There are two parts to adding online payments/donations to the Family Service website:

  1. A payment gateway; and,
  2. A WordPress Donation Application/Plugin.

PAYMENT GATEWAY

To briefly describe what a payment gateway is, it’s a third-party tool that evaluates and processes payments from your customers. So, rather than set up a basic Woofoo form that requires customers to fill in their information to place donations—which you would then need to manually process on the Family Service end—the payment gateway handles it on your behalf.

What is a payment gateway?

Just like a point of sale terminal in a store, a payment gateway allows businesses to securely authorize a customer’s credit card online and offline. First, customers provide their credit card details, then the payment gateway shares the financial information securely from the customer to the merchant and then from the merchant to the bank. Next, the payment gateway validates whether or not the charge has been approved by the bank. Upon approval, the money will transfer into the business bank account within several business days.

What are common payment gateway features?

Online payment gateways come with features that improve security and make it easier to process payments. Some common payment gateway features include:

Fraud protection tools

Process electronic checks as an alternative to credit cards

Automatic payment processing from any location

Currency conversion

What is the process of using a payment gateway?

First, the customer shares their payment details when they checkout of a store. Next, the payment gateway shares the financial information securely to the merchant’s bank. The bank then either approves or declines the transaction. Once the bank has approved of the transaction, the payment gateway receives a notification. Then the money will be deposited into the businesses’ bank account within one to four business days. This whole process usually takes 2-3 seconds.

How much do payment gateways cost?

Each payment gateway service offers different pricing structures and rates. Payment gateways may charge a monthly maintenance fee while others may only require a one time setup fee. Also keep in mind additional fees for things like cancellations, withdrawals, and batch processing. Other fees may include monthly account fees, membership fees, PCI-compliance fees, and setup fees.

PayPal is a payment gateway.

WordPress Donation Application/Plugin

Note:  The terms application and plugin are used synonymously.

Plugin:  A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites.

In this report, add-on and extension are used synonymously. Add-on and extension extend  functionality to the core application/plugin.

There are several quality donation applications/plugins for WordPress.  After research, I do not recommend WooCommerce and WooCommerce Donation applications..

WooCommerce is a free eCommerce plugin that provides a product store, built to integrate seamlessly with WordPress.  It is the world’s favorite eCommerce solution that gives both store owners and developers complete control.

If Family Service were running an online store, or would like to make an online store part of their non-profit site, it’s worth researching the WooCommerce Donation Plugin to accept donations through the eCommerce store.  However, at this time, eCommerce is not the priority;  a seamless online donation platform is.

In researching a donation application, I looked at:

Best value / fee structure

Easy setup

Support for PayPal

Forms & reports

Focus on recurring payments

Developer support

I selected two as possible solutions.

  1. Give – Donation Plugin and Fundraising Platform
  2. Charitable – Donation Plugin

The Give donation plugin is widely used for its terms of pricing, looks, functionality, forms, and paid add-ons.

Give add-ons
Give online demos

The Give plugin is free and there are no transaction fees.  However, add-ons are paid monthly. For example, the recurring donation feature is a paid monthly add-on.

Add-on Monthly Plans


Charitable donation plugin is a very robust application with all the bells and whistles.  One unique feature is the ability to solicit donations based on location.  Charitable does not charge transaction fees.

The online support includes a ticketing system, FAQ, documentation, and a blog.

Charitable Price Plans