Accepting online donations using Donate

The Giving module includes a great feature that enables churches and other charitable organisations to easily accept one-off and recurring online donations through their website ( Embed), at their Information Desk (Connect) and through ChurchSuite's member-facing platform (My ChurchSuite) - it's called Donate. You can even direct prospective givers to Donate by distributing links in your communications. Like the rest of ChurchSuite, Donate is beautifully styled to match your organisation'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 'Subscription pledges' and donations created through GoCardless and Stripe

Overview of ChurchSuite Donate

Through ChurchSuite Donate, existing church members and visitors can give to your church or to a specific ministry (a specific Fund), either on a recurring basis or by giving one-off donations. Givers can donate 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. Here's how it works...

The user experience begins with a choice of Fund - depending on your Fund visibility settings - and whether the donation is recurring or one-off or both. For UK customers, givers can select whether or not to Gift Aid their donation(s).

ChurchSuite uses the giver's email address to attempt to match to an existing giver profile. A new giver profile will be created if the email address is not matched. Next, the giver is invited to confirm they have read, understood and accept your Data Protection statement, giving their permission for you to process their personal data. Without consent, the giver will be unable to proceed with their online donation.

If the email address provided can be matched to either an existing contact in the Address Book or a giver profile in the Giving module, the giver is asked to confirm the match (see below) or to select -- I am not in this list --, which will create a new giver profile in the Giving module. If there are multiple people in the Address Book or Giving module that match the email address provided (e.g., a spouse/partner with a shared email address), the giver is asked to select the correct profile from the list or select -- I am not in this list --.

Where a new giver profile is going to be created (and always when donations are Gift Aided but there is not currently a valid postal address for the giver), the giver is asked to submit their address and postcode.

Next, depending upon the payment Integrations that your church has completed (GoCardless and Stripe) and whether those payment methods have been enabled for Donate in the Giving module's settings, the giver can choose between making a one-off or recurring Direct Debit donation (GoCardless), which will require them to enter their bank sort code and account number...

... or a one-off or recurring Card donation (Stripe), which will require entry of their card details.

For both selections, the giver is informed of the transaction fees and, subject to your Giving module options, can be invited to optionally increase their donation to cover those transaction fees so that the church receives the full donation. UK customers - note that HMRC permits Gift Aid to be claimed on the gross donation before transaction fees, even though the net amount received in your church bank account is net of fees; since the gross donation was the actual 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.

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 an example one-off donation of £100...

The giver is informed that the transaction fees are 2.4% + 20p = £2.60, and that the organisation will 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, not the £97.40 the giver is expecting you to receive.

And similarly, if the giver has increased their donation to cover the transaction fee, the fees on a £102.66 gross donation will also be calculated as 2.2% + 20p = £2.46, so you'll actually receive £100.20, not the £100 the giver is expecting you to receive.

For Direct Debit donations (whether one-off or recurring), the giver completes the secure GoCardless Direct Debit form, including their bank details...

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

Both Stripe and GoCardless take care of all the payment authentication and processing. Once the payment is verified and approved, a "success message" confirms to the giver that their donation(s) has been successfully processed and an email confirmation of the donation(s) is sent to the giver's email address. For recurring donations, an email confirmation will be sent each time a donation is processed.

What happens to the online 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 will have been created in the Giving module. For multi-site customers, the new unlinked giver profile is added to the default (first) site (as configured under Administrator > Profile).

For one-off donations, these are automatically and immediately recorded against the giver profile in the Giving module in ChurchSuite - these can be easily viewed using the Online Donations report in the Giving module > Reports section and on the Donations tab of the giver profile.

For recurring donations, a subscription "pledge" is added against the giver profile - distinguished with a DD or 'card' icon in the Method column.

The donations are recorded against the giver profile on each date that the recurring donation is processed by Stripe/GoCardless. The giver will also receive an email confirmation each time a pledge donation is processed.

When a giver sets up a new recurring donation, the confirmation email will contain a Manage giving button that enables the giver to manage their regular giving for that pledge. The Manage giving option is also available to a giver through the My Giving section of My ChurchSuite.

For recurring Direct Debit donations, Manage giving enables givers to cancel their donation or edit the amount. If the giver wishes to change the due date, the existing direct debit must first be cancelled and new direct debit set up using Donate.

For recurring card donations (see below), the giver is able to: edit their regular giving (perhaps to change the amount or add an end date to their donations), change the card their future donations are processed against or cancel their pledge entirely. In each case, a confirmation email of the changes is sent to the giver and a change log recorded against the giver's profile in ChurchSuite.

The Online Donations and Subscriptions reports in the Giving module's Reports section can be used to view recurring donation pledges and the status of online donations as they are processed by Stripe and GoCardless.

For UK customers, 'Gift Aided' online donations will correctly show with an Unclaimed status where a valid Gift Aid declaration continues to be held - Gift Aid will be claimable on those donations when you next complete a Gift Aid claim. For one-off online donations, a "one-day" electronic Gift Aid declaration is created against the giver profile to cover the donation. For recurring donations, an "enduring" Gift Aid declaration is created with a start date but no end date. The declaration start date is from the date the pledge is first created. In order to reclaim Gift Aid on a giver's other donations in the previous four years, you will still need to obtain a separate declaration to cover those dates. Where an existing matched giver already has a Gift Aid declaration covering the date and fund of the donation, Donate does not add a new Gift Aid declaration.

For the giver, the donation is automatically debited from their bank account or charged to their card on the due date(s) and this is deposited into your church's designated bank account, net of transaction fees.

The giver will receive a fund-specific email confirmation for the donation they have made, which can be customised.

The same Manage giving option is available to givers in the My Giving > Pledges section of My ChurchSuite (if this section has been enabled in your Giving module options). Here, givers can edit/cancel their recurring direct debit or card donations. Cancelled pledges remain visible in My Giving for two months, after which they are hidden from the page.

Enabling Direct Debit giving with GoCardless


You will only need a GoCardless Standard account (no monthly fee), not the Plus or Pro paid accounts

Please note that GoCardless's services are 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.

Most Direct Debit providers impose a transaction limit of £800 per giver per month. GoCardless offers a standard limit of £5,000 per transaction, which can be lifted with some simple checks.

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

Clicking the Enable Direct Debit giving button will open the GoCardless Integration page.

About GoCardless

GoCardless is the payment provider ChurchSuite uses for receiving Direct Debit payments and donations from individuals' bank accounts. One-off and recurring Direct Debit donations accepted through ChurchSuite Donate are subject to a 2% transaction fee + 20p + VAT per transaction. The transaction fee consists of two parts - a 1% + 20p + VAT transaction fee to GoCardless (capped at a maximum of £4 + VAT) and a 1% transaction fee (inclusive of VAT) to ChurchSuite (capped at £2). For transactions of £2,000 or more, GoCardless charge an additional 0.1% + VAT fee on the portion of the transaction above the £2,000 threshold.

Example 1 – £10 donation - Transaction fee (1% + 20p = 30p) + ChurchSuite processing fee (1% = 10p) = 40p

Example 2 – £1,000 donation - Transaction fee capped at £4 + ChurchSuite processing fee capped at £2 = £6

Example 3 – £5,000 donation - Transaction fee capped at £4 + ChurchSuite processing fee capped at £2 + High value transaction fee applied to portion above £2,000 threshold (0.1% x £3,000 = £3) = £9

For more information about GoCardless click here.

In addition to the UK-based BACS direct debit system, ChurchSuite has also implemented the SEPA Direct Debit system used across the Eurozone. The payment provider for this is also GoCardless. For more information on countries and availability, click here.

VAT applies to the GoCardless fee element  in the Examples above.

Fees correct as of 1st September 2020.

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

Follow the on-screen instructions with GoCardless to create an account (or sign in to an existing account if you have one) and, when prompted, click to agree to Connect [your GoCardless] account to ChurchSuite. Once completed, you'll be returned back to the Integration page in ChurchSuite (which can also be accessed through "Administrator" > "Integrations") and it should look like this - the integration is complete and you're ready to begin receiving Direct Debit donations using Donate.

Note the option to Add another account, which will enable you to integrate other GoCardless accounts and then assign those account(s) 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. See later in this article for further information.

Changing your GoCardless payout bank account

In order to update your payout bank account details, log into your GoCardless account. From the dashboard navigate to Settings > Company info > Edit account details > Connect your bank account > update and follow the on-screen instructions - if requested, select the GoCardless Standard (free) account.
Note: this process will take you through the verification of the new bank account details provided. This usually takes 2-3 working days to verify. In the meantime, payouts will be frozen. They will then be automatically released to your new bank account once verification is complete.

Enabling Credit/Debit Card giving with Stripe

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

From here, you'll be taken to the Stripe Integration in the Administrator section of ChurchSuite and then on to Stripe's website to complete the process. For detailed guidance on setting-up the Stripe integration see our related support article on "Integrating Stripe for online payments". Once the integration is complete you're ready to begin receiving card donations using Donate!

About Stripe

Stripe is the payment provider ChurchSuite uses for all card payments. Regardless of the cardholder's local currency, card payments are always processed into ChurchSuite in your ChurchSuite account's local currency. No card details are held within ChurchSuite.

A transactions fee is deducted by Stripe from each card payment, with the 'net of fees' amount deposited in your designated bank account. Stripe pay out to your bank account in batches, called "Stripe Transfers", at a frequency set in your Stripe account settings. The Stripe Transfers report will help you reconcile the transfers on your bank statement, showing you a breakdown of gross payments, transaction fees, net payments and the total transfer amount received.

UK customers: For eligible non-profit organisations, one-off and recurring card payments accepted through ChurchSuite via Stripe are subject to a 2.2% + 20p (no cap) transaction fee for European cards, and 3.9% +20p for non-European cards. The transaction fee deducted consists of two parts - a 1.2% + 20p transaction fee (or 2.9% + 20p for non European card) to Stripe and a 1% transaction fee to ChurchSuite. For more information click here.

Standard Stripe accounts - organisations not registered as non-profit - are subject to a 2.4% + 20p transaction fee for European card payments (comprising 1.4% + 20p to Stripe and 1% to ChurchSuite).

Non-profit discount for North American customers: Eligible US & Canadian non-profit organisations are able to access a special charity rate of 2.9% + 30c (+1% for International cards). 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 from ChurchSuite explaining how to claim these charity rates.

To enquire about your eligibility as a non-profit, email For further information about transaction fees in other regions, refer to Stripe's website - remember to add the ChurchSuite fees referred to above.

Fees correct as of 1st May 2020.

Setting up and using ChurchSuite Donate

Having completed the Stripe and/or GoCardless integrations, head into the Giving module's settings - the cog-wheels icon in the top right corner of the module.

Select the Donate Options tab.

At the top of the Donate Options, in the grey shaded box Online Giving Options, is a link to your Donate page - this is the link you'll use to embed into your communications promoting online giving, and to embed Donate into your website.

Working through each of the Donate options, select the Integrations through which you will accept donations, tick the Transaction fees box as appropriate and customise the Success Message that will display 'on-screen' when someone has successfully made a donation.

Click Save before navigating away from the module settings.

Now, you simply need to make your Donate page link available on your website and/or in your communications. Donate can also be accessed by church members within the My Giving section of My ChurchSuite plus you can enable SMS giving (see related support article), allowing givers to text an amount to your church's SMS giving number - 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 ready-made "Donate" 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 - there's a range of buttons in different styles and colours. Simply embed the button image into your website and link the button to your Donate page URL as suggested in the shaded box in the previous section.

Embedding the Donate link on your website

To embed the Donate link on your website, first select the Donate options tab in the Giving module settings. In the grey shaded box Online Giving Options there is a link to your Donate page.

Copy this link and put it in iframe brackets for insertion on your website.

Although it’s possible to embed Donate on your website, we suggest that the cleanest option is to have a button link that launches Donate in a new browser tab as described above.

With full embed, when someone starts to complete the form within your website, they will be taken to the Donate external link in a new browser tab. When they complete their donation and close the Success page they will be returned back to the original website page where Donate was started. The donation form will show as completed but may give the impression that the data hasn't been submitted.

For this reason, a button link that launches Donate in a new browser tab is the best option.

Adding fund-specific bank accounts to Stripe and GoCardless

You can assign the online donations you receive for your various funds to different bank accounts using the Add another account option on both the Stripe and GoCardless integrations. Once additional account(s) are added to the integration you can then select which Funds are to be assigned to which bank account.

For example, 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 wish the online donations made to that 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 you will need to set up a new GoCardless account (with different login details for each) for each bank account you wish to accept direct debit payments into. For Stripe you can add a new account within your existing Stripe profile.

For GoCardless, when selecting Add another account in the GoCardless Integration, you are directed to the 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 [new] account - rather than signing in to your existing account.

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

Select Add 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 to add a new bank account. Once you are returned to the ChurchSuite Stripe Integration page you'll see your Default account and your newly added account(s), which you can now assign donation Funds to. Click the Edit action option in the list of Accounts...

On the Edit Account popup select the Funds that you want to link to that bank account. Online donations made to that fund(s) will then be deposited into that bank account moving forward.

Managing recurring 'Subscription pledges' and donations created through GoCardless and Stripe (Donate)

In the Giving module's Reports section are a selection of reports designed to assist finance teams with managing 'subscription pledges' and reconciling donations received online by Stripe Transfers and recurring donation Subscriptions.

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

Users are also able to manage recurring online donations and subscription pledges from the Pledges tab of a giver's profile. As with the Subscriptions report, pledges 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, unless there have not yet been any donations made for that pledge. However, once a subscription pledge has Expired (where the pledge end date has passed) or been Cancelled (by a User in ChurchSuite or the giver in My ChurchSuite), it is possible to optionally Delete the pledge from the giver's profile - this 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 a Gift Aid claim - UK only).

All User changes are recorded in the Pledge Changes log (click View changes). A 'change' notification email is sent to the giver and that sent notification is logged in the giver's Recent Activity > Communication log on their giver profile.

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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