5 Factors to Consider with Merchant Services Selection

July 1, 2014

If you think your nonprofit could benefit from processing credit card payments, your next step is to set-up a merchant account. Luckily, there are many companies that provide this service. Yet, merchant services can be complicated and costly (especially without the right partner to help guide you).

We’ve provided a list of five important things to consider when selecting a merchant services provider. Hopefully the information here will help you select the right partner!

  1. Credibility: Partner with a company that has experience, ethical values, positive testimonials, and is a certified payment processor. There are many options out there, so if someone can’t prove their credibility, it’s probably best to move on. There are too many credit card scams to partner with someone that isn’t qualified.
  2. Set-up: You’ll want to select a partner that provides an easy process, such as an online application form and a customer service representative that helps walk you through this process and prepare you by providing a summary of requirements needed to apply. A good company can usually get you set up and approved in just a couple of days (unless there are extenuating circumstances).
  3. Fees: Every merchant service provider charges a fee for processing transactions, so this is not something you can avoid. However, the range of credit card processing fees can be very different. Rates also vary for different types of businesses (non-profit vs. for profit) and for debit vs. credit card transactions. In addition to transaction fees, there are monthly service fees, costs for mobile processing, late fees, fees for customer support and of course early-termination fees. Be on the lookout for all of these.
  4. Contracts: some companies require organizations to sign a contract binding them to use the service for a minimum of one year (or more), and they charge termination fees if the customer cancels early. Take note and possibly avoid these companies. Binding customers to a contract and threatening fees for leaving doesn’t seem like a great way to build a loyal customer base.
  5. Credit card Equipment: First determine what type of credit card processing you plan to do. Will you only be processing donations via your website or do you need a point of sale system or a mobile processing app for processing payments at fundraising events? Find out what type of credit card processing equipment is offered and what it costs. Some companies charge hundreds of dollars for equipment, where others offer it to clients for free.

Summary:

Merchant services has become an extremely competitive field. There are lots of options from the basic service of PayPal to the custom shop that offers credit card processing for one niche business. This is a buyers’ market; so do your research and choose a merchant service provider that is right for your organization.

DoJiggy Merchant Services (DMS) offers payment processing services for nonprofit organizations. With DMS, you’ll see lower rates, better customer service, POS terminals included at no cost, seamless integration with your organization’s fundraising website, and they even include a Free Donation Website when you sign up.


Credit Card Processing for a Fundraising Campaign

June 3, 2014

If your nonprofit is doing any kind of fundraising, there’s a good chance you may be considering processing donations and payments with credit and debit cards.  Since so many people prefer to pay with plastic these days, it’s absolutely essential for your organization to integrate a credit card processing solution for your fundraising campaign. This will allow you to: accept online donations, process registrations and ticket sales on your fundraising website, and sell more products, auction items, or raffle tickets at your fundraising event.

Let’s review a few different types of payments nonprofits would likely process with credit cards:

  • Online donations: One of a nonprofit’s biggest goals is bringing in donations to help support your cause. With online credit card processing, you simplify the process for donors by allowing them to easily make online donations using a credit card vs. sending in a check. You can even get setup to take recurring donations on a monthly basis from your core supporters.
  • Online registrations & ticket sales: If your nonprofit is hosting a fundraising event, a merchant account would allow participants to easily register and make payments online. This frees up a lot of extra paperwork and bookkeeping from participants having to mail in checks. Add a point of sale system (POS system) making it possible for your organization to take credit card payments on-site at the event – allowing for last-minute ticket sales.
  • Auction Bidding & Payments: If a charity auction is part of your fundraising campaign, credit card processing will make the whole process easier for bidders by allowing them to store credit card data for quick check-out at your event or pay for items won or purchased via “buy now” pricing online. This is much easier than sending an invoice and collecting payments after the auction closes.
  • Sponsorships: If you intend to reach out to local businesses to sponsor your fundraising event, online payment processing can help streamline the process. Sponsors can review benefits of packages online, select a sponsor level that suits their needs, safely make payments, upload logos, etc.
  • Fundraising Merchandise: Do you intend to offer any fundraising merchandise for purchase as part of your fundraising campaign? Perhaps participants may be interested in purchasing visors or golf shirts in advance of your charity golf tournament. With a merchant services account, you can offer product sales on your fundraising website allowing participants to select products, sizes, make payments and receive items prior to the event.
  • On-site payments: If your nonprofit is hosting a conference or fundraising event such as a gala dinner, having a POS or mobile credit card processing system on site is a great way to easily collect credit card payments for last-minute ticket sales, fundraising merchandise, raffle tickets, food and drinks, etc. (by accepting credit cards, you don’t limit attendee spending by only accepting the cash they have on hand.)

Summary: Merchant services is an important part of fundraising as it opens up more opportunities for your nonprofit to raise more money by safely and securely processing credit card payments for online donations, ticket and product sales, sponsorship packages, and more!

DoJiggy Merchant Services (DMS) offers payment processing services for nonprofit organizations. With DMS, you’ll see lower rates, better customer service, POS terminals included at no cost, seamless integration with your organization’s fundraising website, and they even include a Free Donation Website when you sign up.


GEO Map to Find Partners

May 9, 2011

Do you use Google Maps for directions or to plan a trip of places to visit? Well I’ve recently started using it as a tool to find new partners. It is a new idea that I’m trying out using GEO Mapping. We received a mailing list of 7,000 people that were worth a million dollars or more in our area. I wanted to see where these individuals with significant capacity were living and if they lived near our board members and volunteers. I know many of the neighborhoods around town that have capacity but I found a number of pockets that I didn’t realize existed.

How do you set up a GEO Map?

  1. I used a website, batchgeo.com, to input a spreadsheet of addresses.
  2. This spreadsheet had the name, address, city, state, and zip.
  3. Once the addresses were loaded in I saved them as a KML file. KML is the file that Google Maps & Google Earth use.
  4. Then I opened up my Google Maps and uploaded the KML file to a private map.

If your list is larger than 2,000, you will need to break it into small groups; try doing it by city or zip code. The GEO Map produced a physical map of individuals in the region that I live that I could bring to a meeting or use to find board member’s neighbors with capacity. During a session to find new partners we can type in the address of the individuals we are working with and see specific people from the list that have been pre-identified near where they live or work to see if they know them.


Effective Use of LinkedIn

October 18, 2010

While most non-profits realize the benefits of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, far fewer organizations fully realize the inherent power of LinkedIn.

As one of the original social networking platforms geared primarily toward professionals and businesspeople, LinkedIn can provide your organization with networking and marketing benefits, no matter the size of your non-profit. Here’s how to effectively use the LinkedIn platform to increase your organization’s reach and profile:

Establish a Presence
Non-profits should establish a solid presence on LinkedIn by creating a “Company” page with up to date information on the organization. Some examples of well written non-profit company pages include The American Red Cross and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Be sure to upload your logo and include current information on the page.

In addition to setting up your company page, appoint a key employee as your LinkedIn “voice,” the person who will, through their LinkedIn profile, moderate your activities on the site.

Start to Network
After your home base is set up, it’s time to start networking on the site. The first thing to do is to encourage your current supporters, board of directors, staff, volunteers, donors and friends to “connect” (the LinkedIn version of “friending”) with the staff member you appointed as your on-site point of contact, and to “follow” your company page.

In addition, use the “Groups” feature to join several groups that are closely related to your mission. You should also consider joining local business and non-profit groups in your geographical area.

Finally, search the “Questions” feature to find LinkedIn members who are asking questions that your organization is uniquely qualified to answer. Serve as a good resource on the site, and seek to connect with the people you help for a longer term relationship on the site.

Market Your Page
As with any social media outlet, you’re non-profit will reap the most benefit from LinkedIn if you actively market your LinkedIn page to people who are interested in your organization. This means asking people who stop by your website, read your e-newsletter, or otherwise show that they are interested in you to “connect” with you on LinkedIn and follow your company page.

You should also ask your supporters and those who are already connected with you on the site to spread the word to their colleagues and friends.

Using Status Updates
LinkedIn allows your organization to write short, Twitter-like status updates that will appear on your profile and on the update pages of everyone who is connected with you or following your company. This is one of the most powerful features of using LinkedIn for your non-profit. Use it wisely.

Remember, each status update cold be read by hundreds or thousands of people. Resist the urge to update your organization’s status ten times a day. Instead, use the status update line to push relevant facts and asks to your supporters. Reach out to them once per week, twice per week, or once per day to keep them informed and to ask them to take action (such as visiting a certain page on your website).

Starting Your Own Group
Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, gotten your supporters involved and connected, and reached out to build new relationships and networks, it’s time for the LinkedIn coup de grace: creating your own group.

Using the “Groups” feature, create your own LinkedIn group specifically for the use of your supporters and friends. Post relevant information there, ask questions, and upload pictures and logos. Invite all of your followers to join you there and get involved in the discussion. Starting your own group is a great way to open your LinkedIn network up to a real dialogue with your supporters and friends.

How You Benefit
What can your organization expect to gain from the time and effort you invest in the LinkedIn platform?

First, LinkedIn will allow you to draw your current supporters closer by engaging them on yet another level and in another place where they congregate.

Secondly, and more importantly, LinkedIn will help you in gaining access to your supporters’ own networks and Rolodexes. As you engage on the site, encourage your supporters to start helping you reach their own connections on LinkedIn.

—–
Joe Garecht is the creator of The Fundraising Authority, a free source of fundraising advice and tutorials for non-profits of all sizes.


Social Media Planning: It’s All About Engagement

September 8, 2010

Do you run the Facebook page or Twitter profile for your organization? Have you ever experienced the moment where you are asked to explain what your plan is? I recently had a group of volunteers I was working regarding social media, and the first thing everyone wanted to do was create a fool-proof plan. It really bugged me at first, and I couldn’t figure out why. I realized that it was because everyone was viewing social media in the same they viewed any other marketing project–create a plan and push it out to your audience.

Social media is all about community-building and engagement. Running a successful social media campaign can take significant planning. But in the first several months of using a new social media tool it will take time to build your community. The first three to six months of using social media is all about building your network and growing your community. Until you have a good group of people, a critical mass, having a comprehensive social media plan does not do a lot of good.

If you are starting a project and everyone is asking for a plan, ask them if they would commit to engaging in the medium as you get started. Most people want a plan because they are unsure of how to use the medium. A social media plan will be more successful if it is modeled by its implementers than if it is imposed upon an audience. Ask the volunteer or staff group that is helping you get things started to “like” your status updates, retweet your twitter messages, and leave comments on your blog. This is the best way to get your community started and to a point where you can do some big planning. You will also be able to use your volunteers to get things jump-started and everyone will be more comfortable with the work when they see how easy it is to promote your content.


Mobile Giving Research and Opinion

August 16, 2010

You’ve been provided some facts and general information about mobile giving. I’ve learned a lot through this process and want to hear your thoughts and experiences in the mobile giving space. Below are a few different theories and philosophies regarding some of the benefits and specifics of mobile giving.

Instantly Viral
Cell phones and smart phones are all over the world and have saturated America. People carry their mobile phones with them almost all of the time. As nonprofits try and find creative ways to reach out to their constituencies, text messaging is a great way to get a personal message out. Providing donors with instant information about the needs of your organization improves the urgency of your message. As we’ve seen through fundraising with Haiti, the mobile platform has an incredible ability to respond to an urgent need in a short period of time.

Emerging Industry
Katya from the Nonprofit Marketing Blog wrote about mobile giving in a recent post.

“Most of us don’t have optimized websites or email outreach. Nail the basics. Then think mobile.”

In the mind of many nonprofits, mobile giving is an emerging industry. The technology has been around for several years and through Haiti it has increased in popularity. If you are struggling to communicate with your donors through traditional channels, get those mastered first. Make sure your organization has an effective website before running a mobile campaign. One of the great values in mobile giving is the ability to point people to your website through an embedded link.

Scalability
Mobile giving is successful when you can effectively communicate with a large group of donors and when you have access to media channels. If you have a really small donor pool you may not be able to raise enough of a reach to justify the associated costs. Talk with the mobile giving business you’re considering working with and get a feel from them if they feel like your nonprofit is right for a mobile campaign.

Capturing Donor Information
In addition to donations, date, and time of the gift, and in many cases the cell phone number. However you can only text to this number you are not allowed to call it. Acknowledging this group of donors happens through follow up texts. Through follow-up texts and embedded links in your text message you can ask donors to fill out information such as an email or mailing address on your website.

I’d like to hear back from you one what your experience with mobile giving was like. If you were successful or unsuccessful, please leave a comment and tell us about it. I’d also like to hear from those of you that have not yet used mobile giving. What is preventing you from trying it out? What concerns do you have?

[poll id=”17″]
[poll id=”18″]

Here are a few research studies on the adoption of mobile giving in the nonprofit community.

What questions do you have about mobile giving? There will be a handful of experts regularly reading your comments that can help clarify and explain mobile giving beyond the information I’ve provided. Please leave a comment below with your thoughts about mobile giving. If your nonprofit has used mobile giving let us know who you worked with and what that experience was like.


Text to Give Pricing & Costs

August 11, 2010

When considering which provider to use, it can be difficult to find their pricing information so I’ve aggregated it here. There are more variables beyond cost since different businesses offer different options in reporting and wrap around services. Some of the providers require an application process for nonprofits for charitable or logistic reasons. Below I’ve provided a price chart for each business. Monthly fee packages govern the number of outgoing messages, simultaneous campaigns, and wrap around services you can run.

Business Name Sign-up Fee Monthly Fee Transaction Fee
mGive $500 $400 to $1,500 $0.35 plus 3.5%
Mobile Cause $350 $100 to $250 $0.50
CauseCast Uses Mobile Cause Platform
Give by Cell $0 Waive $49 $0.48
g8wave $350 $350 $0 to $0.35
iLoop Mobile $1,000 $500

g8wave is a leader in the planning and deployment of integrated mobile strategies.  For the past decade we have worked with brands, agencies and non-profits to build successful, long term strategic mobile plans.

Give by Cell – As one of the few Authorized Service Providers for the Mobile Giving Foundation, we help charities expand their fundraising efforts and reach new audiences with mobile technology. Features like real-time reporting and donor messaging help develop robust mobile giving campaigns.

Connect2Give is currently running a special summer pilot program.  During the months of July, August and September you can take a “test drive” for a low cost and without a long term contract.

Other Associated Service Providers who I did not receive any giving information from: Mobile Commons, MPower, Give on the Go