Frequently asked questions
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Questions for Donors
Are you a charity organization? Find FAQs for charities
They may not have registered for DonateSmarter yet. Please call them and ask them to register. It's FREE and they'll end up saving money!
How does DonateSmarter work?
Yes all your donations are tracked right on your private dashboard.
Quick answer: Nope, a dollar is fine. We believe that "the change in your pocket can change a life" and we prove it every day. Give a dollar or two to several charities and see which ones earn your trust!
Long answer: We accept all donations from $1.00 to $1,000,000+ and we can process either for less than the cost of a stamp and we treat them with the same respect.
We are consistently trying to negotiate the lowest transaction fees and best user experience for our donors and charities. We have selected Dwolla and PayPal as or primary payment processors because of their impeccable reputations, reliability and continued innovation in the industry.
We encourage you to choose for yourself. Which is the better way to process your transactions? You tell us and your charity each time you donate.
If you have any questions please email david@DonateSmarter.com. We'd like to get you the lowest transaction cost possible for each donation so more of your donation reaches the specific project you've selected.
In the nonprofit industry, PayPal defines micro donations are less than $9 and macro donations are more than $9. Dwolla defines micro donations as $10.00 or less and macro donations are larger than that. Each third party company charges different transaction fees and they each rely on the charity to select which account they use to process a donation. That takes programming and that takes money...
DonateSmarter empowers Donors to make their own choice...after all it's your money. And then we send your donation to the lowest cost account and we tell you the processing cost BEFORE you donate. Why??? Because we value your generosity and we want to see your donation do the most good!
All donation transactions go through a third party payment processor. We will never release your personal information to any outside party unless you authorized us to do so.
All donations are currently made through PayPal and Dwolla, leaders in online payments, and are kept private over their secure network. PayPal and Dwolla maintain the highest PCI compliance available.
You can pay by credit card or through your PayPal account on PayPal or via bank transfer or through your Dwolla account via Dwolla.
Yes. All projects on DonateSmarter.com are US registered non-profits and have posted their qualifications for tax exempt status (501(c)(3) status. Further, all donations go directly to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, making them tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers to the full extent permitted by law.
You will want to check with your tax preparer to determine the level of your deduction but they'll be impressed when you provide them with a printed IRS compliant donation acknowledgement accounting for all your donation activity throughout the year.
As a registered donor, you can print your own donation summary from your dashboard any time... or just email your CPA a PDF OK?.
The funds are processed immediately upon donation, by the third party provider you select, PayPal or Dwolla, and placed in the charity's account. DonateSmarter's ledger of all transactions provides the charity with the accountability it needs and the donors with the project transparency they deserve.
By using DonateSmarter the charity has agreed to allocate funds received to the specific projects designated by the donor and to disclose project details via a scope of work submitted for each project.
Just check your secure donor dashboard! We want you to come back to the site to check in on a regular basis, we'll email you updates if you want and we'll text you that your projects site has been updated.
We protect donor privacy... It's the DNA of our business model. Above all we want you to be comfortable and confident when you donate to your charities. We understand that without you, we would have no business and you could find another place to invest your pocket change, so we strive to earn your trust in everything we do.
You select the charity you prefer.
You select the Good Works Project you prefer.
You decide how much to donate
You select the third party payment processor you prefer.
You select how to be updated about the positive impact of your donation.
Charity review process
DonateSmarter reviews each charity's paperwork to verify their designation as a non profit. This means that these projects have satisfied the IRS guidelines and the business & any charity registration process for their particular state.
Although these Charities have completed this verification process, DonateSmarter can't legally endorse, make any representations or warranties or assume any liability for these Charities. That would put us in a legal bind so we depend on you and our other charities to be as vigilant as we are.
We rely on our community to police itself. If you feel something is not right with one of our charities, tell us. We'll handle it quickly... info@DonateSmarter.com
We prefer independent third party endorsement from trusted sources (and we'll do our level best to become your trusted source!)
But even then a particular charity's financial records must be made available upon request. The charity's main website is a pretty good place to start - but just double check what you read.
We also recommend Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org), GuideStar (www.guidestar.org) and the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/) as great resources and most states that regulate the charities soliciting in their jurisdiction will have some form of charity review website where you can further research.
Remember, DonateSmarter charities pledge to put all your donations to work exactly where you directed them to go when you select a particular Good Works Project and donate to its fundraising event.
What is DonateSmarter's mission?
Provide a professional, transparent, compelling showcase for the good works projects of dedicated charities that are trying to improve their part of the world.
Connect those good works project(s) with like-minded people who want to support them financially and share in the benefit that happens by doing so.
Provide donors with the ultimate control over when, where, and how much support they give by allowing them to see and experience the actual good the charities are doing... in as close to real time as possible no matter the size of the charity or the donation.
Receipts for donation
Yes, Donors receive their PayPal statement on their credit card records or their Dwolla statement on their bank transcript and an IRS compliant acknowledgement letter from DonateSmarter.
Donors can also print a report showing their donation activity over the past year from their donor dashboard.
For more information on charitable contributions, refer to IRS Form 8283 and its instructions, as well as IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.
Why not donate directly to the charity?
By all means donate, just be an educated donor!
Donating directly to a charity via their website or by any means that reveals your location may make a charity "reasonably responsible" for properly registering in that state PRIOR TO YOU SEEING THEIR SOLICITATION! IF YOU DONATE and they are not preregistered, they can be fined THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS per violation. Even then, registering in multiple states costs a lot of time and money that the charity might otherwise be able to put toward its cause.
The solicitation laws differ from State to State but one thing is clear. If the charity knows what state your donation originated from, they "must be registered to solicit in that state".
A better question might be "Why not donate through DonateSmarter"
1). DonateSmarter coordinates your charity's transaction processing accounts. (DonateSmarter software automatically sends each donation to be processed by the most cost effective account your charity has based on the donation size... PayPal expects a charity to do that on their own and makes extra money when they don't!)
2). DonateSmarter allows donors to choose who processes their donation and therefore how much it costs.
3). DonateSmarter donors know all fees up front and can select "pay the transaction fees" prior to checkout.
4). DonateSmarter allows charities & donors to communicate directly while preserving their anonymity.
All this may sound like semantics but it translates into empowering donors and saving charities a lot of money so they can put the donation to work more efficiently!
What is Dwolla?
Dwolla is a third party payment processing system which is far less expensive than PayPal or other options.
Check out all the information on the Dwolla link to understand exactly how much you can save your charity by using Dwolla!
If you are going to make a large single donation Dwolla is the way to go.
How do I increase my Impact on a project?
Impact Tracking allows each donor to see the positive impact their initial donation has on a project for the life of the project AND allows them to increase their impact by telling friends and family about the project and so they in turn can do the same.
Each time a friend or friend of a friend supports the project because you shared the information with them, a star appears on your impact map (location based roughly on their location) and their dollar amount is added to your total impact score.
There are several tools that make it easy to personalize and share your experience with the charity. Check them out: Peer to Peer pages, Pledge pages and Pledge links, Customized Project sponsorship, Customized Charity sponsorship.
Project email sends a personalized copy of the project you like to friends and family.
Find “My Projects” on your donor dashboard and scroll to a project you have supported.
1. Click “Email a Friend”.
2. Insert comma separated emails.
3. Edit the message if you like.
4. Send Email.
Your contacts receive your personalized email with a live link to the project page and since you sent the link, you’ll receive credit for their activity with the project!
A "Pledge Page" is a live web page that collects pledges which you create and access on your phone to collect donor pledges for projects, live at any event (annual banquet, bake sale, car wash, road race... You decide!!!)
Instead of handing a printed flyer or asking a prospective donor to fumble for cash or a credit card, tell them about the project and ask for a pledge.
Prospects just enter their email and pledge amount and “Send” themselves an email reminder of their pledge promise to complete from the comfort and security of their own computer!
From your dashboard
1. Copy the Pledge Page link into a new browser window on your device.
2. Select a project from the thumbnails of projects you currently support. (a check mark confirms your choice).
3. Title your Pledge page and log in to this address from any device.
Pledge page pledges are Quick and easy - No fumbling for cash or credit cards - SAFE, Secure, Convenient!!!
Peer to Peer fund raising or "P2P" lets “power donors” raise funds directly for a project they love any time and any way they want! P2P teammates personalize their own fundraising page with their pictures, text and a video to share their experience with a charity with friends and family.
From “My Projects” on your donor dashboard, scroll to a project you have supported.
1. Click the "Create PtoP Page" button.
2. Upload photos, a personalized video, goals and a personal message to complete the information.
3. Your page and subsequent updates will be reviewed by the charity and approved for display, usually next day.
As friends get involved and donate through your link, your impact increases. So, email, share, tweet and post your P2P link everywhere.
Update supporters with new video messages and track your impact on a project as their locations and their friends’ locations display on your Donor Impact Tracking Map!