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In an earlier post, I discussed how internet activism allows nonprofits to reach a technologically savvy audience through the web. This is good because a) it gives your organization the opportunity to send your message further out into the world, and b) it gives potential donors a way to contribute funds quickly and easily.

However, the second part of this is only possible if your organization provides an online donation option. Most internet donors want to pay at the click of a button. They want to visit your site, be moved, and make a contribution without any additional hassle.

The number of available resources for nonprofits to use to accept credit card donations are pretty extensive, and it can be difficult to sift through them all to find the one that is a best fit for your organization. Some charge high prices, some use overly-technical jargon, and still others might fail to provide the security necessary for online credit card transactions.

Overall, there are three main options available for nonprofits:

1. You can accept credit card numbers and requests through email and process the transaction as you would in person. Although this is by far the easiest way to accept online donations, there are few donors willing to send credit card numbers through the unsecured email network. It also opens you to liability if something goes wrong.

2. You can use an online credit card vendor. These types of sites (PayPal, for example) might work for very low levels of donations. However, because fees are charged for each transaction, large or numerous donations can get substantially cut back. Donors might also feel like they are paying for a service rather than charitably giving their money.

3. You can hire an outside merchant specializing in online donation processing. This method provides forms that usually appear on your website and offer quick, protected credit card donations. Although this is the most professional and secure way to go, it ultimately comes at an additional price for software and technical support.

If your organization is looking at the third option, I recommend you visit Idealware to check out their formal review of 27 online donation vendors. There are a number of available software merchants, and it is important to ensure that you find one that is the best fit for your organization.

Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013
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