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Advanced Techniques

Sept. 11




How to Get Started:

Taking Donations Online


This step will be relatively easy if you are contracting with an outside web design firm, because they should already know the ins and outs of credit card use online. However, here is a tutorial for taking online donations if you are designing your site in-house.


There are several ways that your organization can take credit card orders online. Some of the more popular ones include manual processing, custom development, application service providers and charity portals.

Manual Processing:

Manual processing is the most time-consuming, but cost-effective way to take credit card orders. Manual processing is done by saving the credit card information from a secure form and then processing the information manually through a credit card terminal later. The major problem with this method is that transactions do not take place in real time (Ellsworth, 2001.)

Custom Development:

Custom development is expensive and usually involves continuous maintenance and development costs. However, it offers the user to own and control its own system, as well as to process a significant amount of funds in real time. Custom development is used mostly by larger, national nonprofit organizations (Ellsworth, 2001.)

Application Service Providers (ASPs):

Application service providers, or ASPs are programs that run on the web. ASPs make their money through a fee structure based on the contributions you receive. The nonprofit places a button for the ASP on their web site, so that, when the user is ready to give, they are transferred directly to the ASP for their transaction to take place (Stein, 1999.)

An advantage of this is that you do not need to worry about buying servers and programming software or upgrading and monitoring your site. However, you lose customization and some control. This option is best for smaller and mid-sized nonprofits (Ellsworth, 2001.)

An example of an ASP can be found at:



Charity Portals:

Charity portals are web sites that offer a directory of nonprofits that you can be listed on. Their purpose is to attract lots of traffic to their sites and to encourage users to donate to the listed charities. The listing is usually free, though some charge a fee with each contribution your organization receives. The portal accepts secure credit card donations on your behalf and makes its money either through advertising on their site or through the contribution fees. Charity portals are recommended for nonprofit organizations with less than a $2 million budget or little traffic to their web site (Stein, 1999.)

Examples of charity portals include:


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Copyright ©2003 Cathryn A. Outzen