Don’t Trust Credit Card Processors to be Experts on Your Givers

Don’t Make Financial Decisions Based on Wrong Assumptions

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This is part 4 of 4 in a series called 4 Common (and False) Assumptions About Online Giving. We examine some potentially harmful assumptions you might be making about your potential givers.

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With tithing rates at an all-time low in the US—even lower than during the Great Depression, we’re told—everyone has a theory about how to grow giving. But it’s clear that no one has a silver bullet for getting your 80% to tithe consistently …

… least of all credit card processors.

Here’s why the credit card processor your online giving system uses matters.



To keep donations and purchases safe, every digital transaction must go through a payment card processor that has met the rigorous Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in 12 complex areas.

It’s not a simple one-time audit of the technology; organizations must maintain compliance for a certain period of time and continuously track and monitor critical changes. There are 4 levels of compliance, corresponding to the volume of transactions processed, with Level 1 representing the highest number of transactions (6+ million annually). (Source)

This is clearly not something churches can do on their own, but what you might not know is that it’s also a challenge for online giving providers.

Most church giving platform providers can’t make the sizeable investment it takes to meet these technology requirements and become their own payment processor.< So they use third-party credit card processors to transact the gifts your church receives.

That sounds good … your givers are protected … that’s all that matters, right?



The relationship between online giving platforms and payment processing can be difficult for churches to decipher. That murky space allows for misinformation, hidden practices and some fine print that churches may come to regret.

There are a few traps churches can fall into:

Redirecting your givers away from your website

According to PCI standards, the security of the gift is only guaranteed on the credit card processor’s site, not the church’s, where the gift is started. So your givers must be redirected to the payment processor’s site to complete their gifts, which is unsettling to them.

Some online donation platform providers may bolt on a level of PCI-compliance that allows them to process gifts (or a payment processor may bolt on an egiving solution). However, your giver will still be taken away from your website to the payment processor’s site.

Bottom Line:  Redirecting your givers away from your site is a sign of a less robust online giving platform. Vision2’s patented technology builds trust by keeping them on your website.

Loss of ownership of your giving data and the relationship with your givers

Some online giving platform + payment processor structures claim ownership of your gift data, your givers, or both. 

If the organization owns your givers, you will never be able to retrieve their information without getting every single giver’s permission. (As you can imagine, asking givers about this would be VERY confusing to them—and risky for your relationship with them.)

Bottom Line: Failure to own their own giving data can keep churches trapped into a relationship with an online donation software … forever. With Vision2, your data is your data.

Free advertising for another company, paid for by your church!

PCI compliance requires the payment processor’s branding to be shown on your website and on all communications with the giver. Essentially, you’re advertising for a third-party and paying for the privilege to do so.

Bottom Line: Third-party payment processors get the last word with your givers. Vision2 operates invisibly.



Vision2 (both our donation software and our business) are structured to operate in a completely different way than every other giving software vendor.

Vision2 is an online giving platform AND a payment processor.

We made the significant investment to become Level 1 PCI-compliant (we’ve transacted over one billion dollars for churches!). Our compliance allows your givers to stay on your website to complete their gifts and receive communications only from the church. 

We formed a unique relationship with the bank that allows us to process large gifts (no giving amount limits) and a large volume of gifts (no velocity limits), and avoid delays in transferring your funds. It’s in our best interest to get your funds to you as quickly as possible.

Our patented technology allows us to manage the full lifecycle of every donation. We manage test files with the bank and update your ChMS, even with NSFs. Everything is automated and balances to the penny. No other vendor has this level of two-way connection and data transfer with churches, or our level of integration with your bank.

With Vision2:

  • Your givers stay on your site to complete their gifts
  • Your givers can complete their gift as a guest; they aren’t required to create an account
  • Your givers can give any size gift
  • The church receives funds within 1 day, in most cases
  • There’s no limit to the number of gifts you can accept at any one time
  • Every step of every donation (cash and checks included) is automated

Bigger is not always better. Better is better.

You wouldn’t go to a lawyer for medical advice. So why would you give away an ideal opportunity to engage with givers the way you do in person … to a credit card payment processor?