This is way old news but there’s a very good article called Donate Now: Selecting an Online Donation Tool. It’s written by Laura Quinn. While the page states that you need to give the tool your e-mail address I don’t think you really need to do that. I entered a fake e-mail address and it worked fine.
It’s very good in that it is a much more comprehensive review of online donation tools, perhaps the best on the Web. There are some new tools that it mentions that I think might be useful for the smaller non-profit.
Laura Quinn discusses fraud in a sidebar and points out the perils of being a nonprofit with more lax credit card processing rules. On the other hand, one thing it doesn’t include as a review category is how each vendor helps out non-profit clients with fraud remediation. I can certainly attest to this being a huge day-to-day issue when operating an online donation tool. When my org was using Verisign in 2002-2003, we were hit with quite a few fraudulent donations. We kept creating tighter processing rules each day using Verisign’s configuration tool. The amount of time necessary to revoke a fraudulent transaction is quite high, as it kicks off a process that goes from IT (fraud detection) to Finance (bank reconciliation and verification) to Development (client facing) as the money is refunded back to the donor. The fraud detection process only gets worse when the volume of fradulent transactions rises quickly as transactions are invoked and then rescinded by the criminal parties who’ve got the credit cards.
So while this article is certainly a great start towards selecting an online donation tool, make sure with your next online donations vendor that there are ways to shield your organization from the grind of online fraud.
My organization doesn’t use any of the tools on this list. We decided to extend Raiser’s Edge with Blackbaud‘s NetSolutions. The review considered NetSolutions too pricy for its target audience. I haven’t done a serious review of NetSolutions but it’s major strength is in its ability to allow us to import the records directly into our Raiser’s Edge constituent database. The fraud issue is resolved because Blackbaud partners with Ticketmaster (yes, the same Ticketmaster with the sports events and concerts). The name of the Ticketmaster subsidiary is International Automated Transactions Services aka IATS.
IATS relies on the existing fraud control services of Ticketmaster. They do all the fraud checking themselves so that process is hidden from your end. It’s a great service but you will have to pay a fairly substantial fee for NetSolutions. All you end up getting from IATS is a check every week or month. If your fraud rate is high and your fraud remediation resources aren’t up to the task (what small non-profit is?) AND if you’re already a RE user, it might be worth looking into.
Another side benefit is that IATS allows for direct access into its virtual terminal. You can use the IATS backend directly instead of going through Netsolutions via a special Website. You can use any machine as a point-of-sale (POS) terminal as long as they have Internet access. This in turn means you can create wireless POS terminals on an adhoc basis using a laptop equipped with EVDO and a printer. Yes, any outdoor event your non-profit throws can still take credit cards as long as Wi-Fi or EVDO access is available. It might be possible using EDGE but I don’t know if EDGE provides enough throughput so that the web experience is viable. One possible configuration for a wireless point-of-sale terminal would be a small laptop with Bluetooth enabled that is in turn using a EVDO-enabled PocketPC in wireless DUN mode. Alternatively, you can use EVDO cards on the laptop but that’s a more expensive solution.