Setting-up donation forms on your website
If you do not yet have a donate button on the home page of your website, now is the time to add one. It not only allows people to give to your congregation at times convenient to them, it’s another way people in your worship service can participate in the time of offering, in person or remotely.
CanadaHelps.org and Tithe.ly , are two trusted online giving tools that make the process easy.
Tithe.ly Donation Forms
Tithe.ly is a comprehensive giving platform tailor-made for churches and ministries. Tithe.ly provides churches with a suite of tools to facilitate online giving, including a donation form on your church’s website. A “donate” button opens a secure, easy-to-understand donation form, which can be hosted on your church’s website or on the Tithe.ly website. People can give using credit cards (and debit cards that have either the VISA debit or Debit Mastercard symbol). Tithe.ly sends the congregation the proceeds and the congregation issues the receipt. There is no monthly fee and the cost per transaction is competitive. To ensure that your church receives special PCC rates, use the PCC registration page: tithe.ly/rp/pcic/register
CanadaHelps.org Donation Forms
CanadaHelps.org is a highly respected and secure charitable foundation that enables online donations to charities across Canada. Every registered charity in Canada is listed on their site, so if your church’s website does not already have a “donate” button, donors can still give online by searching for your congregation on CanadaHelps.org and using their credit card or debit card with a VISA debit or Debit Mastercard logo. Congregations can use CanadaHelps as their online solution, but add a donation button on their website which points to a customized CanadaHelps.org donation form. Unlike Tithe.ly, CanadaHelps.org is a charitable foundation, and so it provides the donor with the tax receipt and then forwards the donation to your congregation. Donors can choose whether to share their information with the congregation or not.
Even if you don’t use CanadaHelps to create the donation button for your website, we highly recommend that you claim your church’s CanadaHelps.org charity profile, as people may give through CanadaHelps if they are giving to another charity at the same time. Claiming your profile lowers the CanadaHelps.org transaction fee, allows you to look up donor details to send them a thank-you note and enables you to set-up auto-deposit instead of having to wait a month or more for a cheque to come by mail.
Which is better?
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.
Does my website need to have special security to use donation forms?
To embed donation forms directly onto your church website, the website needs SSL protection, otherwise the forms would not be secure. (PCCWeb based websites all come with free SSL protection.) For church websites that don’t have SSL protection, the “donate” button can be linked to a form hosted on Tithe.ly or CanadaHelps.org which will take the donor to a form in a new secure tab/window. When the donor submits the form, that window can return the donor to your church website; ideally to a “thank you” page that you’ve created.
What is needed to get started?
Because every registered Canadian charity already appears on CanadaHelps, you just need to point a link from your website to your church’s default donation page on the CanadaHelps website. Even if you don’t add a donate button to your congregation’s website, it’s a good idea to claim your church’s profile on CanadaHelps.org.
To claim your CanadaHelps.org charity profile you will need:
- Charitable business number (which you can get from your existing CanadaHelps.org page)
- An email address
- Note: Setting up direct deposit is a separate process and requires banking details, legal business name and more.
Because Tithe.ly is a tool for your congregation to receive donations, you need to set-up direct deposit of donations to your church’s bank account when you create your Tithe.ly account. Consequently, the list of items needed is longer.
To set-up Tithe.ly you will need:
- Legal business name
- Charitable number (business number)
- Bank routing information for depositing gifts received (transit number, institution number, account number)
- A digital scan (.jpg) of the driver’s license or passport of one of the officers of the church (this is an anti-fraud measure implemented by Tithe.ly to ensure that a real person associated with your church has authorized the account)
Can I get help setting this up?
Whether you select CanadaHelps.org or Tithe.ly, Jim MacDonald, the Development Manager in the Stewardship & Planned Giving Department, can help you discern which program will work best for you and help you set-up your account(s) and your donation form(s). Using screenshare, Jim can walk you through the entire process as you set it up together.