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How a recurring donation is processed

You can accept monthly donations from your donors through your website. These transactions must be handled by a payment processor that supports recurring subscriptions, and each processor handles recurring subscriptions slightly differently.

If you are using a third-party payment processor, you can give your donors the option to pay in installments. Installments are processed like monthly payments, but have a set end date. All existing installment plans in your database are listed under Finances > More > Installment plans. If you are interested in using this functionality, please first review the issues on our radar.

If you own multiple nations, we do not recommend using the same third-party payment processor across accounts. If you do so, you risk tracking all recurring payments (regardless of origin) in every account. Further, if you have existing subscription payments in your PayPal account specifically, it is expected that upcoming payments will be integrated into NationBuilder. By contrast, you can safely enable NationBuilder’s integrated payment processing in multiple nations without fear of crossover.

NationBuilder payment processing
NationBuilder securely sends credit card information to our payment service provider for validation. Once the transaction is successfully validated, the donor’s credit card is charged for the initial payment. The same amount of the initial payment is charged to the donor’s credit card on a monthly basis starting on the date of the initial payment. An autoresponse receipt can be sent to the donor for each recurring payment (based off of the donation page settings).

Third-party payment processing

PayPal Express validates and charges the donor's credit card for the initial payment before attempting to set up recurring payments. Even though these actions are completed separately, both the initial payment and subsequent payments will be included as part of the recurring subscription in your records on PayPal and within your control panel. Remember that a donor must complete her monthly donation on PayPal's website when using PayPal Express.

With PayPal Payflow Pro and, your nation communicates twice to set up a monthly donation. First, we ask the processor to authorize the initial payment. When we receive a successful response, we ask the processor to setup a recurring subscription and charge the initial payment.

Keep in mind that the transactions are handled differently by each provider after the initial payment is communicated from your control panel. does not associate the initial payment as part of the recurring subscription. Therefore, if you login to and look up a particular monthly donation, the initial payment will not be listed. Instead, it will be listed as a separate transaction.

On the other hand, using PayPal Payflow Pro, the initial payment and subsequent payments will be listed as part of the monthly donation both on PayPal's website and in your control panel. Within your nation's control panel, all payments will be listed as part of the monthly donation.