Figuring out a good non-profit donation process

A follow-up to this conversation:

Here’s the thing: Money makes things complicated. I just spent the last hour and a half looking at various non-profit donation venues, and it is not easy!

Allow me to present some of the options I have considered:


So obvious I won’t even link to it. So, I do a search for “paypal open source project”, and the second result is:

Crap. Come to think of it, I’ve seen similar stories. I reckon complications occur when you mix personal accounts with non-profit gain and spending. So I figured we wouldn’t need to fear any of these problems if we registered as a non-profit organization. Well:

On the last link, note the part that says:

"Submit your organization’s tax letter and bank statement proving nonprofit status."

Crap. We're not ready for that, on many different levels. Sure, it'd be great, but let's finish the product first shall we?

PayPal pros:
- Bunch of available widgets and plugins, for WordPress and otherwise, to ease donation process and promotion.
- Safe
- Favorable fees when compared to competition
- Works with other convenient services, such as ChipIn.

PayPal cons:
- Fears of "account lockdown" when using personal account


I don't remember which search got me there, but this FSF article lead me on to CiviCRM. Basically, it's a complete open source software suite for managing, among many other things, user donations. Thing is, from what I read into it, you have to either set yourself up with an SSL certificate ($$$) or wire the money through services such as, you guessed it: PayPal!

I won't even bother setting up a pros and cons unless someone who knows this better can tell me why I should bring it back up for consideration.


Now this is an interesting one. I ran into added jMonkeyEngine and kept quiet about it since I didn't actually want to receive any donations; that could've become complicated at the time. To understand Flattr, you gotta got to their website and read up yourself, because it can be a bit hard to get at first.

Flattr pros:
- Like PayPal, there are great widgets and plugins.
- Secure
- Tailored for non-profit projects
- A brand new concept that might excite people (also see con)

Flattr cons:
- Unfavorable 10% fee
- Bit hard to understand and has a more narrow use case as opposed to PayPal; would users really be willing to sign up with flattr just to support us?

I'd give you a penny for your thoughts, but that would just make things more complicated. Won't you please just have your say pro-bono?

Here’s one reason to bring CiviCRM back into the conversation, you can get SSL certificates for free from CACert: At the same time, there’s an inherent con in that people would be giving the site their card numbers directly. Is that a responsibility that we are willing to assume?

IMO we should try to stay as far away from having to deal with tax types of situations until we really need to get involved in that. As a multinational project, varying countries of residence doesn’t help the process!

With regards to Flattr, I think both your cons are spot-on, while the pros aren’t anything unique. PayPal is of course going to be secure (or as secure as we can get in such a world), and to some degree everything is tailored for non-profits… it just depends on how much time you’re willing to invest in them. I think the cons shoot it dead in the water, however. First, yes, its another account to sign up for and maintain. With money involved, folks are bound (and of course encouraged) to have their reservations. Secondly… 10%?! I understand they have costs and obligations, but we also have obligations to any donors that as much money as possible go to the benefit of the project rather than a 3rd. party…

All in all, you’re exactly right. Money makes things complicated… I think you and I have come to that conclusion each time donations have been discussed.

WE should find a simple solutions, really simple !

My suggestions are either a SMS-to pay system or a simple bank account I could send money to. If there were not these circumstances paypal would be fine to, but after reading that i don’t really feel good with it.

Our own system could have been great, yet I fear it would quickly become a complete field of management of its own, requiring at least one dedicated individual to deal with all the necessary software, the legal issues, the transparency and so on.

I had an idea recently: There won’t ever be any grave PayPal disasters, so long as we only deal in smaller amounts at a time. Via CipIn, this would be very feasible. Take our theme situation for instance. I am waiting for a last theme called “Listings” before I’m ready to buy a 3-in-1 pack from WooThemes. All of the three themes in question will come to great use.

So if I go out on our blog and say “We need {this much money} to buy {this asset}, preferably {by this date}”, how much more transparent can it get? :slight_smile: And further more, with a small amount, a very reasonable investment and a fair time frame, I don’t think there’s any better incentive to chip in with a few bucks.