No matter if you're running a non-profit or setting up a donation system for people to support your content, setting up a donation system can be imperative to the success of your website or brand. Because of that, we're here to show you just how to set up a donation system on your website to start accepting payments or donations.

Setting Up a Donation System on a Website

We're going to take you through every single step you need to know in order to set up a donation system on a website. So if there's something you already have set up or ready, feel free to skip ahead to the part that applies to you.

Content Guide:
1) Getting Started
2) Payment Gateways
3) PayPal Donations
4) Setting Up PayPal Buttons
5) Adding PayPal Buttons to Your Site
6) GoFundMe Donations
7) Patreon Donations
8) Wrapping Up

Getting Started

Web Hosting

The single most important thing you'll need is a secure web host so that you can securely accept payments on your website. It's extremely imperative to have SSL setup on your site. Having an SSL Certificate will make a tiny difference in the costs of running your website, and some hosts include a basic SSL Certificate in their plans.

If you're interested in a fast and secure web host that will allow you to easily set up SSL on your site, check out Bluehost. Bluehost will allow you to set up an SSL-secured website for only $3.95/month. Pair that with a CMS (content management system) such as WordPress (FREE), and you'll be ready to start accepting donations on your website.

Payment Gateway

On top of having a secure website and host, it's also extremely important to have a payment gateway that is trusted by your patrons. It's easy enough to set up a GoFundMe or Patreon campaign, but if you're looking to set up a donation system on a website of your own, you'll need to find a secure payment system that can integrate into your website.

For that, there are a few options that are well-known and trusted, which will help increase the number of donations made to your brand or non-profit foundation. To keep this simple and easy for anyone, we'll stick to the two most popular payment gateways – PayPal and Stripe.

Using PayPal to Accept Donations

Quick Note: Technically, PayPal's payment gateway does not require SSL Certification on a website in order for this to work. This is mainly due to PayPal payments redirecting the patron off to a separate page hosted on PayPal's servers. However, we still highly recommend having SSL on your website for a few reasons.

1) Google and other search engines like Bing will move your site lower on search results for not having a secured website. This makes it more difficult for people to find your website and will thus result in fewer donations.

2) Keeping a secured website can be difficult with the number of scam tactics increasing by the day. At this time, using SSL is just a part of looking after yourself, your staff, and your visitors.

Setting Up PayPal for Donations

The most important part of this is having a PayPal Business account. This will allow you to accept payments from cards – credit and debit. Having a PayPal Business account will also give you the chance to keep your business and personal accounts separate and the ability to send invoices and receipts to customers.

PayPal Business Account

Setting up a PayPal Business account is nowhere near as intimidating as it sounds. It's practically the same process as setting up a Personal PayPal account with just different information.

Once your account is set up, it's now time to set up the Donate via PayPal Button. In order to set up a button that links to your PayPal account, log into your PayPal Business dashboard. From there, you'll be able to go to Tools –> All Tools –> PayPal Buttons.

Setting Up a PayPal Donation Button

For this purpose, we'll stick to the Donate button template that PayPal gives you in the dashboard; however, if you would like to set up recurring monthly donations, you can also set up Automatic Billing. You can skip below if you would like to charge monthly.

For a one-time donation button, select the option that says “Donate” in place of the button. From there, it's as simple as filling out the information required.

PayPal Donation Button

I would recommend sticking to PayPal's official donate button unless you have a graphic designer that has already created one for you. Most people are familiar with PayPal's service, so the color scheme is more likely to instill trust in potential patrons. However, feel free to use your own button in lieu of PayPal's standard option.

Additionally, I would recommend leaving the option checked that shows the credit card types accepted; however, removing it for design purposes would certainly not negatively lower your donations. It merely creates familiarity and a sense of security with visitors.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Once your donation system on PayPal has raised over $10,000, PayPal will require you to submit a form explaining what the donations are used for. This is nothing to worry about; it's merely for legal and tax reasons.

Adding a Donation Button to Your Website

From this point, it's time to go ahead and add the PayPal Donation button to your website. For this example, we'll be using a WordPress site hosted on Bluehost. The same methods should apply to other content/website managers – they just use a different method.

Bluehost Promotional Image

The first thing we need to do to add the Donation button to our website is to copy our embed code. To do this, simply head back to your PayPal dashboard, and from there, you'll need to redirect your browser to the Tools page in the menu bar. Once on the tools page, go back to your PayPal Buttons and select the button we just created.

Once you're on your Saved Buttons page, click on the Action button and select View Code. This will redirect you to a page that shows the auto-generated code for your donation button. We will need this code to embed the button on the website. Select the code and copy it to your clipboard. From there, head over to your website manager (WordPress, Wix, etc.).

PayPal Donation Button Embed Code

In this example, we'll be adding the donation button to a sample page, but it is worth noting that this PayPal button can be added to sidebars, footers, headers, or anywhere else you are able to place code directly on your site. To keep things simple for this, though, we're just going to be adding it to a blank page, but the process for adding a PayPal donation button to your website is the same general process.

To get started, all I'm going to do is head into WordPress and create a blank page. As mentioned before, you can place this near anywhere on your site where you can embed code snippets. Take the copied code from PayPal, and from there, paste it where you would like to have the donation button on your site.

NOTE: If you're adding your donation button to a page or post on a WordPress website, you'll need to make sure that you paste it in the area that says “text” instead of “visual.” Hint… it's the highlighted section above.

Once the code is pasted in, save your page/post/footer/etc., and preview the page to make sure it works correctly. In this case, I'm simply pasting it with no formatting or anything other than what PayPal provided.

Additionally, if you're using WordPress, you can paste the code into your sidebar to ensure that it shows up on multiple pages. To do this, head into your WordPress Dashboard, and hover over Appearance. Click on Widgets from there.

Quick Note: If you're using a theme that uses custom sidebars, you'll need to be sure to use the sidebars included with it rather than the default WordPress sidebars. If you're not sure, try this method first.

When you're on the Widgets page, you'll need to make sure that you place the custom code in the correct sidebar. In this case, ours is simply called Post/Page Sidebar. Drag a Custom HTML widget into the slot where you would like your donation button to be. I would personally leave the title blank and simply paste the code in the snippet box.

From there, save your sidebar and preview the page to ensure it looks correct. Make adjustments as necessary, and you're good to go! You now have a PayPal donation button on your website to start accepting donations.

Other Donation Platforms

Let's say you want an option outside of PayPal for donations, though. What options do you have if you don't want to use a PayPal button on your website? There are dozens of options available if you don't want to use PayPal for donations. Stripe is a fantastic service that would allow you to set up a payment gateway directly on your site without the patron having to leave to donate. However, the simplest solution outside of PayPal is actually GoFundMe.

While GoFundMe often isn't used by large organizations to accept donations, it is a fantastic option for smaller projects and groups. GoFundMe has been around for a while, and it's still one of the best options for creating a system where people can donate to your cause. You'll be able to set up a page for people to view information about your cause/project, and from there, they can choose to donate and how much.

I wouldn't recommend GoFundMe for most cases unless you are setting up something for your personal projects. If you're operating a business, I would highly recommend going the PayPal route instead. It keeps the entire experience more professional, and you have more tools for keeping track of donations and patrons.

Additionally, if you're a content creator, a great option for accepting donations on a monthly basis is Patreon. Patreon is a fantastic platform that opens you up to an entirely new source of revenue where members (Patrons) can choose to donate a certain amount each month in order to help support your content – being videos, articles, etc.

A great aspect of Patreon is allowing access to private content that non-members don't have access to. This is an incredible way of opening up new revenue potential for you and your business. This is a great option for those who are tired of relying simply on ad revenue and have a close following.

Wrapping Things Up

Overall, though, the best option for most businesses is to use the PayPal donation system. It's simple, easy to set up, and is one of the most trusted platforms by visitors. It's also the easiest to integrate into your website, so overall, setting up a PayPal Donation Button is likely going to be the best option for one-time donations to a cause or organization.

By all means, there are plenty of other options for you to set up a donation system on your website. If you have any questions about setting up a donation system for your website, let us know so that we can help.

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