Not every WordPress site has products to sell. Although many can turn their blogs into a revenue stream by offering goods and services somewhere in the mix, there are various reasons you might not be in a position to do so.
For example, you may not be running a commercial business. You could be managing a non-profit organization or have no current goods or services to monetize. Many designers, writers, and voluntary groups find themselves in this situation and need to explore alternative sources of income.
Donations are one of the most common ways to do just that, and they can sometimes even be more effective than ads or sponsored posts. If your readers are ready to put their hands in their pockets, you just need to provide the means.
In this article, we’ve gathered together five of the best WordPress donation plugins to help you make that process simple.
Why Use a Tip Jar?
At first you might have some reservations about placing a donation button on your website. Some might feel it’s in poor taste – as if you’re begging your readers for help. Others doubt that it’ll work, thinking readers will automatically ignore it.
But the truth is that a tip jar is a great way to garner support for your WordPress site. It can provide supplemental income if you’re a freelance designer or developer, and the amount brought in over the course of a month or year can offset hosting costs for your website. Furthermore, with the growing use of ad blockers, donations can be more effective than traditional online revenue streams.
For startups and non-profit groups, donations are a vital means of funding campaigns. Other sites may choose to use tip jar income to help finish a product before launch, or simply meet the daily or weekly financial needs of their organization through the generous support of benefactors.
Perhaps the biggest reason to offer a tip jar is to incentivize your readers. People who follow your work often want a way to show their support (more than just “liking” a post on Facebook). Giving them the means to chip in – even with a small amount – will make them feel invested in your work. They will grow loyal to your site and are more likely to draw in other new readers.
In most cases, you have nothing to lose by providing one of these donation methods on your website, and much to gain. The key is finding one that meets your specific needs, and that’s exactly what our list of five top tip jar plugin options is designed to help you do.
Let’s meet the contenders!
Give is one of the most widely-used donation systems for WordPress. Much more than just a “Donate Here” button, it offers robust tools to help you manage your fund-raising efforts in their entirety. Even if you’re just starting out, having these features at your disposal will help you go a long way.
The plugin’s goal was to create a donation tool as comprehensive for giving as Gravity Forms and WooCommerce are for form management and e-commerce. It provides a stable means for users to donate on your website without unnecessary forms or checkout carts.
Some of Give’s features include goal-tracking for specific fund-raising efforts, zero commission charges (unlike many other tools), and detailed donation data that only you can see. Give makes the donation process simple and painless for the user throughout – a big plus.
Give provides thorough documentation to help you get started. The tool is made to be customized to meet your specific needs, and the developers provide a full support team to quickly answer any questions or problems you may have.
If you have specific donation goals to meet, or simply want to work with a wide variety of options, Give is a great plugin to consider.
2. Seamless Donations
Seamless Donations is a tool with some thoughtful, unique features. It handles the donating process from start to finish, providing carefully considered basic options and useful additions to make your website shine.
The plugin is incredibly easy to set up and you should be ready to go in as little as five minutes. It has an automatic repeating donation feature, so readers can easily provide support on a regular basis.
Ever wondered what you should say after someone donates? Seamless Donations has thought of that and provides options for custom Thank You emails, “in honor of” donation pages, and personalized messages. Other useful features include donor tracking, so you know who is supporting you the most, and spam-blocking.
Seamless Donations also provides thorough documentation, FAQs, and video tutorials to help you get started. It supports a range of plugins to enable CAPTCHA, exporting, and mail integration. You will be able to receive a wide variety of currencies as well.
This plugin is free and promises no-commission charging.
3. Smart Donations
Smart Donations is a fully-featured tool that provides a variety of donation options. You will be able to manage multiple fund-raising endeavors, set goals, and chart your progress easily.
Some of the donation methods offered by Smart Donations include Classic Donation (which sends the user to a basic PayPal page), TextBox Donation (where users can give what they want), and a Slider Donation option that enables users to select from a defined range of donation amounts. You can also create pre-configured three-tier donation buttons.
The premium version of the plugin provides Form Donation. This enables you to create a custom form with customizable options such as text boxes, drop-down menus and checkboxes for the user. This is great if the basic options aren’t what you need and you want to curate the donor experience.
Details of all donations will be automatically forwarded to your email, which is handy for notification and further processing.
All in all, Smart Donations is a great tool for those who want to manage multiple goals, or want more advanced customization options on the front end for their users.
4. Total Donations
Total Donations is a powerful tool for large-scale fund-raising efforts. It’s especially useful for non-profit organizations, churches, or political campaigns. A highly-detailed administrative panel provides donation management, progress bars, and settings.
Total Donations supports both PayPal and Stripe donations. Configurable campaign targets enable you to easily keep track of fund-raising goals – great for individual users who need to set a weekly or monthly goal.
Donation widgets are also on hand to provide colorful graphics to show your progress to readers. This can be a great motivational tool, encouraging people to give more to help you hit your goal.
Additional features include reoccurring donations, a drag-and-drop form builder, and a fully responsive front and back end. It also provides integration with services like MailChimp and Constant Contact.
Another standout feature of Total Donations is its comprehensive dashboard, which enables you to manage donations at a glance. Detailed charts and graphs show you contribution trends and progress. You’re also able to sort through donations and export to Excel.
This is a premium tool ($28), but it will be more than worth it for organizations and power users who will benefit from its impressive range of functionality.
5. PayPal Donations
We’ll round out our selections with a simple, though very popular, option. PayPal Donations has over 40,000 active installs and provides an easy-to-install PayPal donation button on your website. Users who wish to give simply click through to a secure PayPal page where they can donate to your account in seconds.
This plugin provides a few extra features that a regular PayPal link doesn’t. For example, it offers a widget to easily place the button on your homepage or sidebar, and shortcode options mean you can also quickly place the button anywhere else you like on your WordPress website.
Of course, there are limitations when using such a simple solution. You lack comprehensive goal tracking and management for one thing. But for those who want a quick way to get started with a tip jar, this is perhaps the way to go.
All donations end up straight in your PayPal account, making them nice and easy to process and withdraw from.
Conclusion: Give Your Readers the Option
Visitors who support your website through giving have a greater incentive to stick around over the long term. They will feel part of your overall mission, not just a static observer. And believe it or not, most people want to support the projects and people they truly believe in. Providing a tip jar is a great way of enabling them to do just that.
For larger fund-raising initiatives, you should consider a tool like Give or Total Donations. For those of you getting started, or looking for a simple solution, stick with PayPal Donations.
What do you think of offering a tip jar to your readers? Are you currently using one? What techniques have helped you garner the most support from your followers? Share your thoughts in the comments, along with any questions you might have about our plugin selections!
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