Yesterday I put onto social media that we had emailed our database ahead of sending out Christmas Raffle reminders, and the initiative had raised £700 (now £800 as more responses today) at no cost whatsoever. I said that Associations who do not use online payments are really losing out.
This resulted in a number of inquiries from other Associations as how we do this, which in turn encouraged me to write to two blog posts. One on using PayPal, and another, which I will publish later today or tomorrow depending on time, will focus on how we use PayPal to specifically promote draw ticket sales.
Firstly I acknowledge that some people have had difficulties with PayPal and can be very vocal with their complaints. I can only speak as I find. In three years and over 5,000 individual transactions, we have never had a problem. There are several online payment options, some of which charge less than PayPal. The difference however is marginal and most do not offer the many sales and marketing benefits and "tools" which come free with PayPal.
First you will need to set-up a PayPal account by visiting their website and clicking "sign up". From memory the application process took about ten minutes. The most difficult part was to link our PayPal account to a bank account. This involved entering the linked bank account details onto the application form. PayPal withdrew a penny from our account using a reference number. I had to ascertain this reference number and enter it onto the system (no doubt to prove I had access to the nominated bank). As I am not a signatory this resulted in the West Kent Treasurer visiting the bank with me to get a print out with the relevant reference number, though once this was obtained the process ran smoothly.
And contrary to popular belief, you do not need a PayPal account to use PayPal payment services. On every transaction page there is an option to "pay as a guest" in which case the user simply enters their credit/debit card details to pay. There is no need for them to have a PayPal account.
For most Associations this is all you will need to do. Money from ticket sales, membership renewals and donations will come into your PayPal account and your Treasurer will simply transfer this to the Association's bank account. This is a simple process and takes less than a minute to do (money is transferred within two hours).
If you have more than one Association (as in our case - we have six) it becomes more complicated. We decided to have just one PayPal account which accepts money from all six Associations in West Kent and we have linked each Association's bank account to the same PayPal account. On a weekly basis go through the receipts and allocate the funds to each Association as appropriate. We keep a manual record of what we have transferred and why, and when the bank statement arrives each month we annotate it to enable the Treasurer to allocate the income appropriately.
For example: "£175 membership. £260 Annual Dinner. £125 Tonbridge branch quota."
Considering at any one time we can have payments coming in for 20+ events this takes a lot of managing, but probably no more so than receiving, annotating and banking the same number of cheques each week!
It is worth noting that around 80% of our ticket sales for events are now done totally online. We circulate the flyer electronically and receive payments via PayPal. This has saved thousands of pounds each year on printing and postage.
How do we actually use PayPal and what features does it have?
PayPal have a whole page of selling options to help and support their users. Many of these are no use to us, but the ones we tend to use most often are
1. BUY NOW Button: Under the tools section there is an option to create a "Payment Button". The user simply gives the button a name, for example "Christmas Draw" or "Annual Dinner with Rory Stewart MP" and defines the ticket price. This generates a simple block of html code which you copy and paste into your website. Here, for example, is the payment button for our 2017 Christmas Draw (if anyone would like to try it out to see how simple it is..... you are very welcome to do so!)