Collecting Member Donations
Here are the different ways Alliance giving circles collect donations from their members:
- Members write their checks made payable to the nonprofit and give to the giving circle leader. Once all of the funds are collected from all of the members, the leader distributes the bundled checks to the nonprofit as one donation.
- Members make their donation by credit card directly on the nonprofit website (notating that the donation was for the 100 Who Care giving circle) and sends a copy of the email confirmation to the giving circle leader. The giving circle leader can then accurately inform the nonprofit which donations are to be bundled and credited to the 100 Who Care group making the donation.
- Members make their donation by credit card through the giving circle’s online giving community partner or even Community Foundation partner (see below). These online giving communities allow you to direct funds once everyone has donated, resulting in one collective gift from your giving circle members to the nonprofit.
- A hybrid of two, or all, of these.
Online Giving Communities
With technology changing the way people bank, and because of the growing number of technological solutions for online donations, we are constantly learning about online giving communities that collect member donations and hold them until you are ready to direct them out as one donation when you are ready. These platforms all give giving circle leadership access to a back end dashboard for you to see who donated, when they donated, and how often they donate (one time donation vs. recurring). Some of these platforms are simple, and some are more robust, offering services beyond the donation. Some will even personalize your platform to fit/match your needs.
There are slight differences in all of the different services Alliance giving circles utilize, so determine what your specific needs are and research them all to figure out what, if any, will be the best match for you.
Partnering with Community Foundations or United Way
Many circles partner with their local Community Foundation, and in some instances the local United Way chapter, to serve as their back end fiscal sponsor and administrative partner. In these instances, the Community Foundation collects the donations (either by check or credit card) and directs one check out to the nonprofit the giving circle selects to be the funding recipient. Community Foundations may do all or little of the administrative work for you, such as: maintaining member lists, sending out routine emails to members, collecting and distributing the funds, providing website services, serving as your fiscal sponsor if you collecting sponsors from members of the business community, etc.
These services do not come free, however. Fees vary and can be negotiated. We’ve heard instances where some Community Foundations require one quarter’s donations whereas others take a small administrative fee out of each donation they process. Before partnering, compare the fees against fees being charged against other options and do what will work best for you and your group.
A Note About Using PayPal and Venmo
There are many giving circle leaders who want to administer things on their own and attempt to use PayPal and Venmo for those members who want to transfer fund electronically. We receive many questions about whether giving circles can use PayPal or Venmo to collect their member donations and we hear many stories of it working and just as many stories where the platform shut them down. The long and short of it is, check with the Terms and Conditions of each platform before proceeding. For instance, on Venmo’s website it clearly states “Venmo’s peer-to-peer experience cannot be used to solicit or collect charitable contributions“.