Why PayPal is Bad for Political Campaigns


www.RaiseTheMoney.com is the premier software and payment platform for candidates and committees. Choosing the correct online contribution platform for your campaign is one of the most integral aspects of an online presence and raising money. President Obama surpassed $1 billion in online donations in the 2012 election cycle.  The processor you choose can make or break your campaign. If you are not collecting the correct data and correctly pushing fundraising for your campaign, your campaign will suffer. An important thing to remember when recommending payment processors to your clients is to choose one that is created for politics. This statement seems very apparent, but it needs to be stated.  Many campaigns get it wrong and choose PayPal.  PayPal is great for many things, but not for campaigns.  It’s not what they do, but, they want to do.  According to Forbes, PayPal stated last year it wants to own every online payment in the world.   Well, they have a long way to go to own the growing payment space in the political market, which at last check is pushing $10 billion.

Pay Pal had $180 billion in online transactions last year and it puzzles me why a leading company in the payment space and a major brand name cannot get political processing correct.  Recently in meetings in our nation’s capital with two major political digital design firms, I was told that campaigns that use PayPal are not serious and they will not work with candidates that use PayPal.

At first glance of PayPal’s website, it appears that obtaining a political processing account is easy;  but, the devil is in the details.  First thing PayPal wants you to do is sign up for a PayPal user account.  Although PayPal’s website makes it seem simple, the complexities associated with accessing an embed code and putting the donate button on your webpage are very misleading.  As a reference point, here is the pdf., for PayPal’s instructions for creating an account for your political campaign, (which was last updated in January 2012, by the way):
https://cms.paypal.com/cms_content/US/en_US/files/merchant/PayPal_Political_Campaigns_Get_Started_Guide.pdf.  Yes, seriously, you must read a pdf., to do this.  Contrast that link with RaiseTheMoney’s website whereby an account may be created in less than five minutes in three easy steps: https://politics.raisethemoney.com/

The Sign up Process
To create a PayPal political account, you must first create a PayPal user account and choose whether you are an individual or a business.  What?  How confusing.  It should never be this difficult.  After this, being approved for your account takes around 3 to 5 days. In contrast, RaiseTheMoney’s accounts are approved within minutes.  It is not that difficult to approve a political account.  It makes me wonder how political accounts are approved at PayPal or who is doing it.  It certainly should never take 3 to 5 days.  Our staff have been on both sides of an election: running as a candidate and working to get a candidate elected. We know the steps you must take in order to register as a candidate or PAC, so we can easily approve accounts, usually in minutes the day the account is requested.

Accessing Donate Button and Recurring Donations
The PayPal guide for political candidates lists dozens of steps that need to be performed to access simple tools. For example, to create a donate button for a campaign page, a user must follow seven “simple steps.” Seven steps to create just one button?! RaiseTheMoney gives you an embed code, a WordPress shortcode, a secure contribution link (that you can attach in email or social media outlets) and a Facebook plug-in.  No coding required. The best part about this is you can access these features through one click of a button. Oh, and if you were looking to set up recurring donations on PayPal a user must follow five additional steps just to create a “Subscribe Button.” RaiseTheMoney offers recurring donations, custom contribution amounts and enabling address field or spousal field all by simply checking or unchecking a box.  With RaiseTheMoney there are no steps to customize your form except checking/unchecking the features you want on your contribution form.  Furthermore, we allow you to add customization to your form with cutting and pasting or inserting files; and with us, a campaign can create multiple forms for multiple fundraising campaigns.  One more thing, we have all 50 states’ campaign rules pre-loaded into the platform.  Just pick your state and boom, it’s in your contribution form.  See below for PayPal’s complicated and annoying instructions for placing buttons on your campaign website.



Tracking Your Campaigns and Customization
When you have finally gone through the trouble of creating these donate buttons; how do you track the success of each fundraising campaign?  Well, you can’t.  You are not given the ability to create multiple campaigns and track where the donations came from using PayPal. To further complicate things the steps to further customize your contribution forms include adding HTML hex codes and links for color, header background color, header border color and background color. Alternatively, with RaiseTheMoney it’s very simple. You just choose “upload” for images. No HTML hex codes, HTML links for different colors. Simply pick the color from our layout or download the Developer Embed Kit to explore complete creative control on your contribution form. No hassle, no confusing elements. Oh, and say you have a problem with setting up your account with PayPal? Yep, it’s an automated service. So, you will be wasting your time calling, being on hold, being transferred to different divisions to help. Our clients know our direct office lines, emails and cell phones. They can reach us anytime if they have a problem with their account.

Contribution Reporting
Another problem: let’s say you are needing to collect data to report to the FEC or your appropriate state agency. In order to do this with PayPal the user must understand basic coding and website construction. More so, the steps are so lengthy and tedious it takes hours to do or you must spend money to hire a web design firm. And yes, you must read another pdf.,  https://cms.paypal.com/cms_content/US/en_US/files/merchant/collecting_fec_required_donor_data.pdf

Contribution Reporting

With RaiseTheMoney, two clicks of a button gives you all the data you need to file with the FEC or state agency in a convenient downloadable spreadsheet. This information isn’t just useful for reporting. You can also keep track of your big donors when it comes time to put on a fundraising event for your campaign, or send out thank you notes.  Furthermore, if your candidate uses a CRM platform we will push the donor data in real time to the software at no additional charge.  I once was a candidate that had a website and raised money online.  Additionally, I’m an attorney and have worked on numerous campaigns.  There is no way I could have done this, nor had the time using PayPal.  Additionally, I didn’t have a huge budget to hire programmers.  PayPal’s Political option is just silly.

Mobile Friendly
The main goal of a payment processor should be to minimize the number of clicks a donor must make. Thereby increasing donations. Additionally, and of equal importance, is giving the donor the ability to make a donation on their smart phone.  The simpler the steps, the more likely a donor will complete a donation. With all the steps required using PayPal, it seems as though they are taking the opposite approach. First, after clicking the donate button a candidate’s website or third-party app donors are requested to sign into a PayPal account. If you send out a fundraising email or a donor tries to donate from their mobile device, it will automatically take them to a PayPal web browser asking them to sign in to their PayPal account to donate. Your donate button is supposed to be a way for you to correctly brand your campaign, and your processor should give you the ability to do this. However, it seems PayPal’s main concern is branding their name and getting customers to create PayPal accounts in order to glean their information through the campaign.
Another misleading aspect of PayPal’s website is their price. Whenever you first go to the main PayPal page for political candidates, the rate at the top of the page is 2.2% plus $0.30 per transaction. It’s not. Scrolling down, you will notice that the rate is actually 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.  If they are misleading up front about price, what else are they hiding?  Additionally, when you sign up for a PayPal account they might sign you up for additional credit products without your consent.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2015/05/19/pay-pal-cfpb-penalties/27579087/  PayPal has recently been sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Agency for these illegal actions.

PayPal is great for its original purpose, moving money between people or EBay purchases. PayPal features do not translate at all when trying to accept and manage contributions for a political campaign.  Now, PayPal has attempted to make processing payments easier with its recent purchase of www.braintree.com; but, guess what: In order to use Braintree, one must understand coding and how to build a website.  Ninety-five percent (95%) of candidates out of 1 million that run for office every year don’t have the money to hire a programmer, let alone a digital design firm.  So Braintree is pretty much useless to the vast majority to campaigns.

RaiseTheMoney.com was created for ease of use. It was created to be used by a majority of candidates in the United States, whether they be seasoned veterans or starting their first campaign. You don’t have to know about computer programming or coding to use our platform. We are simply a plug and play system. Easy to use and simple to understand.

When comes to raising money online for your clients and campaigns, trust the best in the industry. You need strong customer service, reliability, security and ease of use. RaiseTheMoney knows the political field and we speak your language. Give us a call and schedule a demo, we would love to tell you more about how your candidates can benefit from our services.