Collecting online donations through Beacon

Updated 8 months ago

Beacon makes it easy to collect individual and recurring donations online. There's no code to write, plus we take care of a lot of the things you probably don't want to worry about, like:

  • Security - secure PCI compliant payment processing
  • Data entry - so the data ends up in the right place
  • Email acknowlegements - so donors get notified
  • Gift Aid - new donations are automatically added to your open claim
  • Direct debits - recurring donations only
  • Mobile - Google Pay & Apple Pay

Connect with payment providers

We connect with industry leading payment processors like Stripe, PayPal, or GoCardless so you can securely process credit card payments and direct debits online.

To make it possible for Beacon to accept donations, go to Settings > Payments in your Beacon dashboard (you'll need to be an admin), and connect with at least one payment provider:

Create your first form

Once you've connected your payment provider(s) with Beacon, you can create your first donation form.

1) Go to Forms

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2) Click Create form. Give your new form a title (will be shown to donors). Set the type to Donation.

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3) Click Create

4) Click VIEW FORM in the top right corner of the EDIT FORM page. You'll see that a new form is created, and good to go!

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5) (Optional) Add a description for each amount - useful to explain to donors where their money goes. You can also customise the amounts to suit your organisation.

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6) (Optional) You can also customise how the form looks! Change the color to fit your brand, and upload a logo in the design section.

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Tip: make sure you upload a logo with a transparent background.

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7) That's it! Try running a test donation through the form. After the form is submitted, you'll see that the following happens automatically:

  • A new payment has been created
  • The donor has been created (or updated) as a person
  • If the Gift Aid checkbox was checked, a declaration has been added to the person's profile
  • The donor is acknowledged immediately via email
  • You've been notified via email that the donation happened

Acknowledging donors

When someone donates via a Beacon form, Beacon immediately sends an acknowledgement email to them:

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You can customise the subject and content of this email, as well as the team member who the email is from in the acknowledgement area of the form settings.

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Getting notified

It can be useful to know when someone has made a new donation online through one of your forms.

In the notifications section, you can customise who receives email notifications from Beacon each time a donation is made, as well as the subject and content of the email:

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Fixed data

When donation forms are submitted, we automatically creates the relevant records in your Beacon database. There's no manual entry.

Each time a new payment is created, you'll probably want to make sure it's categorised in the right way. For example, it might make sense to set the following on all new payments:

  • Type = donation
  • Gift Aid allowed = yes
  • Source = website

This is how the fixed data section helps you. It makes it easy to segment your data going forwards.

When new payments, people or declarations are created via a Beacon form, Beacon auto-sets the fixed data on each record created (as well as the data that comes from the form).

You can customise the fixed data that Beacon sets to fit your needs:

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Monthly donations

Monthly donations are handled a little differently to single donations. They're collected via either Direct Debit (GoCardless) or credit cards (Stripe).

It usually takes GoCardless ~1-2 weeks to set up a direct debit mandate with a bank (this is normal), and then the mandate becomes active. Once active, you're able to charge payments directly to the donor's bank account.

For credit cards, the first payment is charged immediately.

As such, when a monthly donation is made via a Beacon form, the data flows into Beacon a little differently:

  • The person and Gift Aid declaration records are automatically created
  • A subscription record is created in Beacon (linked to the person)
  • Notifications and acknowledgements are sent out as normal via email

In GoCardless/Stripe, we also set up a subscription that will automatically bill the donor the amount they entered during the donation form - at the earliest possible date, and then every month after that.

When each monthly payment comes in Beacon automatically saves them on your behalf, linked to the relevant subscription and donor. This happens in real-time; Beacon gets notified as soon as each payment is processed.


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