Selecting a donation processor for nonprofits can be a very daunting task. There is a lot of technical languages used around the topic and you don’t want to be stuck in a platform that doesn’t meet your needs. That’s why I recommend Stripe as a payment processor. Why should nonprofits use Stripe? Stripe has excellent rates for nonprofits, has best in class security and fraud protection, and has the most robust set of integrations of any payment processor on the market.
What Is A Payment Processor
The get started on why Stripe is such a great choice as a payment processor for nonprofits, we first need to define exactly what a payment processor even is. When it comes to collecting donations or selling merchandise and services, there are usually two pieces of software involved.
The first is the front-facing piece used to collect the information used to charge the payment or donation. This is often referred to as the donation portal or commerce platform. This piece interacts with your donors and customers, allowing them to purchase specific items, donate to a specific designation, or manage a recurring donation. This is not what Stripe is.
Stripe is the second piece known as the payment processor. A payment processor is a software that is responsible for actually making the transaction happen. It receives payment information, often from a donation platform, and then goes through a multi-step process of verifying the transaction information, withdrawing the funds from the donor’s account, and then depositing it into your own.
While these two pieces almost always come separately, Stripe does have the ability to handle both sides of this equation. I would not recommend this as Stripe alone lacks some of the tools you would want to track donations and manage donors.
Why Choose Stripe
There a number of reasons why I personally believe that Stripe should be the go-to processor for almost every nonprofit. They are affordable, have very robust integrations, and have the most advanced security of any processor I have ever seen.
While it shouldn’t be the deciding factor for payment processor selection, it would be foolish to say that the cost of processing payment wasn’t a big factor for selecting a payment processor. Most nonprofits are on a shoestring budget and want to see as much of every donation hit their bank account. Here is a table comparing Stripe’s processing fees with Square, another major payment processor.
|Stripe Nonprofit Cost*||Stripe Standard Cost||Square Cost|
|In-Person Payment||2.2 % + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||2.6% + $0.10|
|Ecommerce and Invoices||2.2 % + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30|
|Recurring Payments||2.2 % + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||3.5% + $0.15|
|Manually Card |
|2.2 % + $0.30||2.9% + $0.30||3.5% + $0.15|
As you can see, Stripe’s nonprofit rate is very low. I have yet to find a lower rate than what Stripe offers for nonprofits. It is worth noting that to receive Stripe’s nonprofit rate, at least 80% of the transactions must be donations and not sales related transactions.
Stripe’s integrations are what really set it apart. In the digital world, having a strong integration is key to efficiency and reduced labor costs. Stripe was started in 2011 as a way to integrate payment processing with websites. It quickly became one of the largest payment processors by providing a very robust API and a great set of integrations. Anyone with a basic level of understanding in the programming world is able to build a connection with a Stripe account.
It is also worth noting that several large donation platforms also integrate with Stripe. These include Classy, DonorBox, Kindful, and GiveWP. All of these platforms have recognized the value of using Stripe as a payment processor.
Security is an area that should be of high concern for anyone looking to handle online donations and payments. As the number of identity thefts, credit card scams, and fraudulent charges increases, there is an ever-increasing need to have the best in class security.
Stripe has built a tool they call Radar that handles security through machine learning. By comparing each transaction against the billions of transactions that have already gone through Stripe, they are able to detect when a charge is fraudulent or authentic. Stipe even claims that there is an 89% chance that a new customer/donor will use a card that has already been run through Stripe by a different organization.
Reporting probably isn’t Stripe’s strongest feature unless you have a data analyst on your team. Other than basic reconciliation reports, all of the reporting that Stripe offers needs to be done through SQL queries. This does have the advantage of being able to manipulate the data in the greatest number of ways, but it comes at the cost of not being very user-friendly. Also, to access the SQL reports, there is a small (< $0.02) fee per transaction.
Alternatives To Stripe
While I do consider Stripe to be the gold standard for nonprofit payment processing, there are a couple of situations where a different processor might be a better fit for your organization.
There is one specific situation where Square is a better alternative to payment processing than Stripe. When you have a brick and mortar store. If you are selling products in person as a large portion of your revenue, then Square may be a better option. It offers a fairly reduced transaction rate compared to Stripe’s standard rate and has some fairly good reporting on merchandise. You can find more about using Square as a payment processor here.
iATS is a payment processor that was built specifically for nonprofits. They offer very reasonable processing fees and have some great customer support. If you are looking for an inexpensive way to integrate a payment processor with Salesforce, then this might be the option for you.
While selecting the right payment processor is important for your nonprofit, having a great donation platform is probably more important. You should probably start your journey of choosing a payment processor by determining which processors are compatible with the donation platform that best fits your organization. From there you should select the processor that has the best features.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Stripe process foreign currency?
Absolutely! Stipe can process currencies from all over the world. It can also handle Bitcoin, ApplePay, GooglePay, and other atypical donation types.
Does Stripe have any hidden fees?
Nope. This is another one of the great features of Stripe. Outside of the processing fees, there are no other costs to use their products. It is free to set up an account so if you want to explore their system a little bit before committing, you can do so without having to worry about canceling a free trial before you get hit with a subscription charge.