We’re very excited to announce that our Recurring Donations Add-on is finally available.
This has been a long time coming, as many of our loyal (and extremely patient) users can attest. We’ll be the first to admit that it’s being released far later than we ever anticipated or wanted. But we’ll also be the first to say that we can’t be happier with the final result. We wanted to share with you, our users and readers, a little into what makes this Add-on so powerful and unique.
Recurring Isn’t Just a Checkbox
We began building this Add-on in Summer of 2015. We knew from many studies and our own experiences with nonprofit organizations that recurring donations is a far more effective donation strategy than one-time payments. For some organizations it’s almost the only way to have a truly sustaining revenue model. We knew before Give was launched how important this Add-on would be.
We also knew that from the donor’s perspective choosing recurring should be very simple. If you look at some of the leading third-party donation platforms, you’ll notice that they simply add a checkbox to the form that says “Make this a monthly recurring donation.” Once the donor checks that box, they’re all done. That intuitive and seamless experience was vital to our own implementation of Recurring Donations.
But after that donation is made, a long series of technical things happen that are different from one-time donations. Here’s a simple overview:
- That donor is no longer simply a donor, but also a subscriber.
- That donation transaction is no longer a simple donation but a “parent” transaction that accepts subscription transactions from the supported Payment Gateways at regular intervals.
- “Subscribers” need to have their own tracking separate from one-time donors so you can have an overview of recurring campaigns.
- Parent donations need to have different designations.
- Each subscription transaction has a different set of potential statuses that can be assigned to it.
- And ALL of that has to be reported uniquely and robustly — because that’s how we roll with Give.
So we knew that this would be important and complex. But we’ve never met a plugin we couldn’t build so we were up for the challenge.
Man Plans, Recurring Laughs
You’ve heard the idiom: “Man plans, God laughs”. In our case it seemed that each time we felt like we had a straight-forward way to execute a roadmap for this Add-on a new and unexpected quirk threw us off course.
For example, we knew that we were going to continue to develop more payment gateways for Give. How would we support all of them? Would we just have to keep making the Recurring Add-on larger and larger to accommodate all the gateways? That didn’t sound like a good idea.
Another example, recurring donors really are handled differently than one-time donors. We needed to create a new class of donors and designate them differently while maintaining the integrity of our core Donor class.
It seemed each consideration we took forced us to re-think and re-strategize our approach to this Add-on. Around early Fall we realized that we really needed to seek some advice and counsel from others who had experience with this type of thing.
Open Source Collaboration for the Win!
We reached out to our friend Pippin Williamson of Easy Digital Downloads (EDD). He had a Recurring Payment Extension for EDD which we knew he also wanted to revamp. We asked him about collaborating on these two massive projects. Pippin shared how near and dear his Recurring Payment extension was to him. He felt that the ideas he had for revamping it were a strong reflection of all the learning he’s done over the years of building out EDD. He was committed to coding it himself as much as possible. But we were absolutely humbled when he agreed to also collaborate directly with Devin on his extension and ours as well.
Pippin’s new extension will be released early this year, and when it is, we’re proud that Devin could help with its development.
Even after we started working with Pippin, we felt like we wanted to code our Recurring still quicker. We were very happy to work with Ibrahim Ibn Dawood, head of Transvelo, makers of the Bethlehem theme. Ibrahim is a very talented developer who was (and will continue to be) a very great person to work with. He lives in Chennai, India. He coded much of Recurring despite torrential flooding of his town and after a short break when his new son was born. We look forward to working with him more on all things related to Give.
Why We Think You’ll Love Recurring Donations
We’ll be writing more about the importance of the recurring donation model in general here, but we wanted to take a minute to highlight a few things about this Add-on which we think you’ll really enjoy.
Donation Form Flexibility
The first thing you’ll notice is the ability to have a wide variety of form options that include recurring. You can set each form to accept recurring donations either forced by the site admin, or provide the donor the choice to make it a recurring donation. With multi-level forms you can even set this per level. Here’s a few examples of what this means:
- One form could be set to accept any recurring donation amount chosen by the donor for an ongoing subscription.
- Another form could have levels, with buttons, 3 of them say $25, $50, $100, and another three are the same amounts but add “recurring over 6 months” to them.
- Then even another form could have a drop-down select of as many values as you like, and the donor can choose to make their donation recurring ongoing just by checking a checkbox below the amount field.
Recurring Donations currently supports many of our most popular gateways, even PayPal Standard. See the next section about our commitment to grow this list of supported gateways, but for now we’re proud to release this with such a robust offering.
Custom Subscription Emails
Just like our donation receipt emails, you can also enable subscription payment receipt emails, and subscription cancellation emails to be sent to your donors. There are unique email tags as well that you can use to show your donor when their subscription will expire or which payment within their subscription just got charged, and others.
Dedicated Subscription Donor Details and Reports
One thing that sets Give apart from all other WordPress-based donation solutions is our reporting and we wanted Recurring Donations to reflect that. With this Add-on you’ll get reports on your subscribers and on the transactions that you have generated.
Documentation and Support
Last but not least, you’re not left to the wild when you purchase Recurring Donations. Our Priority Support is available to help and guide you through. We also are launching this Add-on with very detailed and extensive documentation, including our “Getting Started Guide” which gives you a simple overview of the entire plugin.
This is Just the Beginning
But this is just the beginning of Recurring Donations. We have a lot more in store for it and will continue to make it stronger and more robust.
Here’s a few items that are on our shortlist now:
- Adding support for 2Checkout and WePay.
- Adding Subscription Renewal reminder emails. This is an important feature that we’ve already started, and are committed to getting out ASAP.
- Adding recurring donation endpoints to our Give REST API.
From the beginning of Give, we’ve set out to create the best self-hosted solution for taking donations in WordPress there is. For us, adding Recurring Donations to our growing list of Add-ons is one way that we affirm and prove that goal. Get it today, start collecting monthly rather than one-time in no time, and we think you’ll agree with us completely.