- Getting Started
- General Advice
- Migration Approaches
- After the Schedules Have Been Migrated
Recurring donors are one of the most powerful and sustaining forces for any organization. So anytime you have to make changes that impact these donors, you want to make sure you handle it with care!
One of the biggest challenges that comes up from time to time with recurring donors is needing to move your recurring schedules into a new gateway. This may happen when you first on-board with RaiseDonors or if you want to make a switch to get better rates or service.
Either way, this transition is no small feat! But with a good plan, clear expectations, and a good team (that's where we can help!) - it can be a successful journey from start to finish. But let us say it again: this is a journey, not an overnight task.
The first step is to loop us in. We care! We want to help. And moreover, we've been through this process countless times.
There are a variety of ways to get it done, but please know that we are here to consult and help as needed.
We can do this as a paid professional service where we get in the weeds with you and guide the process from start to finish —or— if you have the team to be able to manage this on your own, you can leverage the RaiseDonors API and make the needed updates —or— perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between. The bottom line is, we're here to help.
The specifics depend on where you are moving from and where you are moving to. Typically, each vendor has its own specific compliance, rules, and schedules for this.
There are also two big pillars to this type of migration.
- The actual relocation of sensitive credit card and ACH information from one system to another.
- The setup of schedules inside of RaiseDonors to ensure there is a "connection" between RaiseDonors and the newly created schedules at the new gateway.
Let's just start with some wisdom from the road. Here are some tips for getting things done the right way.
- Before getting started, analyze all of the recurring schedules and identify the days of the month with the lowest volume of recurring schedules. These are the days you want to target to migrate data between gateways. You DO NOT want to migrate recurring schedules on your busiest day.
- Have a dedicated representative from each gateway (new and old) available to you and be sure they understand your goals. These goals should include your timelines and internal processes.
- Understand the steps involved with creating a schedule object in RaiseDonors to ensure Fund allocations, appeal codes, motivation codes, source codes, etc are all accounted for.
- Keeping a "key" between all of these systems is critical to ensure the newly created schedule is connected to the correct donor in RaiseDonors. Suggestions for the "key" are the RaiseDonors Donor ID, or the email address of the donor, or some combination of information from all systems.
- It's mission critical to know with absolute certainty that schedule "123" from the old gateway is connected to the donor "Bob Jones" —and— that the new schedule "abc456" at the new gateway, is also connected to "Bob Jones" —and— that you can draw lines to connect schedules to donors between all systems.
- The system you use to manage the "key" and related information will be invaluable when it comes time to create the recurring schedule import file to import recurring schedules into RaiseDonors.
- A carefully managed process will provide an easy way to generate this template. Otherwise, this process can turn into a nightmare. Pro tip: it's best to avoid the nightmare scenario.
- Whether you enlist RaiseDonors, an outside resource, or do it yourself - someone needs to be on call and vigilant during the process of moving the recurring schedules from the old gateway to the new gateway. For this type of migration to be successful, everyone involved needs to be aware of your timeline, expectations, and capabilities.
If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, just remember: we are here to help guide you through this!
Different Migration Approaches
The migration can be accomplished by going down an automated path or a manual path.
Pardon our dust, this content is currently being revised.
Manual Approach: You Do the Work
There are many scenarios where an automated approach isn't possible or, in some cases, is cost prohibitive. If you choose to migrate using a manual approach, you will generally follow these steps:
Step 1: Get the Schedules
Contact the gateway you are leaving and request a file with all of the raw credit card and ACH information. They will need to deliver this information to you in a compliant manner. Please keep in mind that you are now taking on risk by handling real credit cards and ACH information. Ensure that you have proper protocols in place to safeguard your organization. Please know that RaiseDonors will NOT ever possess or handle any of your sensitive PAN information.
From this first step, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Sometimes the processor you are leaving will charge a fee to acquire and deliver this information securely.
- Sometimes the timeline to acquire and deliver this sensitive information can be lengthy. We've seen as high as 8 weeks!
- Typically the information is sent in pieces over the timeline, so you may expect to receive batches of information spread across the timeline.
- Rarely, but sometimes the answer is —no—. In this case you have to fight the red-tape to work around the bureaucracy. (Getting excited yet?) You'll need to review the terms & conditions of your agreement with your processor.
- Sometimes you have to prove your compliance and methods are secure before you can receive the information.
- If the processor you are leaving has the ability to auto-update expired credit cards or has the ability to update credit card numbers when they are re-issued - make sure you verify the data you are receiving is the newer, current information; not the older information.
Step 2: Format the Data
- Once you have the file(s), you may need to manipulate the data to fit into a template provided by the new gateway. Sometimes this is an easy process and sometimes... this requires a bit of work.
From this second step, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
- Contact your new gateway and ask for help. They may already have tools to help you automate this process. Or they may offer professional services to do this for you.
- Don't upload expired credit cards.
- Don't upload terminated/cancelled schedules.
- Some gateways support processing on days of the month from 1-31. Others only support 1-28. Ensure you are making adjustments as needed when considering this.
- Some gateways support frequencies such as: monthly, quarterly, annually, bi-annually, etc. Don't assume that the two gateways you are working with support the same frequencies. Double check.
- If you have a unique ID for the donor associated with each schedule - it will pay huge dividends to include the unique donor ID on this data file. More on this below...
- Aside from the unique donor ID, you may have other "metadata" you wish to associate with the schedule. For example: source code, email address, partner level, etc. Be sure to include this information in your document - and ensure the gateway you are moving to can support metadata attached to schedules.
Step 3: Upload the Data
Now it's time to upload the data into the new gateway. This is the moment you've been working towards!
- Ensure you receive a status on each of the newly uploaded and created schedules. It's common to experience a 2-5% decline rate on migrated schedules. You will want to review the fraudulent monitoring tools in the new gateway. It's likely the threshold that determines what is fraudulent vs what is legitimate activity is different between the old and new gateway. This difference can add to higher rates of declines - or higher rates of fraudulent activity.
- Do some auditing on the new schedules.
- Is the frequency correct? (ie: monthly, quarterly, etc)
- Is the day of the month correct?
- Is the amount correct?
- Did the unique donor ID import properly?
- What about the metadata?
- Lastly - and this is a big one - make sure the schedules from the old gateway are terminated and won't be charged. You do NOT want to be double charging your donors!
Manual Approach: Ask For Help
If you just read the section above this where "You Do the Work", you may be thinking... I'd rather someone else do the work! If that's the case, the same steps would need to be followed but the main difference is that you enlist the gateway you are leaving to do this work on your behalf.
There are many benefits to this approach:
- Your donors' sensitive PAN information never leaves the secure environment of your current gateway. That greatly reduces risk and maintains PCI compliance.
- The workload is now being handled by your current gateway vendor and since they have access to all of the donor payment information and schedules - all of the information is at their fingertips. They are already familiar with their environment and have likely performed this process before.
- You are likely undertaking many other responsibilities for your organization during this transition - and now you have off-loaded a significant amount of work in a secure, compliant manner. This is HUGE!
How do you start this process?
- You'll likely need to enter into a professional service agreement with your current gateway vendor.
- You may need to provide instructions from your new gateway on how to populate a file template which is then uploaded into the new gateway to create all of the new schedules.
After the schedules have been migrated to the new gateway
After the schedules have been successfully created in the new gateway, new schedule objects need to be created inside of RaiseDonors. The new schedules can be migrated in one of two ways: manually or passively.
Most implementations require the "manual" approach. To facilitate this, we have created a template import file. With this file: you, your team, or our professional services team can import your recurring schedules into RaiseDonors.
These new schedules are "Schedule Objects" in RaiseDonors and will point to the new schedule at the new gateway and will receive notifications of donations, send emails to donors, and process integrations as needed.
We're not going to lie - this is a complicated process. But it can be executed smoothly with a good plan and clear communication.
Here are a couple of scenarios to consider:
Scenario #1: New Schedule Creation & Old Schedule ModificationIn this scenario you've already been using RaiseDonors for a long period of time. But now you've made the decision to switch your payment gateway. So in this scenario, there are already active schedule objects inside of RaiseDonors pointing and listening for the recurring schedule(s) at the gateway.
In other words, when you complete the transition from your old gateway to your new gateway - each donor inside of RaiseDonors will now have two schedule objects in RaiseDonors:
- The original schedule object, which is pointing to the gateway you are leaving.
- A new schedule object, which is pointing to the new gateway.
Again - you, your team, or our professional services team will need to create the new schedule object in RaiseDonors, AND pay careful attention to the original schedule object.
You've likely terminated the schedule in the gateway you are leaving - and so now is the time to update the old schedule object in RaiseDonors to reflect a terminated status.
This ensures that you can't update a schedule object pointing to the gateway you are leaving. And it also ensures you have access to manage the new schedule object pointing to the new gateway.
Scenario #2: New Schedule Creation OnlyIn this scenario you either do not have any recurring schedules in your RaiseDonors account, —or— you do have recurring schedules in your account, but they are not associated with the gateway you are leaving.
Now that the recurring schedules have been migrated from the old gateway to the new gateway your next steps are:
- Creating new schedule objects inside of RaiseDonors.
- Attribute these new schedule objects to the proper donor (or a new donor needs to be added).
- Point these new schedule objects to the new gateway.
In this situation, there is no concern for old schedule objects in RaiseDonors pointing to the old gateway.
In both scenarios, careful attention is needed to ensure the created schedule in the new gateway is connected to the correct donor in RaiseDonors —or— if that donor does not exist, a donor is created for this new schedule object and the two are connected.
All of this may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that organizations do this all the time! We strive to come alongside, serve as your guide, and lessen the burden as much as possible.
Once the migration is complete—you can sit back, relax... and hope you don't have to do this again in 18 months! 🙃