When searching for a payment processor for your nonprofit, the acronym iATS might come up. What is iATS? iATS is a payment processor that only serves nonprofits. This focus on the nonprofit sector makes its support team very knowledgeable about all things fundraising.
What is iATS
iATS (International Automated Transaction Services) is a payment processor that only serves nonprofits. Created in the 1990’s, they partner with organizations across the Globe to help them raise funds so they can continue to focus on the work that they are doing.
The cost of a payment processor is always one of the first things that any nonprofit should ask when looking to select one. While iATS does not explicitly give their processing fees on their website, I was able to do some digging and found their rates. Below is a table comparing the processing fees of iATS and Stripe.
|Stripe (Nonprofit Rate)
|Average Credit Card
|2.2% + $0.30
As you can see, iATS is comparable to Stripe in terms of cost. Typically Stripe has a lower processing fee so this is definitely one of the perks of using iATS.
Before deciding on a payment processor you will want to make sure that it can meet all of your needs. Given that iATS was designed specifically for nonprofits, there is a good chance it will meet the needs of your organization.
As noted in the pricing table, iATS is capable of running ACH transactions along with credit cards. ACH transactions are almost always preferable to credit cards for two reasons. First, they often come with a much lower transaction fee and second, bank accounts are much less likely to change than a credit card.
iATS is able to process recurring donations. Thanks to their PCI level 1 compliance, they can store encrypted credit card information and charge that card on a repeating basis. According to one study, recurring donors give an average of 440% more annually. Being able to receive donations that end up being 4.4x more is a no-brainer for any nonprofit.
Because iATS is focused on nonprofits and they have reasonably low processing fees, a number of donation platforms are designed to integrate with iATS. Having your payment processor integrate with your donor database and other tools is a must if you plan on scaling. In an age where more financial transactions are occurring online than not, you need to be able to push that information into your database efficiently. Below you can find a list of some of the more popular integrations that iATS has.
While iATS does have some great features, there are a couple of things that it doesn’t have as well. The first that comes to mind is the ability to send invoices. While this doesn’t apply to many nonprofits, there may be a time when you wish to send an invoice to a customer or donor.
Another big feature that iATS is lacking in is the reports that it can generate. Currently, the only reports you can generate are reconciliation and a couple of specific transaction reports. Most modern payment processors give you a variety of ways to slice and dice your data so that you can get a better picture of the state of your fundraising efforts.
How To Use iATS
There are 3 primary ways to collect donations with iATS. You can use Brickwork, their Salesforce app, Aura, their in-house donations forms, or collect donations through one of their donor management partners.
Brickwork is a Salesforce app that integrates with the NonProfit Success Pack. This integration allows you to process donations directly through your Salesforce instance. You will still need to collect the donation information through a different source, either manually or through an online donation form.
Aura is the name that iATS gave its donation forms. These forms are fairly simple to set up and use. You will definitely want someone familiar with basic HTML/CSS to style the forms for you so they match the rest of your brand.
Donor Management Software
This is probably the most common use case for iATS. By connecting iATS with a donation platform, you are able to greatly expand its functionality. You may be able to add features like a donor login portal where donors can manage their recurring donations, be able to pull more advanced reports, and even have fundraisers build their own campaigns in support of your nonprofit.
What are some other payment processors recommended for nonprofits?
There are a variety of payment processors that nonprofits can use. Here is a short list of my top pics:
What is the difference between a payment processor and a donation platform?
This is a great question that many people don’t even know to ask. A payment processor is the tool that is actually taking the credit card information, verifying its authenticity, charging it, and depositing the money into a merchant account. A donation platform, on the other hand, is a tool that often utilized a payment processor. It often stores information about your donors and provides tools for collecting, reporting, and engaging with your donors.