Processing Payments with Stripe

This article explains how Stripe works, what the fees are, how to account for Stripe income, and more. For a deeper dive into Stripe's processing fees, read All About Processing Fees

Stripe is the payment processor used by Giving and Registrations. Planning Center Giving can accept many types of donations and Stripe is the component that makes it possible to accept credit card, debit card, and ACH (bank transfer) donations.

Technically, Stripe is a combination payment processor and merchant account. It takes both parts of e-commerce and bundles them into one simple service:

  • Payment processing: Stripe authorized and processes credit card, debit card, and ACH (bank transfer) donations.
  • Merchant account: After processing a transaction, Stripe is able to actually accept and hold the funds. Once that process is complete, Stripe then transfers the funds to the bank account of your choosing. More about Stripe payouts.

Why is Stripe required?

Even if you don't plan on accepting any digital forms of payments, Giving still requires an active Stripe account to function. The reason is, that Planning Center applications (including Giving) use Stripe to store customer payment data. Credit cards and customer bank information never enters our database. Instead, it goes straight to Stripe, a Level 1 PCI Service Provider.

For example, when you're using a check reader in the course of counting checks, your computer is transmitting that check information, encrypted, straight to Stripe. Stripe, then returns the donor information as a token to Giving - an app that you've authorized to transmit this kind exchange between your computer and Stripe. If you ever decided to disconnect Giving from your Stripe account, this authorization would be immediately revoked. This is good for you, for us, and especially for your donors.

What are Stripe's fees?

Every payment processor charges fees. The good news is that we've negotiated a low rate for our customers:

United States:

  • Credit & debit cards: 2.3% + $0.30 per transaction.
  • ACH (bank transfer): $0.25 per transfer.

Canada:

Send documentation of non-profit status to Stripe to be able to secure the lower rate.

  • Canadian Visa and Mastercard: 2.9% (or 2.2% for non-profits) + $0.30 per transaction
  • International Visa and MasterCard: 2.9% (or 2.7% for non-profits) + $0.30 per transaction
  • Amex: 3.5% + $0 per transaction

Stripe has no setup fees, no contracts, and no termination fees. There is a $1 fee for failed ACH transfers. In cases where a donor disputes a charge with their bank (also called a "chargeback"), losing the dispute could result in a $15 fee. If the donor contacts you first, it's easy to issue a refund right from within Giving. So, in practice, this should be a rare occurrence. Fees are in $USD.

For a deeper dive into Stripe's processing fees, read All About Processing Fees.

Does Stripe support multiple bank accounts?

Stripe only supports a single bank account for transferring money to your church.

To change where your Stripe account deposits money, visit the Transfers section in your Stripe dashboard and find the Settings option (direct link). If your bookkeeping process necessitates a one-to-one relationship between funds and physical bank accounts, Planning Center Giving will likely not be a good fit for your church.

How do we get the money from Stripe?

Stripe has a rolling two day transfer period by default. As transactions settle, they are bundled together into Stripe Payouts and scheduled for deposit. Then the payout is made via ACH into your church bank account. See Stripe's documentation about payouts.

Where can I find a breakdown of what Stripe has transferred to us?

There are three methods for getting to your Stripe transfer data. Method 1 shows you the basic numbers in Stripe. Method 2 gives your admins basic details about recent transfers. Method 3 is the highest fidelity for Giving data.

Let's look at each:

Method 1: Stripe's own dashboard

If you log into your Stripe account, you'll see a list of scheduled transfers as well as completed transfers. Here's the direct link.

From there you can see all the raw payment data contained in each transfer. While this information is comprehensive, it's not particularly useful for bookkeeping purposes for two reasons:

  1. Donations from Giving, registration fees from Registrations, and payments for whatever else is connected to your church's Stripe account is all lumped together in a single list of payments. There's no distinguishing, in Stripe, where these funds originated.
  2. Giving-specific data isn't represented in the list. For example, there may be a $50 payment listed from Bob Johnson, but there's no way to know that this was actually represents a split donation - that $20 was to Fund A and $30 was to Fund B.

On an active account, your Stripe transfers will look like this:

  1. Scheduled transfers are still in progress. They haven't been deposited into your bank account yet.
  2. Within your list of scheduled transfers, you'll see tranfers labeled estimated. These transfers are way upstream and the transactions included in them are still settling. Thus, the date and even the total of the transfer can change without warning.
  3. These transfers are no longer estimated (all the transactions have settled) and the ACH payout is about to be (or has already been) initiated. It's on its way, but hasn't been confirmed as deposited to your bank yet.
  4. Recently Deposited transfers are just what they sound like. You should see these deposits in your bank statement.
Method 2: Stripe Transfer Reports in Planning Center Accounts

In the Accounts section of Planning Center we've built "Stripe Transfer Reports" that give you a basic breakdown of Stripe transfers as they pertain to Planning Center applications. Organization Administrators can use the app-switcher in the top left, select Accounts, and find the Stripe Transfer Reports here:

View a list of payouts and select one of the payouts to see details.

Selecting a date will show you the report:

The Payout Report shows a breakdown of the Stripe Transfer by each application: Registrations is separated into events, and Giving is separated into individual funds. Since these reports are available to all Organization Administrators and Billing Admins, and Giving information is kept private, these reports in Accounts keep the information generic. Individual donors and their donations are not listed in these reports.

Method 3: Stripe Payout Reports within Planning Center Giving

Giving administrators can access Stripe Payout Reports within Planning Center Giving from the Stripe Payouts button:

As you can see, there's a detailed breakdown of each Stripe Payout and all the individual donations included in the Payout. The list of donations here is filterable, exportable, and printable. Unlike the rest of Planning Center Giving, donations shown in the list are the net amount amount of donations (the gross amount less the processing fees).

For Stripe Payout Reports to work, you must have automatic deposits enabled within your Stripe account. You can adjust this setting in your Stripe account here: https://dashboard.stripe.com/account/transfers

What if my church already has a Stripe account?

Great! If your church already has a Stripe account, there's no need to create a new one. You'll be able to connect your existing Stripe account. We've provided reporting tools that will show you exactly how much money is coming in through Giving, separate from your other Stripe income.

Can I use a different payment processor?

No. Stripe's low rates, security features, powerful API, and great customer support makes it hard to envision going back to the old guard. In fact, we process all our own payments through Stripe.

How will charges show up on donor's bank statements?

In your Stripe account, you can customize how you would like the charges to show up on donor's bank statements using a custom "Statement descriptor" name. We'd recommend using the name of your church for this. To set this, log into Stripe and go here: https://dashboard.stripe.com/account

Resetting/changing/removing your Stripe account

One of the advantages of using PCO Giving is knowing that our system never actually stores or transmits payment data (credit card numbers, bank accounts, etc). If you've never read about how this works, please read the "PCI Compliance" section of our Security overview. We've built an entire donation management system that never sees a single credit card number or bank account number. It's all encrypted and transmitted directly to Stripe and held in your organization's Stripe account.

If your Stripe account is disconnected from PCO Giving, all your donor's payment methods stored in that Stripe account will be instantly disconnected as well. Planning Center Giving has no access to them and a bunch of bad things happen:

  • Recurring donations will begin to fail.
  • Donors will log into their donor interface and find no payment methods.
  • Text-to-Give will stop working.

In rare circumstances, disconnecting this critical piece of PCO Giving must be done. If you think you have one of these circumstance, please let support know using the helpdesk tool in the top right of the application.

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