How To Choose A Donation Platform for Your Website with Less Fees

Processing donations on your website can get expensive. On top of typical credit card transaction fees (2.9% + $0.30 per transaction) some platforms charge processing and deposit fees that can really add up.

Choosing the right donation processing platform specific to your organization’s needs can help you reduce your fees so you can increase your donation revenue and impact.

This post breaks down your options so you can choose the right platform for your organization. 

Types of Donation Platforms

There are more than 10 options for your organization to accept donations through your website.

All of them fit into these two categories:

Category 1: Pay per Contribution: You pay a fee on top of credit card processing for each donation made to your organization.

Category 2: Pay per Platform: You pay a fee to use the platform or website module + a per transaction fee for credit card transactions.

Evaluating Platform Types Based on Your Organization’s Needs

When it comes to evaluating the cost of accepting donations through your website, you need to weigh at least 5 variables.

The main variables to consider:

  1. Cost of transaction fees
  2. Cost of platform

Along with these main variables, you have to consider your organization’s unique situation.

 Secondary variables to consider (unique to your organization):

  1. Number of donations per year
  2. Average donation amount
  3. Frequency of donations

You can plug in your organization’s variables to see what type of platform will give you the least amount of fees using my free calculator:

Request The Calculator

Summary of Fees by Donation Platform Type

Category 1: Pay per ContributionCategory 2: Pay per Platform
No Platform Cost
Higher Transaction Fees3.75% per transaction$0.37 per transaction$1.50 per deposit
Annual Platform Cost
Standard Transaction Fees (for processing credit cards through PayPal or Stripe)2.9% per transaction$0.30 per transaction

Evaluation of Donation Platform Fees

To compare the two costs I ran several scenarios considering the following variables:

  • Average annual donations
  • Average donation amount

Outcome: As your total amount of revenue from donations goes up:

  • Category 1 – Pay per Donation (blue) becomes more expensive 
  • Category 2 – Pay per Platform (red) becomes more affordable 
  • But… other variables influence your total fees

You need to also consider the average size of donations and the frequency.

This model is based on an average contribution of $50 which requires a high number of transactions to reach reach donation revenues of $20k plus, thus resulting in more transaction fees.

Takeaway Recommendations To Reduce Fees:

Category 1: Pay per Contribution is Best For:

  • Less Frequent Donations
  • Lower Total Amounts

This would be good if your organization is processing a smaller number of donations and a relatively low total donation revenue. 

Most Popular Platforms in This Category:

Click & Pledge

  • Platform Fee: $0 
  • Payment Processing: 3.75% + $0.37 per transaction
  • Additional Fees: $1.50 for depositing funds to your account (performed daily when you have a positive donation balance)

Donor Box 

  • Platform Fee: $0
  • Payment Processing: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Additional Fees: Up to $1k in donations each month is free; 1.5% fee on all transactions after you reach $1k

Category 2: Pay per Platform is Best For:

  • High Frequency of Donations
  • Higher Total Donation Amount

If you’re expecting a high frequency of small donations, or a large total donation (above $10k) this type of platform will likely result in much fewer fees. 

Most Popular Platforms in This Category:

Give WP

  • Platform Fee: $323 (for full functionality) 
  • Payment Processing: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Additional Fees: $0

Charitable

  • Platform Fee: $249 (for full functionality) 
  • Payment Processing: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
  • Additional Fees: $0

You can plug in your organization’s variables to see what type of platform will give you the least amount of fees using my free calculator:

Request The Calculator

Other Considerations to Keep In Mind

Fees don’t paint the full picture of what your organization needs in order to accept donations on your website. Make sure you consider all your needs before you decide what donation platform is best for you.

Here are other considerations:

Functionality – I recommend clearly outlining the functionality you need in order to make your fundraising successful. Having a checklist with “must have” and “nice to have” features will help you clarify what platforms will fulfill your needs.

Usability – Find a platform that is easy for your donors to navigate and easy for your team to work with. If it’s difficult for donors to finish the checkout process that will result in less donations for your organization. If you need to pay a developer every time you want to make a change, that will be a big time and cost barrier for your team’s success.

Support – If you’re not technically inclined, I recommend vetting the support of each platform before you decide which one to use. Some inexpensive donation options are managed by a very small team as a part-time project. If you think you’ll need support, prioritize platforms that have a dedicated team and commit to helping you.

Transition – Consider the cost of transitioning to a new platform. If you’re weighing fees from your current platform vs a new platform, consider the time and money cost of transitioning vs savings in fees over the next 5-10 years. 

Additional Support

I use a Good Decision Worksheet to help organizations I work with make the right decision regarding website updates. Request a copy by contacting me.

If you’re stuck or have recommendations to make this guide more helpful, reach out to me for help