Help a nonprofit accept credit card payments.
November 17, 2010 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Non-profit donation question: The non-profit I'm working with is holding a benefit and would like to be able to accept credit card donations at the event. I'm running into trouble figuring out how to do this without having a laptop at the event. Anyone have experience with this type of situation?

We won't be able to have an internet connected computer on-site, so I'm looking into a way we can collect the credit card info and process the payment later. Basically we would need a site that would accept the payment for us (and likely take a percentage of each payment). This wouldn't be on a very large scale, at most a dozen, and mainly would be family, friends, and acquaintances of the non-profit volunteers. So far I have found sites that do this are set up so the donor is the one entering info and possible setting up a password protected account (ex: Other companies seem to have a much larger scale in mind, with start-up and monthly fees, which is beyond our needs.

Does anyone know of a company that would ideally have a form we can have donors fill out, and then let us process the payment through their website later? This is in the US (SF Bay Area).
posted by JenMarie to Work & Money (12 answers total)
could you do it the old school way, with a credit card imprinting machine?
posted by Lucinda at 5:08 PM on November 17, 2010

Does anyone on your staff have an iPhone?
posted by decathecting at 5:10 PM on November 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

(that would work, at least, for the "no internet computer" part of it. As for finding a place to process the payments later, Google Checkout has no start-up fees and a relatively low per-transaction fee, although with regard to support and the like, you get what you pay for.
posted by Lucinda at 5:12 PM on November 17, 2010

I just asked a related question the other day that might give you an idea of what to do.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:27 PM on November 17, 2010

The bank or credit union where the nonprofit has its account may be able to help you out, if they offer any sort of business services. (I work at a credit union and know that our business services staff help set up stuff like this fairly regularly, although I don't know any of the details. I'm pretty sure I've heard about setups for one-time events w/out internet or phone access.) IIRC the magic words are "Merchant Card Services." :)
posted by epersonae at 5:28 PM on November 17, 2010

Also, be VERY careful with your donors' credit card info if you take it to process it next day. Have procedures for keeping it under lock and key, and then destroying the info once it is processed. Any info that's kept beyond processing is a time bomb if someone dishonest ever has access to it.
posted by glaucon at 6:03 PM on November 17, 2010

If you have an iProduct (pad, phone, or pod) use Square! This is exactly the type of thing that Square is designed for. There is no contract or monthly fees, and they give you the reader for free. They are also a Bay Area company.

it turns out that the list of supported devices is much longer now:

Square is available for iPhone, iPod touch (2G+), iPad, Nexus One, Motorola Droid, Motorola Droid X, HTC Droid Incredible, HTC Evo, HTC Hero, HTC Desire, Samsung Galaxy S series, and the LG Ally.

Square FAQ's:
posted by rockindata at 6:28 PM on November 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Square seems awesome, but I'm sorry to say the reader won't arrive in time (takes 5-10 days according to the FAQ, and no option for expediting).
posted by JenMarie at 6:38 PM on November 17, 2010

You don't actually need the reader to use Square. It's just cheaper/easier to use the reader than enter everything by hand.
posted by ymendel at 8:37 PM on November 17, 2010

Is the nonprofit normally able to process credit cards in their office? Or do they just use a web service?

I have to confess that I'm puzzled by this question, a little. What we do is create form ourselves where the donor writes their name, address, credit card number and expiration, and signs the form. Then we have the donor seal it inside a regular envelope at the event.

After the event we just bring them into the office, key them into our credit card processing software, process them, and shred the numbers.

Is the real issue here that the NPO isn't now accepting credit card donations?
posted by anastasiav at 6:32 AM on November 18, 2010

Response by poster: anastasiav: That's exactly what we wanted to do (fill out a form and then key it in later). The problem is what service do we key it in to? We do currently accept credit card donations, but only through our website using a button. We are a very small organization and don't have a merchant bank account. The JustGive button is intended for the donors themselves to enter their info (creating a password protected account), then JustGive cuts us a check after taking a small percentage. So I wanted to know if there was a service that would allow us to enter the info ourselves (not the cardholder). We may just give up on this idea and say cash/checks only, but thought it worth looking into. Thanks for your help.
posted by JenMarie at 9:25 AM on November 18, 2010

That's exactly what we wanted to do (fill out a form and then key it in later).

Have you talked with your bank? They may be able to set you up with some kind of merchant account in a very inexpensive way, especially if you have a good relationship with them.
posted by anastasiav at 12:29 PM on November 18, 2010

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