Payment gateways for charities – which one is right for you?

 In news, updates

Laura MacDonald, Digital Marketing Manager at tictoc Digital, takes a look at a few of the most popular payment gateways for charities and what to consider when selecting one

For a charity, there are few decisions that weigh as heavily as selecting the right payment gateway. For many non-profits, monetary donations are integral to funding charitable activities. Getting the donation process wrong is simply not an option.

What is a payment gateway?

A payment gateway is an e-commerce service provider that enables charities to process credit and debit card transactions.

Many charities choose to use payment gateways to process transactions over a fundraising platform like JustGiving for a number of reasons – for instance, having the ability to directly integrate so the payment process remains entirely on their own website or lower fees when handling a large number of transactions.

Making your choice

Choosing a payment gateway that is right for you comes down to what you require as a charity. Before you proceed with a provider, stop to ask the following:

  • What do you need from your payment gateway? Do you only need the functionality to take single donation payments? Do you require the ability to take recurring payments or set up a direct debit? Consider the level of flexibility you are going to require moving forwards as well as how your chosen provider will work with your other business tools – such as your CRM.
  • Is it straightforward and simple to use? If your payment gateway isn’t easy to use, then this could have serious implications for management staff-side.
  • Do you have control over the user experience? Will your payment gateway enable transactions onsite? How much creative control do you have over the design of the payment process? You’d be surprised at just how much a bad user experience can impact donations.
  • What are the fees? Is it crystal clear exactly how much your payment gateway is going to cost? Expect to pay a number of fees for your payment gateway, including set up, monthly and transactional. Make sure you’re aware of all costs involved – your payment partner may appear to be cheap up front, but a little digging will reveal if it’s really such a “good deal”.
  • Is your payment gateway legally compliant and secure? Most payment gateways are compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). However, it’s your responsibility to check if your provider is up to the task – if you don’t, you could end up with a very unpleasant bill. Further to this, you should also consider how your provider could affect your GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) processes. It pays to do your due diligence.

Choosing the right payment gateway for your charity comes down to what best suits their organisation’s needs. It’s not a decision to take lightly, so be sure to thoroughly investigate your potential partners before “signing on the dotted line.”

So, what payment gateway is the best fit for your charity? Let’s take a look at a few of the industry leading providers.

Sage Pay

When it comes to keeping users on site, Sage Pay offers a large number of integration options. This can be a bonus for charities who want to have more control over how their donation process will look. Sage Pay also provide comprehensive fraud detection and general account support.

Prices start from £20.90 per day.


The UK’s leading Direct Debit service, SmartDebit is often the choice for charities looking for a partner to support ongoing monthly donations. As a company, SmartDebit has been around just over two decades and has an excellent track record of maintaining a high quality service.

Monthly pricing begins from £30 per month, plus 20p per transaction (excluding set up fees.)


Worldpay offers a full suite of services for point of sale, from card machines to online payments, making it a favoured choice by many UK organisations.

However, where other payment gateway providers excel in integration, Worldpay often falls behind. Digital marketers looking to track return on investment through third party tools like Google Analytics may also be disappointed as this is largely not possible at the moment with WorldPay.

Prices are available upon request.


Stripe is dedicated to making its services, pricing and support simple. This may be the preferred provider for charities looking for a fuss-free solution, however, flat rate pricing could potentially be pricey when handling a large number of donations.

Prices start from 1.4% + 20p per transaction for European cards.


As a well-recognised and trusted brand, it’s likely that many users visiting your charity’s website will be familiar with and already own a PayPal account. As a result, this could positively impact your user experience, with steps being smoother to the finish line (a donation).

Non-profits and charities can benefit from discounted rates as part of the payment provider’s charitable activities, making it an attractive proposition.

Prices start from 1.4% + 20p per transaction. 

This article was written by Laura MacDonald, Digital Marketing Manager at tictoc Digital.tictoc is a full-service digital agency based in Glasgow and London with over 15 years’ experience working with charities of all sizes, dedicated to accelerating their online performance.

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