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Navigating Donation Systems: CanadaHelps.Org or Your Own

We help a lot of charities set up online donation systems.  A common question is “should we use CanadaHelps.org or set up our own donation system?”.  It's a good question.  Let's take a basic look at some of the options.

CanadaHelps.org

With CanadaHelps.org, you essentially just drop an icon and link on to your own website.  All registered Canadian charities are automatically setup on CanadaHelps.org.  Link directly to their donation page from your website and you have online donation abilities.  CanadaHelps receives the payment via credit card or PayPal, generates a receipt for the donor, and sends the money (minus a percentage) and donation information to you.  

Pro: Easy-peasy. Professional, least amount of work needed.

Con: The downside is that none of this process is integrated with your off-line methods of receiving donations and there is no integration of the donor information with any other systems.

Who: This is probably the best suggestion for small organizations and small budgets.

Run your own Donations

A do-it yourself system is usually taking an add-on module for your CMS website, something like CiviCRM (www.civicrm.org) or a shopping cart.  This requires that you have an arrangement with a transaction house like Moneris or Paypal (which takes a percentage).  

Pro: Integrates online and offline donation and makes receipt generation and donor reports are all part of the same workflow.

Bonus: And you may get, almost for free, the ability to have people register for events and memberships, as well as mailing list management, with all the data handled in one integrated database.

Con: Setup costs and effort.  However, once the system is up and running, the per donation costs may be similar.

Who: A good solution for larger organizations and budgets where there is ability and interest in managing the process more.

Professional Donation Systems

You can also go with external professional systems.   This costs you more of the donation, but you may be getting more service – for example, marketing tools and systems.  They are a whole other discussion.

Reconsider your Donation System as You Grow

There are more aspects to consider, but they start getting specific to your organization.  This is a first pass of the issues.  And in summary, if you are small, use CanadaHelps.org.  At some point as you grow, you should outgrow it too.

At PeaceWorks, we know how to set up your organization with technology that drives your mission. Together, we define a technology vision for your organization and recommend the best ways to support that vision.

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We collaborate with you to create solutions that turn ideas and data into information that you can use, analyze and distribute.  We build the technology solutions that equip you to better engage and manage your staff, your clients, your volunteers, and your donors.  We simplify data collection, intelligence and management.

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PeaceWorks provides first-rate technology solutions that enable organizations to achieve their mission with increased ease and efficiency. We focus on genuine client-focused relationships, connecting client needs with sustainable and reliable technology solutions.
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