Tools for Transparency: Fundraising with Square


I don’t usually write non-social media related Tools for Transparency posts, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about Square, a simple mobile app and hardware accessory that turns your mobile device into a credit card reader.

This simple app allows anyone with an iPhone, iPad or Android phone to take credit card payments, bypassing much of the hassle required with traditional credit card readers and transactions. The app makes it simple to collect payments, and donations, on the go, sending funds directly to your bank account.  The process for ordering the device and setting up the application was simple and Square takes a small 2.75% fee from each transaction.

A small nonprofit that I volunteer with recently held a fundraiser and as most supporters are accustomed to, they arrived with cash in hand for event tickets and donations.  A few came with less cash than they had realized but we were able to accommodate them because I had downloaded the Square app for my iPod and ran their credit card through the attached reader. An elegant solution for people that don’t walk around with much cash.

Here’s how it works.

Once you’ve received the card reader, plug it into the audio jack of your mobile device.  Open up the Square app (make sure that you’re connected to the web) and you will be shown a screen asking for the amount and type of transaction:

Next you’ll need to swipe the credit card:

Sign for the card using your finger:

Once the card clears, the receipt can either be sent to a cell phone or an email address:

The potential for fundraising, as in my example, is obvious and of course, can be applied to any transparency project and cause. I think it’s important to note, when you’re accepting donations, where the money is going and whether or not the donation is tax deductible.

What are your experiences with Square? Have you used it in the past?