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How to Get the Best Merchant Account for Your Organization [FAQ]

Whether setting up online fundraising for the first time or wondering if you could do better with another merchant account provider, here’s what you need to know.

Typically, merchant accounts are a topic discussed only under the harsh fluorescent lights of the finance department or in the dark back office of Internet engineers like me.

There’s little wonder why they are largely misunderstood by organizational leaders and fundraisers.

Unfortunately, some merchant service providers hide behind this confusion and charge hidden or ridiculously high fees.

Another hair-pulling issue is the time it can take to get everything set up to receive donations online.

Some merchant account services can take days to process your application!

That’s why at RaiseDonors, we’ve developed relationships with various merchant account services so that we can get your online fundraising program up and running securely within minutes, not days.

What are merchant accounts?

Merchant accounts are business bank accounts that allows organizations to process transactions online, through mostly through debit or credit cards.

Just like other business bank accounts, most of them require some kind of application process.

What is a payment gateway?

Payment gateways are the technology that collects, stores, and sends the donors payment information to the merchant account for processing.

In every online transaction, a payment gateway and merchant account are used to process the transaction.

Is RaiseDonors a payment gateway or merchant account?

Neither. But we have partnerships with both payment gateways and merchant accounts so that you not only get the best deal in terms of price, but also in quality of service.

Who are RaiseDonor’s merchant services partners?

RaiseDonors only works with two gateways: Authorize.net and Stripe.

We’ve limited the number of merchant service providers we work with on purpose so that we can develop mutually beneficial deals for our customers.

Can I shop around for a merchant account that gives me better rates?

With Authorize.net, absolutely! Authorize.net works with mostly any merchant account. So shopping around in this regard is a good idea.

But this is where our partnership comes into play.

We work with Authorize.net’s  No. 1 reseller for merchant account services. Because of our partnership, we’re able to offer…

  • A legit meet-or-beat processing rate guarantee,
  • US based (local) support services, and
  • Our personal relationships with those service providers that allow us to pick up the phone and work through any problems that might occur

Stripe is set up a bit different. Stripe doesn’t work with any merchant account services as they act as both the gateway and the merchant account.

Good news here is, we are growing and deepening our partnership with the team at Stripe. Hopefully soon, we’ll be able to help facilitate introductions that will lead to extremely competitive rates with a higher tier of customer service.

What should I look for when shopping for a merchant account?

Rates, reporting, and support.

You might not care too much about the hidden fees or getting a lower rate for processing transactions, but I’m sure your finance department does!

These costs add up.

You also want a merchant account that offers robust reporting tools.

It’s critical that the finance team is able to batch and reconcile the volume of  transactions between the online fundraising system and what money is being deposited into the bank account.

Having good reporting here is key to make that process smooth.

And when it comes to the technical support you get, it’s like most other things: you get what you pay for.

Even if you pay a little extra per transaction, you need to look at the bigger picture.

If you have a problem with the merchant account – say a credit card transaction has been rejected – and you need to understand why, how well does the support team give you answers?

If you are waiting 3 business days for an answer (and it’s a canned response), you probably won’t be happy with the customer support.

But with RaiseDonors and our partners, you’ll get a dedicated team who you can call and get it solved as soon as possible.

Will RaiseDonors help me set up my merchant account?

Yes, we’d be happy to!

One of the things I love most about what we do is taking all of the technical confusion out of the process of online fundraising so you can get to raising donors for your organization as quickly as possible.

We do this every day, so we understand the risk and challenges that merchant account provisioning companies provide.

So we offer our merchant services partnerships as a part of our service.

If you go with Stripe, the merchant account is included, so no need to do anything else there.

But if you go with Authorize.net, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up a merchant account with our partners within minutes.

That way, you get a solution that saves you money and a trusted partner as your merchant account.

What do I get out of working with RaiseDonors’ merchant account partners?

A lot, actually.

Need to accept donations in foreign currencies? No problem.

We support a large number of foreign currencies through our merchant account providers.

Want the best possible rate per transaction? We do too.

Some organizations are simply being robbed with high transaction rates.

Our partners are very competitive when it comes to rates and have a meet-or-beat guarantee so you can’t go wrong.

In fact, we’ve seen RaiseDonors clients who’ve saved up to $15,000 per month in transaction fees by switching to our merchant account partners.

Need to move all of your recurring schedules into a new gateway or simply configure a new payment gateway? We’ve got you covered.

Moving recurring schedules and profiles comes up a lot. This is a tangled web, but is very doable. I’ve written up an article to explain the process.

The last thing I think is really important to stress here is that our merchant account partners offer the very best and latest security technology to make sure that you and your donors are safe.

There are lots of ways really bad people can take advantage of good people’s charitable giving online. So it’s our job to make sure that your RaiseDonors online fundraising system is secure from front to back, which includes the merchant account services that we partner with.

Have any other questions?

I’ve covered the most common questions we receive on how to get the best merchant account for your organization.

But I’m sure there are other great questions you might have! Feel free to ask your questions in the comments below – or send us an email.

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