Are you picking the right online payment solution for your PTA?

Stripe Payment workflow

Stripe Payment Workflow

Engaging in online transaction with online payment has become second nature to all of us. We pick a product, add to cart, hit the checkout, easy as 1, 2, 3.   This trend is also reflected in the increasing number of School Parent Organizations, such as the Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) are now moving towards online fundraising.

In response to the online fundraising need, numerous online fundraising, solutions are now available through various vendors that provide membership management solutions for school parent organizations. Each of these solutions comes with a different payment processing system and with different transaction charges. As a result there are a multiple permutations of accepted payment methods, payment gateways for processing the transactions and transaction charges. Thus, choosing a reliable and trustworthy eCommerce system to manage online fundraising for the Parent Organization can be very difficult.

We address the top 5 critical questions asked about the online payment processing services to help school Parent Organizations select the optimal solution for their fundraising needs.

  1. How will the parents pay online for the fundraisers or the membership dues?

The easier it is for your parents to submit payments that suit their preferences, the more purchases they’re likely to make. Having an eCommerce platform with multiple forms of accepted payment methods ensures a better customer experience.

Various online payment options include credit cards, PayPal account and a direct debit from a bank account. The last of these options can be important for ACH transactions (to be discussed below), which carry a lower transaction charge than a credit card transaction. You may also want to choose a system that includes, ‘cash or check’ for of payment as one of the payment options.   This may be necessary as some parents may also want to have an option to pay for the item the old fashioned’ way, by cash or check.

  1. How secure are the transactions?

It’s a no-brainer, but people are not going to just fork over sensitive financial information to sites that look shady. You want a payment gateway that’s reputable and provides safe checkout experiences for your customers.  Make sure that the system you choose displays security signage to your parents as they are checking out following purchase of an item. Consumers feel safer seeing logos of trustworthy payment options on a website.

  1. What will be the transaction fees associated with these payments?

The transaction fees associated with an online purchase depends upon the following: payment gateway, the software running in the background that allows customers to make purchases on your site using the payment method of their choice, e.g. Stripe or a Merchant gateway; form of payment, e.g. credit card or ACH payment and the provider, the vendor who has integrated the payment gateway in their membership management solution.

Currently, the minimum fee that nonprofits such as the Parent Organizations can expect to pay is 2.2% + $0.30 for all major credit card transactions, 3.5% for AMEX transactions. For credit card purchases, you may also face chargeback fees, which can vary from $15 to $25 depending on the Payment Gateway and the vendor. These should be negotiated upfront.

For ACH payment, direct debit from your bank account, the transaction charge will be 0.8% of the purchase price, capped at $5. There should be no hidden fees on top of these transaction charges.

Additional fees Parent Organizations should be wary of include merchant account fees, and additional payment processing charges, above those charged by the payment gateway.

  1. Where will the money be deposited? 

Depending on the eCommerce platform chosen, the payment submitted by the parent will go directly to the bank account of the Parent Organization or the vendor’s merchant services account.

The major advantage of the former is that the Parent Organization has a direct and immediate access to the money collected. However, if there are any payment disputes, including chargebacks, the Parent Organization will be responsible for handling these complaints.

  1. How will transactions and payments get monitored by the Parent Organization?

For a parent Organization, it is no picnic getting and managing cash, checks and PayPal Payments for your fundraiser.

You spend hours trying to match the payment you received with the order you received from a parent, except that there are ten other Smiths in the school! You know that the orders are all mixed up and you are going to hear about it from those

Last but not least, you need to do the impossible! Create a decent spreadsheet from all this mess for your Parent Organization treasurer, who needs it tallied to the last cent. After all, the Parent Organization is 501 C non-profit and needs to report their annual dues to the IRS.

The online fundraising platform that is chosen by your Parent Organization should help you manage all the purchases and payment with a single click. You as the Admin, should be able to print out a comprehensive spreadsheet on the order summary, organized by purchase date/product sold/store name. However you want to slice it ,and dice it.

Test the online payment solution that you are considering for your Parent Organization with these 5 questions and see how it stacks. Best strategy is to test drive the solution under consideration with these 5 questions and then make your decision.

To learn more about using MobileArq and the eCommerce platform for your school, please contact or visit our website