E-commerce has revolutionized the way business sell and earn. Gone are the days where cash and check (and even credit cards) were the only methods of receiving payment. You can be anywhere in the world and collect money from pretty much anybody, and almost immediately at that, through online transactions. While this technology has obviously opened up tons of opportunities for small to large businesses and entrepreneurs, even non-profits and donation-based websites can leverage e-commerce to collect donations.
Why Accept Donations?
While most of the WordPress site owners find a product or service to sell and present it in a shopping cart on their website, some find themselves in a position where they have no physical goods or even services for delivery to the purchaser. So if you’re not running a commerce-based business, but would still like to monetize your website, asking for donations is an option for you.
Asking for donations is a great way to make your readers more invested in your work as well. A lot of fans would be happy to support your creative work – from web cartoons to books to musical compositions – so why not put up the donation button? You might have some reservations about donations coming across as needy, but the practice has become so widespread and socially acceptable that it’s a missed opportunity if you don’t. It’s a simple way to garner support for your work and, in fact, many readers find it less intrusive than alternatives like ads.
Setting up to collect donations is easy as well. Assuming you’re running your website on WordPress and have the ability to add plugins to it (which would be most self-hosted solutions; note that WordPress.com doesn’t allow for plugins), the only other thing you need is a payment tool like PayPal.
PayPal for Donations
We recommend going with Paypal as it is one of the most popular payment solutions in the market and almost every major donation plugin will support it. To create an account on PayPal, you’ll need to head over to their website and set up a merchant account here (not the regular user account.)
Once you have a PayPal merchant account, you’ll need to login to your WordPress admin dashboard and click on the Plugins section. In this article, we’re going to use the ‘Paypal Donations’ plugin and demonstrate the setup process. You’re of course free to choose any of the plugins available in the WordPress plugin store that accept donations via PayPal. Chances are the set will be more or less the same as below. Whichever plugin you choose, make sure that it’s compatible with your WordPress version, has a decent number of installs, was recently updated by the developer, and has an active community should you require a bit of help. We’ve compiled a list of other plugins that allow donations using PayPal at the end of this article.
Configuring PayPal Donations
Okay, so moving ahead. You should have installed and activated the PayPal Donation plugin by now – it follows the standard WordPress plugin install procedure; instructions are provided at the Plugin developer site, or you can read our article on how to install a WordPress Plugin here.
Once the plugin is active, you’ll find the plugin under the ‘Settings’ opting in the left-hand menu. Clicking on it will open the plugin configuration screen. The following is the configuration panel for the PayPal Donations plugin:
Start by entering the email id you used to create your PayPal account or your Merchant Account ID, whichever’s handy. Choose the currency you wish to collect your donations in. The plugin supports most of the popular currencies, including Australian Dollars, Euros, British Pound, Yen and of course, US Dollars.
Once you’ve entered the details, your account is setup – but you also have a bunch of optional settings to personalize the setup to your desired user experience. If you’d like to give your users a unified experience and match the style of the payment page with that of your website, you could use a custom payment page. PayPal also gives you the option to customize the payment pages it serves on its side to your buyers (more on that here)
You can set the URL of your custom payment page (that you can create in PayPal) in the Page Style option to direct your users to that page on clicking your Donate Button. Leave this option blank if you’re okay with the standard PayPal payment page. This is the easier option and will feel consistent to most users.
The next option on this page gives you the ability to redirect your users to a custom page once the donation is collected. This could be a nicely designed page to thank your user for their donation and maybe invite them to join your newsletter if they aren’t already part of it. You can even provide a special gift (like a free ebook download) on this page to reward your donors.
The options under the Default section include ‘Amount’, ‘Purpose’ and ‘Reference’. You can preset the amount if you’re looking to charge a specific amount or keep it empty for the donor to decide the amount. Similarly, ‘Purpose’ and ‘Reference’ can be set or kept empty if you’d rather the donor fills it.
Donate Button SETTINGS
Next, you choose the style of the donate button you’d prefer for your site from the available options or put in a link to the button design of your choice. Once you’re satisfied with your entries, click on the ‘Save Changes’ button and you’re ready to start using PayPal donation button on your WordPress website.
How To Use The Donate Button
The Donate button can be inserted on your site in two simple ways:
- Using Shortcode: You can add the shortcode: [paypal-donation] anywhere on your website to place the button. You could slip it in the middle of a blog post, below a video on the page, or wherever you want to invite your user to make a donation.
- Using Widget: You could also add the button as a widget in one of your sidebars or the footer. Go to Appearance -> Widgets, find the PayPal Donations widget and drag it whichever sidebar or layout option you want
Congratulations! You’re all set to receive donations using PayPal on your WordPress website!
Other Plugins that Support PayPal Donations
Some other plugins that you could use for collecting donations:
Note that you need to have a hosting provider who allows you install plugins yourself to be able to make use of these tools. If your current one doe not, we suggest you check out our list of top WordPress Hosting providers here to find a better solution!