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Is iATS a Good Choice for Your Online Payments?


As tempting as it is to think of nonprofits as operating entirely on goodwill and passion, we all know that financial resources are a main driver behind all of the good organizations accomplish. Donations, membership fees, merch sales, and events make organizations grow, and so nonprofit payment solutions are an important piece of nonprofit management. When shopping around for a payment processor, you may see the term "iATS payments" come up. But what exactly is iATS, and how does it compare to other payment solutions?

iATS is designed specifically for nonprofits, so there is a lot to say about it. If it is not on your list yet, maybe it should be. Let’s break down some of the basics for you so that you can make the best decision for your organization. 

Let’s go!


What is iATS?

iATS is the acronym for International Automated Transaction Services, and it is an integrated payment processing company created specifically for nonprofits. Started in the 1990s, iATS partners with organizations all over the world to help forward their missions. Because of their exclusive focus on the nonprofit sector, their support team is extremely knowledgeable in the policies and specific needs of the nonprofit organization. 


Services Offered

Now that you have any idea of what iATS is, let’s take a closer look at some of the services offered with this payment processing solution:

Direct Deposits. ACH payments can be processed with iATS, along with credit card payments. These direct deposits are preferable to credit cards for a couple of reasons; transaction fees are significantly lower, and bank accounts do not change nearly as often as credit cards do. 

International Processing. If your organization has members or donors on a global scale, this presents no problems for iATS. This system is set up to process international payments. Even if you are not currently working internationally, it is a good thing to keep in mind to accommodate future growth. 

Customer Portal. This account page allows you to see everything that is happening with your organization’s payments and donations. Because iATS has been working exclusively with nonprofits for over 20 years, they have a good idea of what metrics and information are most useful to share with their clients. 

Advanced Fraud Prevention. Protecting yourselves and your members and donors against fraud is key. iATS offers the highest level of PCI compliance along with a number of fraud prevention measures to keep your donations secure. In addition, if a fraudulent charge is ever detected, iATS will contact your organization directly rather than freeze your account. 

iats-payments-servicesCorinne is intrigued with the services iATS offers.

Integrations via API Keys. Thanks to the fact that iATS was created with nonprofits in mind, and has fairly low processing fees, there are several donation platforms designed to integrate with their system. It’s essential to have your payment processor work with your donor database as well as other tools for scaling purposes. Here is a list of some of the integrations for iATS:

  • OneCause

  • SalesForce

  • Click&Pledge

  • cloudStack

  • DonationPay

  • CauseView

  • Maestro


Pros of Using iATS

iATS has been able to capture exactly what nonprofits need to not only subsist, but thrive - the positive reviews this platform regularly garners certainly suggest so. Let’s take a deeper look at the features iATS provides.

The Capacity to Set up Recurring Donations

iATS has PCI Level 1 compliance (the highest available), which means that they are able to store encrypted credit card info and charge on a recurring basis. Setting up a payment plan for donors that deducts donations weekly, monthly, or quarterly goes a long way to ensuring that your cash flow remains consistent. 

Pro Tip: iATS can help you process ACH payments. ACH payments are huge in the nonprofit industry; they involve only one middleman, the Automated Clearing House, which means that a greater percentage of donations made to you go directly to you. ACH payments really are best suited to donations, as opposed to merchandise sales or even membership fees, because they require you to garner a customer’s bank account information in order to complete a transaction. They are definitely applicable to relationships with long-term clients. Nonetheless, the result of utilizing ACH payments is a potential increase in funds for your nonprofit, and with this feature built into iATS’ interface, you do not have to worry about finding it elsewhere.

Detailed Reporting

Each transaction includes the name of the credit card holder, so you will have the contact information of the donor or member on record. 

No Hidden Fees

There are no setup or gateway fees with iATS payments. A flat monthly rate and transparent prices mean that you know exactly what you are going to pay, with no surprises on your invoices.  

Mobile App 

For payments and donations on the go (at events and fundraisers for example), the mobile app offers a convenient way to process payments right on your phone. 

High Level of Customization 

Because they understand the nature of nonprofits, iATS payments are able to work with individual organizations to create a customized service plan that matches the specific needs and policies of the nonprofit. 


Cons of Using iATS

While there are a lot of great benefits, there are also a few potential disadvantages to working with iATS. Here are a few things to keep in mind when making your decision. 

Fewer Available Features 

There are a couple of features that iATS is missing when it comes to a comprehensive payment processing solution. For one thing, it does not have the capability to send invoices. This may not be a problem for some nonprofits, but it certainly can be for donation-heavy organizations that prefer to send tax receipts along with their invoices.

iats-payments-consAnthony is taking notes on the pros and cons of iATS

Also, iATS does not offer a full menu of generated reports. You can access a couple of specific transaction reports and a reconciliation report, but other payment processors can offer a wider variety of data points for your organization to work with. 

Fees Can Be High

While the fees are not unreasonably high, when you compare iATS to some other nonprofit payment processors, you will find that they do not have the lowest rates available. More on this later.

Some Gaps in Customer Support

While iATS services offers an automated support portal that has a response time of 24 hours or less, this does not match the strong customer service that some other card processors offer. 

Pro Tip: Having high-quality support when dealing with payments and any potential refunds should be one of your nonprofit’s highest priorities. Having immediate, live agent support ensures that you can tackle any error codes or messages you come across as soon as they occur. It also ensures that you can access your account if you ever get locked out of it for some reason, so you can continue to help your nonprofit grow.


Rates and Fees

iATS payments offer credit card processing rates between 2.49% and 3.2%, depending on the card type. ACH processing costs a flat fee of $0.26 per transaction. However, they do not charge set-up fees, and they do not have any hidden fees or charges. Transparency is a key organizational value for this company. Next, we will take a look at how these costs and benefits offered by iATS compare to the fees and features of other nonprofit payment processors. 


How Does iATS Compare?

When comparing simple seamless transaction processing products, it is important to not only look at pricing and fees, but also website reviews, services and features, and what type of options your nonprofit organization offers for transactions. That being said, let’s break down a few of the top contenders in the nonprofit payment processing arena so you can decide which one might work best for your organization. 

Adyen iATS Payment

Fees: Adyen payment includes credit card processing between 2.49% and 3.2%, depending on the card type. ACH processing costs a flat fee of $0.26 per transaction.

What sets it apart: Allows for processing of ACH and credit cards with no set-up or hidden fees, offers solid security, and the ability to set up recurring donations.

Best for: Small established nonprofits, and mid-size to larger nonprofits. 

PayPal for Nonprofits

Fees: For most nonprofits, rates are 2.89% +$0.49 per transaction. Some eligible nonprofits can apply for a discounted rate of 1.99% + $0.49 per transaction. 

What sets it apart: The PayPal giving fund helps nonprofits reach new donors on platforms like PayPal and eBay (you must register for this program). 

Disadvantages: Is not optimized for nonprofits in the way that alternatives to PayPal for nonprofits are.

Best for: Smaller nonprofits, easy to use due to simplicity of the system, and no required contract.

Square for Nonprofits

Fees: 2.6% + $0.10 per credit card transaction, and 3.5% + $0.15 for manual transaction.

What sets it apart: Allows for nonprofits to easily take donations in person, offering a free magstripe reader compatible with Apple phones and tablets to process credit card payments anywhere. You can also opt for a Square chip reader or terminal.

Disadvantages: Fees are a bit higher than other nonprofit payment processors.

Best for: Smaller nonprofits that may not have an established website and need extra online payment support.

Stripe for Nonprofits

Fees: Stripe nonprofit fees include 2.2% + $0.30 for all credit card transactions, and 0.8% ACH transactions.

iats-payments-comparesNancy is feeling good with all her newfound knowledge on iATS!

What sets it apart: Strong international and subscription support. You can accept transactions globally and can set up recurring donations. Does not charge a fee for refunds. 

Disadvantages: You will have to pay extra for certain features (such as advanced security).

Best for: Midsize or larger nonprofits, may be a bit technical for smaller organizations that do not have strong tech support.

There are other nonprofit payment processors available out there, such as Google Pay for charities, but we were unable to find enough information to truly compare their services to the other options on this list. 


Final Thoughts 

Finding a really efficient payment processor for your organization is about more than just pinpointing nonprofit point of sale results. There are many automation tools available to maximize the impact of your mission, not to mention security features that restrict access to potential fraudsters. 

When you are shopping for your ideal payment processor, it is important to secure the greatest benefits that you can comfortably afford to pay for. This means that what you end up with may very well depend on the size and current capabilities of your organization. iATS payments gateway is a solid contender for small, established nonprofits to larger organizations with a decades-long history of supporting the specific needs of nonprofits. 


Springly is trusted by over 20,000 nonprofits to help them run their organizations on a daily basis. Try it, test it, love it with a 14-day free trial!


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