Payment Processing for Nonprofits

Accepting credit card payments can be a crucial component of a nonprofit organization's fundraising efforts. It can make it easier for donors to give, and it can help organizations to streamline their online donation process.

As a nonprofit, your goal is to build a special donor relationship with people who want to give to your cause. If you want your donors to have a good experience and trust you, you need to provide them with a safe and simple way to donate.

Payment processing for nonprofits involves a donor making a monetary contribution to a charity through the Internet. A nonprofit payment processor will processes the payment details of the gift; which is often done with a credit card.

Giving donors the option to donate online is crucial for small and medium-sized charities since online donations account for 7.8 to 13.4 percent of overall fundraising. Therefore, accepting online payments is essential for success.

Nonprofit organizations may also use payment processing to facilitate the collection of event registration payments and membership dues.

The online payment processing company, Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS), has a history of being a trusted, leading provider of payment processing solutions for businesses of all types, including nonprofit organizations. Through EMS, charities can collect online donations securely from their donors.

Why Do Nonprofits Need a Payment Processor?

Nonprofits need a payment processor because it allows them to accept and process donations and payments from their supporters, donors, and customers with ease. Payment processors are financial institutions that handle electronic transactions, such as credit card and debit card payments, as well as other forms of digital payments.

Here are some reasons why nonprofits need a payment processor as one of their resources:

  • Convenience: A payment processor allows users to make payments or donations quickly and easily, without the need to mail in checks or visit the nonprofit in person.
  • Security: Payment processors use secure encryption and advanced fraud protection measures to protect sensitive financial information, reducing the risk of data breaches and fraud.
  • Increased donations: Offering multiple payment options, including credit and debit payments, can help increase the number and amount of donations a nonprofit receives.
  • Efficiency: Payment processors automate the payment process and donation process, reducing administrative tasks for nonprofits and allowing them to focus on their core mission.
  • Reporting and analytics: Payment processors often provide reporting and analytics tools that allow nonprofits to track and analyze donation and payment data, helping them make informed decisions about fundraising strategies.

A payment processor is essential for your nonprofit to accept and process electronic checks, donations, and payments, which can help increase donations, streamline operations, and better serve the mission.

Understanding Payment Processing for Nonprofits

When selecting a credit card processing solution for your nonprofit organization, there are a few concepts you need to consider:

Payment Forms Accepted

Have you ever wondered why most businesses display the logos of several credit card companies on their storefront displays? The reason for this is that acceptable methods of payment vary amongst processors. You still need to know what type of payments your processor can handle, regardless of whether most of your transactions occur online or at a physical location.

Do you need major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover? How about Apple Pay, Paypal, and Venmo? At the Cleveland Browns, we believe EMS will meet your organization's and donors' requirements regarding any payment method you need. EMS is a dedicated merchant account provider that already serves all types of nonprofit organizations.

Payout Time

You probably won't get your hands on your money right away from most payment processors. This is because funds are not deposited directly into your nonprofit's bank account. You can have the money transferred into your account on a predetermined timeline or done manually. When the transfer process begins, the money can be accessed immediately or take a few days.

EMS enables your organization to access your money quickly, allowing rapid payouts with minimal deposit delay.

Point of Sale Transactions

Nowadays, you probably do most of your business through your website or a contribution page. However, there are other events, such as silent auctions or galas, where you need to accept donations and complete transactions in person from attendees.

Point of sale (POS) is the most convenient way to accept payments for an in-person transaction. Equipment like a credit card reader is commonly needed to accomplish the task, and extra costs may be associated with this type of transaction.

EMS offers POS payment processing for nonprofit organizations to ensure that physical transactions go on efficiently without a glitch.

Transaction or Processing Fees

If you run a nonprofit, you are probably wondering if nonprofits are charged credit card processing fees. Nearly all online payment processors will charge you a small fee. The cost is often calculated as a fixed amount plus a percentage of the overall transaction.

Do your homework to identify the most economical transaction rates to avoid losing money to your charitable organization. The good news is that EMS provides payment processing discounts to nonprofit organizations and offers secure payment processing, which means that your donors' details will be safe.


Donation-based nonprofits need to be just as savvy about security as any business. People won't donate to your nonprofit if they don't feel comfortable doing so.

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) is an information security standard used when handling credit cards from major card companies. PCI DSS must be followed when taking credit card payments from your donors. There are fines and fees if you don't follow the twelve major compliance requirements that have been established.

To safeguard the personal credit or debit card information of your donors, you should adhere to these guidelines to avoid having your ability to process credit cards revoked. You want your donors to know that their data is being protected to the highest standards.


Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions are how financial institutions facilitate funds transfers to and from payment processors. While most payment processors will utilize an ACH mechanism to deposit your payments, not all will let you accept donations through this method.

Offering ACH as a payment option is preferred by some charities since it reduces transaction costs and eliminates the need to update card information regularly. If accepting this payment method from your donor is crucial, reach out to EMS so that they can set you up.

Keeping Donors On Your Site

If you use a third-party processor like Paypal, your donors need to leave your website to sign into their account. Many donors do not want to take extra steps and may not follow through with their donation.

To keep donors on your site, everything must be simple and easy as possible. When there are too many steps, donors may go somewhere else.

Having your own setup helps to keep your brand front and center and communicates a level of distinction that helps your nonprofit's reputation.

As mentioned previously, you can also set up ACH donations for your contributions. ACH donations are direct transfers of funds from the donor's bank account. ACH also helps you save on credit card processing fees and reduces your transaction costs.

A Trusted Payment Processor

After setting up your nonprofit organization, it is essential to have an affordable payment processor that will allow you to receive in-person and online donations. Payment processors complete the backend part of the transaction and move funds from the donor's account into your organization's merchant account.

A payment processor manages the logistics of accepting card payments. It transports card data from your donor's credit card or bank account to your nonprofit's account.

When a donor makes a payment on your organization's website, they only need to enter their payment details. The next step is that their card information is sent through the payment gateway, and their credit card company validates it.

Choosing a Nonprofit Payment Processor

It's crucial that your organization carefully considers all of its payment processing options. You should ensure your donors' safety and confidence in your organization's online donation process. You should look for a payment processor that suits your company's needs while being cost-effective, accommodating, and easy to integrate.

Choosing the most suitable nonprofit payment processor may be challenging for nonprofit organizations, so here are some factors to consider.

  • Do you need to receive payments in person?
  • Do you wish to provide alternative donation choices such as ACH, Apple Pay, or Google Pay?
  • How long would you like for donations to be credited to your account?
  • What are the costs? Is it possible for your donors to pay the fee?
  • What methods of payment are accepted?
  • What special features, if any, do you need?
  • Will donors pay an additional transaction fee if you create a donation link on social media channels?
  • Is the system fraud-proof, especially when it comes to online transactions?
  • Does the payment processor provide the services you need?

Let EMS Help You Work Towards Your Cause

As a nonprofit, the confidence your donors have in your company helps you maintain a solid relationship with them. Having a top-tier nonprofit payment processing solution will show them that you care about them and their ability to give.

You don't have to be nervous about online transactions and taking credit or debit cards. You can let your donors know you are following best practices with a secure payment processing system.

EMS has expertise in assisting nonprofit organizations in providing the best online payment processing solutions. They go above and beyond to ensure your peace of mind in the world of online donations by giving you access to the best tools and offering round-the-clock support.

EMS is committed to helping nonprofit organizations achieve their fundraising goals through efficient and cost-effective credit card processing solutions and will go the extra mile to help. If you want to make the right choice for your nonprofit, contact EMS today at 216-230-3506 or fill out the information below for a free consultation to learn how your nonprofit organization can grow its donations.