I added donation pages to each of the 15 sites on the WordPress multisite I manage, which is a huge upgrade for each of these inner-city elementary schools. It was a *mostly* straightforward upgrade, with each site linked to its own gateway and merchant accounts allowing for transactions to deposit directly to their own individual bank accounts. This is a huge help for the accounting department which previously had to flag transactions in PayPal then manually deposit funds into the individual school accounts. Here’s how it all went down….

  • The finance lead negotiated directly with the bank which had relationships with its own merchant account providers. This had two huge benefits — a dramatically lower rate and streamlined flow of funds from the site to the school bank accounts.
  • With individual merchant accounts for each school, the choice for a payment gateway was super easy — Authorize.netallows for a bring your own merchant solution. Our merchant account provider was able to negotiate a substantial discount on monthly fees and per transaction rates because of the volume of our accounts, saving thousands yearly.
  • GravityForms integrates seamlessly with Authorize.net and supports multisite installs. Install once at the network level, then you can set up each account for each site. Login to each account to create the API and login keys, then add them to the correct site.

Challenges

  • For each of the sites in the multisite install, there was an individual Authorize.net account, linked to the school bank account. To make it easy to keep track of, I created an excel spreadsheet with tabs for each school with the VAR information provided by the merchant services provider, bank account and login info.
  • Once merchant accounts were set up, they had to be linked to Authorize.net which required the VAR information to be sent to Authroize.net. Asking customer service to be connected with our account rep was a helpful move here — the rep set up all the accounts at one time, rather than having to log in to each account to create a request.
  • With a bring your own merchant solution, I was required to have the sites reviewed by an outside underwriting team. For my sites, this required dummy forms being put up live, so they could be reviewed, then taken down. The forms were not required to process a transaction — here the underwriters were looking for the SLL certificate display and the privacy statement to be in place for each site.

Overall, the most challenging part, aside from keeping 15 accounts straight, was the linkup between the Authorize.net and the merchant provider. But the challenges were well worth the effort as they will provide each site the ability to process more transactions online than just donations, which will create an easier workflow in the future for all team members — fundraising, accounting and web design.