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5 Simple Steps to Create an Improved Online Payments Process
Andrew Martin

Finalsite Payments and Payment Manager. Though the two handle different aspects of constituent payments, both can be used together to provide a seamless, more powerful online payments user experience with more options than either can provide alone. 

On the user end, Payments Manager integrates with Forms Manager to receive and processes payment information entered into forms created through Forms Manager. Finalsite Payments then works on the back end to automate the process of sending that information to your school’s merchant account and school's bank account. 

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how you can combine Forms Manager, Payment Manager, and Finalsite Payments to create a streamlined, yet fully-featured payment process that supports payments from virtually anyone around the world in a localized, global checkout experience.

Step #1: Establish a Payment Gateway 

Before you do anything else regarding payments on your school’s website, you’ll need to establish a payment gateway that connects your school’s website to your merchant account. Payment gateways are important because they receive credit and debit card information from any form that visitors complete on your website through a secure, encrypted connection. 

Payment gateways verify the card number, check to see if the card has enough funds to complete the transaction, and place a hold on the card for the correct amount of funds. While Finalsite is capable of accommodating numerous payment gateways, including payment gateways for non-USD transactions, we’ll be using our own payment gateway, Finalsite Payments, for this example. 

We strongly recommend using Finalsite Payments because of its seamless connectivity with Forms Manager and Payment Manager to establish one-time and recurring payments with support for more than 110 payment methods and 100 currencies. 

Finalsite Payments also eliminates the need for multiple language or location-based payment gateways thanks to support for 180 countries and 29 automatically-translated languages. 

If you choose to use a payment gateway other than Finalsite Payments, you will need to visit Finalsite’s Payment Gateway Request web page to submit your gateway credentials to our team for setup. 

Learn How Finalsite Payments Simplifies the Online Payment Process


Step #2: Create a Form in Form Manager

Once you’ve established a payment gateway for your website, it’s time to create an online form through Forms Manager. If you’ve been a Finalsite school for a while, you’re likely already familiar with creating online forms. If not, you’ll quickly find that creating forms is a simple and easy process thanks to drag-and-drop controls and numerous conditional options. 

Forms Manager comes with everything you’d expect from an online form (such as text fields and dropdown menus), but it includes additional features designed to make your work life easier. 

Forms Manager "Element Properties" menu

Prefill options can automatically fill out individual fields based off of information from a user’s constituent profile if the user is logged in when filling out the form. Conditional fields allow you to hide additional form elements until a user makes a selection that reveals the hidden form element (such as hiding shirt sizes until the user picks a shirt option). You can even save commonly used form elements to your “Saved Elements” library for easy reuse in the future. 

Conditional field example of t-shirt sizes only appearing when the t-shirt option is chosen

Forms are commonly used by Finalsite schools to accept donations, create lunch orders for field trips, and process ticket sales for sporting events. But you have the controls and numerous options at your disposal to configure Forms Manager to create whatever online form your school needs. 

Step #3: Embed the Form on a Web Page

Whether you’ve created an online form from scratch or reused an existing one, you can add a form to any Composer web page by selecting the “Share Form Externally” checkbox in Forms Manager. 

Forms Manager "Build & Edit" tab showing how to allow forms to be shared externally

Next, head over to your Composer web page and add a Form element. Once the Form element is added, click the element’s gear icon to edit the element settings, and select the form you’d like to add through the “Form” dropdown menu. 

Composer "Edit Form Element Settings" menu

Make sure you also check the “Display page over secure (SSL) connection” box under “General Page Info.” You always want to protect your constituent’s payment information. 

"General Page Info" menu to display pages over secure (SSL) connections

Forms can also be displayed through direct links. To do so, head to the form’s “Build & Edit” tab, then navigate to the “Activation” section on the left. From here, select the “Allow this Form to be shared externally” checkbox, then click the “Direct URL” link.

Activation menu in Forms Manager to share forms externally and direct URL link option

Displaying forms through direct URL links allows you to add a link to the form in emails, calendar events, and anywhere else a link would be preferable to a full-sized form. These direct URL links work on desktop and mobile platforms. 

Step #4: Enable Forms Manager to Process Payments

Now that you’ve created a form and embedded it on a web page, it’s time to enable credit and debit payments. Start by checking the “Process payments with this form” checkbox in the Payment tab of Forms Manager. Then, select your school’s payment gateway.  

Forms Manager "Payment" tab menu to enable payment processing in forms

You’ll also need to add currency fields so the form knows how much to charge. Currency fields can be either text fields for manual input, or one of the various selection fields (radio buttons, checkboxes, or drop downs). 

Text fields work best for donations since users can enter whatever monetary amount they want. Selection fields allow for users to pick between a number of pre-selected options. These fields work best when you want to limit your constituents to a few choices (such as four or five different options for a field trip lunch). 

Example showing a list of selection fields created for a lunch order form

Hidden fields are similar to text fields, except that users are unable to see or edit the field. These hidden fields are useful for adding a static amount to a form that cannot be changed, such as a standard application fee or applicable tax. 

Once your form is embedded with payments enabled, make sure to establish a secure connection with a user’s browser when you display a form that collects payments. Browsers already establish secure connections when connecting to a payment gateway, but adding an added layer of security that secures a user’s connection to your school’s website is always a good idea. The extra layer of security allows your site to secure the user’s credit and debit card information, as well as any personal data you may collect from the form.

To add the extra layer of security, click on the pink gear icon on the bottom of the Composer page to bring up the Page Settings window. From here, navigate to the “Secure page over secure (SSL) connection” under the General tab. Check the box to enable the added security, then click save and publish the page. 

Composer "Page Settings" menu showing secure (SSL) connection checkbox under the "General" tab

And that’s it! You’ve now established a payment gateway, created an online form, embedded the form on a web page, and enabled the form to process payments. That’s all the work you need to do on your end. All that’s left is for your visitors to visit the page and fill out the form. 

Step #5: Let Finalsite Payments Handle the Rest

With the form live on your site, visitors can now fill out the form with their payment information. Once they hit submit, Finalsite Payments takes over the hard work by automating the process of passing the user’s payment information received from the form to your school’s merchant account. 

Once the merchant account receives the payment information, the payment is processed and, if successful, the funds are deposited into your school’s bank account. It couldn’t be easier, and you don’t have to do a thing. 

Of course, there is always the chance that a transaction can fail, especially for international transactions. Fortunately, Finalsite Payments features intelligent payment routing to more than 25 banks to help prevent failed transactions, and cleanse reports help identify why transactions fail when they do. Coupled with 24/7 access to Finalsite Support, you can rest easy knowing that transaction issues are quickly solved anytime, anywhere. 

Key Takeaway 

Separately, Forms Manager, Payment Manager, and Finalsite Payments are powerful, flexible tools designed to eliminate the day-to-day hassles of receiving and managing constituent payments. But all three combined create a simple to establish payment process on your end, and an incredibly powerful automated payment experience for your constituents.

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Andrew Martin Header

As Finalsite’s Product Marketing Specialist, Andrew writes blogs and creates videos to share information about all the latest and greatest Finalsite products. Andrew has more than 10 years of video production experience and a journalism education from the University of South Carolina. He is excited about bringing his experience and expertise to Finalsite.




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