Overview of Recurring Donations and Memberships Fee Collection



Donorfy automatically does most of the work to collect recurring payments that are paid via GoCardless or Stripe, you only have to deal with the exceptions - e.g. if a payment fails contacting a donor to resolve a problem.

If you use a different EFT provider then see this article for more information. 

This is how Donorfy automatically collects recurring payments for you

  • Any constituent who is paying you money on a recurring basis will have a recurring payment instruction - this indicates
    • how much they will pay 
    • how the money will be collected - e.g. by GoCardless - this is the collection method
    • how often (monthly, yearly, etc) - called the frequency
    • the day the money will usually be collected - the collection day
  • Money is collected via a payment gateway (such as Stripe)
  • Donorfy exchanges data with the payment gateway and matches payments up to the recurring payments instructions
  • Once matched up Donorfy will add transactions to the constituent’s timeline
  • At the end of the month, Donorfy will identify any missing payments and update the recurring payment instruction accordingly

Here are some more details

How are payments collected?

Donorfy will make a request to the payment gateway to collect the money, the gateway will send Donorfy the details of the collection - this happens on a daily basis.

The details sent to Donorfy include one or more codes associated with the constituent and the recurring payment when it was originally set up - Donorfy will verify these codes against recurring payment instructions.

When do Payments Start?

For recurring card payments, Donorfy will

  • Collect the first payment on the day the donor made their recurring donation
  • The start date of the instruction is then set to the first of the following month - no payments will be collected before this date.
  • Subsequent payments will be collected based on the payment frequency - e.g. monthly payments will start one month later, annual payments one year later

New direct debits take a few days to set up - the exact number of days can be affected by weekends and bank holidays. To allow for this the first payment will be set for collection in 7 days from the signup. However if allowing 7 days results in a collection day on either the 29, 30, or 31st of the month - whether the month has 31 days or not - we will take the collection into the following month - so that future collection days are consistent e.g. if you sign up on 22nd, 23rd, 24th Feb for a monthly donation we'd collect on the 1st of March and then 1st of April and so on. 

Once set up direct debit payments will be collected in the months they are due on the specified collection day. The months a payment is due in is controlled by the payment frequency and start month.

What gets added to the timeline?

Once the payments are verified a transaction is added to the constituent’s timeline with a payment for the amount requested with one or more allocations linked to it based on the recurring payment instruction. For example, if a constituent was paying £15 per month for £10 membership fees and a £5 donation the transaction generated would reflect this split.

The amount will be the full amount you requested - any charges made by the payment gateway charges will be recorded in the processing costs for the transaction - the amount that ends up in your bank account will be the amount requested less the gateway charges.

What happens if the constituent is archived?

If a constituent is archived - see Archiving and Deleting Constituents for more information - then no further payments will be collected under a recurring payment instruction - even if the status of the recurring payment instruction is active.

What happens if the wrong amount if collected?

This is very unlikely but if it did happen Donorfy would create a timeline entry for the amount actually collected rather than the amount of the recurring payment instruction - with the allocations prorated. For example, if we expected  a constituent to pay £15 per month for £10 membership fees and a £5 donation but only £12 was collected we would generate a transaction of £12 with allocations of £8 and £4

How do I tell if a payment will be collected this month?

Active monthly paid recurring payments will be collected every month. For other active instructions a payment will be collected based on the payment frequency and start month of the instruction, as follows If payment frequency is:

    • Year - then a payment will be collected in the start month
    • Half Year - then a payment will be collected in the start month  and six months after the start month - e.g. if the start month is August payments would be collected in August and February
    • Quarterly - then a payment will be collected in the start month then 3, 6 and 9 months after the start month - e.g. if start month is August payments would be collected in August, November, February, and May

What will appear on the Donor’s Statement?

It depends on the payment gateway for example when you link to a payment gateway (for example see the article about Stripe Connect) you can enter the statement text you want to appear. Read the article about the gateway you are using to find out what it offers.

What happens if a payment is missed?

A few days into the start of a new month Donorfy will check through the payments received in the prior month, if a payment was missed then the recurring payment instruction is updated as follows:

  • The number of missed payments is increased by one
  • The month and year of the last missed payment is updated
  • The number of consecutive missed payments is updated - i.e. how many payments have been missed in a row

Donorfy will only try and collect a payment once - the reason for this is to avoid incurring fees from the payment gateway for repeated failed attempts.

What status can a recurring payment instruction have?

  • Active - instruction is up and running and payments should be received against it
  • Overdue - payments have been missed - see below for more details - unless the problem with the payment  is resolved you may decide to cancel the instruction  - but we will try and collect more payments in the meantime
  • Cancelled - the constituent cancelled the instruction
  • Paused - the constituent asked for the instruction to be paused for a period of time - this option is not available for all payment gateways

When does a recurring payment instruction become overdue?


  • a monthly paid recurring payment instruction has missed 3 consecutive payments it becomes overdue
  • a non-monthly paid recurring payment instructions has missed 1 payments it becomes overdue

What should I do if someone misses a payment and then pays by another method e.g. cheque?

Add the transaction to the constituent’s timeline using the same allocations as the recurring payment instruction - add a comment explaining how this is a manually entered payment against the recurring payment. Link the transaction to the correct recurring payment instruction by clicking on the down arrow to reveal more details of the payment, then select the linked recurring payment instruction.


Open the recurring payment instruction the payment relates to and check its status. If it overdue or lapsed and press the ‘Make Active’ button - this will set the status of the instruction to Active and reset the number of consecutive missed payments to 0.

How can tell what payments have been processed?

The history tab on the recurring payment instruction form shows expected payments, payment reports provided by the payment gateway, and transactions linked to the recurring payment instruction.

Also under Recurring Income under Financial shows items that need resolving and the history of updates that have happened.

What if money is collected but Donorfy can’t match it to anything?

If this happens the payment collected will be shown in Financial > Recurring Income

How are new instructions set up?

The best option is to add web widgets to your website to allow people to make regular donations - this will automatically create a recurring payment instruction.

If you need to create an instruction for a donor this is best done on their behalf using a web widget.

You can add instructions directly to a constituent's timeline - however for money to be successfully collected you have to add the donor to the payment gateway using the payment gateway's dashboard and make sure the payment gateway customer code is allocated to the instruction in Donorfy.

What happens if I upgrade a recurring payment instruction?

If a donor upgrades their instruction then the new amount is added as a new allocation to the instruction. This allocation will be collected when starts - i.e. based on the 'Starting' setting for the allocation - it will be collected on the day given in the start date.

What happens if I  cancel a recurring payment instruction?

If you cancel an instruction no further payments will be collected for it.

How can I Report On or Analyse my Recurring Payments?

See the knowledgebase article ‘Analysing & Reporting on Recurring Payments’

What about Gift Aid?

Any donations made under a recurring payment instruction that are eligible for gift aid will be automatically included in a claim 

How do I refund a payment?

To refund a payment you need to open the dashboard of the payment gateway (e.g. Stripe) - find the payment in question and use the refund function in the gateway.

In Donorfy find the transaction you want to refund, open it and from the manage menu select Delete


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