Accepting online donations is quickly becoming required for churches and ministries in order to remain relevant to their constituents. However, the truth is, accepting electronic payments for donations, merchandise, or events can open the door to other issues such as chargebacks.
As a church or ministry, you may think that incurring chargebacks will not apply to you. Individuals go to your website and make a donation to support your cause, why would they later dispute this charge? Well believe it or not, this can occur. Here are a few practical things you can do to alleviate potential chargebacks.
Who are you?
More often than not, the transaction was not fraudulent; the cardholder simply did not recognize the charge when it hit their statement. Make sure that the name that displays on your constituent’s statements is what they know your organization as. For example, if your name is First Baptist Church of the Northwest, yet you market to the public as FBCNW, then make sure FBCNW is what will display on their statements.
Although, these subtle differences in names or abbreviations may seem self-explanatory to you, they many not to your donor base, especially a newer donor. This can result in them questioning the charge when they see it on their statement, thus issuing a chargeback.
If you are like me, then your spouse has access to your credit card too and often makes purchases unrecognizable to you. When a charge looks questionable for any reason, many will complete a quick Google search to see if they can determine where the funds were spent. If they arrive at a website that they do not recognize with no contact information listed, they’ll begin to question the authenticity of the charge. We recommend including a contact page which includes the name and the phone number that is listed on the accountholder’s statement.
Most cardholders do not simply issue a chargeback, many will first call the number that either displays on their statement next to the charge they are questioning, or the number that is provided to them by their issuing bank. For this reason, it is advised that your organization have a customer service number dedicated to your organization. That way, when a cardholder calls it is answered as the name of your church or ministry.
Phone numbers that are answered without a formal greeting leave cardholders feeling confused and suspicious, often resulting in a hang up and subsequent chargeback. If you do not know what number displays on your members’ statements, call your Relationship Manager to confirm.
Signatures, who needs signatures?
When accepting payment for merchandise sales, auction items, registrations, or any other type of in-person transaction, obtaining a cardholder signature is required on sales that exceed $25.00. Often, ministries and churches are not concerned with chargebacks occurring in this fashion and will not require a signature at the time of the transaction. This is a business practice that makes a lot of sense given the nature of transactions being conducted. While it is acceptable to do this, understand that in the event of a chargeback, you will be unable to successfully dispute the case.
To summarize, be aware of how you are marketing to your donor base – make sure that the names that appear to them on your website and communications are consistent with what shows on their statements. Include a contact page on your website. Designate a phone number for your organization – then include a formal greeting when answering the phone and on your outgoing message system. Obtain a signature on all physically swiped transactions at the point of sale if the sale exceeds $25. If you are uncertain of what is displayed on your patrons statements, plesae contact your Relationship Manager so they can confirm and make any necessary updates. Chargebacks are a possibility regardless of what types of business is being conducted, but can often be alleviated by taking a few, easy-to-implement precautions.