2.8.6 Receiving Payments

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This section provides an overview of the different ways in which VOPEs typically accept payment for services and memberships.

The VOPE should provide secure and user-friendly options for members to pay their membership fees, and for special events and services such as conferences.  Payments could be taken in cash, by bank deposit, via electronic funds transfers, via credit or debit card, or via electronic payment sites such as PayPal. Each of these options would require specific administrative procedures, may carry different costs, and may carry different risks. It may be necessary to set up invoicing and payment systems that also support bulk payments from the same organization – e.g. a government department may want to register 50 staff members as members. Special attention should also be given to how payments will be received from government, donor and other agencies that requires that a VOPE first register on a supplier database, and may only make payment after a service or specific documentary proof was delivered (e.g. government orders may only be paid after a conference has taken place, and an invoice is presented for payment). There might be specific barriers if money is transferred across international borders; some VOPEs resort to collecting cash payments for periods of up to 3 years whenever a gathering of members take place.

It is important that a VOPE should carefully consider the various options for receiving payments before making a choice applicable to their specific context. 

  • Cash Payments – Requires cash receipts to be issued. Requires someone to take responsibility for receiving and banking cash. Carries the risk of theft before the money is banked.
  • Bank Deposit – Requires specific instructions regarding payment references to use. May be tedious for members to do it this way. There may be a delay. Carries the risk of not being able to adequately allocate funds to specific member accounts. There may be high bank charges for this option.
  • Electronic Fund Transfers – May require that members send proof of payment to a VOPE staff member, or the use of specific reference numbers. Carries the risk of not being able to adequately allocate funds to specific member accounts. International funds transfers may be delayed or carry high bank charges.
  • Physical Credit or Debit Card payments – May require that the organization invest in a point of sale device, and forfeit a percentage of each transaction to cover bank charges. May require special staff training.  May require access to a data line for the point of sale to work.
  • Online Credit Card payments – May require that the organization invests in setting up an online payment channel with relevant security measures in place. There may be high bank or administrative charges for this option, and a percentage of members may not be able to make use of this payment method, depending on legislation in a specific country. The Wild Apricot website provides some insight into setting up an online payment processing system.
  • Electronic payment sites – May require that the organization invest in setting up an account with a specific payment site. There may be high bank or administrative charges for this option.

 Text Box: Details of online payment processing

(Source: http://www.wildapricot.com/blogs/newsblog/2009/02/06/online-payment-proc...)

Many worthy non-profits work at a much smaller scale, and have no need for a full-fledged e-commerce setup — or perhaps your organization is having second thoughts about carrying the costs of a merchant account, in these times of belt-tightening? You can still accept credit card payments online, through a third-party payment processor.

Third-Party Online Payment Processors

Your supporters can easily use their credit cards to send money to you through a hosted payment processing service, such as PayPalNetwork for Good, or Google Checkout for example. In this situation, the service’s own merchant account will handle the transaction for you — for a fee.

This sort of service is generally the quickest and easiest way to set up your organization to collect donations and other payments through your website. The “Donate” or “Buy Now” button goes on your website, but people click through from there to carry out the financial transaction on the service’s own secure website. When a payment is made, the payer automatically gets a receipt by email, and you’ll get an email to notify you that the payment has been made.

Be aware that not all payment processors do business in all parts of the world, or there may be extra hoops to jump through for users outside North America (and sometimes for those outside of the United States).



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