Nonprofit Online Payment Processing

Nonprofit Online Payment Processing
man buying tickets from a nonprofit using an online payment processor

Nonprofit Online Payment Processing

January 2, 2021

Money makes the world go ‘round. Even in the world of nonprofit associations, organizations large and small are going to need a way to manage and accept monetary transactions. For all online companies, in any form, dealing with payments and moving money is a necessary aspect of business operations. 

And secure, convenient, user-friendly payment processing is also a key part of building trust with your clientele. Online donations, merchandise and membership payments are easier, safer, and more manageable for both you and the user than paper slips and analog forms of purchase. And a convenient online payment processing can mean the difference between a one-time purchase and a repeat customer.

For nonprofit organizations, taking payment online can take multiple forms, from goods and services, to donations and more. In this article, we’ll go over how you can handle payments of any kind with one, easy-to-use online system. 

What is an online payment system?

For most online businesses, this means taking payments from customers for goods and/or services, including merch, donations, memberships, ticketing, activities, events, etc., etc. An online payment system allows businesses to accept money, either from clients in the form of either a debit or credit payment. 

It usually takes a third party to pull this off, however nonprofit organizations have unique needs regarding monetary exchanges. And these are rarely addressed by conventional payment processing programs. We’ll go over some of these special functions in the next section. 

What do nonprofit organizations need in an online payment system?

While there is some overlap in the payment processing requirements of both for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations, many of the purchase options featured by nonprofits are wholly unique. A nonprofit association’s payment processing system should be able to:

Securely accept donations.

Around 70% of a nonprofit’s annual income is generated through the generosity of its donors. With so much of an institution’s revenue coming out of the pockets of their most passionate audience members, it is in that organization’s best interest to provide a safe and easy venue for donation.

Online payment systems make it easy for your audience members to contribute to your association. A solution set up for nonprofits allows donors to set up repeat donations, so they can give often, and without the need for constant reminders from you. In addition, online payment systems protect your donor’s sensitive details, so they can continue to participate in your work without the concern of fraud or theft.

Sell merchandise and tickets.

Cultural non-profits such as zoos, aquariums, museums, and historic houses need a complex payment solution that enables the sale of products, as well as general and special tickets. And with adjustments being made to admission times due to COVID-19, most organizations need a payment system that can adapt to timed entry and paperless ticketing.

Incorporating an online payment system into your website, rather than redirecting your audience to a third-party venue, gives you the power to deliver uniquely relevant messaging at point-of-purchase and functionality to meet your needs in the present time. And as an added bonus, this means you can sell merch to audience members anywhere in the world, and not just at your physical location

Solicit membership dues.

Memberships make up another large percentage of a nonprofit’s income, and an online payment system can enable you to streamline the process of accepting membership dues to the convenience of both you and your members.

Like donations, online payment systems allow you to set up recurrent billing, so committed members can keep up their membership with zero reminders. And your organization can set the timeline for membership dues: a quarterly or monthly payment can appeal to members as they might prefer not to pay for a whole year all at once.

Security, security, security!

Online payment systems make any purchase safer and more secure for your organization, as well as your visitors. Storing paper receipts and donation records in the office should be a thing of the past, as it piles you with more security responsibilities and has the potential to either be lost or stolen. An online payment system protects the customer’s information by encrypting credit card details and sending purchase information straight to the financial institution. Plus, all purchases are verified instantly, so you don’t have to worry about bounced checks or failed credit card payments!

Quick note: the difference between an online donation tool and a payment processor.

An online donation tool is just that: a donation tool. It only serves one function. This is usually a third party that allows for donations to be made to an organization, and afterwards creates forms to attribute those donations. 

An online payment processor can do all that and more! Everything from the above list can be easily and safely processed via the same system, eliminating the need for third party apps or analog solutions. 

Important factors in choosing a payment processor for your organization. 

While you’re picking out the next online payment solution for your nonprofit organization, here are a few things to consider:

User-friendliness, and ease of implementation

The point of utilizing an online payment solution is ultimately to make monetary transactions between you and your audience a little easier. A clunky or unsafe system can be more of a hindrance than a help, so make sure that the system you want is easy to use by all parties.

Processing fee structure and overall cost

You don’t have to break the bank implementing your new payment system. Affordable solutions exist which are also easy to use. It is also in your best interest to find a solution that doesn’t take their processing fees off the top of every transaction. Instead, look for solutions that collect lump-sum processing fees at the end of every 30-day cycle.

Extra functionality and features

For ultimate user-friendliness, your system should feature a mobile app. This will help you secure unique funding opportunities you might otherwise miss, such as a last-minute donation at your annual fundraising gala.

The best online payment system will also allow you to accept myriad forms of payment, including ACH, echeck, credit, debit, and mobile payment.


Your system should have extensive security measures in place to protect both your organization and your audience. Cyberattacks are unfortunately on the rise, and your solution must come equipped with the best possible safety measures.

And your system should also be PCI (payment card industry) compliant. This refers to a set of guidelines established by major credit card brands which helps to ensure that purchaser information is being properly protected by the supporting organization. To learn more about the details of PCI compliance, click here

How ACME Ticketing can help. 

ACME is a comprehensive ticketing solution with an integrated online payment system designed to meet the unique needs of public-facing nonprofits and cultural institutions. Our point of sale, membership management, donations, and ticketing platforms integrate with Salesforce for safe and easy monetary transactions, at every step of the visitor journey. To see if ACME is right for you, sign up for a free demo today.

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