Once your nonprofit organization has created an online community and a product (business), start thinking about accepting payment online. The modern day cash register is a payment software that is able to accomplish a lot more than the old cash registers and contribute to business reporting like never before.

And setting it up is a matter that is going to take some project management, effective leadership, smart user interface, revenue tracking, collaboration, and a computer platform with application security. It’s not something that can be set up with a new freelancer, as experience in the industry is critical to the nonprofit payments software success.

But any nonprofit payments software computer platform is never going to be a simple plug into the content management system. There are many steps in the process.

Popular Payments Software for Nonprofit Organizations

Some of the top nonprofit payments software systems include:

  • Braintree
  • Donate Kindly
  • BluePay
  • Heartland
  • iATS Payments
  • Charity Engine

How to Choose the Right Payments Software

Here are some important questions to consider, not necessarily in order. Your individualized and personalization needs for the nonprofit payments software will vary depending on the type of organization that you have and your mission statement, goals, and how you do promotion (marketing).

Each of the answers your organization has for these questions will offer you insight into how your merchant services will be used for your offline and online community.

Payment Options

What type of payments will your organization be accepting?

For example, will it include credit card, digital card, American Express, MasterCard, Visa Inc., Apple Pay, Cheque, Diners Club International, JCB Co., Ltd., UnionPay, cash flow, Google Pay, PayPal, etc.? Accepting as many of these payments as possible is always going to be your best bet of increasing your revenue.

Who will be making donations?

Will it include a fan (person)? Someone from crowdfunding? A merchant in the community? A sponsor (commercial)? Grant (money)? Peer-to-peer donations?

You will have to consider that the nonprofit payments software is able to handle all of these – and that your organization will be able to create very specific email marketing plans for each possible group.

Consider the different types of sales where the payment money will be from. This will include dedicated volunteers who really believe in your mission and value statements, those who are giving a gift and those times when you accept money from a human hand.

Selling your retail products, dealing with debits and credits, revenue and sales from trade, advertising, internet sales are additional ways money comes into your NPO and are sometimes overlooked. Also any telecommunication meetings you have are a potential avenue for revenue. Some companies are selling software as a service – is this another stream of revenue for you?

How will the payment software system connect to the website and web page?

What type of technical support will be necessary for this step?  For these questions, consider the specifications of the software and check the vertical integration and horizontal integration requirements.

Payment Processor and Processing

Does the payment processor system consider that payments are made from the United States and other countries, since some of your partnerships and collaboration may be overseas?

Your nonprofit organization will need payment software that takes into account the foreign exchange market or an exchange-traded fund. And you’ll have to consider whether or not discounts and allowances will be applied to foreign exchange accounts.

What type of central processing unit will be necessary?

This is always critical to your company or nonprofit deciding on one system over another.

What is the API (the application programming interface; the connection between computers or computer programs)?

The API specification is a document or standard that describes how to build the connection or interface. Find out if there is a study guide or training videos that may be accessed for this.

You’ll also want to know how the payment processing software connects to your mobile app. Find out how soon the payment appears on your front end and back end. Is it in real time or does it take one hour, six hours or 24 hours? Most NPO want this answer to be real time.

You may also be using the payment system for agriculture purposes, food delivery, or property purchases. If so, check to make sure that your purpose for the software matches what the software really can do.

Payment Accounting and the Financial Department

Will you need to prepare an invoice? What level of automation is needed?

Invoices are generally easy, and happen instantaneously after you set the parameters needed ahead of time. Likewise, bookkeeping records and reports that are necessary for your department, complete with pie and other graphics make your report one that receives kudos for board members. Ask that these are demonstrated on the screen during the product demonstration.

Training classes for the accounting and finance professionals at your business should also cover the payment card industry data security standard (PCI compliance).

And of course, it will be essential for your accountants to know and understand how the nonprofit payments software interfaces with bank accounts.

For Staff of the Organization and Payment Processing

Who will help with the planning of the whole payment processing system?

You may need an employee to explain payment gateways to the other staff in the department. Usually this employee is not generally a freelancer but it depends on how your employment structure is set up.

Consider getting an expert (software agent) in the software industry for the software maintenance. Sometimes an NPO will hire an information technology consulting firm. Time-tracking software programmers may also need to be consulted.

You will still need an expert to get the server (computing) and merchant services started.

In training your staff, those working on email marketing, instant messaging, online chat, mobile devices, discussion forums, blog and newsletter don’t have to know much about the payment processing. The accounting department should handle the payments online and offline for your community.

Tracking Payments

Something that software experts at your NPO will want to know is whether or not the nonprofit organization payment software calculates the rate (mathematics) and how are the algorithms determined. The same is true for the use of JavaScript, Form (HTML), and HTTP cookies. None of this information is important to the Accounting Department, who is much more curious about how discounts and allowances are considered.

The best part of these nonprofit payments software systems is that event management is handled by easy tracking of payments. After payment acceptance, data is stored which you will have access to later. This way you can end up sorting data according to the end user’s email and smartphone number (mobile device).

Your NPO will also designate only one or two staff members that have access control of the system, and thus are responsible for the financial liability of what happens with it.

Financial and Legal Aspects About Payment Software

It’s most likely a moot point here that of course you will be concerned with the expense and pricing of different types of nonprofit payment software systems in order to choose the one that fits your organization the best.

Your financial department will be concerned about the financial statement reports for the e-commerce payment software system; your legal department will want to know that legal guidelines have been followed for all financial transactions. The software should be set up according to contractual terms.

One of the preliminary questions to ask before purchase is how the payment processing system offers you transparency. You will want the reports generated from the payment processing system to contribute to your nonprofit organization’s portfolio, not harm it.

Another legal aspect of this payment software is who will be responsible for any problem solving, application security, real-time computing, user (computing), and all the contractual terms. You may need legal staff on a task force team for this. Whatever experts are chosen, they will need a certain degree of licensure.

The whole issue of fraud needs legal representation from the start. Your organization will have to be clear on how fraud is detected, when to notify risk management, and how the user is protected from fraud. Fraud potentially affects your nonprofit organization or company brand, and it is something to have clear cut strategies on before it happens.


The software industry has provided payments software for nonprofit organizations, companies, and anyone else that needs it to process payments in the United States or other countries.

The systems consider all aspects of how your business works while simultaneously considering your financial portfolio, your customer donations and donors, your types of marketing (strategic marketing, loyalty marketing, promotion (marketing), and event management. These payment software computer programs offer the transparency you are looking for in financial statements and to insure your customers trust, reputation and your brand credibility and to appease your online community.