Payment Gateway Options for Your Synagogue Website

Written by Hirsch Fishman

Making an online donation or an online payment is an absolute must on a modern synagogue website, as I’ve written about previously in my post on the benefits and considerations of having online donations on your synagogue’s website.

When it comes to actually choosing a payment gateway to handle the credit card processing, though, many people are often confused as to which gateway they should choose for use on the synagogue’s website.

Here is an overview of some of the various options that synagogues can choose from. I have used all three of these when building online donation and payment forms on synagogue websites built in WordPress. The donation and online payment forms I build for synagogues are built using a popular form plugin called Gravity Forms, which has add-ons for many any of these popular payment gateways.

PayPal

Paypal-logo-20141

PayPal is definitely one of the most common payment gateways that I’ve worked with. Many synagogues use PayPal for their donations. Often times when I’m building a new website for a synagogue, on their current website they have the ubiquitous yellow PayPal “Donate Now” button – which is fine, but it’s old-fashioned and doesn’t allow for much functionality, such as gathering information about the donation.

The worst is when I see a synagogue website’s donation page where they list the funds that donors can make contributions towards, and have PayPal buttons for each fund! That’s definitely an outdated way of doing things, and the online donation forms integrated with PayPal that I build for synagogue websites do better than that.

There are some pros and cons to consider with PayPal.

Pros:

  • It’s easy to set up.
  • It’s relatively cheap – the only fee you pay is a percentage of the transaction amount, usually 2.5%.
  • It can be integrated with Gravity Forms.
  • Allows for recurring donations.
  • Offers a mobile card reader for use on smart phones.

Cons:

  • When it’s integrated, once a donor fills out the donation form on the synagogue’s website, they’re taken off the synagogue website and to PayPal’s website in order to enter the credit card information. This can be confusing for many people, and is the biggest reason why I don’t recommend synagogues use PayPal for their payment gateway.

Authorize.net

Authorize.net Logo

Authorize.net is considered the next step up from PayPal and is definitely looked at as more professional than PayPal. Many synagogues use Authorize.net for their credit card processing. It’s what I recommend that synagogues use for their websites and online payments if at all possible.

Pros:

  • It can be integrated with Gravity Forms.
  • Once integrated, it lets you keep people on the synagogue’s website for the entirety of the transaction – unlike PayPal, which takes you away from the synagogue’s website. This avoids confusion and gives the synagogue greater control over the entire payment process.
  • Allows for recurring donations.
  • Offers a mobile card reader for use on smart phones.

Cons:

  • It’s more expensive than PayPal. Not only do you pay a percentage of each transaction, there’s also a monthly fee as well.
  • It requires the purchase, installation, and upkeep of an SSL certificate to secure the pages on the synagogue website that have online donation and online payment forms.
  • While you can set up the account directly through Authorize.net, you’ll get better rates if you go through a reseller or a merchant services provider, who can set up the account for you. It requires a little more legwork.
  • It’s not economically efficient (i.e., you won’t offset the fees) if you’re not doing between $3,000 to $5,000 a month in receipts.

Stripe

stripe-donations

Stripe is another popular payment gateway that I’m starting to see more and more synagogues use for their websites. It has the same pros and cons as Authorize.net, and is my second choice when it comes to recommending a payment gateway to synagogues for use on their websites. There are three differences between the two, though:

  1. There are no monthly fees, whereas with Authorize.net, there are. BUT, this if offset by the synagogue paying a higher percentage of each transaction – 2.9% + 30¢, to be exact.
  2. You don’t need to go through a reseller – the rates are what the rates are.
  3. It’s more economically efficient if you’re doing less than $3,000 in receipts each month.

Using the Payment Gateway

Once the payment gateway account has been created and integrated with Gravity Forms on the synagogue’s WordPress website, the possibilities are endless when it comes to creating online donation and online payment forms.

You can create donation forms that list all the funds that donors can make their donations towards, whether they want acknowledgement cards sent, etc. You can create payment forms that list all the items that congregants can make payments towards, such as synagogue dues, religious school tuition, etc. Or  you can integrate it with an event calendar/management system so that you can accept paid RSVPs for events at your synagogue, such as Shabbat dinners.

Contact us for more information

Synagogue websites definitely need to allow for donations and payments to be made on them, and we can set that up for you. Our synagogue websites all run on WordPress and use Gravity Forms for all the forms that a synagogue needs to have.

If your synagogue is interested in hiring us to build your online donations and online payment pages, or to build you a new WordPress website, please contact us to learn more.

About Hirsch Fishman

Hirsch Fishman is a professional web designer who has worked with synagogues and organizations in the Jewish community since 2006. Originally from Albany, NY, he has previously lived in New York City and Chicago, and currently resides in Raleigh, NC.

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