Both services do not charge a set-up fee. For single donations, CanadaHelps.org charges a fee of 4% per transaction but if your church claims its charity profile on CanadaHelps.org and sets-up a Customizable Donation Form (CDF), the fee is reduced to 3.75%. (There are different rates for monthly donations.)
Tithe.ly charges 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction but PCC churches get a special rate of 2.75% + 30¢ per transaction for VISA/Mastercard and debit transactions; the fee for American Express is higher.
How do these fee structures compare? For a gift of less than $30, CanadaHelps.org’s transaction fee is lower than Tithe.ly’s fee. For any gift over $30, Tithe.ly’s fee is lower. However, the difference in fees isn’t that great. The transaction fee for a $20 gift would be 75¢ for CanadaHelps.org and 85¢ for Tithe.ly. The transaction fee for a gift of $100 would be $3.75 for CanadaHelps.org and $3.05 for Tithe.ly. The more important difference is how the two organizations are structured.
Since CanadaHelps.org is a foundation, the donor is considered a donor of CanadaHelps. CanadaHelps collects the donor information and issues the tax receipt and the church merely receives the funds. The donor has to give permission for their personal information to be shared with the congregation. (Most do – but the church needs to claim its account to learn who gave the funds.) Some smaller churches are happy that the tax receipting responsibilities are taken care of, knowing they can usually get the donor’s information to send a thank you note.
With Tithe.ly, the “donate” button on your church website is a tool for the congregation to receive the funds. The donor is the church’s donor and your church collects all the contact information and provides the tax receipt.
Which is easier to use? Because you don’t have to issue receipts with CanadaHelps, your bookkeeper need not account for individual gifts, only the totals which come through CanadaHelps. Because the church is issuing the tax receipt with Tithe.ly, the bookkeeper must add all Tithe.ly transactions to the church’s accounts and keep record of the individual donors – much like they do for envelope givers. While Tithe.ly provides an interface where the bookkeeper can see all the transactions, much like online banking, it is more work. Therefore, CanadaHelps.org is easier to use, which is why it is often chosen by smaller churches. Many congregations however like having the control over their donor information and being able to provide their members with one receipt for online and other types of donations.