The right POS for your nonprofit - man standing behind restaurant counter and POS terminal

The right POS for your Non-Profit

Sunday, December 07, 2014



Enhancing nonprofit organization operations with a point-of-sale system

Like small businesses or larger corporations, nonprofits depend on income to achieve organizational goals. The primary difference is that nonprofits are often mission focused, serving the community for a greater good. As such, nonprofits can equally benefit from POS systems and POS software that bring value to how a nonprofit can effectively work towards larger organizational goals.

The right POS solution will simplify the workflows at your nonprofit so that you can focus on what matters most: your mission and priorities. This article will outline the use of point of sale solutions, including point of sale software, within the context of nonprofit organizations. Additionally, this article will cover the benefits of adding these systems into your company and the specific functions and features to look for when determining the best POS option for your nonprofit.

What is a POS used for in a nonprofit organization

POS systems offer a variety of purposes and functions for nonprofit organizations. The advantage to upgrading to a POS system from manual processes is that you can save time and decide how you would like the POS to support your overall business operations.

As you consider various factors for using a POS at your nonprofit, you may want to think through the features you will need, the pricing that fits your budgetary guidelines, and the data you would like to capture in real-time. The major ways that POS solutions are used for nonprofit processes and operations are listed below:

Payment processing:

POS systems can function as a payment processor and payment processing solution for your organization. Whether handling transactions through credit card payments, Apple Pay, or debit cards, the POS can complete the payment as a virtual terminal for your company. Moreover, the POS system can handle and store a donor's financial information on the backend whenever a transaction and checkout takes place (donation, registering for an event, ticketing, or purchasing merchandise). POS systems include hardware and software elements, so your organization may also benefit from the addition of a card reader that can function remotely at events, galas, or fundraising initiatives.

Can run on a variety of hardware options:

Whether your organization prioritizes e-commerce platforms as a way to generate revenue through a web browser or your organization prefers to accept payments face-to-face, POS systems are customizable and can function on a variety of hardware options. Employees of your organization can operate the POS system from an iPad, a mobile device, or a computer, depending on your company's preferences.

Accounting integration:

Another POS feature that may benefit nonprofit organizations is the capability for POS systems to integrate with accounting software, such as Quickbooks online. When fundraising, budgeting, and accounting systems interact, nonprofits can better analyze quarterly performance and determine the organization's financial needs over more extended periods.

Inventory management:

If your nonprofit maintains inventory (for example, a gift shop at a museum), your POS can help monitor inventory on hand for optimal customer experiences. As a nonprofit leader, you can know what stock you have available in real-time and maintain regular orders depending on customer demand.


Perhaps the biggest advantage of adopting a POS system at your nonprofit is the integration opportunity for customer relationship management (CRM) software. CRM software can manage all aspects of donor relations, including past donations, communications settings, donor levels, and particular donor information (such as birthdays, addresses, etc.) Having a CRM to support fundraising efforts is key to setting fundraising strategies and marketing initiatives. For some nonprofits, like libraries, a CRM system within a POS can also enable loyalty programs and recognition for members and regular donors.

How does a POS work

A POS system for nonprofits is especially critical to capture the donation trends and patterns for the organization's network of donors. Donations are t nonprofits' livelihoods, so having a streamlined option for donor tracking is essential.

The donation process from start to finish includes interactions with the donor, merchant services, payment processing checkpoints, and the bank account of the nonprofit. The steps of the POS process for a donation are outlined here:

  • The donor makes a donation. The donation may come through credit card processing or other means that the organization offers. Donor data is gathered and tracked by the POS system.
  • Information goes to the payment gateway. Upon completion of the transaction, the essential information of the donation is sent to a payment gateway. A payment gateway is provided by an e-commerce application service provider and is able to confirm processing for virtual payments that run through banking systems.
  • The donation is sent to a merchant account. Once the payment gateway authorizes the transaction, the funds are sent to a merchant account. A merchant account is a type of bank account established to support the movement of funds from the payment source to the acquiring bank.
  • Donor info goes into the database. As the payment prepares to enter the nonprofit bank account, the POS and CRM system captures the essential aspects of the donor information for ongoing relationship development. This data would include the name of the donor, the address associated with the donor, a phone number for the account, and an email that is associated with the donor as well.
  • Funds are deposited into a nonprofit account. The final step for POS payment processing is for the funds to arrive at the bank account of the nonprofit organization. At this point, the payment has been fully processed and approved for use by the nonprofit.

Benefits of a strong POS system

With the growth of technological innovation, there has been an increase of benefits in implementing and adopting a POS system at your nonprofit organization. Of the many benefits and advantages of taking this step at your company, the most important are listed below.

  • Safely process donations. POS systems include encryption and security features that older systems cannot offer. This is even more important for donors who may be donating large amounts of money and want their information to be protected.
  • Streamline transaction processes. The automation of POS systems allows for quick and easy transaction processes for donors and nonprofit employees. With just a click of the button, a donation can be made, processed, and support your organization's overall mission. Most importantly, this saves time for your employees, allowing you to focus on other aspects of operational efficiency.
  • Capture donor information. As noted, the most important donor information can be accessed and stored for future use. The ability to process and utilize this information helps build connections to donors over longer periods of time for increased sustainability at your business.
  • Additional fundraising features. POS systems for nonprofits can offer nonprofit specific features that benefit and streamline your operations. For example, your POS will generate regular reports to track donor trends and possible marketing options for future strategic initiatives.
  • Retain more donors. POS systems enable payment and donation transactions to include recurring payment options. With this feature, donors can choose to become regular donors, meaning that they are committing to long-term support of your organization. Recurring payments open the door for donor retention so that your fundraising base expands and the visibility of your nonprofit organization increases.

What to look for in a POS for use in a nonprofit organization

As you become ready to add a POS to your organization and workflows, there are key considerations for you to be mindful of as you begin your search. There are many POS solutions for nonprofits on the market and so finding the right fit will depend significantly on your goals, needs, and hopes with a POS system for your organization.

  • Consider the POS process and organization needs: As you begin the exploration process, you may want to think about your organization's specific needs and the most significant priorities in adding this form of technology. Perhaps reporting is the most important or ease of payment processing. Whatever it may be, use the top priorities as a guide to finding the right POS solution.
  • Establish goals for software and budget available: Reference your organization's budget and see what is financially feasible. Having a budgetary range allows you to determine the essentials you want in a system and the other features that you may feel more inclined to add later. This way, when looking at various POS systems, you can know what POS option aligns with function and affordability.
  • Seek advice and testimonials from other organizations: Consider connecting with other nonprofit organizations and hearing what products, software, and hardware have worked well for their operations. Word of mouth is sometimes the best way to learn about the effectiveness of product options.
  • Ease of use (especially on the user end): The availability of customer support may be an important need for your nonprofit. Some POS options may include additional training and user support that will enhance the adoption at your organization. This way, employees can reach out to customer support if they need any guidance with troubleshooting and learning all aspects of using the POS system.
  • Capabilities and additional features: Consider any additional perks or functions that you want your POS to offer. The best POS meets the exact operational needs of your organization. Additional features or capabilities include scheduling options, guest management features, email marketing, and email tracking options, and sales reporting in real-time.
  • Reliability: Consider exploring POS systems that follow Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance measures so that transaction security is the highest possible. When it comes to fundraising, you want to make sure that your POS can be relied upon in any type of transaction process, issuing out accurate data and providing intuitive reporting so that you can continue to make the best decisions for your company.

Moreover, if your POS system is reliable, it can also be scalable as your fundraising base grows and your nonprofit generates more visibility.

Are you ready to find the right POS system solution for your nonprofit to support your mission, vision, and values?

Heartland is ready to help. Heartland helps nearly 1,000,000 entrepreneurs make and move money, manage employees and engage customers with human-centered technology solutions that allow them to rise above the daily grind and lead their businesses into a brighter future. Learn more at