You have built a thoughtful nonprofit organization that can help those in your community and field, but you need public support to continue your mission.
Fundraising events and campaigns, grants, and sponsors go a long way in making your nonprofit goals a reality. But individual donations are still incredibly important. Not only do they help support your organization and the work that it’s doing, but they also help your community and audience directly participate in your work. With them, you build long-lasting relationships that you’ll need throughout your nonprofit’s lifetime.
But you might be asking yourself, what’s the best way to solicit and gather these individual donations? There are many options out there, but how can you tell which is best for you?
Two of the most common online donation options are a PayPal donation button and a nonprofit donation page. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve directly compared the two in this article, outlining the pros and cons of each format. Let’s start with what they are:
A nonprofit donation page is a customized page on your site that encourages and allows visitors to make a direct donation to your organization. It allows for both one-time and recurring donations. The page will accept several forms of payment and will keep your visitor on your page. The image above is a good example of a nonprofit donation page.
A PayPal donate button is a universal button that can be embedded into your website, social media, or digital marketing materials. Users can click on the donate button and will be redirected to PayPal’s site to complete their payment. There are options for one-time and recurring donations, but they’re limited. While PayPal accepts other forms of payment, it’s more friendly to users with PayPal accounts.
There are several reasons why established nonprofit organizations choose donation pages over PayPal donation buttons. The payments are still made through a secure third-party processor on donation pages. However, keeping potential donors on your site will increase the likelihood of them completing the donation because there are fewer steps and redirects. Plus, the customization allows you to keep your personal branding and style. You can add any supporting text and give more information to donors.
PayPal (and its branding) are widely recognizable and trusted. But the button can be a jarring shift from your design and organizational brand. Plus, redirecting potential donors to another page can inhibit their donation. Both with additional steps and potential mistrust of website redirects. While PayPal can be an easy method when you’re starting out, especially if you already have an account, it’s designed with e-commerce in mind. It’s still not quite suitable for nonprofit fundraising and can feel limiting as a donation option.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind when deciding which option is best for you:
Being able to customize your donation form can go a long way in engaging donors. You can encourage them to give more and also cultivate repeat or recurring donors.
Donation pages provide a wide array of customization options like color, text and language, logo inclusion, and social media buttons. All of these will flow with the overall design of your existing website within the easily embedded donation form. It remains clear who your visitor is donating to, who their funds are helping, and how they can learn more.
Donorbox has several options to help you hype up your campaign and increase giving like goal meters, company matching, tribute donations, donor recognition options, and anonymous donations. See the example below.
PayPal donation buttons don’t include any of these custom options. While you can add your organization’s name, and sometimes logo, you must still use the generic, yellow, and/or blue button designed by PayPal on your site.
Donation tiers are another useful addition to your donation page. They provide tiered suggestions for donation amounts. It guides your audience on how much people commonly give and what different amounts mean to your organization.
At Donorbox, we recognize that your audience is broad and not everyone can give at the same level. You know your audience best, so you can choose the range of suggested donations through our tier system and add custom text to tell people exactly where their money is going and how it is helping. You can also add a section where your visitor can choose how much they want to give, typing in a custom amount of their choice.
The example in the image above perfectly demonstrates how donation tiers should look on a good nonprofit donation page.
PayPal unfortunately does not offer donation tiers. Donors must type in the amount they want to give. They’ll have no clear idea of a typical donation amount or its potential impact. This can often lead to reduced donations across the board.
In the same way that not all donors can give the same amount, not everyone can give with the same frequency. You may have people who want to set up a recurring donation. But perhaps, they can only give annually or others who are willing and able to give weekly.
PayPal only offers monthly recurring donations, which can seriously limit who sets up recurring donations.
Donation pages offer several recurring donation options, creating further customizable donor options. At Donorbox, for example, a donor can choose to give weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Muso‘s donation page is a great example of flexible recurring donation options.
All online donations that use safe and reliable third-party processors come with processing fees. This is typically 2.2% of the total donation, plus 30 cents. This can quickly stack up, especially with larger donations, and can easily reduce an exciting donation.
PayPal charges 2.9% + 30 cents (2.2% + 30 cents for registered nonprofits) and does not offer the option to have your donor cover processing fees.
Donation pages typically have a platform fee in addition to standard processing fees. But they also often offer the option to ask your donor to cover these fees. Donorbox is one of the more affordable options currently available, charging a 1.5% platform fee in addition to standard credit card, ACH, or PayPal processing fees. However, you are given the option to ask donors to cover these fees as part of their donation, potentially giving you 100% of their gift. This small addition to their already generous donation will save you large sums annually.
PayPal is a quick and simple platform for receiving funds, but it still requires more steps than donations pages. When a donor gives through the PayPal donation button, the money goes straight into your PayPal account. From there, you must deposit the funds into your bank account.
While donation platforms often use PayPal as a third-party option, they can also use quicker processors. Donorbox works with Stripe, an easy and reliable third-party processor. When a donor gives to your organization, it will process through Stripe and go straight to your bank account. It removes the extra transfer and reduces the amount of time it takes for the funds to clear.
Emailed donation receipts are another critical way to improve donor relations and market your organization. It’s an opportunity to thank them for contributing to your nonprofit, remind them who and how they are helping, show them how to get tax benefits for their donation, and promote any major upcoming events or campaigns.
PayPal sends an automatic donation receipt that carries its branding and can’t be fully customized by your organization. If you want to send a more personalized thank you or additional information to your donors, you’ll have to send an additional email. Not only will this take up more of your time, but it will also spam your donors; it might make them less likely to give in the future.
Donation pages frequently offer fully customizable email receipts. Donorbox allows you to edit your fonts, color schemes, and text, as well as adding logos, images, and hyperlinks to your automated emails. Plus Donorbox offers your donors their own login from which they can manage their donations. It also helps you with donor management.
Many people and organizations may choose to go with PayPal because they know that it is secure. It’s been around for a long time and has proven itself to be reliable. But, donation pages are just as safe and maintain secure transactions because they still use verified third-party processors.
In addition, PayPal will only allow you to use PayPal and cards to make the payment. While donation pages allow you to use a variety of payment options. This lets your donor give through whichever method is easiest and preferred. Donorbox is compatible with Apple pay, Google Pay, ACH (direct bank transfer), iDEAL, credit and debit cards, and PayPal.
Tracking donor activity is an important metric for any nonprofit organization. It will help your fundraising and marketing teams work together to create more effective campaigns. You can reach out to your donors in more personalized ways.
Donorbox is a great donation platform option for tracking this kind of activity. We use Google Analytics and UTM for conversion tracking. It helps you collect key donor information like name, email, and address. In addition, you can customize your donation form with questions to understand how your donor came to your donation page, how often they visit your organization, and if they prefer mail, email, text, or other forms of communication.
PayPal, on the other hand, only shares your donors’ emails, allowing you to send them a personalized thank you and subscribe them to your newsletter. That’s all!
After reviewing all the pros and cons, you may be wondering if PayPal donation buttons are right for your nonprofit. The answer is not always simple. But it comes down to your needs and capacity; don’t forget that you can always update your donation button or page down the line.
PayPal is straightforward, well-known, and pretty easy. But, it has a few clear limitations that may keep you from seeing the full breadth of donations that you hope to gather. Donation pages are also easy to set up and don’t come at a much higher cost. In fact, they can even be more economic if you ask your donors to cover associated fees. Plus, the customization, brand possibilities, and payment method, and amount flexibility will make it easier for your donors to give; while highlighting why they should consider giving more, and more often.
A little more effort on your end will make a more engaging and simpler platform for your donor, leading to a bigger support system for your organization.
These days nonprofits are preferring Donorbox over PayPal. We have written a blog to tell you why.
Our nonprofit blog offers you plenty of resources, trending topics, and nonprofit management tips. Feel free to check it out!