It’s hard enough to run a fundraiser and convince people to give to your cause. The last thing that should be difficult is receiving the money once people decide to contribute. Recently, I needed to raise money for a fundraiser and was looking for a tool to be able to do this easily. After searching through various big sites such as JustGiving, I realized that there weren’t many ways to raise funds online for personal projects.
PayPal was the only place that kept coming up as a simple way to raise donations. Well known as the most popular way to send funds online, PayPal is something many of us use regurally in work already. It’s not 100% straightforward to set it up for receiving donations, but it’s not too hard either. So whether you’re raising funds for your school or perhaps for Movember, here’s what you’ll need to do to accept donations via PayPal.
Setting up PayPal for donations is relatively easier than I thought it would be, taking no more than five minutes to have everything set up and raring to go. It just takes knowing what to do. Let me guide you through it.
First, you’ll need to visit the PayPal donate site . It lets you know what you need to about using PayPal to receive donations. It gives you a few guidelines to follow, and reminds you of what this is to be used for:
This is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Nonprofits must verify their status to withdraw donations they receive. Users that are not verified nonprofits must demonstrate how their donations will be used, once they raise more than $10,000.
So there you have it: this is how to quickly raise money for your cause, without having to apply as a nonprofit, and it should work great for all the standard fundraises you’ll come across if you don’t actually run a non-profit. If that’s what you need, you can get started by clicking the Create your button now link to create your own PayPal donate button for your site.
Now you’re brought to creation screen, where you’ll have a range of choices about creating your link/button the way you want. This is the same screen you’d come to if you wanted to create a PayPal shopping cart or subscription button for your store, but we’ll be using it to raise donations, and will choose that from the drop-down list.
After that, you’ll need to type in the name of your fundraising event. For the purposes of this review I’m just going to type in Web Appstorm Test, though you would of course not want to enter this. You can also type in a donation ID, for your own tracking purposes (this isn’t required, though).
The next step is tweaking the appearance of your button. If you’re going to display this on your website, you’ll want it to fit with the rest of your screen. Here you can adjust shape, colour, or even add your own image. Under this option you can also choose which currency you would like to receive your money in. Being PayPal you have a wide range of choices here, covering nearly every currency.
You could also specify a fixed amount which people have to donate. However, I would say letting the donors contribute their own payment is probably best. I feel the fixed option should only be used in special circumstances, but that’s your call. It might be useful if your fundraiser has different tiers for donations, or some other criteria where that would make sense. At any rate, it’s nice to have this much flexibility so you can set it up just like you want.
The final box lets you choose which PayPal account the button is linked to, which obviously requires you to have a PayPal account. There are also some extra features which require a business account, such as tweaking more of the PayPal button appearance and more. You’d need a paid business account for that, and honestly the extra features aren’t necessary, but they’re there if you want them.
Once you’re done with that, you’ll be directed to a new page where you’ll be given HTML embed code and a URL. From this point you can either place your code into your donation page. There, your donators can click the button to quickly contribute to your cause, with or without a PayPal account. Alternately, you could just post the URL link on your social networks or give it to friends, which is a simple way to raise funds for your fundraiser without creating a site.
There’s a number of advantages to using PayPal. It’s the most ubiquitous online payment system, and if you’ve ever bought or sold stuff online, chances you already have an account. Anyone wanting to donate to you online likely has a PayPal account, too. But even if they don’t, PayPal lets people make donations (or purchase products) using a PayPal account or directly with their credit or debit card, even if they never make a PayPal account. Then, there’s no default fee to receive donations, just a low percentage fee on each donation. That, combined with the ease in setting up a donations button in PayPal, makes it the obvious, easy choice.
However, it’s not perfect. As noted above, non-profits will need to register for a non-profit account to receive donations, and if you happen to raise more than PayPal’s limit, odds are you might hit some trouble. Just googling for “PayPal freezes donations” turns up a number of cases where this happened. If you think you might be raising more than their $10k limit for normal accounts, you might want to get in touch with them before proceeding.
Then, PayPal isn’t the only game in town. If you’re building your own site for donations, you could use another online payment system like Stripe. It’ll require you to build a lot more of the payment system, though, so it’s not a solution for everyone. There’s then more specialized donation platforms like Flattr for blogs. However, sites like this often take a long while to setup and actually have everything sorted. It’s hard to beat PayPal’s simplicity for most purposes.
So that’s all you’ll need to know to setup a donation campaign with PayPal for your cause. It’s simple, should work fine for most uses, and uses one of the few payment systems that most people would recognize and trust at a glance. That makes it the nearly ideal solution for most fundraising. If you ever find yourself wanting to raise funds for a cause, and want to do it online, be sure to give this tutorial a try and see how PayPal works out for your donating needs.