The Difference Between Donate & Buy on PayPal

by Qyou Stoval

PayPal is an online website and system that allows users to securely pay for items online using their credit card or check. Initially, PayPal only worked with eBay as a means for buyers and sellers to receive and pay money for auction listings. Now PayPal is able to accept payments on behalf of small online storefronts to larger companies like Dell. PayPal has also allowed store owners to quickly add buttons to their site to either have subscribers donate or buy items that may be for sale. When creating a PayPal website or visiting a site that uses PayPal for payments, a "donate" and "buy it now" button have distinct differences.


Some web owners or organizations online are not interested in making a profit on the product or service they are offering. Business owners may want to test their target market by allowing subscribers to choose the amount they will be willing to pay for a product or service. The "donate" button allows customers to choose the amount they feel comfortable paying. Once the user donates the funds, PayPal transfers the money to the site owner's PayPal account. Those who use a donate button are able to choose the amount they would like to pay, though the site can offer a suggested donation amount.

Buy Now

If you are running an online storefront and you know how much you would like to charge for your product and/or service, then a buy button would be best. A "buy" button is typically fixed at a certain amount so each item you are selling will need to have its own buy button that is linked to a specific amount you are charging for that item. In order to accept payments from individuals having a "buy now" button you will have to set up a business or Premier account with PayPal. Establishing a business or Premier account operates the same way as a personal account, the primary difference is you will have to come up with a business name and other details about the product or service you are selling.


Both the "donate" button and "buy now" button allows users to pay by credit card, debit card or PayPal accounts. There are no monthly, set up or cancellation fees. However, PayPal will charge a transaction fee for each amount you customers send to you. This amount varies but it can be approximately 2.99 percent. Buyers or donators do not need a PayPal account in order to pay for an item or make a donation.


Those looking to accept donations do not have to have a Premier or business account. Individuals who have specific amounts they would like to sell for a product cannot use a donate button, as the amount is determined by the customer (sometimes an amount can be stated, but many people choose not to do this). Individuals using a "buy now" button must offer a product or service to their customers per the guidelines of PayPal, whereas a donation can be made strictly for information and content. For example a person who may be a real estate or stock market expert may place a donate button on his blog for subscribers to choose to donate for his priceless information.


You can create both the "buy now" and "donate" buttons on your existing website within minutes. PayPal provides the HTML code which is integrated into your website. PayPal offers instructions on how to integrate either button to your site, but if you are unsure you can always seek the assistance of a web designer.

About the Author

Qyou Stoval holds a bachelor's degree in communications/media studies from Clayton State University and a MBA with a concentration in marketing from Ashford University. He has more than 10 years experience writing articles, poetry, novels, and stage and screen plays. His writing career started professionally in 1997. He is also proudly serving the United States Air Force.