Securing your Organization’s Website

You should get a TLS (SSL) certificate for your organization’s website if you don’t already have one. While the embedded portal to GivingTools is done over a secure connection, crackers can still perform a man-in-the-middle attack and steal donor information. Additionally, starting in July 2018, Chrome will label all sites as “Not Secure” unless you have a TLS certificate. This will be very bad for contributions when donors see a big red “Not Secure” warning on your website.

To combat this problem, we highly recommend our customers get a TLS certificate for their websites. In the past, certificates could cost an upwards of several hundred dollars per year. But since early 2016, Let’s Encrypt, a non-profit, has been providing free (really!) TLS certificates.

Your first step would be to talk to your hosting provider. Ask them if they provide free TLS certificates. Reputable providers that care about security will usually provide these for free. A list of providers that support Let’s Encrypt can be found here.

If your service provider doesn’t offer free TLS certificates, it may be possible to use Let’s Encrypt directly. We suggest you talk with your IT professional, if you have one. There are some great instructions over on their website.

If you don’t have an IT person, the third option would be to use Cloudflare. On Cloudflare’s free plan, they not only provide free TLS certificates, but they also provide free DDoS protection and many other benefits. Troy Hunt, a well-known security expert, has made a free guide on

As usual, if you have any issues setting this up, don’t hesitate to contact us by email:

New Features and Stability Enhancements

The past few weeks have been quite busy. Among other things, we have enhanced the CSV export functionality as well as redesigned our recurring gift subsystem.

Enhanced CSV Export

On your Reports page, you will see that we’ve replaced the CSV link with this fancy Export button:

Pressing the button will bring up a new Export dialog. This gives you the option to specify the payment method, mode of export, the range of dates you would like to include. Selecting the appeal can be done above the graph on the reports page.

The Mode setting may be a bit confusing, allow me to explain.


In this mode, each row in the CSV export will represent a single gift. If the gift is one-time, there will only be one row. If recurring, all installments to that gift will be consolidated into one row under the Received Events column.


This mode is probably more familiar. Here, each row in the CSV export will represent a single payment. For a one-time gift, there will only be one row (as before), but for recurring, installments will be spread out over several rows.

Redesigned Recurring Gift System

Since the launch of the GivingTools online fundraising platform 2.0, some of our customers experienced issues with recurring gifts—gifts would fail to recur, be prorated, or bill several installments at once. We dealt with this as reported, but sought a systemic solution to enhance the reliability of our system.

In the past few weeks, we’ve completely rebuilt our recurring gift system from the ground up. We’ve been monitoring the system since its launch, and we’re quite happy with the results. Not only has this new system fixed these issues, but it will also allow additional features such as:

  • The ability for second-time donors to donate without a password—this has been a major concern for many of our customers, and we hear you!
  • Being able to associate a recurring gift with a specific payment method instead requiring them to all use the same payment method.
  • Improved error reporting for card expiration and replacement.

These features will start rolling out over the next several months.

And of course, we’ve done a TON of minor enhancements and stability improvements all over the place. If you have an idea on a feature that you’d like to see, just let us know.

Manual Entry Without an Email Address

Here’s the situation:

You want to manually enter a donation you received by check—so that the donor gets a receipt and so that you can track this person’s giving.

You click the Manual Gift Entry button in your dashboard. But there’s a problem! You don’t have the donor’s email address, and the system requires a real email address! Here’s what we recommend…

Use your email address with a “+donor_name” before the @ sign. So, let’s say your email address is “” and the donor’s name is Mary Jane. Simply enter this as the email address:

As mail providers will typically forward everything from “” to “”, you are able to keep track of the donors separately in GivingTools while still sending receipts to a legitimate address! (In this case, your own.)

As you now have access to that donor’s personal account, if you ever figure out what their real email address is, you can login as the donor, go to their account, and update the email.

Transparent Embeds

Update July 2018: This post is outdated. To change the style of your forms, use the embed wizard instead.

GivingTools online giving enables you to embed forms into your website, making them look like a part of your site. To do it, you use a code snippet found in your dashboard under the Giving Form you wish to embed. That code is great for most sites, providing a scalable and attractive presentation that looks great.

However, if the background of your site is not white, the white form looks a little less native. With a little editing of the embed code, though, you can make your embedded appeal do this:

How? Simply add one of these bits of code to the end of the embed code:

  • For a opaque background (white), grey-ish text: ?style=normal (this is the default mode so `normal` isn’t required)
  • For a transparent background, white text (as demonstrated above): ?style=bg-transparent–fg-white
  • For a transparent background, black text: ?style=bg-transparent–fg-black

You would want to add “?style=bg-transparent–fg-white” to the end of the embed code GivingTools provides. For example:

<iframe id="gtEmbedFrame_1" src="" style="border:0; width:100%;"></iframe>
<script src="" integrity="sha256-kjBnXrBNDceEMg278ZjsCUEJ8VrWP2Tp158N9u7Yhdk=" crossorigin="anonymous" onload="iFrameResize({}, '#gtEmbedFrame_1');"></script>

And transparent background or not, don’t forget to snag a security certificate for the page you embed on. Get one free here.

Capital Campaign?

If you are planning a capital campaign, try out our “Campaign Pledge” appeal type. You’ll find it in your dashboard under Appeals. This appeal type enables donors to make a total pledge and then set up regular payments to fulfill it.

Interested in a robust capital campaign website? We also offer those…and we can drop your campaign pledge appeal right into a campaign website.

To learn more about why a capital campaign website may be a wise idea, visit this article.

Compatible Browsers

To ensure a secure environment, our service has built-in tools to warn users if their browser is out-of-date and provides a simple link to update it. This table shows what browsers are supported and which are not. For the most part, if your browser is younger than about five years old, you’re fine.

Landing Page Added

We’ve added a new landing page to the GivingTools online giving dashboard. Of course, you know that already as that’s probably how you found this blog entry!

For now, the landing page shows our blog plus a series of product tips (accompanied by some animations created by our talented staff). We were finding that customers (new and long-time) could sometimes use a little help discovering some of the great features that make GivingTools such an amazing platform. Our product tips help prompt folks to consider the possibilities present in our new 2.0 platform.

Over time, we may be adding additional content to the landing page, but for now, sit back and enjoy the chihuhuas…

2.0 Adjustments

We’ve been responding to customer feedback on our 2.0 platform (that’s the platform you are on right now). You may have noticed some of these changes already. They are subtle things, like:

  • Showing “Amount” in giving fields instead of “$1” as the default
  • Showing checkout options conditionally to simplify the process
  • Adding a “lost password” button within the checkout itself
  • Enabling an “Other” amount for event appeals
  • Enhanced ability to edit donor information in Accounts

There are also changes you should never notice, like an enhanced error tracking system that alerts us the instant any donor experiences an error and enables us to contact them with information and to secure the gift.

GivingTools has evolved based on the input of our customers. This platform is designed to maximize the good you can do in the world, and by helping us do our job better, you are helping hundreds of nonprofits by improving the system they use. Please do not hesitate to let us know if you think of a feature that would benefit your donors.

Spread the Word

Our per-customer profit is very low, and this, we think, is a good idea. Why? Because while we have less money to spend on advertising, happy customers tell others about us, and the word spreads. We hope that if you like our service that you will tell a friend. Consider telling fellow nonprofits or leadership at a regional or even national level. And if you are not entirely delighted with GivingTools, we want you to be. Let us know how we can do our job better.

We want every customer to be a GivingTools evangelist (because our chihuahua can’t do it all, you know?).


GivingTools is designed to accommodate a variety of processors. Our 1.0 customers are all BluePay customers. With our 2.0 platform, we opened the doors to Base Commerce, Stripe, and PayPay business standard customers as well. With all accounts, you get 0% ACH processing as well as competitive card rates from BluePay. You can also plug in an account from a supported processor if you wish. And PayPal remains an option, even if you have ACH and cards processing set up by other services. So, you can cherry-pick the services that are right for you. The extra cost to link in a non-BluePay account? Zero.

We do this stuff to maximize your online giving success. Is it a good choice for your nonprofit? Well, most of our customers stick with BluePay to keep everything under one roof, and because the rates are very good. But feel free to consider these added features, and let us know if you want to ponder what might be right for you.