Payment Methods

There are a number of ways for donors to give using Planning Center Giving.

Cash

Cash donations are given in person and counted in batches. Donation envelopes are usually used to identify the donor and the fund designation. Loose cash is counted as an anonymous gift and typically designated to the General fund.

Check

Checks are typically collected in donation envelopes as well, similar to cash. Donation envelopes are usually used to identify the donor and the fund designation. In the event of a discrepancy, we recommend setting the check aside and getting clarification from the donor. If you can't do that, we'd recommend going with what's on the check. Example: If the donation envelope says Fred Johnson but the check is issued by only Mary Johnson, process the check as a donation from Mary.

Credit Card

Stripe accepts many types of credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club.

  • Disabling credit card donations: If your church doesn't accept donations on credit, you can disable giving via credit card. This will still allow donations by debit and prepaid gift cards. On the dashboard, look to the top right and click "settings". You'll find the option there!
  • Card expiration automatic update: When a donor's credit card expires, Giving uses a feature provided by Stripe to automatically update the credit card expiration date. This happens automatically with no action needed from the card holder. Shortly after the new card is activated, the expiration date will be updated, ensuring that recurring donations will remain active.
  • Declined cards: If a card is declined, Giving will let the donor know immediately, and the donation won't be processed. If it happens on a recurring donation, Giving will send the donor an email notification letting them know it has failed and that they need to take action on resolving the issue with their bank. Giving will not attempt to charge the card again until the next monthly recurrence.

Credit cards should be entered by the donor themselves, privately and securely, on the donor interface. Asking donors to write down their bank or card information is a bad idea. In a pinch, and only when necessary, a one-off credit card or ACH donation can be manually entered by visiting the donor's profile and selecting "New Donation".

Recurring donations which fail due to a declined credit card are not automatically retried. The donor can, however, make a one-time donation to make up for the missed recurring donation if they choose.

Debit Card

Since there's no way to enter a PIN online, they are typically processed through their issuing credit agency (Visa, MasterCard, etc). Note: some ATM cards do not have CVC codes, indicating they are not intended for online transactions. Thus, on Planing Center Giving, a CVC code is required for debit cards.

Bank Transfer (ACH)

ACH is a "bank to bank" transfer, sometimes called an eCheck. This method is different than the others in three significant ways.

  1. A bank account needs to be setup and then verified by the customer themselves. Read more about the verification process.
  2. Just like a paper check, it's possible that an ACH transfer could fail. The account could be closed after the transfer initiated or the account could be overdrawn. Just like a fee for a bounced check, a donor could also be hit with a fee for initiating an ACH payment that fails. Stripe also charges a fee for failed ACH payments. This is different than a credit card which is authorized right when the request is made.
  3. An ACH payment is much cheaper to process by Stripe. 

Read more about ACH donations.

By Text Message

With this feature enabled, your donors will be able to connect one of the payment methods above to their phone. Once that setup is complete, they'll be able to donate using a simple text message.

Read all about Text-to-Give in Planning Center Giving.

Apple Pay

Check out our lesson on Apple Pay for all the information!

While donations made using PushPay, PayPal, Fellowship 1, Tithe.ly, and other external donation platforms aren't initiated through Giving, they can be tracked using Payment Sources. This can be done manually within Batches or using the Giving API.

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