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Over the last twenty years I’ve worked with a lot of charities, providing them means by which to accept donations and payments by card. This can be as simple as setting up a charity shop with a decent Chip & PIN terminal, or it can be a ‘donate here’ button for websites or emails. It doesn’t matter because, however they prefer to accept donations, I see charities making some of the same mistakes time and time again, and I want to help.

Here are the top three mistakes charities make when it comes to taking card payments, and what we can do to put it right:

1. They assume they can’t afford/don’t need them

It’s not true that taking card payments must cost the earth, and for charities there are a number of cost effective solutions that might actually see them better off when it comes to money in the bank or time on their hands. Automating donations online or over the phone (for example, those taken over the phone using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system) can be a real time-saver and it can free-up members of staff to further the charity’s cause in other ways.

What’s more, transactions will be automatically collected and stored in what we call your Merchant Management System (MMS). This means that all your transactions can easily be exported into your donor database, making it easy for charities to calculate the lifetime value of their donors – information like this is invaluable for charity’s fundraising or marketing teams. Even better, you can avoid risky trips to the bank carrying wads of cash, as well as bank charges for making deposits, all by implementing a card-payment solution. So, you see, whilst there is a minimum cost to accepting cards, the value of the solution will soon outweigh this. Which leads me on to …

2. They go for the cheap option

I get it, most charities want to save money so that it can go towards their cause – and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there’s something I always remind charities not to overlook, and that’s value for money. The lowest cost is not always the best value.

At LibertyPay we always assign each of our Merchants with a dedicated Account Manager who gets to know their organisation inside out. If ever they require help or advice – their account manager is always just a phone call away and we’re happy to spend the extra time chatting things through to ensure the best solution for them is implemented. In my experience, this is the sort of service and guidance charities should be looking for over a low-cost solution that offers zero support, even when things go wrong. For organisations that rely solely on contributions from donors, the value of a good, reliable payment service provider that prioritises customer care, and will be there when you need them, can be immeasurable.

3. They’re receive confusing or incomplete advice about security

I’ve worked with many charities who worry about PCI-DSS compliance (the attestation which confirms you are processing payments securely). Now, it’s true that lots of organisations take a charge for PCI – either for being compliant (and maintaining compliance) or a monthly fee or ‘fine’ for being non-compliant. The thing is, these charges often don’t have any bearing whatsoever on the quality of advice given to Merchants about how to become and remain compliant. Instead, the charges are just a money-making exercise to the Providers who profit.

Now, whilst LibertyPay do insist that our Merchants are compliant (for their own protection, since card fraud can carry hefty fines) we don’t go out of our way to make compliance an expensive or arduous task. We use an expert, third-party company to ensure our Merchants are compliant, and they are always on hand to offer advice as it’s needed. Additionally, we don’t inflate the cost of this service to profit ourselves – money that would be, literally, for nothing.

As ever, if any readers of this article would like a conversation around their card payments or PCI compliance, I’m more than happy to chat it through – do feel free to get in touch.