No matter the size of your nonprofit organization, being able to take credit card donations can radically increase the amount of money you can raise. It also allows you to easily set up recurring donations or online giving. Some traditional merchant account providers and credit card processors offer discounted rates for nonprofits. Other solutions are designed specifically to help nonprofits collect donations and include tools to make fundraising easier.
The best nonprofit credit card processing providers are:
- PayPal: Best overall for receiving on-site and online donations
- Stripe: Best for nonprofits that get most of their income through donations rather than sales
- iATS: Best for charities that use Salesforce for a CRM
- Square: Best for small nonprofits that need a POS for selling as well as accepting donations
- Dharma Merchant Services: Best for larger nonprofits generating over $10,000 per month in donations
- CharityEngine: Best for nonprofits looking for an all-in-one solution to handle online fundraising and marketing
- GoFundMe Charity: Best for charities wanting to harness the power of crowdfunding
Top Nonprofit Credit Card Processors Compared
Contract/ Monthly Fee
Discounted Fee for Nonprofits
None/ $0-$30 per month
From 1.99% + 49 cents (for IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofits only)
Card-present, Online, Recurring, Invoicing, Virtual terminal, ACH/e-check
Same day (w/fee 25 cents-$15)
Donate button, QR code, Sharable payment link, Hosted donation page
Not advertised; standard fee from 2.7% + 5 cents
Card-present, Online, Recurring, invoicing, Virtual terminal, ACH/e-check
2 business days
Custom checkout with donation amount buttons, shareable payment links, Fundraising platform via integration
1 year/ $0
Card-present, Online, Recurring, ACH/e-check
2+ business days
Hosted donation page, Online forms, Event registration, Text-to-donate, Auction bids
No discount; standard fee from 2.6% + 10 cents
Card-present, Online, Recurring, Invoicing, Virtual terminal, ACH/e-check
Same day (w/ fee 1.5%)
Hosted donation page, Collect membership dues, Sales function for events tickets and merchandise
From 0.10% + 8 cents
Card-present, Online, Recurring, Virtual terminal, ACH/e-check
Hosted donation page, Donate button, Collect membership dues, Sales function for events tickets and merchandise
Online, Recurring, Virtual terminal, ACH/e-check
Hosted donation page, Donate button, Collect membership dues, Sales function for events tickets, Donation forms
From 1.9% + 30 cents
Online, Recurring, Virtual terminal
2+ business days
Hosted donation page, Donate button, Sales function for events tickets, Donation forms
How We Evaluated Credit Card Processors for Nonprofits
For charities and nonprofits, credit card processors should do more than handle your payments. They should also provide discounted rates, simple tools for fundraising, and the ability to reach out to donors. We examined over a dozen credit card processing services for nonprofits to determine the seven best for 2021.
With a score of 4.18 out of 5 stars for PayPal (and a similar score for PayPal’s Braintree platform), PayPal ranked as the best credit card processor for nonprofits. It offers good rates with no contracts or monthly fees and useful tools for online and in-person fundraising.
Click through the tabs below for a full list of our scoring criteria:
30% of Overall Score
You may not have full-time fundraising needs, so we favored processors that did not have contracts or charge monthly fees. We also looked for discounted rates, low chargeback fees, and no cancellation penalties.
25% of Overall Score
You need to be able to accept multiple payment types and from many places. Thus, we gave points for in-person payments (including tap payments like Apple Pay), ecommerce transactions, ACH and e-checks, and stored payment information for recurring donations.
30% of Overall Score
The best credit card processors for nonprofits don’t stop at managing payments. They also offer fundraising tools, PCI compliance, a customer database, and CRM functions. We favored those that offered quick disbursements and had 24/7 live customer service.
15% of Overall Score
In addition to our own evaluation of the features and platform, we considered the opinions of the real-world experts: nonprofits that use these platforms. We examined ratings and comments on independent user review sites.
PayPal: Best Overall Credit Card Processor for Nonprofits
PayPal is a recognized leader in accepting payments online and in person, able to accept international currencies, as well as payments of any size. It charges by transaction and has no limits on how small or infrequent they are, but can also handle large volumes and amounts. PayPal purchased Braintree to increase its functionality for marketplaces as well as to provide other payment processing capabilities, like ACH and e-checks.
The two rank highly for features and customer satisfaction, earning 4.18 out of 5 for PayPal and 4.10 out of 5 for PayPal’s Braintree. Users give PayPal a much higher ease-of-use score, while Braintree fared better for features and customizations. Either is an excellent choice for a nonprofit, and both are popular with 501(c)(3)s of all sizes.
- Online donations: PayPal allows you to create customized donate buttons that you can add on your website or send via email. You can also create shareable URLs for your social media account and other online platforms. Donations through a virtual terminal are also possible.
- In-person donations: Create a QR code you can display during events that your guests can scan to take them directly to a mobile-friendly checkout to make payments. You can also add a donate button on your mobile payment app where donors can send their donations.
- Recurring payments: You can safely store your donors’ credit card information to process automatic recurring payments or send out invoices via email with a link to your payment page.
- PayPalMe: Set up a donation link for social channels (higher transaction fees apply).
- PayPal Giving Fund: Register to receive donations through PayPal, eBay, and other partner platforms.
- Deposit speed: Get immediate funds in your PayPal account and a two-day transfer to your bank upon request or on a schedule you set.
When to Choose Braintree
Braintree is run by PayPal but offers more customizability such as transaction reporting for its online tools. However, it’s also more complex, and users say you need someone technically minded to get the most from it. Braintree can accept ACH and e-checks (PayPal cannot), is better for handling bitcoin payments, and has cheaper international payment processing. Braintree is also the processor to choose from if you are developing a marketplace.
What PayPal Is Missing
While PayPal is a powerhouse for supporting nonprofit organizations, the system could do well with a stronger customer database. At the moment, it can only store customer information for the purpose of setting up recurring billing and tracking records of daily transactions. If this feature is important to running your nonprofit, consider Square.
Stripe: Best for Accepting Donations
Stripe is a popular competitor to PayPal for payment processing because it, too, offers good rates and works on a per-transaction schedule rather than requiring a lengthy contract. It gives 501(c)(3) nonprofits a discount on processing fees. It does not have special tools for nonprofits, but its feature set is comprehensive. Some crowdfunding platforms that offer nonprofit fundraising also work with Stripe.
See our Stripe vs PayPal comparison.
Stripe earned a score of 4.06 out of 5 stars and users rated it as highly as PayPal, although PayPal edged out Stripe for deposit speed and ease of use. Its pricing is complex, and it does not have specific functions for nonprofits. However, it does offer a build-your-own POS system, a user interface (UI) for creating buttons, and integrations with over 450 programs, making it a highly versatile payment processing system.
- Customizable checkout page: Use Stripe’s dashboard to customize your checkout settings with client-only integrations for accepting donations.
- Customizable donation pages: Setup your donation pages by adding donation amounts as products that your donors can choose from which will then redirect them to your thank you page.
- Hosted fundraising platform: CharityWeb is an online fundraising platform for nonprofits that integrates with Stripe and allows you to customize fundraising pages and link them to your own website.
- Nonprofit integrations: Integrate with POS and ecommerce systems or build your own (higher transaction fees may apply).
- Customizable fund transfer: Get a two-day transfer to your bank or on a schedule you set.
- Global payments: Stripe supports 135+ currencies with 24/7 support.
What Stripe Is Missing
While Stripe offers discounted rates for nonprofits, most of its fundraising tools are from integrations. Unlike PayPal, which includes dedicated fundraising functions such as creating donate buttons, Stripe allows you to design a custom checkout and integrate it to your donation page. If you prefer a system with more fundraising tools, consider going with PayPal instead.
iATS: Best for Nonprofits Using Salesforce
Built for nonprofits, iATS Payments is an all-in-one payment solution for international credit card and ACH payment processing. It works with charities of all sizes by developing secure online forms to make accepting donations safe and easy. It also integrates with CRM and donation-oriented software and companies.
Over 14,000 nonprofits work with iATS, and it partners with 55 different CRM, event management, and charitable services. Of note is its mobile app for accepting donations and payments anywhere, such as at a local craft show or civic event, and its Salesforce payment processing app, Brickwork. If you use Salesforce for CRM, Brickwork makes it easy to take donations, simplify donor updates, and keep donor information and transactions on the same platform.
Based on our evaluation, iATS earned an overall score of 4.01 out of 5. It scored well on its pricing features and payment flexibility, including its own mobile payment app. However, similar to Stripe, this system depends heavily on integrations to support online forms and manage a customer database, which prevented iATS from ranking higher in our roundup.
- Online forms: iATS specializes in creating online forms that you can customize for different types of donations such as church donations, event signups, and auction bids.
- Mobile payment: This payment processor was specifically designed for nonprofits and includes a mobile payment app with its own mobile card reader.
- Third-party integrations: iATS integrates with hundreds of technology partners and can manage payments from your CRM, auction software, and online fundraising platform.
- Salesforce integration: Brickwork by iATS is a native Salesforce app that opens you to more nonprofit and management tools such as online and offline virtual terminals, donor database, and scheduling recurring donations.
What iATS Is Missing
iATS Payments website lists variable deposit times depending on your payment type, from one to two business days for Visa, MasterCard, and American Express transactions, and every Thursday for Discover transactions. Meanwhile, ACH transactions are deposited every Wednesday. This arrangement may not be suitable if your business requires fast access to your funds; instead, consider Square, which offers options for same-day transfers for a 1.5% fee.
Square: Best for Nonprofits That Need a POS
Square is a highly popular POS system and credit card processor for small businesses. Its tools are extremely flexible, making it a good service for nonprofits as well, especially those that sell items or events. It offers CRM functions for communicating with your donors and tools for monitoring campaigns and setting up recurring donations.
Square takes a small hit for not having reduced pricing, which all the other processors on our list offer. However, it’s still competitive, and the lower base rate (10 cents vs 30 cents) makes it a better option if you take many small payments rather than fewer larger ones. The POS system is a plus, but otherwise, it offers few fundraising-specific tools. Users also give it high marks for ease of use. Overall, it scored a solid 3.97 out of 5 stars.
- Online donation options: With Square, you can create donate buttons, set recurring payments, and customize invoiced donations.
- Mobile payments: Square is known for its mobile payments capabilities, with its free mobile app and card reader so you can turn your phone into a payment processor.
- Built-in payment tools: Square offers a free virtual terminal, native POS, and ecommerce systems to give you a variety of ways to accept donations.
- Reporting features: Square gives you access to analytics and real-time reports to monitor your different donation payments from one platform.
- CRM tools: The system also includes a customer engagement feature that allows you to maintain a customer database, send emails, and monitor campaigns
What Square Is Missing
Unless your organization (nonprofit or otherwise) generates more than $250,000 per year in card transactions, expect to be charged with Square’s normal rate. Square doesn’t offer nonprofit discounts—its reasoning for this is that its transaction fee is already competitively low to begin with. However, if this is a deal breaker for you, check out PayPal for a low 2.2% + 30 cents discounted transaction fee and zero monthly cost.
Dharma Merchant Services: Best for Larger Charities
Dharma Merchant Services is a direct credit card processor that works with nonprofits as well as regular businesses. It not only offers discounted processing fees but also ensures you are registered with credit card companies to receive the lowest interchange rates. If you handle more than $10,000 in transactions per month, it’s a good service to have.
Dharma loses some points in our scale because it does require a monthly fee in addition to transaction fees, and it does not offer extra fundraising tools like many of the services on our list. However, it does provide a virtual terminal for offline donation processing, and it integrates with 4aGoodCause, which manages donation pages for a monthly fee. Users who reviewed Dharma liked the service but it may not be the best option for small charities. We give it 3.75 out of 5 stars.
Dharma Merchant Services Features
- Merchant virtual terminal: You can access Dharma’s online virtual terminals where donors can manually enter their payments from a browser.
- Invoicing and recurring billing app: The MX invoicing app allows you to set up monthly donation options through memberships and signups.
- Mobile payments: Dharma offers a mobile payment processing solution with a free app and a card reader for $99.
- Donation platform integration: Dharma integrates with 4aGoodCause to get donation buttons, pages, and reports.
- Ecommerce integration: You can integrate an ecommerce gateway with your website or online shopping cart and customize it with donation amount options.
What Dharma Is Missing
Perhaps the most glaring feature of Dharma is its lack of a free plan option. Unlike PayPal, which offers alternatives for free and paid use, Dharma charges a $20 monthly subscription fee on top of costs for accessing features such as normally free ecommerce and recurring billing tools. Small charities will find Square a more suitable solution with its forever-free plan that comes with an ecommerce solution.
CharityEngine: Best for Online Fundraising & Marketing
If your nonprofit runs multiple campaigns, maybe even simultaneously, then having a solution that can handle everything from events to regular donations could save you hours of time, not to mention headaches. CharityEngine is a fully featured fundraising solution that includes payment processing. However, unlike iATS, CharityEngine does not support in-person transactions so this system is a great fit for nonprofits that only accept online donations.
CharityEngine earns 3.46 out of 5 stars mainly because there is nothing about pricing online. You’ll need to call to get a personalized quote. Also, users did not rate its interface as highly as others on our list. Nonetheless, they do praise the features, and there are a lot! You can run events, set up regular donations, have a website, manage direct mail campaigns, run peer-to-peer fundraisers, and more. It can process funds from credit cards, e-checks, and direct transfers/ACH. It’s an excellent system and worth calling to inquire about pricing for your organization.
- Online donation tools: CharityEngine’s online fundraising tools includes a website, online form, and shopping cart builder; it also offers product promotion and branding tools.
- CRM and marketing: You can run a direct mail fundraising program, organize events with integrated email communications and payment tools, and market your campaigns from a single platform.
- User center: This feature allows your recurring donors to manage their personal information such as credit card details, address, and communications preferences on your branded donation platform.
- Donation management: With CharityEngine, you can safely secure transaction data, handle recurring donations, track pledges, and generate comprehensive reports.
- Workflow automation: It features automated workflows to handle billing as well as fundraising, the transfer of data between finances teams, and reconciliation between departments.
What CharityEngine Is Missing
It’s easy to notice that CharityEngine’s nonprofit features are all focused on online donations. It does not offer options for in-person transaction processing which means you can sell tickets for your organized events, but you won’t be able to collect pledges from your guests at the events. All of our other providers in this roundup can handle card-present transactions, although Square is the best alternative with its low transaction fee, forever-free plan, and CRM tools.
GoFundMe Charity: Best for Crowdsourcing Donations
Most people know GoFundMe as the crowdfunding tool individuals go to when they have immediate financial needs. However, it has services specifically for charities. The Free plan has a flat transaction fee with a guaranteed donation net amount of 97.5%; the Flex plan has a higher processing fee and a platform fee but gives donors the option to cover the charges. In this way, you could get 100% of the donation.
This service earned a 3.42 out of 5 stars on our scale because of its specific crowdfunding purpose. Unlike most of the other competitors in our list, it does not process in-person chip/swipe/tap payments, nor e-checks or ACH payments. Finally, its integrations are few and mostly related to CRM or charity fundraising. Nonetheless, the rates are competitive, and in addition to the GoFundMe website, which increases your visibility, you can accept donations via your own website.
GoFundMe Charity Features
- Zero transaction fees: With the GoFundMe Flex Plan, the system allows you to give your donors the option to shoulder the processing fees, so you get 100% of the donation.
- Branded campaign materials: GoFundMe gives you access to design tools for creating branded campaign pages as well as email appeals for donations and invitations to fundraising events.
- Crowdfunding platform: GoFundMe is a popular crowdfunding platform that allows you to get increased visibility for your nonprofit and donation campaigns.
- Social crowdfunding tools: GoFundMe’s platform is easy to use and offers text, photo, and video storytelling capabilities.
- Reporting tools: You get full access to your transaction data and can generate reports for useful insights on your campaign.
What GoFundMe Is Missing
GoFundMe is strictly a crowdfunding platform and does not support ACH or e-check transactions and card reader functions. This means that like CharityEngine, GoFundMe cannot process in-person donations, which is really a shame because it provides strong social crowdfunding tools that can easily encourage potential donors to attend fundraising events. If your nonprofit requires these missing features, consider Square, which allows you to accept ACH payments and offers social media integration with its marketing tools for a small fee.
If you are a nonprofit, you should be getting a discount on your payment processing. There are many wonderful merchant services and credit card processors, both direct and third-party, that work with nonprofits. Third-party processors offer not only reduced rates, but also additional tools to make fundraising easier.
We chose PayPal and its offshoot, Braintree, as the best credit card payment processor for nonprofits because they offer good fundraising tools along with excellent processing rates. If you are a 501(c)(3), check them out. If not, or you need greater services, be sure to consider the others on our list.