How to Accept Donations, Tips, and Sliding Scale Payments Like a Pro

sliding scale

Business owners all over the globe are coming together in virtual communities and dreaming up new ways to serve their clients. (Don’t worry—there’s a lot of social distancing involved. Also, caffeine.)

So, how can you best help your clients while keeping the lights on for yourself? Sliding scale payments, donations, and virtual tip jars help bridge the gap between a client’s budget and a service provider’s bills.

Think of it as a mutually-beneficial compromise between you and your clients. They can afford to work with you and tap into your genius. You can afford to keep business running as usual.

Ready for the win-win? Here’s how it works in Acuity.

1 | Pick the right payment processor.

In order to offer pay-what-you-want pricing to your people, it’s important to choose either Stripe or Square as your payment processor. ( pricing isn’t an option if your Acuity account is connected to PayPal, either on its own, or in combination with Square or Stripe.)

It’s super simple to double-check that you’re set up to get started with sliding scale payments. It goes a little something like this:

  1. From your Acuity dashboard, go to your .

  2. You’ll see a drop-down menu that says Accept Payments From Clients Using.

  3. Give it a nudge, and make sure Stripe or Square is selected as the processor.

  4. Choose the dropdown that says When Clients Schedule an Appointment.

  5. Select Pay What You Want pricing.

  6. And remember to Save Settings.
    Bask in the eternal glory of mastering technology forever.

2 | Set your minimum prices.

Before you jump into spreading the word about your sliding scale or donation-based appointments, take a second to finetune your pricing for your services in your Acuity account.

If you already have pricing set up for your services, those automatically become your minimum prices. (Score!)

If not, setting and updating your minimum pricing is really simple.

  1. From your Acuity dashboard, select .

  2. Edit whichever appointment type(s) you want Pay-What-You-Want pricing to apply to.

  3. Change the value in the Min. Price field to your minimum price.

  4. And remember to Update Appointment Type.

  5. Go through steps 2 - 4, until all your appointment types are updated and you’re the happiest camper. (S’mores included, naturally.)

Just as a heads up, if you leave that Min. Price field blank, your minimum pricing will default to $0. Clients will still be able to choose to pay more, but can book for absolutely zero cost to them.

Take a little time to think about your minimum pricing, since you want to establish a baseline minimum that serves your clients—but also makes sure you’re making enough money to keep the lights on and buy the occasional fancy cheese. Even while you’re helping others, make sure to support yourself, too. All gouda?

3 | See how painless it is for clients to pay what they want.

Don’t worry—when you switch an appointment type to pay-what-you-want, the user experience for your clients is still clean, streamlined, and easy to understand.

It works like this:

  1. Clients , easy peasy.

  2. But when they get to the point where they Pay Now, the payment panel looks a little different.

  3. Now, it includes the minimum price, plus a field that says, Pay What You Want Additional Amount.

  4. The client enters any additional amount they want to pay in that field.

  5. The appointment total is automatically updated. 

Here’s a helpful visual, so you know your clients are in good hands.

sliding scale payments for clients

If the minimum appointment price is set to $0, clients won’t see the Pay Now button. Instead, they’ll be able to pick between Add a Pay What You Want amount or Complete Appointment. 

accept client payments

4 | Create any additional add-ons.

We’ve made sure that add-on/upsell services and coupons both work with pay-what-you-want pricing, so you’re not limited to what you can create for your clients.

When a client chooses an add-on or applies a coupon code, they’re both applied to the minimum price you’ve set for your services. Clients can still opt to donate an additional amount, no matter how many upsell services they select.

To update your add-ons or make completely new ones, you:

  1. Start from your Acuity dashboard, and go to Business Settings > Appointment Types > Add-Ons.

  2. From there, Add New Add-On.

  3. Set the name of your add-on to something clear (over clever) so that your clients know exactly what they’re getting with the upgrade.

  4. Set your add-on pricing. (This is the amount that’s applied to your service minimum.)

  5. Make sure to Save Settings.

5 | Consider a virtual tip jar.

If you want to let clients leave a virtual tip on your services, the setup is still simple—it just looks slightly different.

To accept tips on the payment page, all you need to do is:

  1. Choose the right payment processor. Just like the Pay What You Want feature, you want to opt for Stripe or Square, and not PayPal. (If you need a little help updating your settings, check out Step 1 on this post.)

  2. Go to Business Settings > Payment Settings, and check the box that Lets Clients Give an Extra Tip if They’re Paying the Full Amount Online.

  3. Now Save Settings to ensure it all sticks.

When the client pays in full on your Client Scheduling Page, they can add a tip. If you’re like us (visual learners, over here),  it looks like this:

virtual tipjar

(And for the record, we love Jane Lundgren. She bakes great pies and can hum a jaunty tune.)

6 | Send the message to your people.

Now that your pricing levels are set up, it’s time to share your booking link with your email list, social following, and the rest of your network.

To copy any link or embed code you might need, go to Client Scheduling Page > Scheduling Page Links. Your clients are looking for ways to work with you, so let’s make it simple to book your services.

This is how we support each other while supporting ourselves.

Not only does your willingness to be flexible with your pricing show devotion to your clients, but also your powerful compassion. 

The greatest part about sliding scale payments, donation-based services, and tipped classes is that everyone gets what they want: You want your clients to succeed, and your clients want to support their favorite business—you!

Want more ways to help your clients and help them help you? Check out the best ways to crowdfund resources for your company. It helps you do everything from crafting your ask to sharing the message.

Because when we come together, we can’t be stopped. 

acuity advice, covid-19