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5 Ways You May Be Underutilizing Your Donation Processor

Your donation processor is the tool or service that your organization uses to facilitate transactions, donations, and other payments. Of course, you might’ve already known that—but how much more can you say about what your donation processor does beyond this surface-level definition?

Donation or payment processors are some of the most fundamental tools in nonprofits’ fundraising and stewardship toolkits, yet they’re also among the most underutilized. Responsible for handling, securing, and organizing precious donor data, your donation processor has the power to boost donor engagement, improve outreach, and increase your revenue—as long as you know what best practices and features to look out for.

So, whether you’re simply conducting a routine technology assessment or you’re chomping at the bit for new strategies to make the most of your donation tools, we’ve got you covered. We’ll explore the most common missed opportunities you may be overlooking with your payment processor, and how you can recover from them:

  • You don’t use it for e-commerce or event payments.
  • You haven’t integrated the processor with your other tools. 
  • You don’t use the processor’s data for post-gift outreach.
  • Your software doesn’t accept various payment methods.
  • You don’t use it to promote your organization’s professionalism.

Eager to learn more about how you can maximize the power of your donation processing software? Let’s start by exploring payment opportunities beyond just straightforward donations.

You don’t use it for e-commerce or event payments.

As a nonprofit or fundraising professional, the main revenue stream at the front of your mind is—surprise, surprise—fundraising. You want as many donors as possible to follow your social media calls-to-action, click through your email fundraising appeals, or navigate to your website and leave a gift on your donation page. 

While that’s all well and good, there are numerous other opportunities for you to use your donation processor to facilitate online payments.

Rather than just relying squarely on typical donation streams, consider how your payment processor can be used to:

  • Accept e-commerce transactions, such as the sale of products or apparel on your nonprofit web store.
  • Efficiently process event tickets, allowing for an easier registration experience.
  • Facilitate digital microtransactions during your events, including event merchandise sales.

These strategies can be especially helpful for enhancing your nonprofit’s virtual fundraisers and events, where donors’ only option for buying in-demand merchandise and other materials is through your event site’s donation tool. 

You haven’t integrated the processor with your other tools. 

While not every donation processor necessarily has integration capabilities, software integration is one of the most valuable features that you can take advantage of in a payment processor. 

In addition to all of the other major security, design, and functionality features to look for in a donation processing tool, the iATS guide to nonprofit payment processing also squares in on the topic of integration. In particular, it explains how an integrated payment processor can:

  • Boost data portability by enabling you to seamlessly export financial data and records into different formats.
  • Embed directly into your website, allowing you to maintain the integrity of your online donation page’s format and style. 
  • Improve your nonprofit data hygiene and eliminate manual data entry by automatically organizing important donor information directly into your CRM.

Rather than having to hop back and forth between many disconnected fundraising, event, and data management solutions, consider investing in an integrated donation processor that can help centralize your different tools into a more convenient, interconnected system. 

You don’t use the processor’s data for post-gift outreach.

Over the course of a year, your payment processor facilitates thousands of transactions, meaning that countless details including names, contact information, gift amounts, and precious financial information is stored in that software—just waiting to be put to use. 

As we mentioned, if you haven’t already, integrate your payment processor with your CRM or donor database so that all of this critical donor data is automatically organized in your records. This gives you the opportunity to use this data to make your nonprofit messaging and outreach more impactful, increasing the likelihood of greater donations and donor engagement down the road.

For example, you should:

  • Use donors’ names and their past gift sizes to improve future fundraising appeals, addressing donors by name and proposing appropriate suggested giving amounts.
  • Leverage names and previous donation amounts to personalize post-gift thank you messages and acknowledgments. 
  • Follow up with donors about additional giving or payment opportunities that align with their previous payments. For instance, evaluate whether or not donors who gave their work email are eligible for matching gifts or suggest merchandise similar to what they’ve bought in the past.

On top of that, you can also use your payment processor’s data to increase your acquisition rates. This Meyer Partners article on donor acquisition offers detailed suggestions on how to create an effective donor acquisition plan, which begins by goal-setting and then leveraging the data in your donor database (supplemented by your payment processing tool) to create more effective outreach strategies.

Your software doesn’t accept various payment methods.

At a minimum, most donation processing tools accept credit card payments. That being said, not every donor is going to be willing and able to submit their donations, pay for fundraising event tickets, or checkout online merchandise with their credit cards. 

Instead, maximize the number of donations and other revenue sources flowing into your organization’s financial account by seeking out a payment processor that allows for more than just one or two kinds of payment.

More specifically, we recommend opting for tools that can accept online donations through the following payment and payment plan methods:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • ACH
  • International processing
  • Both one-time and recurring payments

With a broader range of accepted payment methods, you can make online giving, event ticketing, and your other payment processes as smooth and convenient as possible for your supporters.

You don’t use it to promote your organization’s professionalism.

Considering how your donation processor is supposed to work behind the scenes, quietly managing donor data, it’s not immediately obvious how you might be able to use your payment tool to promote your organization’s professionalism. 

However, when you take a moment to consider how the right payment processor can make donor payment and gift experiences more comfortable, faster, and more secure, the answer to this mystery quickly becomes apparent.

In addition to improving post-gift outreach and offering a variety of convenient payment options, your donation processor can also make your nonprofit run more smoothly and impress your supporters by:

  • Preventing donors from being redirected to an unfamiliar third-party site as they’re completing their payments.
  • Preserving your nonprofit website’s design and its professional branding by embedding directly with your donation form or page.
  • Protecting the good reputation of your organization and reassuring donors through comprehensive data security measures, such as PCI compliance and anti-fraud measures.

While your payment processor isn’t the only thing donors pay attention to when they judge your organization’s trustworthiness and professionalism, your donation software can have a huge impact on their perception of you during one of the most sensitive parts of the donation process.

Now that you’ve taken a deeper dive into the importance and strengths of your donation processing software, we hope that you’re in a good spot to start making the most of this underappreciated tool.

Better yet, with these payment processing strategies in your nonprofit toolkit, you should be able to tackle your future fundraising, stewardship, and data management techniques more easily and effectively than ever before.

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Fundraising
Nonprofit Fundraising
Nonprofits
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