last person joined: yesterday 

Ask a question. Give advice. Share resources. Looking for software or hardware recommendations? Want to know how others are using text messaging in their work? Trying to find examples of IT policies? The NTEN Discuss forum is a great resource for all of the above and more! It's the general discussion list for the NTEN community, and folks all over the US (and the world) are sharing their questions, answers, and news about nonprofit technology.

eChecks, Shopping Carts, and Donor DataBase

  • 1.  eChecks, Shopping Carts, and Donor DataBase

    Posted Oct 16, 2019 14:14
    Hello folks,

    I am looking for best practices around getting data from donors who give using eChecks on your website/shopping cart. Our issue is that with our current shopping cart there is no good way to verify that the check has cleared the bank and then to get that data into our donor database. Our shopping cart vendor provides a file 48 hours after transactions that shows that all CC transactions have closed or declined. While the eChecks are included in this file, there is no information about there actual status (cleared/declined/pending) with the bank.

    What is the best practice in the industry? How do you "capture" the data on eChecks and get it into your donor database? Do you use any automation in this process?

    I certainly look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

    Thank you,

    Tracy Dickey
    CRM Systems Manager
    Pompano Beach, FLTracy
    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline

  • 2.  RE: eChecks, Shopping Carts, and Donor DataBase

    Posted Oct 17, 2019 13:24
    Edited by Medha Nanal Oct 17, 2019 13:26
    Hi Tracy,

    I am not sure of your organization's size, and therefore it is entirely likely that the various roles within your organization are merged, as is often the case in small organizations. However, in any organization where there is a separate accounting unit/team, such bank reconciliations are performed by the accounting team.

    The purpose of a donor management system is to maintain the information related to donors, prospects and the overall process data such as cultivation contacts, stewardship data etc. From this perspective, the purchase information relative to a donor's record is of interest, because it is a "touch" from the donor with the organization. With this goal, donor CRM records are reconciled with the accounting system.

    Typically, it's the accounting team who reconciles with the bank whether the transaction has been completed or not, and through regular reconciliation between the donor CRM and accounting systems, the donor CRM is kept updated.

    As a side note, I have come across organizations that were using their accounting system as the de-facto donor CRM. In this case, obviously the reconciliation was effectively taking place between the bank and the donor CRM. I am not sure if your scenario is somewhat similar but I would strongly discourage the use of accounting systems for donor CRM purposes. Barring a very very startup phase, it is time for an organization to begin looking at separating a donor CRM from an accounting system.

    Hope this helps!

    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline

  • 3.  RE: eChecks, Shopping Carts, and Donor DataBase

    Posted Oct 18, 2019 11:04
    Hi Tracy,

    Typically, depending on your payment provider, payment information is piped directly into your CRM through an integration between your CRM and your payment platform. Most CRMs offer compatibility with a few different payment vendors. You should clarify with your vendor regarding the file they provide, and what each entry means - your payment vendor should be able to provide information on the status of each transaction. If they can't, you should switch vendors, that's a red flag.

    In the case  of ACH/eChecks, these simply aren't real-time transactions, and can take as long as 45 days to clear. I've seen three approaches:
    1. The donor gets an automated gift acknowledgement on submission of the transaction, and the transaction is treated as if it's entirely complete, including being recorded in the donor system on the day of deposit. If the check later fails to clear, the transaction is modified/reversed to reflect that. 
    2. The eCheck is logged in the system as a pledge, and when the check clears, the payment is applied against the pledge.
    3. eCheck transactions are not passed to the CRM immediately. They are held in a batch and uploaded only after the checks clear.

    The first approach is simpler, and is typically appropriate unless you have a large volume of ACH coming over your donation form. For orgs with high volume of ACH, option 3 is more attractive. Option 2 is useful for when you have high-dollar ACH transactions, which can take longer to clear, and you need your donor system to know the pledge came in for management and stewardship.

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

    2020 Nonprofit Technology Conference Logo  w/ Baltimore Skyline