Nonprofit Payment Processing with iATS

By Stephanie

We mention iATS Payments quite frequently on our blog. Why? Well we did partner with them to create Commerce iATS for Drupal. It also happens to be one of our preferred online payment processors, due in no small part to its incredibly reasonable processing fees and the excellent support it offers nonprofits. It made sense for us to invest the time in making iATS Drupal compatible, given the ever-increasing number of nonprofits using Drupal to host their sites and fundraising efforts.

We sat down with Mike Kim, Partner Account Manager at iATS Payments, and asked him to explain in his own words exactly what iATS brings to the table:

What is iATS Payments exactly? What differentiates it from other companies that offer similar services?

Mike: iATS Payments offers payment processing solutions to over 10,000 nonprofit organizations around the globe.

We take care of all of the backend processes that occur when an online or mobile transaction is initiated by one of your donors. To do so, we provide both the payment gateway (the interface for accepting online donations) and the merchant account (the bank account where funds are held as the transaction is being processed).

We enable nonprofits to accept all major credit cards and ACH (direct debit) payments to provide their supporters with the utmost flexibility when it comes to online giving.

What sets iATS apart from other payment processors is that we’re one of the only services designed specifically for nonprofits. Since we only work with nonprofit organizations, we have a firm understanding of nonprofits’ needs and the pain points they face when accepting online donations.

Additionally, we’ve established an extensive network of partners, so our services can easily be integrated with many donor databases, event planning or auction software platforms, and other fundraising software. The ability to integrate simplifies data collection significantly and provides your organization with the most up-to-date and comprehensive financial reports, since all transactions are handled through one service.

Why would someone use iATS Payments instead of PayPal or another similar commercial service?

Mike: There are many benefits of working with a dedicated payment processor like iATS instead of services like PayPal.

PayPal and similar services are aggregators, meaning that they don’t allow organizations to select their own merchant accounts (the bank account used to hold donations while transactions are being verified). Instead, aggregators require their clients to use the merchant account that they (the aggregator) have set up, which your nonprofit would have to share with all of their other clients.

Using a shared merchant account can put your donations in jeopardy, especially considering that aggregators likely process hundreds, if not thousands, of transactions each day. If anything were to happen to one of their clients, it could put the whole account (and thus, your funds) at risk. And since aggregators have so many clients to attend to, you wouldn’t receive attentive support in ironing out any issues.

Not to mention, since PayPal and similar services aren’t specialized to nonprofits, they’re not as in-tune with your unique needs as we would be at iATS.

Those are only a couple of the benefits of working with us over PayPal, but there are many, many more. If you’re interested in learning more about why your organization should choose a PayPal alternative, check out this article from @Pay.

A lot of nonprofits utilize nontechnical staff and volunteers. How does your company support them with what is very technical stuff?

Mike: Our services were designed so that organizations don’t have to deal with any of the technical aspects of payment processing. We take care of all of the backend parts of the transaction for you so that your organization can spend more time focusing on what’s truly meaningful: connecting with supporters and enacting the good work that you do.

That being said, if your organization has any questions or ever runs into any technical difficulties, we’re known for our excellent customer support. We offer live customer care, so your organization can quickly get in touch and we can solve issues with minimal turnaround time.

We also offer user-friendly tutorial videos and product guides that nonprofit staffs and volunteers can use to gain a better understanding of our services.

What about security? This is a big issue for nonprofits. What methods do you have in place to instill trust in the security of your service?

Mike: iATS takes data security very seriously. We are a level 1 PCI-compliant payment processor, meaning that our services adhere to the strictest security standards as outlined by the Payment Card Industry.

Our payment processing solutions include many fraud prevention features that your organization can turn off and on dynamically as you see fit. Here are just a few that we offer:

  • Address verification system (AVS). An AVS checks the billing address that the donor has submitted on a webform against the billing address on file with their bank account to help you spot potentially fraudulent transactions.

  • Card verification code requirement (CVV). Turning on this feature requires the donor to enter the CVV number (the three digit number on the back of their credit or debit card) when making a transaction. Requiring another form of payment method identification can also deter fraud.

  • Minimum transaction limit. Fraudsters often test out stolen credit cards on donation forms by entering small, random amounts (think: $1.32). With our services, you can set a minimum donation amount so that your donation form is less likely to become a testing ground for fraudulent transactions.

Essentially, our services allow your organization to customize the level of security to your unique needs, providing both you and your donors with more peace of mind. At the same time, our security measures are non-invasive, keeping the donation process quick and convenient.

How can a nonprofit run by volunteers and non-technical staff offload the responsibilities that go with virtual transactions?

Mike: There can be a lot of tricky regulations to maneuver around when it comes to online transactions. The best way to avoid having to take on these crucial responsibilities is to work with a dedicated payment processor like iATS.

Our services are designed to be PCI-compliant and regulate the virtual transaction process so that organizations never have to bear the burden of these responsibilities (and the potential consequences that could arise as a result of failing to adhere to security standards and other regulations).

What platforms and implementations of your services do you support?

Mike: There are three ways that nonprofits can take advantage of iATS’ services. Here’s a quick rundown of what we offer:

  • Brickwork. Brickwork is a payment processing application offered on the Salesforce App Exchange. It’s compatible with both the Nonprofit Success Pack and Enterprise editions of Salesforce so that your organization can accept both credit cards and direct debit payments through your Salesforce CRM and Auctions for Salesforce platforms.

  • Aura. With Aura, your organization can use the iATS customer portal to create customizable donation forms for multiple campaigns. Then, you can seamlessly embed your forms into your website by placing a user-friendly Aura code on your site.

  • Partnerships. iATS also partners with over 130 donor database, event management, and fundraising software vendors. Chances are that our services can be integrated with the other nonprofit software platforms your organization is already using.

By providing multiple solutions, we can cater to nonprofits of all shapes and sizes, from those just starting out with online fundraising to those who already use an established suite of software to run their efforts.

How are you keeping up with the development and future of those platforms?

Mike: At iATS, we’re always looking toward improvement. We actively seek out feedback from clients, partners, and other stakeholders to help us identify areas where our products or services could be adjusted to make the virtual transaction process easier for all parties involved.

For example, one of the features we recently rolled out in the newest version of our Brickwork platform is card swipe reader support, so organizations can easily swipe credit cards on the go (which, as you know, is crucial now that donors are carrying cash less and less). We also added campaign and record type IDs so that transactions are recorded more accurately in the CRM.

How can a nonprofit get started with iATS if they decide today that they want to give it a try?

Mike: If your organization would like to get started with iATS, you can get in contact with us by visiting the contact page on our website. Simply fill out the quick form, and then we’ll be in touch to evaluate your needs and guide you through the sales process.

Consequently, you could also contact our sales department:

By phone: 1.866.300.4287 (#2)
By email:

We hope to hear from you soon!