Frequently asked questions
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Questions for Charities
Are you a charity organization? Find FAQs for donors
We do our level best to make sure you are fully compliant with registration and disclosure requirements of your home state. Once your information has been verified you'll be "live" - This usually takes 24 hrs. ("Level best" - We inspect up to twenty-five different compliance, accountability and transparency points, from verifying a minimum legal registration threshold to review of disclosed expense activity to the clarification of impact results and donor communication)
1. From the home page DonateSmarter.com click on "SIGN UP" in the upper right. That will take you through the Charity Login process.
A charity registering for the first time will click on "Register Now".
2. Enter all the basic charity and contact information and your charity and charity user account will be created...
You should see the following message:
"Hi, Welcome to DonateSmarter."
Please make sure to keep your password in a safe place. If you want to add additional users and grant them access to your site, you can do so from your dashboard. After you log in for the first time, you can go to your charity dashboard and complete your registration and add a profile picture, projects etc...
Charities and Donors access their secure "Dashboard" by logging in at the home page with their User ID and Password AND selecting DONOR or CHARITY from the drop down.
You can't be logged in on DonateSmarter as a Donor and a Charity at the same time.
Yes. You can add additional users from your dashboard page after you register. We call them team members. You invite them and they set a new private password for their access to your charity team when they register, upload a picture and write their personal statement.
Scope of work
The scope of work details the charity's projects. The same questions are answered by every charity each time they create a project.
This allows donors and sponsors to compare "apples to apples" across different projects. Complete the scope of work carefully to give donors a clear insight into the plans of the charity and the ability to compare projects and evaluate your performance.
The granular detail disclosed in the scope of work gives credibility to the project and the charity workers who carry it through to completion. Completed projects become a dynamic "portfolio of charity performance" used in grant applications and sponsorship consideration.
We are glad you asked!!
- Transaction processor charges:
Pay Pal charges: .05+5% up to $9.00 (micro-donations) & .30+2.2% above $9.00 (Macro donations).
Stripe charges: .30+2.2% on all transactions
DonateSmarter automatically selects the least expensive processing fee and displays the transaction cost before you donate so you know where your money is going.
DonateSmarter charities give their donors a choice to save them money. Each donor selects either PayPal or Dwolla to process their transaction just before checkout. These fees are available only to non-profits and are subject to change without notice.
Typically in the industry, the charity pays the transaction fee out of the donation amount. However, to maximize the donation to the charity, DonateSmarter charities give their donors the option of:
1. Selecting the least expensive processor (PayPal or Stripe).
2. Increasing their donation by the approximate amount of the calculated fee for their particular donation.
What is DonateSmarter?
DonateSmarter is a platform of tools that make charities better.
We help charities with the heavy lifting of being a charity. We let charities raise their own funds.
DonateSmarter.com is a showcase connecting charities with donors via the internet.
With DonateSmarter, charities can "show off" their projects to the world and donors can anonymously review, interact and donate in complete security.
Donations are geographically anonymous so charities are not required to be registered in that particular state. This patent-pending technology saves the charity the time and hidden costs necessary to manage multi-state registrations.
Yes. Since DonateSmarter is project-specific, it compliments many companies' existing fundraising efforts. It also provides an attractive sponsorship opportunity for larger sponsors and foundations because of its high-quality content and powerful connection to the general public.
DonateSmarter coordinates your PayPal and Stripe accounts to insure that your processing fees are the lowest available and State and Federal compliance is not compromised.
Charities use the DonateSmarter payment button code generator to make a custom payment button HTML code and post it on their URL to make sure they are processing all their donations as efficiently as possible and avoiding the multi-state registration and disclosure compliance issues.
No there is no fee to register your charity and post a project on DonateSmarter
No, DonateSmarter does not normally handle direct donation of material to projects.
However, you can raise funds to purchase specific items as part of a project for your charity.
You could say "At DonateSmarter, we eat our own cooking!" and that's a good thing! We are proud to nourish other charities as well!
DonateSmarter is a 501(c)(3) registered charity that uses the tools provided by the DonateSmarter platform to raise funds and awareness for specific local and international projects that move us.
What is a "Good Works Project"?
We suggest that projects update regularly or at predetermined milestones depending on the type of project. .
No, there are no restrictions on funds raised. The system is based on micro-donations (less than $9.00) and geared toward "Pocket Change Donations" from many, many individuals across the country and maybe around the world.
Projects with budgets larger than $100,000 may want to consider a stepwise approach to their overall goal. Four $25,000.00 fundraising events held in succession would allow for four times as much success, and more success means more donor excitement!
Either way, all projects are asked to provide extremely detailed budgetary information in their scope of work
DonateSmarter recommends that you structure your projects with incremental goals to allow your charity to build success and momentum among the donor pool.
We foster the behavior of individuals who always give back by inviting them to make a difference. "The change in your pocket can change a life."
Build trust with your Donors by allowing them to participate in the incremental success of your organization.
Regular compelling updates are the lifeblood of the project!!!
Donors feel that same sense of accomplishment vicariously through your words, pictures and video updates. Updates are evidence that you are putting the donors' money to work and accomplishing what you pledged to accomplish in your scope of work and application.
Log on to DonateSmarter.com and register your charity. Then start uploading your organization information:
- IRS designation letter,
- State registrations,
- 990 form, if you like.
and Good Works Project information
- Scope of work,
- Project photos,
- Video clips (YouTube location).
We'll put your Charity page and Project(s) page online as soon as we review your credentials and verify your PayPal and Stripe accounts. (you'll want both and we explain why in the site)
Email us and we can set a time to assist you over the phone david@DonateSmarter.com
Yes, it's easy to do, and DonateSmarter will be happy to assist you in person over the phone or by video tutorial available on the site.
As you register, we will compile your basic information (name, address, charity name. contact number, causes, etc.)
Just start registering and click "we can help." Follow the steps and let us know if you'd like our help.
You will need two PayPal accounts. We explain these steps on the site in your charity dashboard. "One Nonprofit Charity Merchant Account with Micro and one with Macro transaction capability." You may already have the standard macro account. Still, we will coordinate everything to make sure you are paying the lowest PayPal transaction fees possible ("Macro"=.30+2.2%/transaction over $9.00 and "Micro"=.05+ 5%/ transaction under).
You will upload your designation letter and a copy of a voided check from the charity fundraising bank account directly to PayPal from inside each of your charity accounts. At PayPal will review your information and contact you through their system to establish each PayPal account.
Stripe.com is fully automated, so registration is a breeze.
If your charity already has a PayPal account, you will just need to set up the micro account. Just enter a different email address than the one associated with your charity's macro Pay Pal account in the "financial information" section of the DonateSmarter registration process. Then register it with PayPal
If your Charity doesn't have a Pay Pal account, you will be setting up two "Non-Profit Charity Merchant Accounts" to receive Microtransactions (less than $9.00) and Macro transactions (more than $9.00) through Pay Pal.
Before you email David (david@DonateSmarter.com) you will want to have the following items scanned and ready to upload to PayPal for each account.
- a voided check from the charity's bank account.
- your charity's IRS Designation letter that shows your TIN (Tax Identification Number) or EIN (Employer Identification Number)
DonateSmarter DOESN'T RAISE FUNDS FOR CHARITIES, so we don't ever need your banking information. We just want to make sure it's set up correctly for maximum compliance.
You'll complete the setup process through the financial information section of your DonateSmarter charity dashboard by using the emails you used to establish your Pay Pal accounts.
How does DonateSmarter work?
Yes, you can post multiple projects at a time. We call them "Good Works Projects" or GWP's. And each GWP can run a single fundraiser event at a time.
Once your charity has been approved by DonateSmarter, the donations flow immediately!
(donations are processed by PayPal and Stripe so donated funds flow directly from the donor to your Charity's PayPal or Stripe account. DonateSmarter never touches donated funds)
We have never heard of a charity that can't use the money it receives. The goal of each project and amount it has raised are clearly listed on each project page. So, a project will be "completed" as soon as it reaches its goal amount.
A particular Good Works Project may run successive events to reach its ongoing financial goals as disclosed in its scope of work for that project.
If the demand for a charity's events is high, the charity can register a successive event to open in order to capture the demand.
DonateSmarter is free for small charities and individual donors to use.
We sell licenses to organizations that choose to support multiple charities on their own corporate website using our system and update fees for multiple and single project sponsors.
Charities can qualify for decreasing percentage to their charities when they achieve performance different milestones. We also offer coaching to larger charities and foundations to help them maximize their impact and efficiency through the use of DonateSmarter.
Charities receive a customized online retail shop when they are approved and live with one active project. 100% of the proceeds from each sale go to charity. 50% goes directly to your charity and 50% goes to support other charities on DonateSmarter
All active charities are eligible for a rolling $1,000.00 grant which is funded through these retail sales
DonateSmarter donors receive an IRS compliant acknowledgement of their donation direct from the processor and a state compliant donation disclosure and acknowledgement from DonateSmarter at the time of the transaction.
Donors can also print a report showing their donation activity for the year right from their donor dashboard.
That's exactly what we do!!!
Just follow the registration prompts and we'll help you figure out if you're properly registered and we'll coordinate all your disclosures too.
Transparency is an obligation or willingness by a charity to publish and make available critical data about the organization.
Accountability is "an obligation or willingness by a charity to explain its actions".
DonateSmarter maximizes the charity's ability to do both WHILE SAVING THOUSANDS of DOLLARS and HUNDREDS of MAN-HOURS.
Charities that are accountable and transparent are more likely to act with integrity because they want donors to know that they're trustworthy.
It's easy to post a video for your fundraising event! Videos show the latest information about your project so it makes sense that we focus on them to advertise your project. Follow these steps to upload a video:
1. Upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo and copy the Share link
2. Log in to your charity dashboard
3. at My Projects select your fundraising event
4. Insert the video share link in the box marked video
6. Select Upload Video
Hit "Save" at the bottom of the project page.
Don't forget to store all your videos in your video library.
Why use DonateSmarter?
By all means, accept donations directly, just be aware of what that means!
Soliciting donations directly via your charity's website or by any mean that reveals your donor's location make your charity (and board members) "reasonably responsible" for properly registering in that state where any donation was solicited. Some states require registration before solicitation.
Charity registration in any state costs time and money (even if you are exempt from state fees) that your charity would 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 a donation originated from, they "must be registered to solicit in that state."
A better question might be, "Why not accept all online donations 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 you to do that on your own and make extra money when you don't!)
2). DonateSmarter allows donors to choose who processes their donation and therefore how much it costs.
3). DonateSmarter donors know all fees upfront and can select "pick up the fee" before checkout.
4). DonateSmarter allows charities & donors to communicate directly with video and text 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!
Adding Charity or Project Page
The user must set their profile picture, then any charity admin type can change the actual manager.
So for example, you have David (charity admin) and Mary (manager).
Mary must set her picture in her profile. Then David can assign Mary as project manager and Poof! Mary's picture will show up on that project and she'll be able to enter details and video for that project's updates. When you set a project manager, it pulls all the data from the charity team member's account.
You should be! PCI Compliance exposure is a serious matter. That's why we let the Big Boys of the industry handle it...and you should too! PAYPAL and Stripe handle all your donors' sensitive information so you don't have to worry about (or pay extra) protecting it and neither do they.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a proprietary information security standard for organizations that handle cardholder information for the major debit, credit, prepaid, e-purse, ATM, and POS cards. If you touch the records you are responsible for making sure they don't fall into the wrong hands... That's expensive, but not doing it is even worse!
"Donate Now" buttons ?
Why synchronize all my "Donate Now" buttons with DonateSmarter?
- Begins your donor development system in a no-cost, high touch, highly personalized manner.
- Allows a donor to direct donations of any size to a single project. The charity receives funds instantly.
- Empowers donors with transfer options. PayPal or Stripe.
- Illustrates and educates donors of the hidden costs of donation so they can DonateSmarter (get it?).
- Engages donor with Donor Impact Tracking system to reward promoting your project.
- Engages donor with Pledge of Support system to reward promoting your project as they "walk and talk."
- Eliminates the risk of enforcement for foreign entity noncompliance. (This is a huge issue!)
- Eliminates multi-state registration and reporting requirements and associated costs.
- Eliminate PCI compliance risks – We use PayPal and Stripe – Let them handle it!
- Coordinates the lowest PayPal fee – We direct donations to the most cost-effective account – PayPal doesn't do that.
- Allows donors to "pick up the fee" if they choose – 80% do.
- Customizes compliance of all future donor contact (IRS receipts, State disclosure & updates).
Maybe a better question to ask is... Why wouldn't you?
Did we mention branded retail storefront on your website, our Community Hero program, multiple targeted community campaigns or corporate community involvement?
You can add a donation button for your "general fund" from the Charity details tab or for a specific project by selecting a specific project. Once you've logged in.
1. In the Charity details tab or "project statistics" section, select "Add a Donate Now Button"
A pop up labeled: GENERATE A CUSTOM "DONATE NOW" BUTTON FOR YOUR WEBSITE will open.
2. Customize the color of your button to compliment your website and select it from the drop down menu. (You can view it in the image preview to see if you like it)
3. Copy the code from the "Website Code" display and paste it in an email to your Website Manager (or if you happen to be the website manager...) insert it in the proper location of your website's code!
Now all your supporters can DonateSmarter!
Is this a Commercial Co-venture
Why do I need to have multiple projects that I update regularly on DonateSmarter vs. one general fund project?
Charities are encouraged to create and maintain multiple projects that illustrate their needs. Vital projects, described in vibrant detail and updated regularly, give Donors more opportunity to identify and connect with projects that are their "best fit". Donors who "connect" with your efforts will trust you and will create a ever increasing impact on your cause.
Yes, it calls for greater attention to detail and more creativity than required by average fundraising and promotion systems. But you can't afford to be average and you're sure not looking for average donors!
Donors are looking to you as their means to make an impact and change the world. Give them multiple, a above average opportunities to invest in you and your projects and they will rise to the occasion.
Be honest, with all the other demands on our time, we take the path of least resistance.... Post a "general fund" project on a few sites... get busy with the demands of daily life and forget to update any of them (not you of course) and yet occasionally, there are donors who can't choose and want to support "the whole charity" rather than picking a project. Bless them! So, that's why we let you have assign "general fund" status where ever you want it but make you maintain "live" detailed projects.
If you continue to do what you've always done, you'll never be more than you are today.
The key is "LIVE". Think about it...
Cause-related marketing and commercial co-venture are proven marketing strategies where a business markets a product by providing a charitable sales promotion. You've heard the language and may have wondered, "just how much of the profit from my purchase actually helps the charity"? Many states (10 to 22 to 50 depending on where you look) require preregistration by the charities and businesses involved in these arrangements. There is only one situation in which state laws regulating commercial co-ventures DO NOT apply to such an arrangement. If you, as the commercial co-venturer, do not receive any proceeds from the sales of goods or services benefitting the charitable organization and the proceeds go directly to the charitable organization, then you are not, in fact, a commercial co-venturer, and the state laws are not applicable. They say, "the devil is in the details" you need to be careful. If you are confused, don't feel bad; it's confusing but don't give up. DonateSmarter's 501(C)(3) markets and sells their product, some of which are branded with your logo, on our shop. We receive 100% of the proceeds. Then we grant 50% to your charity, 25% to cover our cost, and 25% to fund our rolling "Always Give Back" or "AGB" grant, which is available to all active charities on the site.
A rolling grant is a grant that is awarded whenever its funding level is reached. The AGB grant is funded by sales from the DonateSmarter shop. 100% of profits are awarded to the DonateSmarter charity. The 50% is granted to the purchased item's labeled charity, 25% to cover expensesan and 25% is used to fund the Always Give Back grant.
The AGB grant is awarded as soon as the proceeds from the shop reach $4,000.00 US. This happens approximately every time 400 items are purchased from the shop.
The “General fund” creates interesting behavioral and legal problems ….
If we allow just a “General Fund”, charities are less likely to post and maintain specific projects (even less likely to post and maintain multiple projects).
This “General Fund behavior” results in less detailed granular information being shard, which we believe means less opportunity for people (and corporate sponsors) to identify personally with a project. And corporate sponsors support the entire charity and can choose to brand each specific project if they like.
That said, our solution to the problem is unique.
We assign a General Fund Status to the first project; the status can be reassigned by the charity while running multiple projects by clicking on the general fund link on their charity dashboard and will default to last existing project.
If a charity has no live projects, their charity and projects are no longer visible. Yet the connection to their deposit accounts at Stripe and PayPal remain open on the system to allow additional funds to collect in their non-visible general fund account (the assigned account or last live account) so DonateSmarter doesn’t have to deal with “orphaned funds”.
Charities are encouraged to create and maintain multiple projects. They can maximize the incentives with 3 simultaneous projects. (see the fee scale displayed on the Charity Tab of your charity dashboard)
How do I Get Started?
Please use the Donate Now button, it will open a popup.
Please use the Sign Up button, and fill up all required fields. Thank you
What does Verified mean?
Verified means a charity has been vetted by DonateSmarter and proven they meet or exceed federal and state compliance and transparency requirements. It also means they pledge to put your donation directly to work on the project you've supported and to keep you updated through the life of the project.
You must Log in to DonateSmarter and complete the registration. and at least one project to have your charity reviewed. You can reach out to us for help at any time but you will be contacted by DonateSmarter within 24 hours to set up a skype or conference call to find out more about your charity and help you with any questions you may have.
If your charity doesn't file a 990, DonateSmarter will get you there quicker and more efficiently. So-called "small charities" with less than $100,000 annual income have the odds stacked against them.
DonateSmarter is designed to help all charities present their business and projects clearly and effectively so donors and corporate sponsors can "shop" for and invest in the causes and organizations they like the best with less work and less worry.
they can trust you because we've reviewed all your credentials (990, financials, insurance, business registration, State charity registration etc.) By the time your charity is Verified. we've spoken with you and your team several times. We've reviewed your past accomplishments and discussed your future goals and we've made sure you document it clearly with photographs and videos.
Nobody else does that for free. So no other review is honestly tied to and invested your success.