Accepting online donations using Donate

The ChurchSuite Giving module includes a great feature that enables churches to easily accept one-off and recurring online donations through their website, at a kiosk perhaps at your Information Desk, and through My ChurchSuite - it's called ChurchSuite Donate. You can even direct people to Donate by distributing an embedded Donate link in your email or SMS communications. Like My ChurchSuite, Donate will be beautifully styled using your church's colour palette and logo.In this article

Overview of ChurchSuite Donate
Enabling Direct Debit giving with GoCardless
Enabling Credit/Debit Card giving with Stripe
Setting up and using ChurchSuite Donate
Custom Donate Buttons
Adding fund-specific bank accounts to Stripe and GoCardless
Managing recurring donations created through GoCardless and Stripe

Overview of ChurchSuite Donate

ChurchSuite Donate makes it very easy for existing church members and visitors to give to your church or to a specific ministry (Fund) in your church, either on a recurring basis, or by giving one-off donations. Givers can donate by either debit/credit card (using the Stripe integration) or by Direct Debit from their bank account (using the GoCardless integration). Essentially, Donate is an online giving portal that can be made available to your prospective givers in a number of different ways: -

  • through your website (either by embedding Donate into a page on your website, or simply adding a "Donate" button that redirects people to Donate),
  • within your email and sms communications (using embedded link to Donate),
  • at your weekend service Information Desk (Donate is accessible within ChurchSuite Connect),
  • within the My Giving section of ChurchSuite's member-facing system My ChurchSuite, and
  • through SMS/Text using your Textlocal or Twilio integration.

Donate is an incredibly versatile interface that provides a simple, secure and effective way of helping potential givers to make one-off or recurring donations by debit/credit card or direct debit. Let's look at how it works...

The Donate system begins with a choice of whether to make a recurring donation and/or a one-off donation, and the 'fund' they are giving to. For UK churches only, givers can select whether their donations are Gift Aided. And finally they enter their email address, which is used by ChurchSuite to match the giver to an existing giver profile or to create a new profile where the email address is not matched.

If the email address provided can be matched to an existing contact in the Address Book or Giving module, the giver is asked to confirm, or to select "I'm not in this list"; which will create a new profile in the Giving module. Similarly, if the multiple contacts in the Address Book or Giving module match that the email address provided (e.g. a spouse/partner with a shared email address), the giver is asked to select the the correct profile, or select "I'm not in this list". Where a new giver profile is being created, and always when donations are Gift Aided but there is no valid address against the giver profile, the giver is asked to submit their personal details.

Next, and depending on the Integrations your church has completed (GoCardless and/or Stripe) and the module settings you have configured, the giver can choose between making a Direct Debit donation (GoCardless)...

... or Card donation (Stripe).

For each selection, the giver is informed of the transaction fees and, subject to your Giving module options, invited to optionally increase their donation to cover the transaction fees so that the church receives the full donation. (UK churches only - Note that HMRC permits Gift Aid to be claimed on the gross donation before transaction fees, even though the net amount received in the church bank account is less, since this was the amount donated and fees are simply a cost of collection. ChurchSuite correctly handles gift aid calculations in this regard when processing your Gift Aid claim).

For direct debit donations (whether one-off or recurring), the giver completes the direct debit form, including their bank details...

...or for Card donations, they simply enter their card details through Stripe's card portal.

Both Stripe and GoCardless take care of all the authentication and payment processing. A success message confirms to the giver that their donation(s) has been been successfully processed.

What happens to those donations next?

Where the email address of the giver was not matched to an existing giver profile or Address Book contact, a new giver profile is created.

For one-off donations, these are automatically recorded against the giver profile in the Giving module in ChurchSuite.

For recurring donations, a pledge is created and the donations will be recorded against the giver profile on each date that the recurring donation is processed by Stripe/GoCardless. The Online Donations report and Subscriptions report in the Giving module report will display pledged (recurring) donations and the status of the donations.

For UK churches only, Gift Aided donations will correctly show as 'not claimed' where a valid Gift Aid declaration continues to be held - Gift Aid will be claimable on these donations when you next complete a Gift Aid claim. For one-off donations, a one-day electronic Gift Aid declaration is created against the giver profile. For recurring donations, an enduring electronic Gift Aid declarations is created with a start date, but no end date. The start date is from date the pledge is created. In order to reclaim Gift Aid on donations in the previous four years you will still need to obtain a declaration to cover those dates.

For the giver, the donation is automatically debited from their bank account or card on the due date, and this is deposited into your church's designated bank account net of transactions fees. Depending on your Fund settings in the Giving module, they will also receive a confirmation email if you have configured one.

Enabling Direct Debit giving with GoCardless


Please note that GoCardless is not available in all countries. Check their website for a list of supported countries. However, it is still possible to accept both recurring and one-off card donations through Stripe - a debit card donation is exactly the same as a direct debit/ACH payment.

To enable ChurchSuite Donate, simply go to "Giving" and locate the box in the right-hand column that says "Online giving". Note, you will need Administrator access to complete this integration on your account.

Clicking the "Enable Direct Debit giving" button will open the GoCardless Integration page and allow you to enable Direct debit giving online.

About GoCardless

GoCardless is the payment provider ChurchSuite uses for receiving direct debit payments and donations from individual's bank accounts. One-off and recurring donations accepted through ChurchSuite Donate are subject to a 2% transaction fee (minimum 20p). This transaction fee consists of two parts - a 1% transaction fee to GoCardless (capped at £2) and a 1% transaction fee to ChurchSuite (also capped at £2). For more information click here.

Make sure you have your charity number and your bank account number and sort code ready, then click "Save and Proceed". This will take you to the GoCardless website.

Create an account with GoCardless (or sign in to your existing account), and, when prompted, agree to "Connect your GoCardless account to ChurchSuite. Once it's all done, the GoCardless Integration page in ChurchSuite (which can be accessed through "Administrator" > "Integrations") should look like this:

Note also the option to "Add another account", which will allow you to integrate other bank accounts that exist within your GoCardless account and then assign that account to a particular fund(s). Ideal if you want your Building Project Fund online donations to go into a different bank account to your regular donations.

Enabling Credit/Debit Card giving with Stripe

If you want to enable credit/debit card giving make sure you click on "Enable credit/debit card giving" on the main Giving page.

From there you'll be taken to the integration section in Administrator, and then on to the Stripe Website. For detailed guidance on setting-up the Stripe integration see our related support article on "Integrating Stripe for event ticket payments).

About Stripe

Stripe is the payment provider ChurchSuite uses for all card payments for "pay" event ticket sales, booking charges and online donations. 

UK Churches: One-off or recurring card payments accepted through ChurchSuite via Stripe are subject to a 2.4% + 20p (no cap) transaction fee for European cards and 2.9% +30p for non-European cards. This transaction fee consists of two parts - a 1.4% + 20p transaction fee to Stripe and a 1% transaction fee to ChurchSuite. For more information click here.

Non-Profit Discount for US Churches: Churches that are eligible non-profit organisations are able to access a special charity rate of and 2.9% + 30c for International and American Express cards) In this case, the transaction fee consists of two parts - a 2.2% + 30c transaction fee to Stripe and a 0.7% transaction fee to ChurchSuite. These fees are among the lowest of any card handler in the world! When you complete your Stripe integration you'll receive an email explaining how to claim these charity rates.

To enquire your eligibility as a non-profit, you can email

Fees correct as of 8th January 2018.

Setting up and using ChurchSuite Donate

With Administrator access, go to "Giving" and click the "Module Options" button.

Go to the "Donate" tab.

At the top of the page there's a shaded box "Online Giving Options" that includes a link to your church's Donate page. Choose the integration(s) you're using to receive donations and tick the "Transaction fees" box as appropriate. You're also able to customise the "success message" that will appear once someone has made a donation to your church.

When you're done, click "Save Changes" before navigating away from the module settings.

Now, you simply need to provide a link to your Donate page from your website and/or in your communications. Donate can also be accessed by church members within the My Giving section of My ChurchSuite. You can also enable SMS giving (see related support article), enabling givers to text an amount to your church's SMS giving number, and they will receive a reply back with a link to your Donate page, with all their details pre-populated.

Donate buttons for your website

We have prepared some lovely buttons for you to use on your church website. If you want to use them, download the ChurchSuite Donate buttons library (this is a zip file that you need to extract once downloaded) and choose the button you want to use. Embed the image into your website and link the button to your Donate page as suggested in the shaded box in the previous image.

Donate embed

As an alternative to adding a Donate button within your website, you may wish to embed the Donate interface directly to a page within your website. To achieve this, simply copy and paste your church's Donate URL into an "<iFrame>" container in the source code section of the web page. Your church's unique URL can be found in the Giving module settings on the Donate tab.

Adding fund-specific bank accounts to Stripe and GoCardless

You can add multiple bank accounts to both your Stripe and GoCardless integrations, each of which can then be linked to a specific fund within the Giving module.

Churches will often collect donations in support of particular causes (i.e. disaster relief, international outreach, etc) for which they might create a specific fund within the Giving module. In situations where churches want the donations made to a cause-specific fund to go to a different bank account than the one used to collect regular donations, use the "Add another account" option in the respective Stripe and GoCardless Integrations (In Administrator > Integrations), and then link that new bank account to the relevant cause-specific fund.

Note that for GoCardless, you will have to set up a new customer account for each bank account (unlike Stripe, which allows multiple bank accounts in a single customer account).

For GoCardless, when selecting "Add another account" in the GoCardless Integration, you are directed to GoCardless' "Create a new account" page. Complete the steps to sign up and verify your church's bank account.

Make sure you proceed with "Creating your account" (Rather than signing in to your existing account).

For Stripe you will first need to create a new account within your existing Stripe profile.

Next, select "Add another account" in the Stripe Integration, which will take you to the Stripe login screen. Select "Sign in" in the top right-hand corner.

Follow Stripe's on-screen instructions for adding a new bank account. Once you are returned to the ChurchSuite Integration page (for either Stripe or GoCardless) you'll see your default account and your newly added account, which you can now assign for donation Funds. Click the "Edit" button and use the drop-down menu to select the fund(s) that you want to link to that new bank account. Online donations made to that fund(s) will then be paid into that bank account moving forwards.

Managing recurring donations created through GoCardless and Stripe

In "Giving" > "Reports" is a useful selection of tools to assist with reconciling donations received online, either by Stripe Transfer or GoCardless Subscription.

If a giver has successfully set up a Direct Debit payment subscription to your church, the subscription will be shown in the Subscriptions report. Churches' are unable to modify the amount of recurring gifts made by a Stripe or GoCardless subscription, but they can Cancel a subscription so that the giver can set up a different subscription, perhaps for a different amount.

Troubleshooting unreceived donations

In the event that donations are leaving the giver's bank account, but not seemingly arriving in your church's bank account, check the following: -

  • That an active subscription for the giver is showing in the above report. If not, confirm first that your GoCardless/Stripe integration has been completed successfully in "Administrator" > "Integrations".
  • If you have multiple church bank accounts configured in GoCardless or Stripe, to which you can receive donations, check that you are looking for the donations in the correct account(!)
  • Check that you have assigned valid bank details to your Stripe or GoCardless account. You'll need to log in to your Stripe or GoCardless account to confirm this.
  • Check that the giver has actually set up a subscription to your church and not to somewhere else(!)

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