Just like many merchants who sell goods and services online, nonprofits also need reliable credit card processing in order to safely process donations and accept payments from sponsors, participants and event attendees. Today most donations are processed online using credit or debit card transactions (vs. mail-in checks). By offering online payment processing, your organization makes it easy for donors to contribute to your cause…especially if they want to set up recurring donations to give-back over the course of the year. Being able to process payments online also makes it easier for nonprofits to collect payments from sponsors, register participants for upcoming fundraising events, and sell items to support their fundraiser.

Payment processing is also important for physical fundraising events where Point of Sale Systems (credit card terminals) are used for processing payments. A POS system helps keep things moving during registration at fundraising events, and is extremely helpful for an event like a charity auction where event attendees bid on items they intend to purchase at the close of the event. If you are considering processing any kind of on-site payments, 9 times out of 10, people are going to ask…”do you take credit cards?” and if your answer is “no” you may significantly reduce the amount of participation.
If you are a nonprofit considering processing payments or donations via credit or debit cards, you are going to want to find the right merchant services provider for you. Below we outline a few factors for you to consider when selecting a merchant services partner:

1. Will it be easy to set up? First, you’ll want to be sure the credit card processing services provided are able to integrate seamlessly with your fundraising website in order to make the process user-friendly for your supporters. Next, you’ll want to be sure the set-up is quick and easy. Some companies have set-up fees and require a rigorous screening process, where some companies offer no set-up fees and same-day approvals. Ask questions and take notes, as these answers will be an important part of your decision-making process.

2. Credit card processing fees. Every merchant service provider charges fees for processing transactions. You’ll want to compare transaction rates (the percentage taken from each transaction made) along with other monthly fees, service fees, charges for support, premiums for mobile processing and more.

3. Equipment: First you’ll want to identify what kind of credit card equipment you’ll need? Are you processing payments entirely online? Do you have fundraising events that require physical terminals or mobile processing equipment? Once you identify your needs, be sure the vendor supplies the proper credit card equipment. Then find out if they help with training and set up…and of course, what is the cost for the equipment needed? (some companies charge hundreds of dollars for credit card terminals, where others include free equipment with their services).

4. Customer Service: As with any decision you are making when selecting a company to work with, customer service should always be a consideration. Is the company helpful during your search inquiries? Do they provide you with links, research and customer testimonial? Do they have a credited reputation? Do they offer any incentives for becoming one of their valued customers?

5. Contractual Obligations. Be sure to find out if there are any binding contracts with the merchant service provider you choose. Some companies require annual contracts, and some have early termination fees. You’ll want to be careful when partnering with these vendors as this may make it difficult for you to switch payment-processing providers in the future. But don’t worry…if you do have a current contract in place now and are looking for a new partner, there is hope. Some merchant services companies will pay your termination fees to release you from your current contract, giving you more of an incentive to switch.

After considering all of these details, hopefully you’ll be able to find the right merchant services provider for you!

Guest Post by: Kari Kiel, marketing manager for DoJiggy and DoJiggy Merchant Services—providing affordable online fundraising software and reliable payment processing solutions for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. ** Receive a Free Donations Website with activation of a new merchant account!

Photo Credit: PT Money