Methods for Accepting Credit Card Donations at Your Fundraiser

by David Dierking

2 min read

If your nonprofit is holding a charity event, you want to be able to collect as many donations as possible. To maximize the amount of money you collect, you need to be able to accept credit cards. Luckily, you don’t need to drag a bulky point of sale system to the event. Instead, there are lots of mobile credit card processing tools that can help.

Imprint Machines

If your event is taking place in a venue with limited mobile phone reception and no wifi, you should consider manual credit card processing options. If you frequently need to process cards manually, consider investing in a credit card imprinting machine. This old school processing machine uses carbon copy paper to create an imprint of the card. After making the imprint, you give a copy of the receipt to the donor, and you keep the imprint so you can enter the credit card info in your system later.

This is the most effective option in situations where you don’t have internet access, but entering the numbers by hand after the event can be time consuming. Also, the delay in processing may mean that you risk card rejections when you enter the information later. For example, if a donor forgets about the transaction and spends the money in their account before you run the card, the transaction may be rejected.

Paper and Pen

Alternatively, you can simply jot down the relevant information on a piece of paper. You need the credit card number, the name on the card, the expiration date, and the security pin from the back of the card. While this method can work in some situations, it is even more time consuming than an imprinting machine as you have to write everything down by hand, and you also have to handwrite receipts for donors. If you opt to collect credit card information this way, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure that your customer’s personal information isn’t stolen.

Mobile Swipe Devices

Mobile swipe devices allow you to accept credit cards using a smartphone or tablet. In many cases, you can get the equipment you need to swipe the card for free. In exchange, you simply pay a certain percentage per transaction or a set monthly processing charge. This option can work for the occasional event or as your main payment processing procedure.

Payment Apps

If you don’t have time to find swipes devices to connect to your phone, you may want to consider using an online credit card processing service. For example, QuickBooks Online has a credit card processing portal. With this option, you create an invoice or a transaction for each donation, then type the client’s credit card information into the portal. Similar to most credit card processors, QuickBooks charges a small fee as well as a percentage of each transaction. This method offers speed and security. In addition, when you use QuickBooks or a related app that syncs with your accounting software, it helps eliminate accounting errors.

References & Resources

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