Why do people fail to donate to my campaign using PayPal?

let’s start by stating the most important thing that might be on your mind: There is nothing technically wrong with the system. We have hundreds of donations coming in daily, some through PayPal and some through processing credit cards.

So, what is going on? Why are people not able to donate to my campaign (with PayPal)?

In order to understand this, you need to understand how PayPal is used. PayPal acts as a “mask” for the actual payment method that the donor is using. When a donor comes to donate to your campaign and chooses to use PayPal, our system requests the donation amount from PayPal, which turns around and requests the funds from the account of the donor. If the donor has enough funds in their PayPal account, then the donor can use those funds, but typically people do not just have money sitting around and they have a credit card connected to their PayPal account. PayPal makes a request from the credit card and if the credit card refuses the transaction, the whole donation fails.

This is typically what happens when a donor chooses to donate with PayPal and gets an error of the form “this action cannot be performed right now”. This means that their credit card refused the donation (could be for any reason) and our system is not given any other information except for “transaction did not complete”.

What can you do?

You can do several things:

  1. Ask your donor to try and donate directly with a credit card. It could fail again, but it would provide our system with more definite answer.
  2. Ask your donor to call up their credit card company and pre-approve the transaction. It has to be with the credit card they are using.
  3. Your donor can also pre-fill their PayPal account with funds, and try donating again. That would mean that now the credit card company will not be asked to approve the transaction.

In any case, know that we reach out to every donor if they do not complete their donation and ask them to communicate with us directly to try to resolve this (so you get more donations).