Collecting online donations through Beacon

Updated 10 months ago

Beacon makes it easy to collect individual and recurring donations online. There's no code to write, plus we take care of a lot of the things you probably don't want to worry about, like:

  • Security - secure PCI compliant payment processing
  • Data entry - so the data ends up in the right place
  • Email acknowlegements - so donors get notified
  • Gift Aid - new donations are automatically added to your open claim
  • Direct debits - recurring donations only
  • Mobile - Google Pay & Apple Pay


  1. Connect with payment providers
  2. Create your first form
  3. Setting a default payment option
  4. Acknowledging donors
  5. Getting notified
  6. Fixed data
  7. Asking donors to cover donation fees
  8. Monthly donations
  9. Multiple currencies

link Connect with payment providers

We connect with industry leading payment processors like Stripe, PayPal, or GoCardless so you can securely process credit card payments and direct debits online.

To make it possible for Beacon to accept donations, go to Settings > Payments in your sidebar (you'll need to be an admin), and connect with at least one payment provider:

Different providers will be displayed to donors at different times:

  • One-off donations: Stripe (Card), PayPal
  • Recurring donations: Stripe (Card), GoCardless (Direct Debit)

link Create your first form

Once you've connected your payment provider(s) with Beacon, you can create your first donation form.

  1. Go to Forms

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  1. Click Create form. Give your new form a title (will be shown to donors). Set the type to Donation.

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  1. Click Create

  2. Click VIEW FORM in the top right corner of the EDIT FORM page. You'll see that a new form is created, and good to go!

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  1. (Optional) Add a description for each amount - useful to explain to donors where their money goes. You can also customise the amounts to suit your organisation.

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  1. (Optional) You can also customise how the form looks! Change the color to fit your brand, and upload a logo in the design section.

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help_outline Tip: Upload a logo with a transparent background for best results

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  1. That's it! Try running a test donation through the form.

After the form is submitted, you'll see that the following happens automatically:

  • A new payment has been created
  • The donor has been created (or updated) as a person
  • If the Gift Aid checkbox was checked, a declaration has been added and linked to the person's profile
  • The donor is acknowledged immediately via email
  • You've been notified via email that the donation happened

check_circle_outline Forms can do lots more than just take donations! Click here to learn more

link Setting a default payment option

You can choose which payment option you'd like to be pre-selected when somebody first visits your donation form. This could be either a single or a recurring option.

To choose the default payment, simply click the radio button (circle you can click!) next to your preferred payment option. Default payment radio button Default payment on form

link Acknowledging donors

When someone donates via a Beacon form, Beacon immediately sends an acknowledgement email to them:

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You can customise the subject and content of this email, as well as the team member who the email is from in the acknowledgement area of the form settings.

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link Getting notified

It can be useful to know when someone has made a new donation online through one of your forms.

In the notifications section, you can customise who receives email notifications from Beacon each time a donation is made, as well as the subject and content of the email:

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link Fixed data

When donation forms are submitted, we automatically creates the relevant records in your Beacon database. There's no manual entry.

Each time a new payment is created, you'll probably want to make sure it's categorised in the right way.

For example:

It might make sense to set the following on all new payments:

  • Type = donation
  • Gift Aid allowed = yes
  • Source = website

This is how the fixed data section helps you. It makes it easy to segment your data going forwards.

When new payments, people or declarations are created via a Beacon form, Beacon auto-sets the fixed data on each record created (as well as the data that comes from the form).

You can customise the fixed data that Beacon sets to fit your needs:

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link Asking donors to cover donation fees

You can add a section to your donation form which invites the donor to increase their donation to cover the costs of processing their payment.

You can choose a percentage of the selected donation amount to add to the total donation. This will be the same for both single and regular donations, the amount will be added to every donation.

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You can also choose whether to check to box on the donation form by default.

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This additional donation is added to the donation total. The total will be stored on the payment record in the Amount field, gift aid will be claimed on this total amount, and fees are charged on the total amount.

The amount that is added to the donation is stored in the Covered fees field.

link Monthly donations

Monthly donations are handled a little differently to single donations. They're collected via either Direct Debit (GoCardless) or credit cards (Stripe).

It usually takes GoCardless ~1-2 weeks to set up a direct debit mandate with a bank (this is normal), and then the mandate becomes active. Once active, you're able to charge payments directly to the donor's bank account.

For credit cards, the first payment is charged immediately.

As such, when a monthly donation is made via a Beacon form, the data flows into Beacon a little differently:

  • The person and Gift Aid declaration records are automatically created
  • A subscription record is created in Beacon (linked to the person)
  • Notifications and acknowledgements are sent out as normal via email

In GoCardless/Stripe, we also set up a subscription that will automatically bill the donor the amount they entered during the donation form - at the earliest possible date, and then every month after that.

When each monthly payment comes in Beacon automatically saves them on your behalf, linked to the relevant subscription and donor. This happens in real-time; Beacon gets notified as soon as each payment is processed.

link Allow donors to choose their monthly donation date

If you'd like donors to be able to pick a day of the month that their donation will be taken, you can enable it with the toggle in the 'Payment' section of your form.Allow donors to pick day of the month

This will appear as an optional dropdown list on the form, with a choice between the 1st, 15th, and 25th.Monthly donation day on formsDay choices for donation day

link Multiple currencies

If you have multiple currencies enabled, Beacon lets you take single and recurring donations in any of them.

When you create a form, the currency will default to your account's primary currency. In the form settings, you can change this to any other currency you like:

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