Four Back-end Musts for EFT
Electronic funds transfer, defined simply, is a paperless payment option that allows nonprofit organizations to transfer donated funds from a donor’s bank account directly into its own. It is a no-brainer when it comes to sustainer or monthly giving programs, as it simplifies the collection of recurring payments. EFT also can be used for single and less-frequent gift giving. Beverly Kempf, president and founder of Bethesda, Md.-based Payment Solutions Inc., says that aside from the obvious benefits to the organization such as no mailing costs and less use of paper, EFT also is a cultivation tool, as donors tend to be more loyal and give more readily to subsequent appeals.
Some of the various ways organizations can get donors to sign up for EFT are by mail, by phone, online, at special events and through door-to-door solicitations. Kempf mentions four things an organization must have in place on the back end in order to facilitate EFT. You must:
1. Get your staff on board. Make sure everyone knows that EFT is an option to donors.
2. Have a solid database. EFT gifts, monthly or otherwise, need to be imported or keyed into a database every month. These donors should be flagged in some way in your database so they are easily identifiable and their giving can be tracked.
3. Set up a mechanism to make EFT payments with a bank. This is more easily done with a vendor.
4. Have an in-house program manager. This person tracks charges, manages the database and works with your EFT vendor, if using one. Kempf says it’s important for this person to be technically minded and organized, but also to have customer service skills, as he or she will have to deal with any payment discrepancies that arise.
Kempf says EFT is a true win-win for organizations and donors, especially in that it allows donors unable to make large gifts to give small gifts over a longer period of time, and thus still feel that they are a significant supporter of causes they care about.