Accepting online donations using Donate

The Giving module includes a great feature that enables churches and charitable organisations to easily accept one-off and recurring online donations - it's called Donate.

In this article

Overview of Donate and the giver user experience
Setting up Donate
Add a Donate button to your website
Embed a Donate form into your website
Managing recurring donation pledges

Overview of Donate and the giver user experience

Existing members and visitors can use Donate to give one-off and recurring donations to your various funds. Here's how it works...

Arriving at your Donate page (shown below), the giver user experience begins with entering the Amount (in the local currency of your ChurchSuite account) and a choice of Fund - depending on your Fund visibility settings. Where only one active fund is set to "Show in Donate" no fund selector will be shown.

The Frequency selector is used to select One-off or a specified Recurring frequency. You can optionally lock down a fund to just one-off donations in the fund's settings.

Next, depending on the payment integrations completed and your Donate settings, the giver selects their giving Method - by debit/credit card (using the Stripe integration) or by direct debit from their bank account (using the GoCardless integration) - both integrations support one-off and recurring donations.

For UK customers, and depending on your fund settings, the giver can optionally Gift Aid their donation. Depending on your Donate settings, the giver can be invited to optionally increase their donation to cover the online payment transaction fees - this option is only surfaced after the giver has entered a donation amount. Where a giver has Gift-Aided their donation, Gift Aid will be claimable on the increased donation amount.

The giver enters their Email address and having ticked that they have read, understood and accept your privacy notice they can click Proceed. A security code is sent to the giver's email address and needs to be entered into the form to validate the giver. The giver can optionally select to Remember me on this device, which will save a security cookie in the giver's device browser so that they're not prompted for a security code for their email address in the future. A previously-remembered giver can also opt to no longer be remembered.

Clicking Proceed - and if the email address is matched to more than one active givers or active Address Book contacts that doesn't yet have a linked giver profile - the giver is invited to select which person the donation is to be assigned to. In the example below, Paul and Fiona both share the same email address in ChurchSuite.

If the email address is not matched to an existing person in ChurchSuite, or if then giver selects I am not in this list, the giver is prompted to enter some basic contact details and a new giver profile will be created. Name, first line of address, city and postcode/zip code fields are required. For multi-site customers, the new giver profile is added to your first/primary site determined by your site order set in Administrator > Profile > Sites - the giver cannot select their site.

Where the giver's email is matched to an existing person, or where the new giver has entered their contact details (above), an Edit option is provided so that the giver can update their contact details if necessary. A giver must always have the minimum 'required' contact details and will be unable to proceed with their donation until these are provided. At this stage the donation details are summarised - the amount, frequency and fund (shown below). For card donations the Cardholder Billing details section will be pre-populated with the giver's contact details, but the giver can optionally change their billing details to match the details held by their card provider. In this regard the cardholder details may be different to the giver's contact details. No cardholder details are stored in ChurchSuite. Finally, the giver enters their card payment details and clicks Pay by Card...

...or, for direct debit/bank donations, they'll click Proceed to GoCardless to complete the transaction, which requires them to enter their bank sort code and account number.

A success message is displayed. For "instant payments" by card, the success message will confirm the donation has been immediately processed, and for direct debit payments the success message will confirm the transaction is being processed by their bank. In both cases the success page can be closed, even if the transaction is still processing. A confirmation email will be sent to the giver when the payment request has been processed and approved. For recurring donations, an email confirmation will be sent each time a pledge donation is processed on the 'due date'.

Important - Stripe transaction fee calculation

ChurchSuite is unable to determine whether your organisation is on Stripe's standard pricing or their non-profit discounted tariff. We therefore assume standard pricing when calculating the transaction fees explained to the giver in Donate. However, if your organisation is on Stripe's non-profit tariff, this will lead to a difference when the transaction fee is calculated according to your actual Stripe pricing. Consider the above example one-off donation of £100...

Stripe's standard transaction fees are 2.4% + 20p = £2.60, so the organisation would receive £97.40.

If the giver chooses to Cover transaction fee, their donation will be increased to £102.66, so the organisation would receive £100 after deduction of Stripe standard pricing transaction fees.

However, if your organisation is on Stripe's discounted "non-profit" tariff, the fees on a £100 gross donation will be calculated as 2.2%+20p = £2.40, so you'll actually receive £97.60.

Similarly, if the giver increases their donation to cover the transaction fee, the fees on a £102.66 gross donation, when calculated as 2.2% + 20p = £2.46, so you'll actually receive £100.20.

What happens next?

For one-off donations, these are automatically added against the giver's profile in ChurchSuite, and can also be viewed using the Online Donations report in the Giving module's Reports section.

For recurring donations, a subscription pledge is added to the giver's profile, shown on the Pledges tab. Subscription pledges are distinguished from manually-added pledges by a "DD" or 'Card' icon in the Method column.

Subscription pledge donations are automatically added against the giver's profile on each due date while the pledge is active, and the giver will receive a fund confirmation email each time Stripe/GoCardless process their pledge donation. The confirmation email contains an embedded Manage giving button, enabling the giver to further manage their regular pledge giving, perhaps to make changes or cancel.

If Pledge Management is enabled in your Giving module's My ChurchSuite Options, a Manage option is also available to the giver through their My Giving section in My ChurchSuite.

For recurring Direct Debit donations, Manage giving enables a giver to cancel their donation or edit the amount (but not the due date). If a giver wishes to change their pledge 'due date', they will need to cancel their existing pledge and set up a new pledge for the new due date.

For recurring Card donations, Manage giving enables a giver to edit their pledge - perhaps to change the amount or add an end date to their pledge. They can also change the payment card used for future donations, or cancel their pledge entirely. If a giver wishes to change their pledge 'due date', they will need to cancel their existing pledge and set up a new pledge for the new due date.

Finance teams can use the Online Donations and Subscriptions reports in the Giving module's Reports section to view details of online donations and pledges, including details of the status of online donations as they are processed by Stripe and GoCardless.

For UK customers, 'Gift Aided' online donations are added with an Unclaimed status - Gift Aid will be claimable on those donations when you next complete a Gift Aid claim.

For one-off online donations, a "one-day" digitally-signed Gift Aid declaration is created against the giver profile to cover the donation's fund and date. And for recurring donations, an "enduring" Gift Aid declaration is created to cover the donation's fund with a start date but no end date. The declaration start date is always the date the pledge/donation is created. In order to reclaim Gift Aid on a giver's historic donations made in the previous four years, you will need to obtain a separate declaration to cover those dates. Note that where an existing online giver makes a one-off donation and already has a Gift Aid declaration covering the date and fund of the donation, Donate always adds a further Gift Aid declaration and the declaration and donation are linked - this is to meet HMRC requirements of having a clear audit trail between each one-off donation and the respective donation.

For the giver, the donation is automatically charged to their bank account or card, and for recurring donations, is charged automatically on each subsequent due date. Each payment provider has their own "payout" processes for depositing the donations into your organisation's designated bank account net of transaction fees - see the related Stripe and GoCardless Integration support articles for further information.

Finally, the giver will receive a confirmation email each time an online donation is processed - the confirmation email contains all the details of their donation. Each fund's confirmation email can be optionally customised with your own additional message - the donation confirmation details will be appended to the end of any custom email message you have set.

Setting up Donate

Setting up Donate is really easy. The first step is to Enable Direct Debit and/or Enable credit/debit card giving - these options are available from the Givers section of your Giving module.

In both cases you'll be taken to the respective payment provider integrations to complete the GoCardless (Direct Debit) and/or Stripe (cards) account-opening process, and to link the payment provider account to ChurchSuite. For detailed guidance on setting-up each integration, see our related support articles - " Integrating Stripe for online card payments" and "Integrating GoCardless for online donations".

Having completed the payment provider integration(s), head into the Giving module's settings, accessed via the cog-wheels icon in the top right corner of the module.

Select the Donate Options tab. At the top of the page is a link to your Donate page - you can use this URL link in communications to promote online giving. You can also embed a link to Donate in your website.

Next, click to Edit each of the options in turn - explained below...

Set the Integrations through which you will accept online donations. Note that only payment integrations that have can accept live payments will be shown in Donate - payment methods that are restricted and cannot accept live payments will not be available to the giver in Donate - this would typically happen if your Stripe account is restricted e.g. incomplete verification steps. You should liaise directly with Stripe to complete all outstanding account verification in order to accept live payments.

The Transaction fees option enables/disables the "Ask giver to cover transaction fees" option in Donate; optionally inviting the giver to increase their donation to cover the transaction fees. Finally, you can add a Success Message that will display on-screen when a giver has successfully completed the online donation process.

Finally, head into the Funds section of the module and make sure that at least one fund is set to "Show in Donate" - distinguished by an 'eye' icon in the list of funds. In this way you can control which funds people to give online. Funds can be re-ordered - perhaps to put your most common fund first in the list - the first fund is the default fund shown in Donate.

Selecting to Edit a fund surfaces additional Donate-related settings for each fund - whether to show the fund in Donate, whether the fund accepts one-off only or one-off and recurring donations, and for UK customers, whether the fund accepts 'Gift-Aided' online donations.

Now, all you need to do is make Donate available to your prospective givers - perhaps via a "Giving" page on your website with an embedded Donate button, or in your email communications. Note also that Donate can be accessed by members within the My Giving section the member-facing My ChurchSuite - click here for further information.

Top Tip! Suggested donation amounts

Adding ?amount=X to the Donate or Fund Page URL will pre-populate the Donate form with amount "X". This may be helpful where you wish to share a Donate or Fund Page link in your communications that opens the form with a suggested donation amount. Note that the giver can still optionally override the suggested amount if they wish.

Add a Donate button to your website

We've prepared some ready-made "Donate" image buttons for you to use on your website. You can download them here: ChurchSuite Donate buttons library - this is a 'zip' file that you'll need to extract once downloaded. Choose the button you want to use - there's a range of buttons in different styles, colours and currencies. Next, embed the button image into a page on your website and link the button to your Donate page URL.

Embed a Donate form into your website

By enclosing your Donate URL in <iframe> brackets, you can easily copy and paste a line of embed code into the source code or embed block section of a Giving page on your own website. The line of code will typically look like this - you'll substitute our "" URL for your own Donate URL:

<iframe frameborder="0" height="1000" scrolling="yes" src="" style="border-width:0" width="100%"></iframe>

Managing recurring donation pledges

The Giving module's Reports section includes a selection of useful reports designed to help finance teams with managing online donations and subscription pledges made through Donate.

If a giver has successfully set up a recurring donation (Stripe or GoCardless), their Pledge will be shown in the Subscriptions report. From here, a User is able to Edit a pledge on a giver's behalf - to change the Amount or add a pledge End Date (with the giver's consent of course!) Changes made will take effect from the next donation due date. A User can also Cancel an Active pledge, which will prevent further donations being requested for the pledge. The Status column indicates the subscription pledge status - either Active, Future, Expired or Cancelled.

Users can also manage subscription pledges from the Pledges tab of a giver's profile. As with the Subscriptions report, a User can Edit or Cancel a giver's subscription pledge (with the giver's permission of course!).

It is not possible to delete an Active subscription pledge, and neither is it possible to delete a giver that has an Active, Expired or Cancelled subscription pledge (except where there have not yet been any donations processed for pledge). However, once a subscription pledge has Expired (where the pledge 'end date' has passed) or been Cancelled (by a User in ChurchSuite or by the giver in My ChurchSuite), it is possible to optionally Delete pledges from a giver's profile. Deleting a pledge will remove all historic pledge progress (and pledge progress reporting) and unlink historic pledged donations from the pledge - but the donations themselves will not be deleted. Once all subscription pledges have been deleted, it may be possible to delete the giver if retention of the giver's profile is no longer necessary - this will only be possible if there are not donations included in any Gift Aid claims (UK only).

All changes made to pledges are recorded in the Pledge Changes log (click View changes). A 'pledge change' notification email is automatically sent to the giver and a note of the sent notification is logged in the giver's Communication log on their profile.

Troubleshooting unreceived donations

In the event that donations are leaving the giver's bank account, but are not seemingly arriving in your organisation'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 bank accounts configured in GoCardless or Stripe, check that you are looking for the donations in the correct account!
  • Check that your Stripe/GoCardless account has not been "restricted" - typically caused by incomplete account verification steps. When this happens live payments and/or payouts may be disabled until the issues are resolved with the relevant payment service provider.
  • Check that you have assigned valid bank details to your Stripe or GoCardless account, and that there are no outstanding account verification steps - 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, and not to somewhere else!
  • If this is a giver's first donation made via GoCardless, do be aware that there's a slightly longer time period between the first donation date and the date funds are processed by your bank. For further information see - you'll notice that for the first donation, there are some additional days whilst the bank confirms the mandate, which happens before the mandate can be charged for the first time. When processing a donation with GoCardless, and since a donation can fail while the mandate is being set up, it doesn't show in ChurchSuite until GoCardless confirm it. The process is that the donation is created (instruction send to the bank), then it's confirmed (bank confirms there are funds and it can be processed), after which it is processed (bank confirms the finds have been transferred to GoCardless) and finally paid out (GoCardless pay out the funds to your bank account). Since donations might fail when the mandate is first created (e.g. lack of funds), ChurchSuite doesn't show the donation in the Giving module until it is confirmed. You can view a full list of donations, including those that have been created but not confirmed (i.e. they could still fail) via your GoCardless account dashboard.

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