WordPress Donation Plugins and Why You Should Be Using Them
Donating is a great tradition of supporting someone or something you believe in. A donation can serve to help someone going through a hard time, to support a cause or an organization whose values are important to you, or to reward and encourage someone whose work you appreciate.
In the current state of affairs, there never seem to be enough money and resources for anything. It’s too often that we come across these situations. A great blogger you enjoy reading, a terrific artist whose work inspires you, a preacher, a teacher, a charity, a non-profit organization…making a donation is so often not only the right way to go, but the only way to go. There’s more to economy than just buying and selling. Giving something as a gift is an ethical, compassionate and, in the end, a reasonable thing to do.
These days, the easiest way to ask for or give donations is to use the internet. We’ve all seen those big “Donate” buttons all over the web. They’re on your favorite news sites, band pages, church groups, hospital and school websites, blogs, social media pages – basically everywhere.
Internet made asking for donations easy, and in this article we will show you how to do it using WordPress and, more specifically, WordPress donation plugins.
Why You Should Use WordPress for Donations
If you’re thinking of starting a blog or a website, you’re probably wondering whether you should make one from scratch or use some sort of blogging platform. If you opt for the latter, WordPress is definitely your best bet. Getting a hold of how WordPress works is incredibly easy and can be mastered in no time. But that’s not the only reason why using WordPress for donations is a good idea. Here are some others:
- WordPress is free.
If you opt for WordPress.com, you will pretty much have zero expenses for your blog. The software is free, but if you want to have your own website name, you’ll need hosting, which will cost some money (but not too much).
- It’s open-source.
Those who are not too familiar with coding and web development in general may not see why this is a good thing, but the experts understand it very well. Open-source software is not owned by anyone. This means freedom, flexibility and independence, as well as growth and cooperation.
- Strong community.
WordPress nurtures the culture of community and knowledge-sharing. WordPress users are very passionate about this and there is a massive support community that’s open to everyone. It also provides means and resources for building your own community, for instance through forum and online community plugins.
- Ecommerce tools.
WordPress is an excellent platform for ecommerce, through integrations with solutions such as WooCommerce. It allows you to easily build a payment and money exchange system that is fast, reliable and, most importantly, secure.
- Customization and scalability.
With WordPress, you can change just about anything to make it fit your purpose, style and statement. The platform offers amazing customization options for anything from colors and fonts to complex layouts, navigation and structures. In addition, it is probably the most scalable blogging platform out there. That means you have more than enough room to start small, according to your resources, and then grow as big as you want.
- High-quality themes.
WordPress is famous for the enormous selection of free and premium themes for any niche. A choice as wide as this is great for donations and charity sites since it helps you save money in the initial investment but not skimp on quality of design and theme functionality.
How to Get Started
- Pick a domain name.
The first step is very important, since your domain name, i.e. what your website is called, basically constitutes your online identity. It represents your brand, your goal, your mission, what you’re all about and what you’re asking donations for. If you have a charity or a non-profit organization, your domain will probably have the same name.
- Get hosting.
You have two choices here. One is to host your blog or website at WordPress.com, which is your best bet, since in that case your site will be hosted on WordPress servers. Alternatively, you can pick a hosting provider of your choice and get hosting there.
- Download and install WordPress.
We realize that this step probably looks scary but the good people behind WordPress made sure to make it a piece of cake. Just follow the steps provided on the official WordPress support page.
- Get a WordPress theme.
The next step is to get a theme for your site or blog. If course, you can also opt for custom design, but if you’re not skilled or if you’re working with a tight budget, choosing one of the high-quality premade themes is probably better. There are excellent free themes, but even the premium ones, with top-notch design and excellent features, aren’t that expensive. In both cases, they are easy to install and to customize and you can do it completely on your own. Plus, there are themes that are custom-made for charities and other entities working with donations.
- Get a WordPress donation plugin.
This is the crucial step when it comes to accepting and collecting donations through your WordPress site. WordPress donation plugins allow you to add donation buttons, set your payment methods and gateways, keep track of your funds and more. Moreover, they allow you to do all this with extreme ease and without any special skills.
WordPress Donation Plugins
Donation plugins have been on the rise over the last few years. This might be due to an increase in a number of independent creatives looking for a way to support themselves in a system that doesn’t give them due recognition. Donations are a great alternative to ads – they make everyone involved feel like they’re part of something fair and just. Plus, they are not annoying, which is always a big factor.
Because of all this, we thought it would be a good idea to provide you with a short list of the very best WordPress plugins for donations. That way, you can save your valuable time and focus on more important matters.
We’ve done some research and we believe these are the top WordPress donation plugins at the moment:
We realize it’s unfair to pick favorites but Give is such a powerhouse of a plugin we simply cannot resist. It’s a freemium product, meaning there’s a free version and there are add-ons you have to pay for.
We have to say right away that, although the add-ons are pretty amazing, the free version of this WordPress donation plugin is more than enough for most small and medium-sized organizations, charities, non-profits and individuals.
With more than 50,000 downloads, Give is among the most downloaded WordPress donation plugins. It provides a powerful solution for all your donation and fundraising needs, with gorgeously designed donation forms, full reporting features statistics, easy donor management and much more. Plus, it’s quite simple to install, set up and use.
If you decide to use Give for collecting donations and raising funds, you will be able to create your own custom donation forms in your admin, add goals, multiple giving amounts, custom amounts and terms and conditions.
As for reporting, you can filter reports by date, time and payment method and control data with exports and imports. And if you have multiple campaigns, you can even use these reports to measure success and performance across multiple campaigns.
Give shines even in the donor management department. You can view your complete donor activity, integrate with third-party services and generate tax-deductible receipts.
Finally, we have to give it to Give for not taking any commissions. The money you receive using this WordPress donation plugin is yours alone. Give makes money through premium add-ons, which include extended functionalities like recurring donations, favorite payment gateways, currency switcher, PDF receipts and more.
Similarly to Give and many other WordPress donation plugins, Seamless Donations is available for free, with paid add-ons. It does not charge any commissions.
Developers of this plugin claim that anyone can set up Seamless and start receiving donations within five minutes. All you need to do is connect your PayPal account, which you will use for donations, and tweak some settings.
The plugin comes with a rather solid set of basic features. For instance, you can set recurring donations and set options for tracking donors and donations. In addition, the plugin helps you send thank-you notes, which can be default or personalized. Note that personalized thank-you messages, as well as “in honor of” messages, are only available as paid add-ons.
A neat thing about Seamless Donations is that it allows your donors to make automatic donations with just a few clicks of the mouse. People are more likely to spend money if the spending is effortless, so this is definitely a useful feature.
Seamless Donations supports a great number of currencies and has been translated into several languages. In addition, it has quite an extensive documentation and support base.
Finally, if you opt for Seamless Donations, you will be able to integrate compatible free plugins such as CAPTCHA, as well as mail and export solutions.
Charitable is another popular, robust donation plugin for WordPress that has a feature-rich basic version and plenty of paid upgrades for those who need extended functionalities. Again, the free version is more than enough for most users.
Charitable is a good fit even for large organizations running multiple fundraising campaigns, as it allows you to create as many campaigns as you want and to set goals and monitor their performance. You can even create time-sensitive campaigns that you don’t have to turn off manually once they’re finished.
On top of that, the plugin inherits your theme’s style, meaning your donation forms won’t stand out from the rest of the site and will integrate seamlessly.
It’s very important for a donation plugin to be able to allow you to create customized donation forms. For instance, you can create a form that will allow people to set their own amount for donation, or a form with a suggested amount. Donation forms can load as a separate page or in a modal – it’s up to you.
Donation forms can be embedded on any page you want and you can even shorten them to show just the required fields. You really do have a lot of options with Charitable.
The default payment gateway is PayPal and additional ones can be set after you install paid add-ons.
Donation management is handled in your WordPress dashboard, just like everything else on your site. You get admin notifications after each donation and at the end of each campaign.
This is a slightly different solution than the previous ones, as it basically works as a widget. PayPal Donations helps you add a donation sidebar widget and shortcode to your WordPress website with a button that your visitors can use to make a quick donation via PayPal.
It’s important to note that, despite the name, this WordPress donation plugin was not developed by PayPal. It does, however, draw a lot of inspiration from PayPal, mainly in terms of simplicity, functionality and ease of use.
PayPal Donations is really easy to set up. You enter your PayPal ID and make a few other optional settings. For instance, you can pick among several available donation buttons, or you can create your own. Options are available for currency, button localization, custom payment page style and so on.
Thanks to the shortcode you get with this plugin, you can add your donation button anywhere, on any page you want. The button will have either default or your optional settings. However, you can create a specific button, for specific purposes, also using the shortcode. Detailed steps for this, and other uses of the plugin, are listed in the documentation and explained on support forums.
In addition to the PayPal donation button, WordPress plugin repository also offers solutions for adding PayPal Buy Now and Shopping Cart buttons to your site.
Smart Donations is a pretty straightforward WordPress donation plugin that you can use to add simple “Donate” buttons anywhere on your website or blog. It comes in both a free and a paid version.
We have to be completely honest here and say that the free version is definitely too basic. However, the paid one, which comes with a great set of features, is not at all expensive (plans go from $19.99 to $49.99) and it’s a one-time payment, after which you have no expenses at all.
Smart Donations currently supports PayPal and Stripe payments and has five distinct donation styles: Classic, TextBox, Three Buttons, Slider and Forms. We particularly like the Slide Donation style, which has a slider for setting the amount of money for donation. You define the minimum and the maximum and the user slides to reach the desired amount. There’s even a smiley face that gets happier or unhappier depending on the amount of money the user chooses to donate.
Another thing that sets this solution from other donation plugins is that it comes with goal meters. You can use them to show how far you are from reaching your goal. This is an excellent solution for crowdsourcing since people are usually more likely to donate if you’re closer to your goal.
How to Choose a Donation Plugin
When choosing the right WordPress donation plugin for your website, there are several things to keep in mind.
First, the choice of plugin will depend on your budget. If you’re an individual blogger trying to raise some money to keep producing content, or a small organization or business looking for funds, you probably don’t have the luxury of going crazy with plugins and whatnots. In that case, you should opt for one of the free plugins or basic versions of freemium products.
Next, it also depends on how extensive you want your donation functionalities to be. Some users only need a simple button connected to their PayPal that visitors can click on to make a donation. Others need more features, from customizable forms to thank-you messages, multiple campaign monitoring and plenty of integration possibilities.
Finally, you need to take into consideration your own knowledge, skills and experience with WordPress and website administration in general.
So, basically, there are three questions you need to ask when choosing a donation plugin for your WordPress website:
- Is it free and, if not, how much does it cost?
- What do I need it to do?
- Will I be able to use it?
Whatever your answers are, we made sure that the plugin that fits your needs and preferences the best is right there on our list.
Whether we’re talking about crowdsourcing, traditional fundraising or simple one-time donations, WordPress donation plugins are a great way to ask for and receive financial support. In this day and age, this is something so many people and organizations have to rely on. Fortunately, simple and efficient solutions like donation plugins are available for those who decide to take this course of action.
If you have any additional questions about these or other donation plugins, drop us a line or two in the comments below. Good luck with your campaign and let us know how it goes!
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!