GiveWP comes with a “Test mode” which enables you to test your donation process thoroughly before going live. This article walks you through the necessary steps to test your donations, confirm you are receiving them, and confirm in your gateway as well.

Everyone wants to feel safe and confident that when their website goes live you’ll have as few bumps as possible. To that end, GiveWP has a “Test Mode” so you can fully test your donation process from start to finish without having to spend actual currency. Here’s the overview of what you need to do to test your donations well:

  1. Enable Test Mode
  2. Enable your Gateway for Test mode
  3. Do a test donation
  4. Confirm the test donation in your gateway
  5. Test your Emails
  6. Confirm your Donor History pages

Enable Test Mode

Once you activate GiveWP, you might notice that it’s already in Test Mode. You can notice that by the Yellow alert in the top right of your admin screen.


If you happen to disable it and want to enable again, you can always find it by going to “Donations > Settings” and the “Payment Gateways” tab.

Once that’s done, you can already create a form and use the “Test Donation” Gateway.

As of GiveWP version 1.5, test donations are easy to spot in the back-end donations area of your site. When viewing transactions (navigate to Donations > Donations), test donations are clearly marked with a yellow label that they are test donations.

Transactions screen showing the "Test" label on some transactions.
Donations screen showing the “Test” label on some donations.

Also, when viewing an individual donation, There’s a similar yellow label at the top of the page.

The Test Donation Indicator on the back end of an individual donation.

Enable Your Gateway for Testing

GiveWP is now ready to send test data to your gateway, but the next step depends a bit on which payment gateway you are using. Each gateway has it’s own unique way of sending and receiving and handling test data. Here are the relevant links to each Gateway’s documentation article which describes how to enable their unique test mode at the end.

NOTE: PayPal Standard does not have nor need a Test Mode. Instead, if you choose PayPal as your payment option, click “Donate Now” and are taken successfully to the paypal website where you can finish your donation, then you know it works as needed and you do not need to complete the donation to verify that.

Do a Test Donation

Now that GiveWP can send test data, and your Gateway is properly configured to receive and handle test data, you need to do a test donation.

In this case, you don’t want to choose “Test Donation” as your payment option. Instead, you are actually testing your payment gateway. So if you are using Stripe (for example), make sure to choose Credit Card as your payment option.

Each payment gateway also has it’s own list of test credit cards which you should use for your test donations. They often will have a credit card numbers that purposely trigger specific responses. For example, you might have a test credit card number that will complete the donation successfully and another one which is maxed out (to trigger a failure message).

You can also use these cards but provide an expiry date that is past to test the expiry verification.

Here is a list of the test credit card numbers you can use for each payment gateway:

Confirm the donation in your Gateway

Now that you’ve tested your donation form while in Test Mode with your Gateway in Test mode and using Test credit cards, you should be able to confirm that your Gateway did in fact receive the donation information from your donation and reflects the amount and donor information correctly.

Again, each payment gateway handles this information differently, so refer to their main documentation articles on this aspect. Here are their links again:

Test Your Emails

With each donation, GiveWP automatically sends two emails: (1) A Donation Confirmation Receipt to the donor; and (2) A Donation Notification email to the site administrator. You can also test this process without actually having the emails be sent to the recipients.

To do this, we recommend installing a useful plugin called “Email Cop“. This plugin basically disables your WordPress site from sending out any emails at all, but captures each email that would be send, and presents them in a list for you to see what they would look like.

In our experience the actual appearance of the emails with this tool is not exact, but the content of them is always exactly right. Here’s how to set it up and use it:

  1. Go to “Plugins > Add New” and search for Email Cop. Install and activate it.
  2. Once it’s activated, you’ll see an alert at the top of your admin screen telling you the no emails are being sent out from your WordPress site as long as Email Cop is activated.
  3. You’ll also see a new menu item in the left-hand menu called “Emails”. After you make a donation, go to this menu item and you’ll see a list of all the emails that Email Cop has captured. When you find the email that you want to review, hover over the title then click on “View”.

That’s it! Just make sure that you disable Email Cop properly before going live.

Test your Donation History

Lastly, your donors might also be logging into your site and will want to review their donation history. Even this, with the right tools, can be tested and confirmed. Of course you can donate to the site yourself and see your own donation history, but did you know you can also login as any of your donors to your website without knowing or changing their password and confirm their donation history? You can!

For this we recommend using the “User Switching” plugin. This simple plugin lets you switch your current logged in user to any of the users in your website so you can interact with your site just like they would when they are logged in.

Simply go to “Plugins > Add New” and search for “User Switching”, then install and activate it.

Now, if you go to “Users > All Users” you’ll see when you hover over their name, there’s now a “Switch to” link.


After you click on that, you’ll be able to navigate to your homepage, and view your website just like that donor would, including see their entire donor history on your designated donor history page.

To switch back to your account, hover over the profile in the top-right admin back and you’ll see a link that says “Switch back to {your admin username}”.


Removing Test Donations

Also new in version 1.5 is the ability to remove test transactions from your data once you’ve confirmed your forms are effective. Navigate to Donations > Tools > Data (tab) and select “Delete Test Transactions” from the dropdown. Now your data is free of test transactions and their related donors, records, and log entries.

Tools Tab showing the option to delete all Test Transactions.
Tools Tab showing the option to delete all Test Transactions.

A Note on Staging and Local Development

Despite all of these precautions and testing methods, a live environment is never a safe place to be changing and updating settings for your donation platform, or your website in general. We highly recommend one or both of the following:

  1. Use a host that offers a staging environment. There are many, but we recommend the following:
  2. Develop your site locally. This might sound daunting but we believe that using Desktop Server makes it as easy — and even enjoyable — as possible. Read our review and tutorial on our blog here.