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Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a huge surge in popularity of fundraising sites like JustGiving and Crowdfunding platforms such as Gofundme. Whilst such tools no doubt do a great job in their own right, they’re perhaps no match for the level of control, flexibility and functionality you can enjoy by establishing a fundraising campaign on your own website.

Fortunately, charities and using powerful wordpress systems to run their sites have an easier time of this than most, thanks to a wealth of free, simple-to-use, and highly effective plugins designed to help you accept donations through your website, without relying on a third-party. The below links are for use with WordPress only. It’s possible to add these features with website builders such as Weebly etc but you will need to add in some code and isn’t as straight forward!

Here’s our pick of just five of the best WordPress donation plugins currently available as of May 2016.

Charitable

Charitable may not be the most attractive nor dynamic donation plugins on the market, but it tops our list for being one of the few that is completely free to use; simply install, activate, and start accepting donations via PayPal without having to hand over transaction fees.

Setting up a new campaign is quick, simple and to the point, using a very well-laid out interface to help you customise options and incorporate the donation tool into your site.

For added functionality, there’s a whole library of add-ons, including a premium plugin to accept donations from other payment gateways besides PayPal, whilst the look and feel can be customised to blend in seamlessly with the rest of your website.

PayPal Donations

Currently boasting over 40,000 active installations, there’s little doubting PayPal Donations dominance as the top WordPress plugin of its type.

There’s a pretty good reason for that too: PayPal is a brand your website visitors recognize and -in all likelihood- trust. That trust factor is going to play a big part in the success of your ongoing fundraising campaign, yet brand recognition alone isn’t the only reason why we rate this one so highly.

Complete with the option to either use PayPal’s default donation button or one you design yourself, the appearance can be tweaked to fit in with your theme, and incorporated either into your sidebar as a widget, or into a page itself using WordPress shortcodes.

There’s also options for soliciting donations in different currencies, selecting a certain country to accept donations from, and even for returning donors to a personalised thank you page.

Give

Like Charitable, Give for WordPress immediately earns kudos by refusing to charge transaction fees on donations made through the plugin.

The makers of the plugin insist that their income comes from sales of powerful add-on extensions, which broaden Give’s already impressive features by allowing you to add additional payment gateways, help givers to set-up recurring donations, and even provide updates on your campaign through an email marketing list.

As if that wasn’t enough, it’s fair to say that Give is one of the better looking plugins of its type, both in terms of the behind-the-scenes interface and how it appears on your website.

Seamless Donations

With over 10,000 active installations at time of writing, Seamless Donations plugin connects with your PayPal account to provide visitors with a quick and simple way to make one off or recurring payments through your website.

The plugin itself takes no more than a couple of minutes from download to launch, with back-end configuration handled through a highly intuitive interface.

Additional free tools allow you to track and manage your list of donors and even send out customised emails to say thank you. Elsewhere, a number of paid-for extensions add extra functionality such as captcha, the option to create customised Thank You pages, and the ability to export your donor list to a .CSV file.

Donations Made Easy

Last but not least, we come to our favourite premium plugin for accepting donations through your WordPress website.

Donations Made Easy is one of the most flexible and robust options on the market, and in our opinion, well worth every penny of the relatively low premium cost.

Integrating seamlessly with both PayPal and Stripe, the plugin offers several different ways for donors to pay, from the option to click a single button and type in how much they way to make, to a fun slider-bar, which donors can use to drag back and forth, with the donation amount increasing the further up the scale they move it.

There is a free version of this plugin available, though it only supports the bare essentials, whilst the Pro edition, with its combination of unique features and standard donation plugin staples, make it a top contender for our list.

Image: flickr: Kathryn Harper

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