Gathering Listener Donations for Your Podcast with PayPal

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Some of your podcast audience will so love your show that they’ll happily hand over some of their hard-earned money — if you’ll only ask.

Asking for listeners’ support is a two-step process: First you ask for the money, and then you provide an easy and convenient way for your listeners to send you money. PayPal has been handling small and large web-based transactions for years. A PayPal donation link can be fully integrated into your website with minimum hassle. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to PayPal. If you don’t have a PayPal account, click the Sign Up link and follow the simple instructions.

    You need a valid credit card to sign up.

    PayPal, like much of the web, is subject to change. The flow of these steps might be slightly different at the time you’re reading this. Regardless, the steps you need to follow will basically be the same.

  2. From your Account Overview page, click the Details in the Selling Tools section on the left side.

    The Merchant Services page allows you to set up a variety of ways people can send you money.

  3. Click the Create payment buttons for your website link on the right side of the page.

    You are taken to the My Saved Buttons.

  4. In the Related items box, click Create New Button.

    You are taken to the Create PayPal Payment Button page.

  5. Enter a donation name and donation ID in the appropriate text boxes.

    Consider using the show name, and perhaps a suffix – Donations to help you identify your donations if you have other types of income to your PayPal account.

    You can also use the ID field to denote multiple types of donations or donations for different shows in the event you produce more than one podcast. You can put anything you want in this field, but keep in mind that it will be visible to those making donations — so make sure it isn’t something confusing.

  6. Enter a set donation amount if you want in the Amount text box. Also, change the designated country if you’d like your currency to be something other than U.S. dollars.

    If you want your listeners to donate a set amount, choose that amount now. If you leave the Amount field blank, your users will have to enter an amount before they donate. You decide which is best for you.

    If you’re familiar with using HTML forms, you can later add a suggested donation amount, and allow your listeners to change the amount if they desire. Get a copy of Coding For Dummies (Wiley) by Nikhil Abraham if you need help with editing forms.

  7. Select the style of Donation button you would like to use from the Customize Button section.

    If you have a custom button, here’s the place to change it. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. The default button works just fine on your website, and you can always change it later if you want.

  8. Under Merchant Account ID, choose Use My Secure Merchant Account ID.

    Using your merchant account ID links your account to your email address and protects you from spammers.At this point you can optionally review the information the collapsed sections labeled Step 2: Save your buttons (optional) and Step 3: Customize advanced features (optional). While not required, you should get familiar with what’s covered there.

  9. After you fill in the fields on the Donations page, click Create Button at the bottom of the page.PayPal whisks you to the Add a Button to Your website page.
  10. You have some decisions to make about the custom HTML code for your button:

    If you’re comfortable doing some minor editing of the HTML that makes your website work, copy the HTML in the website tab and add it to your page.

    If you think editing HTML is a little beyond you just now, then simply copy the text in the Email tab and include it in your show notes. You’ll want to make it a hyperlink, so don’t just leave it like this:

    https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_xclick&business=chuck%40chuckchat%2ecom&no_shipping=0&no_note=1&tax=0&currency_code=USD&charset=UTF%2d8&charset=UTF%2d8

    Instead, you want to enclose it with an <a href=“”></a> tag and include some descriptive text, like this:

    <a href=”https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_xclick&business=chuck%40chuckchat%2ecom&no_shipping=0&no_note=1&tax=0&currency_code=USD&charset=UTF%2d8&charset=UTF%2d8”>Donate to my show&lt;/a&gt;

    That should do it for the donation link.