February 23, 2012
by David Goodale
Merchant Profile and Discussion with Ethiopiaid
I recently had a chance to work with Cora LaRussa, Charity Manager at Ethiopiaid Canada. Ethiopiaid is a fantastic organization doing great work for people living in Ethiopia.
David: Cora, can you please tell us more about your organization? In particular, I'm sure that our readers would like to know about the work your organization does, and the goals you are trying to achieve.
Cora: Ethiopiaid is a charitable organization which seeks to improve the quality of life for Ethiopians. We partner with local Ethiopian organizations to deliver programming in the areas of health care, education, and the relief of poverty. At the moment we are supporting a vocational training program for youth; the construction of a mother-child care unit; and a hospital which works towards the prevention and treatment of fistula, a debilitating condition that results from constricted labour.
David: What is the history of the organization?
Cora: Ethiopiaid is not only based in Canada, but has a presence around the world. It was founded in the UK in 1989 by Sir Alec Reed. The organization has since opened offices in Canada, Ireland, and Australia. At Ethiopiaid, we believe that Ethiopians hold the key to their own success. This belief informs our grassroots approach to development – working with organizations on the ground and listening to the real needs of the communities in which we work.
David: It was a pleasure working with you to setup a relatively simple donations page on your website. In fact, I always enjoy working with charities. I think it's natural to get a bit of a good feeling when you know you are working towards a good cause. Now that it's done, can I ask how payments (in particular online payments) are important to your organization?
Cora: Donations are the basis of our work. We wouldn't be able to complete projects in Ethiopia without the help of our Canadian supporters. Online payments are important to our organization because they give us the ability to reach out to a wider range of donors. For example, some donors prefer to pay online rather than mail a cheque. Having options when it comes to accepting donations helps us make it easy for the people who want to support our work.
David: Can you tell our readers what was your experience like during the setup process?
Cora: Our setup process was very smooth. You helped me to understand the options in terms of how to setup the collection of payments, and helped us make it happen. I can tell that you really wanted the payment processing system to work in our best interests. I'm quite happy with how it's come out. Aside from one little bit of confusion over getting the payment form live due to our CMS system, the actual work was done in just a few hours.
David: A lot of folks, when they first start working with us, are a bit intimidated with the process of setting up e-commerce payments. Did you have a similar feeling?
Cora: Not at all. Both the setup process and the online user interface have been easy and accessible. Accepting donations online (if you've never done it before) may seem daunting at first glance because you may not know where to get started. I appreciated that during our initial discussions you took a bit of time to explain everything (how the website connects into the payments system) and broke it down into a sensible transaction flow. It was actually quite simple. If I did have any concerns or confusion, I certainly don't remember - that has to be a good sign, right?
David: Am I correct Cora that you are also using our virtual terminal to take payments over the phone?
Cora: We take payments both over the phone and through our website. Our goal is to make it easy for our donors to support our cause, so we have to support both. Web based donations are a bit easier because it's completely automated, but even when collecting payment over the phone it's quite simple. We login to our virtual terminal, key the credit card number, expiry date, and amount, and the sale is processed instantly.
David: Any advice for folks out there for business or charitable organizations in relation to operating online or taking payments online?
Cora: Not having the option for taking online donations can definitely hinder your fundraising effectiveness. Therefore, I would suggest to any charity that they get some form of online payment processing set up.
David: Thanks Cora for taking the time to talk about your experience. In case anyone is interested in learning more about Ethiopiaid they can find out more on the website at http://www.ethiopiaid.ca/
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