GoCardless Direct Debits

Creating your GoCardless account, connecting to Beacon and modifying your subscriptions

Updated over a week ago

GoCardless is one of the world's leading Direct Debit processors, serving more organisations than any other provider.

GoCardless offers a simple & modern platform - making it easy to collect Direct Debit payments in Beacon, and to have those payments flow automatically into Beacon in real-time, without any manual data entry or uploads.


Create a GoCardless account

To collect Direct Debit payments via Beacon, you'll need to connect your GoCardless account to Beacon. If you haven't already got a GoCardless account, you can sign up here.

Note: You'll need to verify your GoCardless account before you can start collecting Direct Debits through Beacon.

Connect GoCardless to Beacon

  1. Go to Settings > Payments in your sidebar

  2. Click Connect with GoCardless

  3. You'll see a new window open, prompting you to give permission to Beacon to access your GoCardless account. (Connecting will allow Beacon to create payments on your behalf)

  4. Click Connect account

  5. That's it! You'll now see the option to set up a Direct Debit as a payment option on your recurring donation forms. When new subscriptions donations come in, you'll see them in your GoCardless dashboard, as well as in Beacon.

Getting verified

To collect Direct Debit payments and receive payments through GoCardless, you'll need to verify your GoCardless account. This primarily involves providing information about your charity to GoCardless.

You can get verified at verify.gocardless.com.

In Beacon, you'll see your GoCardless verification status once you've connected your account:

Setting up mandates

Donors or members can set up mandates using Beacon's online recurring donation forms:

After completing their donation, a number of magical things happen automatically.

In GoCardless:

  • A customer will be created

  • A bank account will created (linked to the customer)

  • A mandate will be created (linked to the customer)

  • A subscription will be created for the amount the donor/member chose in the form (linked to the customer)

  • The customer will be sent an email confirming their Direct Debit (from GoCardless)

In Beacon:

  • A person will be created / updated

  • A Gift Aid declaration will be created (if the Gift Aid box was checked and one doesn't already exist)

  • A subscription will be created (linked to the person)

  • An email will be sent to the donor/member acknowledging them

  • Notification(s) will be sent to internal Beacon users

On top of this, any payments paid as part of the subscription set up will be automatically imported into Beacon once they are processed.

Note: It's currently not possible to set up mandates manually in the Beacon admin. Let us know if you'd like to see this feature.

Viewing GoCardless subscriptions

To show just GoCardless subscriptions in your list, filter Subscriptions for 'External ID starts with 'SB''.

Since Beacon is always talking to GoCardless, it's possible to see the status of a someone's Direct Debit mandate and payment schedule by visiting their relevant subscription record.

Tip: Can't see the GoCardless card? Enter customisation mode, click Add card, and choose 'GoCardless subscription'.

Add GoCardless card

Changing subscription amount

Tip: Make sure you have the permission of the donor before changing any payment amounts

You can change the subscription amount directly from Beacon by clicking the edit button (the pencil!) next to the subscription detail. You can then enter the new amount, and click Update.

Tip: Can't see a GoCardless card on your subscriptions? See here to add it.

The donor will receive an email advising them of the change to their Direct Debit.

Need to change subscription amounts in bulk? You can - learn more here.

Cancelling an upcoming payment

Tip: Can't see a GoCardless card on your subscriptions? See here to add it.

In the 'Uncollected Payments' section of the GoCardless card, you can see any future payments that are currently scheduled.

To cancel the next payment, click the 'X' next to the payment.

Click Cancel payment to confirm. Further payments will be unaffected and continue as normal.

Cancel payment confirmation GoCardless

Cancelling a subscription

Tip: Can't see a GoCardless card on your subscriptions? See here to add it.

To cancel someone's subscription, simply click the 'X' next to their subscription on the GoCardless card.

Click Cancel subscription to confirm. This will cancel both the subscription and the underlying Direct Debit mandate.

Cancel subscription and mandate confirmation

The donor will receive an email advising them that their mandate has been cancelled, and no further payments will be taken.

Collecting payments

As mentioned previously in the article, any payments collected through GoCardless subscriptions set up via a Beacon form automatically flow into Beacon:

Note: Any subscriptions set up outside of Beacon are not automatically saved to Beacon. However, if you add the subscription ID from GoCardless to the 'External ID' field of the subscription in Beacon, any new payments will be imported automatically.

Disconnecting GoCardless

When you disconnect your GoCardless account from Beacon there are some important steps that you will need to take:

  1. Disconnect GoCardless on your payments page in Beacon

  2. Go to your apps page in GoCardless and revoke access to Beacon: https://manage.gocardless.com/company/apps

  3. You will need to either delete your subscriptions or ask GoCardless to remove the fees from each of your subscriptions, otherwise GoCardless will continue to collect fees from your Direct Debit subscriptions.

Frequently asked questions

How do payment timings work?

Unlike credit cards, Direct Debits mandates need ~10 days to be verified by the donor or member's bank before they become active. As such, there will be a bit of a time delay between a donor completing a recurring donation via a Beacon form and the money being paid to you.

When setting up the subscription, Beacon automatically sets up the subscription to issue the charge at the earliest possible date - so you can get paid as soon as possible.

Note: money never touches Beacon's bank account. It's paid directly from GoCardless to you.

How do I change the date of a Direct Debit?

Unfortunately, changing the date of a Direct Debit mandate once it's already set up is not possible through GoCardless.
If you or your supporter needs to change the date of a subscription, you will need to cancel the mandate and set up a new one.

Visit GoCardless's Payments FAQs for more information.

What emails get sent to supporters and us by GoCardless?

GoCardless will automatically send a variety of emails to your supporters when particular things happen, such as:

  • A new subscription is created for them

  • Their subscription amount is changed

  • Their subscription is cancelled

  • Their payment has failed to be taken

The emails that GoCardless send to you include:

  • A customer’s payment fails

  • A customer’s payment is cancelled

  • A customer’s payment is charged back

  • A customer’s mandate is cancelled

  • Each day a payout is due

See the full list of notifications that go to customers, and to you, in the GoCardless documentation here.

Do we have to be on a particular GoCardless plan?

Beacon works with all GoCardless plans. The Standard plan is good for getting started, but if you'd like to customise the reference shown in donor bank accounts or the email notifications they receive from GoCardless, it's worth checking out the Plus and Pro plans they offer.

Visit the GoCardless pricing page for more information.

Absolutely! Simply put the 'Subscription ID' from GoCardless in the 'External ID' field of the Subscription record in Beacon. We will then automatically add any new payments that get made, and you will also be able to cancel or change the amount of the subscription directly from Beacon.

Note: The ID will start with 'SB' and can be found from the subscriptions list here, or from the customer's page and then click the relevant subscription.

If you'd like to import these in bulk, see our guide here.

I've heard Beacon works with multiple currencies. Which currencies can we collect Direct Debit payments in?

Currently, only UK Pounds (GBP) is supported via GoCardless. If you'd like to collect Direct Debit payments in Euros (EUR), you can use SEPA Direct Debits via Stripe instead. If you're interested in other currencies, please do let us know!

The "Gateway fees" in Beacon don't match the fees in GoCardless!

Unfortunately, GoCardless don't make it possible to see the fees associated with each payment via their API (which Beacon uses to integrate with GoCardless) when a payment is taken. Good news though! Fees will be updated to their actual values when GoCardless pays out donations to you.

As such, we initially estimate fees by using the calculation as shown on GoCardless' pricing page to calculate the 'Gateway fees' for each payment.

If the fees in GoCardless are lower than in Beacon, it means that you're currently on a lower pricing plan than what's shown on their pricing page. Congrats - you're saving some money!

If the fees in GoCardless are higher than in Beacon, then it's likely that the fees were calculated before we updated the fee calculation to reflect the increase GoCardless made in February 2020.

Note: This is only a GoCardless issue. Stripe and PayPal do make this data available at the time of donation.

Can I update subscriptions that didn't come from a Beacon form?

Unfortunately not, as GoCardless don't allow us to change any subscriptions that were originally created by a different app, or created manually. If you need to change these, you'll either need to change them manually in your account, or reach out to GoCardless directly.

What happens if my GoCardless IDs do not match the SB format?

If your GoCardless IDs are currently a string of numbers rather than a string beginning in 'SB', this would mean these IDs would need updating in order to work with subscriptions on Beacon.

Here, you would need to create a new subscription for the users in question, to make sure they get an updated GoCardless ID to use going forward.

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