Society Corner

Society PayPal

Does your society use PayPal? If not, why not? PayPal supports not-for-profit groups and has many tools that will extend your capabilities in any number of directions. So, just what can you do with PayPal?

  • Collect membership dues. PayPal makes it easy to pay dues online – even if they don’t have a PayPal account. It also offers a recurring billing option which will automatically remind members to renew. This is especially handy for your distant members.
  • Special events. Use PayPal as a payment option for special events. And, with PayPal’s mobile card reader, you can use an Android phone, Windows phone or iPhone to accept credit card payments just about anywhere.
  • Fund-raising. Not only can PayPal collect donations, but it will track who made them so you can thank them and provide them with tax statements if the donation is tax-deductible.
  • Online sales. Does your society have items to sell online? Most online storefronts include PayPal integration making it easy to support those efforts. And, they offer an affordable micropayments service making it easy to sell digital products such as ebooks and digital editions of the society’s journal archives.

One very nice thing about PayPal is that your members don’t have to have PayPal accounts to use it. They can pay using a credit or debit card and PayPal will still handle the transaction for you. There are no upfront or monthly fees required to use PayPal and the transaction fees are quite reasonable. The fees for registered 501(c)(3)s are 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction with no monthly fee. For a $25 membership, that comes to 85¢.

PayPal is very easy to use too. The button wizard walks you through the process of creating a payment button to post on your society’s web site. Select the options you want and choose the price. PayPal then gives you the embed code to copy/paste onto your web site. You make a payment button for each membership option you offer (single, family, life, etc.). You don’t have to use PayPal’s standard buttons either. There’s an option in the wizard where you can enter a link to your own button graphic.

In addition to offering an online payment option, PayPal provides some significant bookkeeping too. When you build a button, you can include a service ID to identify what it is for. You can use them to identify membership types or donations for a specific cause. When payments are made, PayPal provides a register of who paid for what. So, you can easily see how many single memberships you have compared to family memberships or a donation to the scholarship fund.

Another area where PayPal can support the society is in payments. For example, many online services – like web hosting – won’t accept checks but do support payment via PayPal. This can save you the effort of getting a society credit card.

A PayPal account for non-profit groups is a special category of a business account. These accounts allow the owner to assign additional users with different levels of access. For example, while the treasurer may be the only one who can transfer money from PayPal to the society’s bank account, the membership chairman could be given rights to view the receipts register and confirm that someone has paid their dues.

One tidbit we learned the hard way. When our association’s account was first created, it was set up using the treasurer’s personal email address. When his term ended, we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to change the address on the account. Our solution was to create a generic email address (society.treasurer@gmail.com for example) and use that for PayPal. When a new treasurer takes over, he/she just needs to change the passwords to the email and PayPal accounts and update the contact information.

PayPal is a cost-effective way to provide an online payment option for member dues and so much more. Visit their nonprofit services page for more information. It’s definitely worth a look.

Note: This article discusses PayPal features related to non-profit associations. Laws regarding non-profits vary from state to state. Your society will need to research those laws and regulations to understand how they impact you.  

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