Beacon

Automating your standing orders

Updated a month ago

Standing orders are recurring payments, where the donor arranges with their bank to automatically pay you a certain amount each month.

Standing orders are quite different to Direct Debits:

  • Donors can set up, change, and cancel standing orders without having to tell you.
  • Standing orders are direct bank transfers on a recurring basis. They aren't processed via a payment provider like GoCardless

Beacon makes it easy to keep track of your standing orders by automatically creating expected payments. You can then simply check those payments against your bank statement, amending any details if necessary.

error_outline For new recurring payments, we recommend you encourage donors to pay via Direct Debit or card (Stripe), rather than standing orders. It's much easier to manage, and gives you more control over payment schedules, amounts, and notifications.

link Don't import your bank statement!

For standing order payments, we do not recommend using Beacon's CSV import tools to import payments into Beacon.

This is primarily because bank statement exports are usually aren't particularly well formatted, and don't include useful "identifiers" (e.g. email address) that make it easy to link payments to people and subscriptions within Beacon.


link Check out our video guide, or read our documentation below:


link Overview

link Initial setup

  1. Fill in a subscription with:
    • Person
    • Amount
    • Payment method
    • Frequency
    • Status: Active
    • Next payment date
    • Reference (optional)
  2. Tick 'Auto-create payments?'

link Ongoing

To reconcile payments;

  1. Filter for 'Paid?' is not checked
  2. You can tick each payment as you go
  3. Bulk update confirmed payments to mark 'Paid?' as checked

link Guide: How to automate your standing orders

link Subscriptions

Each standing order should exist as a subscription in Beacon.

help_outline Read this article to learn the difference between subscriptions and payments in Beacon.

On the subscription record, you can ask Beacon to automatically create payments on your behalf, on the date they're expected to come in, by ticking the auto-create payments field. You can also enter the bank statement reference (if any) in the reference field.

Standing order subscription fields

help_outline If you can't see these fields, you can make them visible here.

On the subscription's next payment date, Beacon will automatically create a new payment for the subscription, passing over all the relevant info from the subscription to the payment.

Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 16.28.23

link Payments

The payment will be created with a paid checkbox as unchecked. This is to indicate that the payment is expected, but you haven't confirmed that it's been received yet.

Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 16.30.19

Every month (or more often if you prefer), you can check the payments created automatically by Beacon vs your actual bank statement, and mark each one as paid once confirmed.

To make this easy, we recommend creating a view with the following filters and columns:

Screenshot 2020-07-23 at 08.06.03

Screenshot 2020-07-23 at 08.12.21

You mark payments as paid one by one, or in bulk.


link Subscriptions

Whenever a payment is auto-created for a subscription, Beacon will automatically update the following fields on the subscription record:

  • First payment date - set to the date of the payment just created (if not already set)
  • Last payment date - the date of the payment just created
  • Next payment date - the date of the payment just created, plus 1 month/quarter/year (based on the subscription's frequency)

Screenshot 2020-07-22 at 16.20.11

check_circle_outline Tip: the subscription is still active! Another payment will be created on the next payment date.


link Passing info from subscriptions to payments

When payments are created, Beacon automatically passes the following data from the subscription record to the payment record:

  • Amount
  • Covered fee amount
  • Person (or organisation)
  • Reference
  • Membership
  • Fund
  • Payment method
  • Payment type
  • Source
  • Gift Aid allowed

link What criteria does Beacon use to auto-create payments?

All of the following criteria must be satisfied for payments to be auto-created:

  • Auto-create payments - must be checked
  • Next payment date - must be today
  • Status - must be "Active"
  • Amount - must be set
  • Frequency - must be set to either "Monthly", "Quarterly", or "Annually"

link Frequently asked questions

link Wait, so we don't have to create payments in Beacon manually?

Nope! Beacon creates payments on your behalf automatically. You'll still need to mark the payments as paid, but you shouldn't have to create ongoing payments yourself.

link Someone set up a standing order last week. What do we need to do?

  1. Create a subscription record. Set the amount, frequency, payment method, first payment date (to the date of the first payment), next payment date (when you're expecting the next payment to come through), auto-create payments (checked), and reference (the bank reference that appears on each payment, if any).

  2. Create a payment record for the first payment that came through from the subscription. (We'll create all future ones for you)

link What happens if a payment created by Beacon doesn't match, or doesn't appear on our bank statement?

You might not have been paid! 🙁

Sometimes payments can take a bit of time to come through - we'd recommend leaving the payment as "unpaid" for a couple of weeks to see if the payment comes through.

If the payment doesn't fully match your bank statement (e.g. the amount or payment date is different), you should update it in Beacon to make sure it reflects reality.

If the payment still doesn't appear in your statement, the donor could have cancelled their standing order. You should:

  • Archive the payment record
  • Set the subscription status to "cancelled"
  • Consider giving the donor a call!

link How are weekends handled?

Standing orders don't usually come out on weekends and public holidays, so Beacon handles this nicely for you.

When a payment is auto-created, dates are updated on the subscription, including the next payment date.

If payment method is set as bank transfer, and the calculated next payment date is on a weekend or public holiday, the next payment date will be set on the next working day. Here's an example:

Tom Jones is paying you £100 each month via standing order, on the 25th of each month. In December, both 25th and 26th are bank holidays, so Beacon will assume that the next payment date will be 27th December.

25th January is a weekday, so Beacon will set the following next payment date to 25th January.

For other payment methods, the next payment date can fall on the weekends.

link Should we set "auto-create payments" for recurring payments via Stripe or GoCardless

No.

Stripe and GoCardless automatically notify Beacon when payments are made. When this happens, Beacon will creates payment records in your database to reflect that.

Auto-create payments should only be used for standing orders, and other recurring payments outside of Stripe/GoCardless.

link How often does Beacon check if new payments should be created?

Once per hour.

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