Accepting online donations using Donate

The Giving module includes a great feature that enables churches 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 church's colour palette and logo.

In this article

Overview of ChurchSuite Donate
Enabling Direct Debit giving with GoCardless Pro
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 Pro
Managing recurring donations created through GoCardless Pro 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 Pro 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 churches, 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 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 Pro 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 Pro), 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 churches - 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.

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 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 "pledge" is added against the giver profile.

The donations are recorded against the giver profile on each date that the recurring donation is processed by Stripe/GoCardless Pro. 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 churches, 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(s), which can be customised in Giving > Funds (including the fund's "brand", which pulls through to Fund pages and branded confirmation emails).

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 Pro


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 Pro

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 (minimum 20p). The transaction fee consists of two parts - a 1% transaction fee to GoCardless (capped at a maximum of £2) and a 1% transaction fee to ChurchSuite (also capped at £2).

For donations < £20, the fee is calculated as 20p to GoCardless and 1% to ChurchSuite.

For donations > £20, the fee is calculated as 1% to GoCardless (capped at £2, minimum 20p) and 1% to ChurchSuite (capped at £2, no minimum). Maximum fee is therefore £4.

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.

Fees correct as of 6th September 2018.

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 Pro 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

UK churches: Stripe is the payment provider ChurchSuite uses for all card payments. 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 or 3.9% +20p for non-European cards. This transaction fee consists of two parts - a 1.2% + 20p transaction fee to Stripe and a 1% transaction fee to ChurchSuite. For more information click here.

Standard Stripe accounts - for organisations not registered as non-profit - are subject to a 2.4% + 20p transaction fee.

Transaction fees are deducted by Stripe from the gross payment, with the 'net of fees' amount deposited in your church's designated bank account. Stripe payout card payments to your bank account in batches, at a frequency set in your Stripe account settings. ChurchSuite's Stripe Transfers report will help you reconcile those batch transfers and give you information about the gross payments, transaction fees and net payments and total received.

Non-profit discount for North American churches: US & Canadian churches that are eligible non-profit organisations are able to access a special charity rate of 2.9% + 30c (+1% for International 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 about your eligibility as a non-profit, email For further information about transaction fees in other regions, refer to the Stripe website - remember to add the ChurchSuite processing fees mentioned above.

Fees correct as of 19th March 2019.

Setting up and using ChurchSuite Donate

Having completed the Stripe and/or GoCardless Pro 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. 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 image.

Adding fund-specific bank accounts to Stripe and GoCardless

You can assign donations for different funds to different bank accounts using the Add another account option on both the Stripe and GoCardless Pro integrations. Once those additional account(s) are added to the integration you can then select which Funds are to be assigned to which 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 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 Pro 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 Pro 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 Pro 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 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 to add 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 in the list of Funds and use the drop-down menu to select the fund(s) that you want to link to that new bank account (see below). Online donations made to that fund(s) will then be deposited into that bank account moving forward.

Managing recurring donations created through GoCardless and Stripe

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

If a giver has successfully set up a recurring donation to your church (Stripe or GoCardless), the Pledge subscription will be shown in the Subscriptions report.

Users are also able to manage recurring online donations from the Pledges tab of a giver's profile. Pledges can be edited (with permission of course!) or cancelled.

All user changes are recorded in the Pledge Changes log and a confirmation email is always sent to the giver and that sent confirmation is logged in their Recent Activity > Communication log on the 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 Pro/Stripe integration has been completed successfully in Administrator > Integrations.
  • If you have multiple church bank accounts configured in GoCardless Pro 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 Pro 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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