Enabling Recurring Giving with PayPal

To allow your nonprofit to accept PayPal as a payment method for recurring gifts, there are some steps you need to follow.

Because Fundraise Up is a high-conversion online giving platform, we don't work with PayPal in the same way as most platforms. Most platforms will send your donor to PayPal, which has a high abandonment rate (but it's way easier to integrate). Fundraise Up instead uses an on-site modal so the donor isn't sent away from your website. The result: a much lower abandonment rate.

There are a few steps you need to follow to enable PayPal Recurring with Fundraise Up.

Step 1: Enable Reference Transactions in PayPal

Option 1: Contact PayPal via Phone regarding Reference Transactions

Youll need to call your local PayPal Support Help Center to request PayPal to turn on Reference Transactions. Find the phone number at Contact PayPal.

Tell PayPal that you are specifically calling so a PayPal Specialist can enable Reference Transactions on your account.

They may try to help you set up recurring payments with a PayPal button.
That is not want you want. You must be persistent.

They need to transfer you to a specialist who will ask you for your PayPal account information (email address), and then tell you that they filed a ticket, and you will hear back from PayPal via email on whether Reference Transactions have been enabled or not.

Option 2: Contact PayPal via Email regarding Reference Transactions

You can contact PayPal via email.

  1. Login into your PayPal account
  2. Go to the Email Contact Form
  3. Choose topic: My Account
  4. Choose sub-topic: Changing/Updating Account Information
  5. Copy and paste the message below, inserting your PayPal email address and name


    Could you please enable Reference Transactions on my PayPal account (email: johndoe@domain.com)?

    I need this feature to sell recurring subscription products via Paid Member Subscriptions.

    Kind regards,
    Your Name

  6. Wait for a reply (auto-response)
  7. You must reply to the auto-response or else your ticket will not be filed. Buried in the email auto-response, is this line of text: If we haven’t answered your question, please reply to this email and our team will answer you as soon as possible.

    You can simply copy and paste the same message from the original email into your response to the auto-response.
  8. PayPal will reply to you in a day (or more!) letting you know their response and decision.

Not all accounts will be granted Reference Transaction access.

PayPal does have a set of requirements thatmust be met before they enable support for Reference Transactions on your account.

Unfortunately, PayPal does not publish these requirements. 

Based on anecdotes from customers, the requirements can be different for different businesses. They may not ask for anything at all. 

Some things that have been mentioned as PayPal requirements are:

  • High personal credit (FICO) score for US based PayPal Business accounts
  • Business plan
  • Average transaction price
  • Number of repeat customers
  • Number of Reference Transactions per customer
  • Revenue forecast and/or projected total revenue volume from Reference Transactions
  • Demonstrate a clear business rationale behind the request
  • Show the signup flow for customers in regards to Reference Transactions (you can point them to the URL of your donation form)
  • Proof that you will show clear terms and conditions for customers in regards to Reference Transactions and how to cancel once they sign up
  • A written statement as to why you need Reference Transactions and how you will use it for your business

Step 2: Contact your Fundraise Up Success Engineer once Reference Transactions have been enabled on your PayPal account

Once you've received a response from PayPal noting that Reference Transactions have been enabled, please reach out to your Nonprofit Success Engineer. We'll verify this has been done, and enable recurring PayPal on your account.

If PayPal does not approve your request, please feel free to CC your Success Engineer in the correspondence, and if we can, we will assist where possible. Fundraise Up however does not have any influence or other methods of "forcing" PayPal to enable Reference Transactions.