Recurring donations boost your overall giving, retain donors longer, and are the best way to financially help your organization. This article will help you get started using the Give Recurring Donations Add-on. It includes an overview of important plugin functionality and describes how you can enable recurring donations for your Give donation forms.
Downloading and Activating Your Recurring Donations Add-on
In order to get started you’ll want to download, install, and activate your Recurring Donations Add-on. You’ll also want to activate your Add-on license so you have access to our Support and you get automatic update notices.
Introducing Recurring Donations: How it Works
It’s important to have an understanding of how Recurring Donations works. This section will help you understand the recurring donation subscription lifecycle.
After you have setup & configured the plugin (more on this in a bit), it’s time to create a number of donation forms with recurring giving options. Once you have created the forms and made them live on your websites donors can now start giving on a recurring basis.
When a donor gives a recurring donation, they are required to have an account, unless you have Email access enabled. Click here to learn more about Give’s Email Access functionality. If a user account is required, the user is given a “Give Subscriber” user role. This is important, because it means theywill not have access to any administrative capabilities on ths site, but will have access to their own giving history.
When a donor gives a recurring donation the first transaction is called the “Parent Payment“. When viewing this transaction in Give you will see:
When subscription donations are made by the donor the gateway will notify Give and a new transaction will be created attached to this parent payment. (more on that in the next section)
When viewing the parent payment transaction details you will see a metabox showing all child subscription payments after one or more subscriptions donations are made:
How Give interacts with the Payment Gateways for recurring donations
When a donor initiates a recurring donation, Give sends the info to the payment gateway to set up an initial transaction, as well as all subsequent transactions. Then, the payment gateway does the “heavy lifting” of charging the card again at the specified interval, and once that’s done, using various methods depending on the gateway, notifies your site of the recurrence.
For PayPal standard see this documentation:
PayPal standard and Recurring
For Stripe see this documentation:
Stripe and Recurring
For PayPal Pro see this documentation:
PayPal Pro and Recurring
For Authorize.net see this documentation:
Authorize.net and Recurring
If your site doesn’t get notified in a reasonable amount of time (usually 24 hours or so) after the renewal date, Give transitions the subscription status to “Expired” because it never heard back from the payment gateway. That doesn’t mean that the renewal didn’t take place, just that your site didn’t hear about it. Renewal emails from Give won’t be sent until the gateway notifies Give of the renewal.
As of version 1.3.1 of Recurring, there is a method for syncing donations (except for PayPal standard, due to a limitation on PayPal’s side.) On the individual subscription that is out of sync, (Donations –> Subscriptions –> click the eye icon for the individual subscription) there is “Sync Subscription” button which will bring it back current, and as long as you’ve properly set up the method for the gateway to properly alert the site going forward (according to the links above), you should be good to go.
Choosing the Right Payment Gateway
Currently, not all of Give’s payment gateways support recurring donations. Furthermore, some features of recurring are only supported in certain gateways. Depending on your exact needs, choosing the wrong Gateway could mean you will not be able to do the particular type of campaign that you want.
See this guide on the “Supported Payment Gateways” for which features of recurring each gateway does or does not support.
Donor Subscription Control
Providing donors control over their subscriptions is important. Recurring Donations does this with the
[give_subscriptions] shortcode. It is a best practice to list this page in your menu for your donors to easily be able to access and update their subscription information. Here is an example of a navigation menu setup for donors:
When you add the
[give_subscriptions] shortcode to a page on your site donors will be able to see their various subscriptions. They have the option to view the invoice, cancel the subscription, or update the address information for that subscription. Card data is never store on your site, and not currently able to be updated from your site.
Configuring Recurring Donations
There are different ways that you can ask for recurring donations. Generally, you’ll want to consider each of the following:
Length of recurrence
Periods are the day-increment that passes before the next recurring payment happens.
Number of Recurrences
- Ongoing: This is the default. These subscriptions recur at the period that you designated continually. They do not end automatically and will not end until cancelled by either the administrator or donor.
- Set number: These subscriptions will recur a set number of times determined by the period you set.
For example, with a combination of recurrence length and numbers you could set any of your forms for any of these types of recurring payments:
- Daily donations for 7 straight days and then stop automatically
- Monthly donations that never end until cancelled
- Yearly donations that never end until cancelled
- Yearly donations that stop automatically after 4 years
Learn more about configuring recurring donation forms with periods, billing times, and which Gateways support each of those in the recurring donation form fields article.
Donor or Admin Determined Recurring
With Recurring Donations, you have the ability to set whether the form allows for the donor to choose whether the donation is recurring or not. Here’s the options:
- None — this form does not support recurring donations at all
- Yes, Admin Defined — this form is set to recurring donations and the donor has no influence over that
- Yes, Donor Defined — this form is set to allow either one-time or recurring donations based on what the donor chooses in the form.
Subscriptions and Multi-Level Forms
When you choose to create a Multi-level form, you can choose whether each level is either one-time or recurring. Take a look at this example form:
In this example the donor can choose from the following options:
- $5 recurring daily
- $10 one time
- $50 recurring monthly for 6 months
- Donate a custom amount once
You can also set a multi-level donation form to “Donor Defined”. Then all the levels are just amounts, but the donor chooses whether it’s recurring from a radio list. Here’s the same form as above but as a “Donor Defined” form:
Once you have your forms all configured as you like, you might want to notify your donors each time their card is charged for a recurring subscription donation. Recurring Donations has this ability. Read about this in the Recurring Emails documentation article.