Nine solutions for taking donations through your website using WordPress
One feature that all charity or non-profit websites will need to include is a donation facility. Therefore it's worth spending some time deciding which method you are going to use.
This article focuses on the WordPress content management system and WordPress donation plugins.
First things first: why choose WordPress?
WordPress is not the only platform on which you can build a charity or non-profit website but it is the most popular choice – and with good reason.
The WordPress platform is free as are many of the themes that can be used to customise the look and function of your website. This shouldn't be taken as an indication of quality since WordPress is flexible enough to meet almost any need and has a large community base. This means that there are many skilled developers who could design or customise a bespoke theme or plugin if needed. For most charities and non-profits, this wouldn't be necessary.
The fact that developers are able to pull apart and edit the codebase is due to the fact that WordPress is open source which means its codebase is community-owned rather than being controlled by a single entity.
Preparing for WordPress online donations?
To take online donations you will need the a couple of additional components for your Wordpress site:
Your website will need to integrate with a payment gateway for one or more payment service providers (e.g. PayPal or Stripe). Some plugins only work with one provider while others can be integrated with several different ones. Most plugins work with PayPal out of the box, though we generally recommend Stripe to our clients as the user experience for donors is better and the administration interface is also easier to use.
A WordPress donation plugin
There are dozens of good WordPress donation plugins out there. Each one is unique and offers its own design and mix of features. Some are feature-rich and will allow you to setup and run multiple campaigns concurrently. The best plugins also offer reporting tools in the Wordpress CMS to allow you to view and filter data about campaigns, donations and donors, thus saving time for your fundraising and admin teams.
The user experience (UX) for donors is a key consideration as a better UX can lead to a higher conversion rate and more donations. UX considerations include whether the user has to leave the site to pay (e.g. at PayPal) and how easy the donation form is to use.
The best plugins come with fees (monthly or annual), so you'll need to compare the cost and benefit of using them, especially for websites with lower donation revenue.
Nine top WordPress donation plugins
In no particular order, here is a list of popular WordPress donation plugins for you to consider.
Give is among the most beautiful and best value WordPress donation plugins out there, especially if you opt for the default free version. This will enable you to add custom fields, set fundraising goals, manage donors, run reports and set up basic recurring donations. Give makes it easy to generate user-friendly donation forms and has a particularly intuitive admin interface in the WordPress CMS.
Extra add-ons and licences are available for $20 to $40 per month. Popular paid extras include recurring donations, UK gift aid and Stripe payments.
If you are looking for a donation plugin which supports multiple campaigns, geolocation and video content, Charitable could work for you. The basic version is free and offers customisable donation forms, unlimited campaigns (including timed campaigns), goal setting and more. You'll probably find that you need a premium subscription to access additional features including recurring donations, UK gift aid and Stripe payments.
Charitable is comparable to Give in its functionality and fees, so if you are considering one, I suggest you research both.
This is one of the simplest donation plugins to set up and has the further advantage of being free to download. Although it wasn't built by PayPal, this plugin is focused on tight integration with the PayPal ecosystem. Donation buttons are pre-designed for convenience and can be placed anywhere on your website through the use of WordPress shortcodes.
Seamless Donations is a good choice for charities handling many different currencies. It also offers a free version with paid-for add-ons and extensions available. The basic version offers recurring payments, tracking tools, 'thank you' messages and support for multiple languages and currencies. As its name suggests, Seamless is also quick and easy to set up.
Donation Content Locker
Unlike the other donation plugins in this list, Donation Content Locker locks portions of your website behind a paywall. Your donors will receive access once they have clicked an activation link in an email generated by their payment. This plugin is best suited to websites containing high quality content. The regular plugin (with six months' support) will set you back $16.
This is a simple, free, button-based donations plugin although upgrading to the professional version is recommended. Features include a widget interface (for adding the buttons to sidebars, footers and other widget areas), donor analytics and a 'donation wall' for displaying recent donors.
Donation Manager for WordPress
Will your charity or non-profit be taking donations through one of the more obscure payment gateways? Donation Manager for WordPress could be for you. Compatible gateways include PayPal, Payza/AlertPay, Skrill/Moneybookers, Authorize.Net, InterKassa and EgoPay. Donation Manager costs $19 for a regular licence.
If you want to focus on recurring donations, Donorbox is worth investigating. You can set this plugin up in just 15 minutes and it's completely free until you start bringing in $1,000 per month. You will then be charged a 1.5% platform fee and additional payment processing fees.
For users of WooCommerce, here is a low cost donation plugin that will enable you to either add donations as a separate 'product' or as part of the shopping cart. You can give customers the option to enter their own donation amount or select from a pre-defined list. WooCommerce Donation costs $19 for a regular licence.