Review: Build WordPress fundraising sites with the Donation Can plugin

This week I’ve been building my first WordPress fundraising site, for a project my daughter is involved with, raising money for a school in Uganda. (You can have a look at it here) I had a good search round and tried out a few different plugins designed for fundraising sites but they all fell short of my criteria – until I discovered Donation Can.

I needed to find a plugin that did a range of things:

  • Integrated with PayPal so donations could be collected on the site
  • Showed a list of people who had recently donated
  • Showed a “thermometer” progress bar
  • Notified both my daughter and me when someone made a donation
  • Allowed me to specify a page for people to come back to after they’d done the PayPal bit, so they could be thanked and receive further instructions.

Donation Can is a free plugin available in the WordPress Plugin Directory. It’s easy to set up and it does everything I wanted – in fact, it offers a lot more features than I needed. For example, you can use the same plugin to run several different fundraising campaigns – called “causes” – and set the criteria for each separately. So you could have, say, one “cause” raising money for a new computer, so that would have a fixed total and allow people to choose the amount they donate. Another “cause” could be an open donation for a charity, with no limit to the total you want to receive. A third “cause” could ask for people to give a specific amount while remaining anonymous.

The other huge benefit Donation Can has over other similar plugins is that you only need to know the email address registered to the PayPal account you’re using. Some plugins required me to input API details, which meant I had to log into the relevant PayPal account to get the information. When you’re working on client sites they aren’t going to want you to have access to their PayPal account!

The basic plugin settings allow to you choose what you want to show – you can have a thermometer-style progress bar, list recent donators, and show either the actual amount donated, or the amount less PayPal’s fees. You can use shortcodes to add the plugin to any web page or post, and there’s a sidebar widget too. You can even style to widget to match your website, using its own CSS settings.

Donation Can does have a couple of limitations. You can only accept donations in one currency – not a problem for most people, but if you attract visitors from around the world you may prefer to look for a plugin that offers multiple currencies. And you can only accept money into one PayPal account, regardless of how many “causes” you have set up. This means you couldn’t have, for example, a personal fundraising campaign and one for a charity, and automatically have the money go to separate accounts. However, within the plugin’s dashboard area you can see a list of all donations received, which “cause” they were for and how much the PayPal fee was for each, which would make it easier to run campaigns for different charities.

Overall I’m really impressed with Donation Can and will definitely use it on future fundraising websites. If you want to see it in action, have a look at the site I helped my daughter to build: www.giveapoundforuganda.co.uk

Have you used Donation Can? Or do you have any other recommendations?


  1. Thanks Alison
    Sounds like a good improvement over the standard Paypal button we put on our website. You don’t mention anything about automatic reclaim of Gift Aid (which is a major benefit of Everyclick, which we use for major events, or Justgiving etc)?

    1. I don’t know if you can use it with Gift Aid … can you even accept Gift Aid through Paypal? It’s not something I looked into as it wasn’t relevant in this situation … but I’ll certainly do some research and see what I can find out!

  2. Thx but in blackberry it seems not scaling it is very large but for iphone it is ok, n how it will identify which css have to call for blackberry / iphone?

    1. Thanks for the comment – unfortunately I don’t have a Blackberry so can’t get a look at what you mean. might be worth contacting the developer of the plugin though – I’m just someone who happened to use it!

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