Episode 279

How to Combine Donations with Your LMS Website With Devin Walker from GiveWP

Learn how to combine donations with your LMS website with Devin Walker from GiveWP in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett from LifterLMS. Chris and Devin dive into how you can integrate GiveWP into your website, along with some strategy for incentivizing people to donate.

GiveWP is a plugin that allows you to collect donations through your website via multiple payment gateways and to track donors and donations with a detailed reporting system. They integrate with many payment gateways, including Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.Net, and many more.

A lot of nonprofits collect payments offline, but by incorporating a donations tool into your website, you can collect donations from around the world. This makes it significantly easier for anyone to donate to your cause.

How to combine donations with your LMS website with Devin Walker from GiveWP

Devin shares some tips for collecting donations and some strategies you can use to get donations through your website. Presenting your story and your cause in the best light through your website is a great way to get donations. If you’re a nonprofit, you can feature your status as such on your site. Keeping donors engaged is also a great way to work towards a recurring donation setup that really helps to scale donations.

If you are a nonprofit business, GiveWP has options for giving someone a record of their donation to pass off to their CPA, who can itemize that for your donors on their taxes. GiveWP also provides annual receipts, so if someone has made multiple donations on your site or is involved with a recurring donation, they can download a full report that makes passing off donation data to a CPA a lot easier.

GiveWP has some great use cases for course creators. If you’re building another course on your platform, you could offer early course access to the first 100 people who donate $20 or more. If you’re donating proceeds of your course to a specific cause, you could match donations up to $1,000 for example, to incentivize your audience to donate, get access to your course, and also know that their money is going further with you matching their donations.

If you’re interested in learning more about what GiveWP can bring to the table for your WordPress LMS website, be sure to check out GiveWP.com. To get involved further with Devin Walker and GiveWP, join their Facebook group, and follow them on Twitter.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

This episode was sponsored by WP Tonic Managed WordPress LMS hosting. Click here to learn more, and use coupon code wptonichosting50 to save 50% on any annual plan.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Chris Badgett:

You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett:

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. Today we’re joined by a special guest, Devin Walker from GiveWP. That’s givewp.com. Welcome to the show, Devin.

Devin Walker:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Chris Badgett:

I’m really excited to get into it with you about nonprofits in general and the whole concept of donation and giving and how it’s not like your regular e-commerce. There’s a bunch of specific considerations around giving and donations and what people can do. And also for course creators or membership site builders, different ways they can combine LMSs or courses or memberships with giving.

To start, we have, it’s probably up by the time this episode is live and you’re listening to it right now, but we have a new case study coming out with a company called CauseLabs that builds websites for nonprofits. They’re using LifterLMS to educate girls in Africa in a particular area into the trades, which then gives them some upward mobility in society and more earning power in the family.

So we’re really excited about that. But in the land of nonprofits you also get into the concept of fundraising. If you’re a small nonprofit or a big nonprofit, and let’s say it’s a newer one, like somebody wants to start a nonprofit, how should they start thinking about donations and fundraising and lay the foundations both strategically and technically on the website? Just get the ball rolling and trying to raise money.

Devin Walker:

Absolutely. So you know, when you’re a new nonprofit, let’s say you’re just trying to get started off, seeing lots of different causes out there. Whether it’s a woman who comes up to me at a word camp and she says, “I had a really great time hiking in the Himalayas, but I see how poorly the Sherpas are treated and I really want to start a nonprofit to help them out.” Right? That’s just something that happened recently. And they’re really focused in those in-person donations at first, like the … You’ve seen the stat I think 80% to 85% of a nonprofits fundraising is offline. It’s checks being sent in the mail, it’s direct debits, it’s things like that. But I would encourage more folks to think about online, right? Get your presence online and that percentage is increasing year over year on the number of donations, amount of donations and gifts that you receive online.

Devin Walker:

So focus with first presenting your story and your cause in the best light through your website. Get a solid donation system in place to accept one time and of course recurring donations. And then once you get some donors, make sure that you’re keeping them engaged with what you’re doing with what’s your fundraising, how that’s making a change. And do that through your blog, through your newsletter, through YouTube, whatever medium you want. So that’s kind of the core of how I’d say, “Hey, you’re a new nonprofit, here’s what you should do.”

Chris Badgett:

How does it work? Just the basic ideas around a tax write off. Let’s say you have a cause, nonprofit around a certain cause and you’re able to identify potential donors that may have some cash to unload as part of a tax strategy. Can you just high level it for us? The people with money who are trying to leverage a tax benefit by making a donation to a cause they believe in, how does that actually work? What do they do?

Devin Walker:

I can give you the high level on that, but I would definitely recommend them to seek their CPA or whoever to really vet that. But I know the Fibo C3 status. If I want C3 it’s really important to have that status so you can deduct that tax. Now there’s some ways to get that through the government faster than others. If you use a firm or a law firm or some sort of expert that can help funnel that through, that can really speed up that time.

Devin Walker:

But I know there is quite a wait for your new nonprofit to get that status. But if you’re a donor looking to give, really look for that on the website, most will put it in the footer or in the sidebar that shows that they have that status and that you can have that written off. A lot of platforms, including ours, once you make that donation, they’ll give you a PDF download that you can pass to your tax preparer or nonprofit or sorry, CPA who then can itemize that within your return.

Devin Walker:

And one I’ll also note is we also provide annual receipts. So if you made multiple donations, recurring donation, let’s say it’s a monthly gift, you can download that full report at the end of the year to makes it a lot easier to pass off to.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Now, I’ve noticed on something like Kickstarter, at certain levels there are certain rewards. You have, one of the things you can do with Give is create tributes. Can you explain what that means?

Devin Walker:

Yeah. So a tribute isn’t necessarily an award. It’s basically a dedicated donation. So for instance, if my grandma, she really likes going to the YMCA, chooses their facilities. If I wanted to give to the YMCA, I could check a box that says, “I want to dedicate this donation.” And then a dropdown appears in honor of, in memory of, you can customize the options in the dropdown, give my grandma’s name. And what you could do from there is either shoot her an email or there’s also a feature where you could send a physical card in the mail with a picture and a nice text that you could personalize that dedication to them. So that’s really what a tribute donation is all about.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Can you talk me through a use case where I’m a course creator, I have a membership site and I want to make it so that my audience, my community could make a donation, sort of like a scholarship. They could give funds to support a scholarship where we draw, or somebody has to apply for it and then they get free access in my course, but it was facilitated through Give. Can you help me think through something like that?

Devin Walker:

Yeah, absolutely. So, if you’re a course creator and you have an audience already, you’re delivering them new courses, you’re updating old courses and they have a need for more knowledge. What you could do is do a giveaway or a donation drive is a better word for it and say, “Hey, the first 100 donors to give X amount of dollars, let’s just say $20 more, $20 or more can get access to our next course early, or next course now, or next three courses. If you have a recurring donation and it’s ongoing, we’ll give you courses as they come out, as long as your donation is still going.” And then do that drive for maybe a certain amount of time, because you want to still make your business thrive.

Devin Walker:

And then maybe match the proceeds of that. You can do donation matching as well. Say we’ll give up to a thousand dollars. That can really help push people into that, to giving, knowing that if I make a donation of $20 somebody else’s going match it for a total of 40 it’s really going to help me out in getting me to donate. So those are a couple options you can do just to really do good and then also expand your reach.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. LifterLMS has its own Stripe integration and PayPal and Authorize.Net. But we also integrate with WooCommerce, and I noticed you have a donation upsell for WooCommerce. Is that kind of like that what you’re talking about there where they can actually upsell into the donation while they’re buying the course for themselves kind of thing?

Devin Walker:

Right. So within WooCommerce what you would do as an associate, a donation form built within Give. And then at the either the checkout in WooCommerce or within the cart. It’s one or the other, you can upsell and say, “If you want to give $5 you can have different amounts [inaudible 00:09:51].” And that’s actually attached to the order within WooCommerce and cross-referenced between the two platforms. So then if you’re a developer or if you have any sort of basic skills to query that data, you can do all sorts of things with that.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool. And what’s fee recovery? What does that mean?

Devin Walker:

Yeah, so fee recovery is basically asking the donor to cover the payment processing fees of their donation. So if you are giving a $100, usually Stripe is 2.9% plus 30 cents that’d be giving that percentage on top of it. So your donation would be like a $100, $102.9, or a $103.20 or something. I didn’t do the math on the fly. But you can customize that per gateway and then you can also set it as a flat rate. So there’s a number of options there available.

Chris Badgett:

That’s awesome. Let’s say we’re a wildly successful course creator and we’re just rolling in the Benjamins and we want to start this nonprofit and I’m reading through the Give blog and I’m seeing some of your users like Lifewater International, The Real Joy Challenge, or no, that was Lifewater as well. So San Diego Refugee Tutoring.

Devin Walker:

Yep.

Chris Badgett:

What do those companies do really well with your product? How did they get the most out of Give and really create the fundraising that they want to have happen?

Devin Walker:

Well those two are good examples. On the San Diego Refugee Tutoring, they’ve done some customization to the way our plugin works, but not a whole lot. They’ve done some basic styling around making the donation form branded towards them and maybe some stuff on the back end to make reporting tailored to them. But Lifewater is an example where they have an in-house development company, they’ve done a ton of customization to Give to function in the way that they need and coordinate to what campaigns they want to run. So that’s the way I’d really align our platform versus others in the space outside of WordPress is if you’re buying a SaaS product, there’s not too much you can do to shape it into what you want it to do.

Devin Walker:

Whereas ours, it’s like a piece of PLATO. It looks fine and works fine out of the box, but you can make that into whatever you like and really customize it just like you would any other WordPress plugin that’s coded in a way that’s done the WordPress way with lots of filters, lots of actions, lots of template overrides to make it really into what you want.

Chris Badgett:

Keep listening. This podcast is not over. This is just a special message about this episode’s sponsor WP-Tonic, managed WordPress LMS hosting. Think of it as everything you need to have a professional online course training platform right out of the box, ready to go. Find out more about WP-Tonics, managed WordPress LMS hosting by going to lifterlikes.com/tonic. Now back to the show.

Chris Badgett:

So if it’s flexible, like PLATO as you mentioned, what are some use cases that are maybe nonstandard or what are some creative ways you’ve seen people use Give or extend it to fulfill their unique need?

Devin Walker:

Yeah, I mean I’ve seen a lot of simple e-commerce implementations with it, which I don’t really recommend too much, but that has been use for that. I’ve seen membership sites built with it. I have seen lots of people accepting Bitcoin through it and lots of those types of different ways to accept money that aren’t traditionally donations.

Chris Badgett:

So as a pass through for funds for various reasons?

Devin Walker:

Exactly. A simple e-commerce utility, they might not want a whole cart system. They might just want to put different ways to purchase something simple across the site. And that’s really what it can do pretty easily.

Chris Badgett:

What are some top things you’ve seen working for fundraising marketing? How do we make our fundraising activities go viral or just have a good chance of working and reaching maximum fundraise?

Devin Walker:

Yeah, I mean, there’s lots of ways you can do that. Most notably, like the ice bucket challenge was probably the most viral of recent memory where they really got a lot of reach. I think they raised 300 plus million dollars throughout the life span of that campaign.

Chris Badgett:

And that’s for what? I’m trying to remember, what was that for ALS.

Devin Walker:

ALS, yeah.

Chris Badgett:

Okay, yeah.

Devin Walker:

Yeah, there’s fun and silly ways like that, but also heartfelt and moving ways to show a need and try to hit that sensitivity button in folks, although increasingly our society is becoming more desensitized to a lot of that. But that being said, you can still really fundraise effectively through that. But storytelling. This is the bottom line. Tell stories, tell what you’re trying to do, whether that’s through video, I think video is a great option, but if you don’t have those resources through text and images, it’s really great. And there’s a lot of ad marketplaces I guess you could call them that will give you a nonprofit discount to try to help spread your message. Social media is a great example of where you could go for free and try to build your audience. But that’s one of the biggest challenges out of the box is getting that audience really initially if you’re just trying to get started.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that makes sense. Is there seasonality to donations that you’ve seen? Like for example, people try to maximize whatever their tax thing they want to do before the year ends. Is there anything else, or other [crosstalk 00:17:00]?

Devin Walker:

Oh yeah, this is the season, this is the season right now. If you look at the giving chart, it really Giving Tuesday was two weeks ago. Was it last week? Yeah, about two weeks ago.

Chris Badgett:

For those of you that are listening, we’re recording this in the middle of December, so we’re almost at the end of 2019. So you’re saying that … I didn’t even know there was a Giving Tuesday. Is that the first Tuesday in December or something?

Devin Walker:

It’s the Tuesday after Cyber Monday-

Chris Badgett:

Okay.

Devin Walker:

… so Black Friday and Cyber Monday and then Giving Tuesday and then Thank You Wednesday. But it really, the chart goes up towards the end of the year substantially. All donations are now given at the end of the year, in the last three months of the year.

Chris Badgett:

That’s cool. Well, what’s next for Give? Where are you guys headed?

Devin Walker:

Yeah, so right now we’re really focusing on bringing more styles of donation forms to your site and building those in a way that’s much more visual and then being able to customize that in a way that’s sort of in a like a Gutenberg esque way, like a visual building method. So that’s the first big push that we’re working on right now. And in conjunction with that, we’re revamping our reports. We’re using React to really build out the reports now. And then not only have their reports in the back end, because you’re a nonprofit, a lot of them want to display and be transparent and embed those on the front end. So you’ll have both front end and backend reports, which will be a really cool feature.

Chris Badgett:

That’s super cool. And that transparency thing I know is important. I was very recently looking at something to potentially do a donation towards and they had this chart of like 5% of the funds go to admin and then you could see how 95% of the money went to impact the cause. Because that’s always a question mark in the donor’s mind of like, “Well how efficient are these people being with my money? What’s they’re actually going to do?”

Devin Walker:

Absolutely. Yeah, there’s sites like Charity Navigator, which will actually break that down even further and give you a grade based on how efficient you are with your funds.

Chris Badgett:

Oh that’s super cool. And could you explain what Charity Navigator is? Is that to help you find a cause kind of thing? Is that what that means?

Devin Walker:

Yeah, it helps you find a cause but they also, like you said they use tax returns and different government public information to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of what you do with the funds you receive. Like it will break down how much the CEO gets, it’ll break down the lot of the executive teams pay and then we’ll also kind of rate you over time.

Chris Badgett:

Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, the transparency is critical. Well Devin, I want to thank you for coming onto the show. Devin Walker, he’s at GiveWP.com and if you have a course site and you want to add donation capabilities or you’re building these types of sites for clients, check out, GiveWP.com. Any final words for the people, Devin?

Devin Walker:

No, just saying thanks for having me, because this is really great and I love your product. And if anybody has any questions specific on integrating our product with Lifter, then we’re always available. Just ping us on social media, join our Facebook group, or DM us on Twitter. It’s all the people there, so thanks a lot.

Chris Badgett:

Awesome. Thanks, Devin.

And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

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