Give: A New Free Donations Plugin for WordPress

give-plugin

The new Give WordPress plugin launched this week on WordPress.org. As far as donation plugins go, this one is making a big splash with its 0% commission charge approach. Any site using the plugin can collect 100% of the donations given, as opposed to online donation sites that generally keep a portion of funds raised.

Give aims to “Democratize Generosity,” a nod to the mission of WordPress. The plugin was created to empower causes and non-profits with the ability to host their own donation forms, easily manage reporting and customize emails directly within the WordPress admin.

Give supports the creation of flexible forms, so that you can accept payments of different amounts or allow users to set a custom amount. Developers can also easily add custom form fields.

give-plugin-screenshot

The plugin is built by the folks behind WordImpress. Co-founder Matt Cromwell said that they naturally fell into the donations niche after many frustrating experiences supporting non-profits without donation-specific tools.

“Devin and I both worked with non-profits before WordImpress and struggled with donations every time,” Cromwell said. “One client we still serve manages donations with a mess of WooCommerce/Donation Extensions/Subscription Extension/QuickCheckout. Small bugs in one make the whole thing break down. Plus, you don’t get good reporting on total donations, or donations per donor, and you have to tweak the language strings everywhere.”

Despite a plethora of donation plugins on WordPress.org and donation features integrated into some of the major e-commerce options, the Give team saw an opportunity for a more solid, streamlined approach for collecting and managing donations.

“We felt like this was a space that really needed a robust – but best practices – solution, and Woo and EDD and GForms were just not made for this purpose,” Cromwell said.

Adopting the Freemium Model: Free Core Plugin + Commercial Extensions

The team behind Give hopes to monetize the plugin by selling add-ons, the same model used successfully by Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce, and other products. Creating a free core product with commercial extensions is becoming an increasingly more popular way of making a business out of developing open source software.

The core plugin currently supports offline payments and the PayPal Standard payment gateway. Commercial add-ons are available for others, including Stripe, WePay, Authorize.net, Paymill, and PayPal Pro. Offline payments can be useful for sites that are taking registration at events or for people who would prefer to mail a check.

The Give plugin actually borrows a good deal of its code base from Easy Digital Downloads (EDD) and its gateways, which gave the team a bit of a head start. Trimming it down and writing donation-specific code for the core and gateways was the bulk of the effort.

“All together, development of the core plugin, current add-ons, and the website has taken Devin and I roughly 6 months,” Cromwell said. “Of course that’s while maintaining our current sales and support of our existing products and initiating a few other new avenues we’re headed into (specifically themes).”

The Give plugin team plans to create themes for non-profits that will work seamlessly with the Give plugin. “Themes are a great market, but we want to make sure we do it right, so we’re taking our time there,” he said.

Cromwell reports that sales for the add-ons have been slow so far, and WordPress.org shows less than 10 active installations using the plugin. The team is hopeful that the core plugin will gain more users and that in the future they will be able to transition Give development and support into more of a full-time effort.

“We believe it will take off well,” Cromwell said. “We think of our business as setting up ‘tent poles’. For WordImpress, QuickCheckout has been our best tent pole. But now we’re hoping that Give will become the biggest tent pole that helps raise all others. It’s another piece of our brand that we’re really proud of.”

The team behind Give partnered with Girl Develop It to support women interested in learning how to code. If you want to see how the plugin works, check out the live demo built to support their partnership. There you can see different variations of the forms and custom form fields in action. Give is available for download on both WordPress.org and GitHub.

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13 Comments


  1. I was just looking for a donation system for a site that I am working on. I’ll try out Give and see how it goes. Looks promising.

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  2. Wow.. I am also working on a Non-Profit (501c) site and was about to start hacking Contact form 7 to give donation through Paypal. Cant wait to try this out. When will it be out of Beta?

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  3. Seems like a great plugin. Do you have tutorial how to create Payment Gateway for it?

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    1. Hey Sami – Not yet. But soon. If you’re looking to create a payment gateway Add-on we can provide you with all our current gateways to fork from. You’ll be able to see how each works specific to each gateway and the plugin core. Feel free to reach out to us @wordimpress or @givewp.

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  4. The “freemium” model alone should be warning enough to avoid this. Anyway, there are already a number of excellent options for accepting donations on WordPress sites (e.g., Gravity Forms + Stripe).

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    1. What is problematic about the freemium model (which actually has several iterations and isn’t just one thing really)? Should users avoid EDD and WooCommerce as well? What monetization model would you NOT avoid?

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      1. My comment was (perhaps too) elliptical: A freemium model wherein the development firm releases an intentionally crippled version of a product (e.g., shipping with only one gateway [and one which many organizations avoid for various reasons]) and then sells ‘premium’ addons to enable functionality that should have been part of the core is extremely objectionable. From what I’ve seen of EDD, I would have some of the same objections to their model (e.g., charging for the Stripe gateway which is an order of magnitude easier to implement and at least that much friendlier than PayPal), though I have no active projects using the plugin so my familiarity with it is limited. As for WooCommerce, it’s a somewhat different situation as they are maintaining a market wherein third-party developers can sell addons, which makes it less directly comparable to Give and EDD.

        Naturally, developers have to find a revenue model that will keep their businesses afloat, but there is something decidedly unsavoury about building a functional product and then removing bits of it to sell back to users at a premium. It would be like selling a car, and then telling the buyer to drive with a pair of pliers; of course, if the buyer would prefer, you would be willing to sell a shiny, new steering wheel (the only fully compatible model, of course) for the low, low price of $15,000. Freemium models which depend on a crippled core cross this (perhaps not so) fine line.

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      2. No. Give is not crippled (neither is EDD). The free Give plugin is fully capable of accepting donations both with PayPal Standard and offline donations. But the most important part which distinguishes Give from other solutions is the reporting both per form and per donor, and exporting of reports by date range, both as CSV or PDF. All of the various form field modes are also available, and we have several new free features planned like Donor profiles in the backend, anonymous donations, and more. All of those features, plus a shortcode generator and widget and templating and more are all in the Core free Give plugin. You should download it to see how fully-featured it is.

        The essence of a freemium plugin is of course that it must be fully functional — as Give and EDD both are. But it is also a balancing act to make sure the Core plugin is as lean and focused as possible, while still robust. Give provides robust reporting in ways neither Woo nor Gravity Forms can do. PayPal Standard is the most accessible and widely used of payment gateways which makes it very relevant to smaller non-profits. Offline donations is also part of the Core of Give and is also very useful for non-profits. Plus, we’re in 0.8 beta, which means there’s still a lot of room for growth and added features to the free Core.

        If you have a need to implement a donation solution for a non-profit that you’re working with, feel free to contact us. We’d be happy to help see how Give might suit your needs.

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      3. I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of how plugins are written. For one, why do you believe that every payment gateway was developed in the core plugin and then “stripped away”? And I’m not sure why you feel that the plugin should include all these extra payment gateways to give you the options.

        And FYI, although there are more paid plugins/extensions with Woocommerce, they do the exact same thing by only offering Paypal Standard and charging for each additional payment gateway. I’m not sure why Woocommerce could be considered different in any way. Is it just that they invite other developers to also sell plugins?

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  5. Hey Matt and Devin, congrats on the great looking plugin! Looking forward to getting my hands on it and playing around with it. As a TA to some Girl Develop It WordPress classes here in Philly, I’m very happy to see you partnered with them on this!

    Great job!

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  6. Looks good sad it has not been translated to many languages yet and i am too lazy to translate the almost 1100 strings.

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    1. Hopefully soon our plugin will be selected to be translated by WordPress.org community volunteers! We’re working on translating it into more languages. :)

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