June 07, 2023

Importance of PCI Compliance and Data Security in Online Fundraising

Importance of PCI Compliance and Data Security in Online Fundraising

When it comes to online fundraising for nonprofits, the crucial thing that is most often ignored is data security.

PCI compliance and data security in online fundraising is essential for keeping donor information and payment details safe and secure. Let’s dive a bit deeper and see what PCI compliance is and how important it is for nonprofits. 

What is PCI compliance?

PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, which includes credit and debit cards. PCI compliance means following a set of rules and standards to ensure that organizations handle payment card data properly. It's like having a checklist of security measures to protect donor payment information. 

Nonprofits have to strictly adhere to PCI compliance as they collect donations online. Coupled with data security, organizations have to protect all types of donor personal information, not just payment card data.  

Are nonprofits required to comply with PCI?

Yes, non-profit organizations are required to comply with PCI regulations if they accept payment cards as a form of donation or payment. PCI compliance applies to any entity that handles, processes, or stores payment card data, regardless of its profit status.

What should nonprofits do to comply with PCI regulations?

PCI Compliance was set up to keep customers’ financial data safe and secure against cyber threats and fraud. To achieve PCI compliance, nonprofits should take the following steps.

Understand applicability

Nonprofits should determine their PCI compliance requirements based on the volume of card transactions they process annually. This helps identify the specific compliance level they need to adhere to.

Complete Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)

Depending on the organization's processing methods, they may need to complete a Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). The SAQ is a set of security-related questions that assess an organization's compliance with PCI DSS. The type of SAQ required depends on factors such as the payment channels used and the cardholder data storage methods.

Secure network infrastructure

Nonprofits should ensure they have robust network security measures in place. This includes using firewalls, regularly updating software and systems, and implementing strong access controls to protect cardholder data. Other than this, they have to ensure that their donor management CRM has all the necessary data security measures in place to safeguard the personal details of donors. 

Protect cardholder data

Organizations must securely handle and store cardholder data. This involves encrypting sensitive information during transmission and storage, implementing strong access controls, and limiting access to cardholder data on a need-to-know basis.

Regularly monitor and test systems

Nonprofits should establish a process for monitoring and testing their systems to detect vulnerabilities or potential security breaches. This includes conducting regular security scans, penetration testing, and vulnerability assessments.

Maintain information security policy

It is essential for nonprofits to develop and maintain an information security policy that outlines security procedures, data handling practices, and employee responsibilities. This policy should be communicated to all staff members and volunteers who handle payment card data.

Engage with PCI-compliant service providers

Nonprofits should work with service providers, such as payment processors or fundraising platforms, that are PCI-compliant. This ensures that the handling and processing of payment card data meet the necessary security standards. For instance, the data security in online fundraising software GivingX meets the standards set by the payment industry. So, donors can be assured that their data is safe when they make donations for nonprofits.  

Conduct annual compliance validation

Organizations must validate their PCI compliance annually. This may involve submitting compliance reports, SAQs, and other documentation to their acquiring bank or payment processors.

Maintaining PCI compliance is an ongoing task, and an audit must be performed at least once every six months. Assess the software and data for vulnerabilities and take remedial action when required. 

Why are PCI compliance and data security important for online fundraising?

The easiest way for nonprofits to win donor trust is to remain PCI-compliant. It gives your donors peace of mind and helps you build a strong and long-lasting relationship. Let’s get into the details of why data security is a necessity for nonprofits. 

Protecting payment card data 

PCI compliance refers to adhering to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which is a set of security standards designed to protect cardholder data. Online fundraising involves the collection of payment card information for donations. It is crucial to ensure that this sensitive data is handled securely. Compliance with PCI DSS helps prevent unauthorized access, fraud, and data breaches. 

The best way to achieve this is to create an online donation page on a reliable custom fundraising software like GivingX. This tool has 125+ secured payment gateways, giving donors the flexibility and security to make online donations.

Building trust and confidence

Online fundraising relies on the trust and confidence of donors. When individuals contribute their financial information to a fundraising platform, they expect their data to be handled with care. By complying with PCI standards and demonstrating a commitment to data security, organizations can instill trust in their donors, encouraging them to contribute more frequently and confidently.

One way to improve trust is to display the PCI compliance badge on the checkout or landing page. This instills confidence among the potential donors and encourages them to donate for the cause now

Mitigating legal and financial risks

Failure to comply with PCI DSS can have severe consequences. In the event of a data breach or non-compliance, organizations may face legal liabilities, financial penalties, and damage to their reputation. The costs associated with remediation, legal actions, and customer notification can be substantial. As a nonprofit, these legal fees may seem overwhelming when you are struggling to collect funds. As they say, it is better to be PCI compliant than to face the consequences later. Adhering to PCI standards helps you mitigate these risks and ensures you are meeting your legal obligations.

Safeguarding donor privacy

Donors expect their personal and financial information to remain private and protected. Non-compliance with PCI DSS puts donor privacy at risk, potentially exposing them to identity theft, unauthorized transactions, and other forms of fraud. Implementing robust security measures and following PCI guidelines helps safeguard donor privacy and maintain their confidence in the fundraising process. 

Now, if implementing robust security measures is a challenge, you can opt to create an online fundraising page on a fundraising software that already has compliance measures in place. This way, you pay a nominal amount for using their services, and you get the guarantee of data security in return.

Enhancing organizational credibility

Demonstrating a commitment to data security and PCI compliance enhances an organization's credibility. When potential donors see that an organization has taken the necessary steps to protect sensitive information, they are more likely to perceive it as reputable and trustworthy. This, in turn, can attract more donors and support for fundraising initiatives.

This is why we recommend setting up your fundraiser on the custom fundraising software GivingX. Other than data security, it offers other useful features such as free unlimited integrations (access to 5000+ apps on Zapier), automatic language translation, fundraising goal trackers, and more to not only help you create an online donation page but also make it successful.  

Strengthening overall data security

PCI compliance is not just about protecting payment card data. It involves implementing a range of security measures, such as secure networks, encryption, access controls, and regular system monitoring. By adhering to PCI standards, organizations establish a strong foundation for overall data security, which extends beyond payment card information and helps protect all sensitive data within their systems.

How does GivingX help nonprofits with data security and PCI compliance?

GivingX is designed for nonprofits as a comprehensive fundraising software complete with security features needed to keep donor data safe and secure from cyber threats. It offers 125+ secured payment gateways as options for giving donations. It is a fully PCI-complaint software having all the necessary protocols in place for safe payment processing and data security. 

GivingX is an excellent choice for nonprofits seeking to create an online donation page and increase recurring donations. It has all the tools required to start your fundraiser. From customized fundraising goal trackers to free unlimited integrations, it has everything to not just set up a fundraising landing page or a custom form but also make it successful thereafter. 

Wrapping Up

PCI compliance and data security for online fundraising is crucial for its success. By adhering to PCI standards, nonprofits can safeguard donor information, build trust, and protect themselves from potential risks. 

Value and prioritize data security. Look for signs of secure payment gateways and compliance measures when engaging with online fundraising software. We recommend opting for the custom fundraising software GivingX to protect sensitive donor information and maintain a safe and trustworthy environment for all stakeholders, including donors. 

Create an online donation page on GivingX and start your crowdfunding now!