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Handling failed gifts and refunds

Refunding Transactions

Once a transaction has processed, it can be refunded to the donor. There are three steps to refund a transaction.

Refund the funds

See Search Transactions for how to refund a transaction.

Reversing the gift

Enter a contribution record to the same giver, same fund(s), with an offering date of the day the gift was refunded. Enter negative amount(s) in the same breakdown as the original gift. Mark the contribution Do Not Print or Post.

You may wish to enter the original contribution's reference number in the contribution memo.

Reversing the deposit in the Ledger

Watch your bank account. Once the refund processes, you will see a withdrawal for the amount of the refund plus fees. Enter this withdrawal as a journal entry, debiting the income account(s) of the original gift with the correct breakdown. Debit an expense account for the fees and credit the bank account for net withdrawal.

You may wish to note the contribution reference number of the reversing gift in the entry memo.

Gifts that fail to process

Occasionally, a gift will initially succeed, but later fail to process. These gifts will not appear in Deposit Processing but the contribution record will be in CDM+ and should be handled to avoid crediting the giver for a gift that never happened. 

Why do gifts fail to process

The most common reason a gift will fail is because it is an ACH transaction and the giver's bank account has insufficient funds, is closed, or has the wrong account number. ACH transactions are processed in batches at set times during the day, so the account number and funds will not be verified until after the gift is made.

Debit cards can fail for a similar reason. Engage waits to received a successful verification of credit and debit cards before a gift is made. However, some debit cards will return success initially, but later fail to transfer funds generally due to insufficient funds.

Identifying gifts that failed to process

You may want to look for these failed gifts on a routine basis, such as once a week.

  1. Begin by processing pending gifts
  2. Next, run deposit processing and post all deposits
  3. Open Contribution Records and find gifts that:
    1. Have a source of Engage or Text Giving, including guest giving
    2. Have an offering date more than 7 days in the past
    3. Have a posted status of Pending
  4. For each gift found, view the gift in Search Transactions and confirm it has a failure status.

Handling gifts that failed to process

Enter a reversing gift for each failed gift using the process outlined above. Because these gifts never settle into your bank account, there is no ledger entry to create.

Errors that can occur making a gift

Engage will validate as much information as is possible to ensure a gift is successful. Issues like a missing expiration date, malformed account number, or missing billing information will be called to the giver's attention when making a gift.

After ensuring all required fields are entered, Engage verifies payments before completing the gift. This verification can report errors such as the account being closed, or billing address mismatches. These errors also be displayed to the giver when making a gift.

Gifts will also be rejected if:

  1. The amount is less than $5
  2. A gift with the same total amount, same giver and same payment account was made within the last hour

This second check is called a Duplicate Transaction error.

In all these instances, the gift will not be made. If the gift is made and later produces an error, the information above under Gifts that fail to process  applies.

Contested gifts

How does this happen

Givers can contact their credit card company to contest a gift. This may be due to an unfamiliar address on their billing statement.

How to handle contested gifts

When a gift is contested, Stewardship Technology notifies Suran Systems, who in turn notifies the church or organization. You will have an opportunity to respond to the contested gift. If the contest is ultimately found in the giver's favor, the gift will be refunded. Follow the steps above for handling a refunded transaction to address these gifts.

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