such as recurring donations, one-time donations, and mobile giving. It’s important to consider which option(s) will work best for your organization. At a minimum Whole Whale recommends that you can embed a donation form on your website rather than sending donors to a different site. However, if you choose to send individual donation forms, then be sure to give multiple options. You may also include multiple donation options on your site. This way, you give people alternatives that fit their pockets.
5. Ease of use – Your chosen platform must be easy to use for both you and your donors. Nobody wants to struggle with a complicated donation process. Be sure to give the actual platform a test drive if possible. Not many people would be willing to “try again” once the first attempt isn’t successful when it comes to donation, especially if your donation platform is not easy to use. Make sure you come up with something simple that even first-timers can use without requesting assistance from professionals.
6. Modification: Platforms that offer integration modification, especially the design and look, are a must-have. The more attractive your donate button is, the better. This can only happen when the platform integration allows for modification and personalization. The more modifications available, the better.
7. Security – Make sure the platform you choose is secure and compliant with all the latest security standards. This will give your donors peace of mind knowing their information is safe. Check out each platform’s security measures to ensure your donor’s information will be safe. Nobody would want to spend a huge amount of money protecting or keeping their information safe after being compromised while donating on a platform. Hence, the security feature should be one of the most crucial features. It is now news that hackers are on the prowl and continue to do everything to gain access, even to the most secure site. The security should also be extended to payment methods. The platform should use the third-party trusted and tested online financial gateways for payments. This way, users can feel more secure when they need to donate.
8. Reporting and analytics – Most platforms offer some reporting and analytics, but some are more comprehensive than others. If you want detailed insights into your donor behavior, make sure the platform you choose offers this functionality. There is a need to keep a close eye on some efforts towards your donation activities. However, to measure your success, you may need to keep track of certain actions such as the number of received donations, average amount of gifts, gift growth average, and more. Whole Whale always recommends choosing a donation tool that allows you to integrate Google Analytics. However, if Google Analytics won’t work, it’s okay to use other analytical links and software as long as the admins have a reporting section.
9. Integrations – If you’re using other software applications in conjunction with your donation platform, make sure the platform you choose can integrate with those applications. This will make your life much easier. These integrations are usually listed in the platform’s API or wiki supporting documentation. Always a plus if the platform can connect to Zapier! If you plan to create an app version of your website then note that the platform can be integrated into mobile apps for both Android and iOS.
10. Customer support – When something goes wrong (and it inevitably will), you want to be able to reach customer support quickly and easily. Make sure the platform you choose offers great customer support. If something goes wrong or you have questions, you’ll want to be able to reach someone who can help quickly and easily. Most importantly, you should consider choosing a platform that offers 24/7 customer services to make it easier whenever you need queries or solutions to a problem. Although most customer services attend to consumers using English Language, however, considering customer services, the variety of language options will be a plus.
11. Page Promotion for Donors – Donors need to know more about your donation platform. A couple of ways can be employed to do this, such as sending emails to existing and potential Donors, social media awareness, and awareness on your website. This will help more people to know about your platform.
Now that you know what to consider before choosing a donation platform, the big question is which one you should choose? If you’re looking for a platform that offers all of the features and functionality described above, we recommend researching some of these donation platforms.
When choosing a donation platform for your nonprofit organization, it is important to consider the number of donors, platform fees, type of donations accepted, ease of use, security measures, reporting and analytics, integrations, and customer support. And remember, don’t get caught or locked in with a platform that can’t scale with your plans. Also, beware of any platform that tries to lock you into longterm usage contracts that can’t be cancelled. There are plenty of nonprofit donation platforms that rely on the quality of their services rather than the severity of their contracts.
Quick Donation Platform Choice Checklist
- Platform is open to multiple geo-locations. This is especially useful if you are targeting a wide audience.
- Platform has the integrations you need for CRMs and email systems. Salesforce and Google Analytics are popular ones to consider.
- Platform has multiple fee options and subscription plans. Explore all information about charges, fees, and more for small and large audiences.
- Platform has multiple payment methods available. It is crucial to offer donors multiple payment options. Ensure that the platform has at least 3 to offer users from all over the world.
- Platform has Language and operations settings. If the platform is limited to one language or a few, it might not be the best choice for those with a worldwide audience or even a continent-wide audience. Even if the platform does not offer in-house multi-language features, it should have an easy integration process with google translate.
- Platform has extensive security. Check how secure the site is. Most sites will brag about the security levels and features they have. Ensure that your chosen platform has at least an end-to-end encryption and is affiliated with trusted third-party payment methods.
- Platform has a dedicated Reporting and analytics page. If your platform of choice can not offer you a way to track your progress and donations through an analytical or reporting software, it should not be used. This report will come in handy to see where and when you get donations, what types of donations work for you, what time you get more donations, what days you have more donations, and much more.
- Platform has Multi-Customer support options. The platform should have at least a single 24/7 customer support channel. This is essential for you, the owners. There should be a guide available to ensure that you can solve your issues immediately.
- Platform has a dedicated management page or dashboard. Your dashboard or management page should be detailed and separate from everything else. This should be your go-to spot to start, stop, manage and monitor the donation platform
- Platform allows a Donation form that can be added to your website. It is much harder to send donors to another site.
- Platform has a built-in email or database management system. Optional if you have this managed through another platform.
- Platform has a text to give options. Some platforms include an ability to set up these text giving campaigns.
- Platform does NOT lock you into longterm contracts. With so many options, beware of any platforms that force longterm contracts. Great solutions shouldn’t need to trap customers into using them.