8 Tips to Help Clear Up Confusion Around the Pending Mastercard Regulations
Editor's Note: Mastercard has updated its regulations again. Read our latest coverage here.
If you’re tired of reading about the new Mastercard regulations, you’re probably not alone.
A great thank you to The Nonprofit Alliance that helped get the extension to March 21, 2023 and clarified that nonprofits do not need to send postal receipts if they do not have a donor’s email address. But there was still a ton of unclarity.
Fundraise Up hosted a webinar where Mastercard officials clarified the new rules on Sept. 7, so here is a recap of what Mastercard clarified about its rules, along with my thoughts on each point:
1. The key reason for the new rules was more transparency for recurring donors. Frankly, that’s never a bad thing. The donors make a big commitment, so make it easy for them to contact you and manage their recurring gifts.
2. The new rules only apply to Mastercard. However, if you’re not sure which card your donor is using, you’ll be safer to implement them for all your recurring gifts via credit cards.
3. You do not need a donor portal. You must have a clear link to a web page where the donor can find out how to manage their recurring gift. This could include an email address, phone number or a form to complete in order to adjust or cancel their recurring gift. This needs to be clearly displayed when the donor signs up and a link to this information needs to be included in every receipt.
4. Your form must make it absolutely clear that the donor is making a recurring gift every step of the process. You need to especially tread very lightly and be careful with preselecting monthly gifts on your one-time donation page. Remember, it’s all about the donor experience.
5. You need to send an email or text receipt after every payment is processed. The recommendation is to send it within a few days of billing.
Note, that you do not need to use the word “cancel” in your monthly billing receipt. You can use the phrase “manage your gift,” which I always recommend as a better approach. It gives the donor a better feeling of control.
Here are the examples Mastercard provided:
- “Thank you for your generous monthly donation of $10! Your Mastercard was successfully billed on Sept. 1, 2022. For instructions on how to manage your account, or to stop receiving these alerts, click here.”
- “Here’s how we’re going to use your donation this month” followed by an example of the charity’s recent initiatives, creating a connection between the donation and the work the charity does.
- “Would you please consider giving more? By increasing your monthly donation by $5, here’s what we would do with the incremental funding,” followed by an example of the charity’s recent goals/aspirations and what they are applying their donation toward.
6. Donors can opt out of receiving those receipts. However, the default must be that they receive them until they opt out.
7. You will need to send a pre-announcement email for yearly recurring gifts (or anything occurring every six months or less frequently). You do not need to send a pre-announcement email for monthly or quarterly recurring gifts.
8. You do not need to send these receipts retroactively — just moving forward after implementation.
Your payment platform or donor database should be working toward having this all ready to go by March 21, 2023. So, reach out to your provider as soon as you can and then check your receipts to see what has to change. I know that you’re always thinking about giving the donor the best recurring giving experience.
Nonprofits unable to meet all the requirements by March 21, 2023 can request a variance from their bank to get an extension, Jonathan Trivelas, vice president of brand performance at Mastercard, said in the webinar. Mastercard can enforce assessment fees for violating any of its rules, however, its goal is to work with nonprofits and their banks to ensure they’re in compliance or working toward compliance with an action plan.
“We’re not out here to try to fine people and to assess them,” he said. “Really what we want to do is work with you so you can meet those goals.”
After this process, I am hopeful that payment providers know the importance of communicating with fundraisers like you to ensure that you will continue to be as transparent as possible and give your recurring donors the best experience.
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.