Is PayPal Now Providing Recurring Donations on Mobile?

Is PayPal Now Providing Recurring Donations on Mobile?

By
Gnosis Media Group

Update: 9/28/17, 7pm ET

We were able to get in touch with PayPal's Product Support Team. They tell us that this recurring donation checkbox feature was rolled out recently, but then it went away. But now it's back, as of about 7 days ago. A PayPal representative told us that the checkbox should now be automatically enabled for all Donate buttons and links. 

We've just made a test PayPal donate link, and the checkbox was automatically generated:

PayPal has finally created a mobile-friendly, recurring donation option for nonprofits!

PayPal has finally created a mobile-friendly, recurring donation option for nonprofits!

Original article posted 9/28/17, 6pm ET

For years, PayPal has not offered the ability for nonprofits to accept recurring donations on mobile. You could set up a recurring subscription payment, but this option is really for businesses and for-profit entities. However, lately we've been seeing a "Make this a monthly donation" checkbox on both desktop and mobile devices: 

When you visit certain nonprofits' donation pages on PayPal, you now see a recurring donation option that never used to be there. Does anyone know when PayPal rolled this out?

When you visit certain nonprofits' donation pages on PayPal, you now see a recurring donation option that never used to be there. Does anyone know when PayPal rolled this out?

We notice that this checkbox doesn't appear on every nonprofit donation page. And we couldn't find any info on PayPal's site that explains how to set this up or which conditions this checkbox applies to. This forum post seems to suggest that the checkbox shows on desktop but not always on mobile. This apparent defect was reported on StackOverflow last year; apparently it's hit or miss when this option appears.

How to Set Up a Monthly Donation on PayPal

Well, we're at a loss. We find no help forums online that tell you precisely how to do it. This post suggests that there is a WordPress plugin that enables a recurring donation, but one of the reviewers said this option is broken as of January 2017 when PayPal changed something on their back end. 

This Vimeo video starts off saying there is a way to create a recurring donation checkout, but then capitulates into the standard Business Subscription account option which we already know about. So no joy there.

Living Miracles Center has created a nifty implementation using the PayPal subscribe API. They've changed the front end to look like a PayPal recurring donation form by adding customizations and utilizing PayPal's Donate button icon. However, when you look at the code, you see this is not really the same as creating a "Make this a monthly donation" checkbox. Additionally, there's some fairly sophisticated code going on in the background that makes this happen. Many nonprofits are not going to have the dev resources to accomplish this on their own.

Eric Bryant, October 12, 2017