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Can I add a Paypal donate button to my website or blog even if I am not a nonprofit organization or charity? Yes you can! According to an email I received from PayPal Support.
Many individuals that run a website or a blog with free information or services for users wonder if they can add a PayPal donate button to their website. They especially wonder when they see this information on the PayPal website when creating the donate button (current as of 10/17/2014):
Note: This button is intended for fundraising. If you are not raising money for a cause, please choose another option. Nonprofits must verify their status to withdraw donations they receive. Users that are not verified nonprofits must demonstrate how their donations will be used, once they raise more than $10,000 USD.
So I sent an email to PayPal support asking if I could use the donate button on my website to help with the cost of running the website even though I am not a nonprofit. Here is the response:
Yes, you can definitely use the Donate button on your website. The note that you included is just for non profit organizations. Even you are not a non-profit, you can add a donate button
I am not a tax expert, but after doing a lot of research it seems that the following is true if you choose to add a donate button to your website or blog and you are not a nonprofit organization or charity:
It is not your fault if the one making the donation does not understand that they cannot write it off as a tax deduction. They should know that if you don't put "Non-profit" or "tax deductible donation" that they cannot write it off their taxes.
Some like to change the image of the "Donate" button to "Buy me a beer" or "Buy me a coffee" or "Tip". But I think that this can just confuse some users and they may not see it.
One more note: If you setup a donate button with PayPal your account may be flagged and frozen after a few donations for no apparent reason like this guy and this guy. However, I think the reason they might have been flagged is because they might have setup their account with PayPal as a nonprofit account. Do not setup your account as nonprofit! You must setup with a Business account! If your account is frozen, to unfreeze your account you have to send some documentation to Paypal proving who you are and what you are asking donations for.
In order to avoid PayPal possibly freezing their account and because they are afraid of the "nonprofit" message on the donate button creation page some website or blog owners choose to create a Buy Now button and set the Price to 0.00. That way a user can enter any amount they want just like a Donate button. You can even change the image to a "Donate" button: